52 to 52 week 3 -- Be Kind
Today is World Mental Health Day and all over social media there are posts from people who are or have suffered from mental health problems and those supporting them. It's brilliant that there is a day to bring awareness to a range of cruel and debilitating conditions and that more of us feel we can talk about how we feel, or that we can offer help to those suffering, if they want it.
But some people who suffer from mental health problems don't always want to talk about it. For all the posts on facebook and twitter today, there will be people, friends of yours and mine who are suffering in silence and who don't feel they can ask for help or even talk about their problems.
I think the nearest I have ever got to having a mental health problem was when my second daughter, Sophie was born. My dad died when I was 20 weeks pregnant with Sophie, and I already had a two-year-old, Olivia. I think my brain flicked a kind of safety catch when he died because I was pregnant and the massive grief I felt didn't hit until about six months later when, faced with a baby who wanted to feed all the time and a child who NEVER SLEPT, I entered a kind of manic phase. I also remember being terrified of dying. My dad's death, coupled with the responsibility of two small humans, made me feel my own mortality keener than at any other time in my life. I probably should have sought help but I didn't and things came to a head in an inability to stop crying for what seemed like weeks, and a particularly memorable meltdown in the pub with my friends. My friends were instrumental in getting me through that time; at the time I lived in a small village and had a very close and supportive group of friends, most of them older and wiser than me. Looking back, I know I had a post-natal disorder ( I wasn't depressed, indeed at times I was euphoric) and it should have been addressed. When, at 36, I had my third child, Natasha, I was a mature mother and seen as high-risk so I was monitored closely.
Mental health problems can be suffered by anyone, at any time, sometimes they are temporary, as in my case, but sometimes they are a daily battle fought for the length of someone's life. You also never know when you might be the one caring or supporting someone with a mental health problem
So be kind, because you just never know.
If you want to read a couple of books with mental health as their subject, you could start with these two books by my partner, Mark Connors. They are warm, real books which tackle a serious subject with humour and wisdom. You can buy them here: https://www.markconnors.co.uk/