I feel this might be the first post of many on this issue. I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health, what it means for people who are affected and those who support them. You probably know someone who is having difficulties with mental health issues right now. You may have had episodes yourself in the past or might be there right now. I have.
I’ve volunteered for MIND, delivering poetry workshops to carers, using the power of poetry to encourage people who may feel closed or overwhelmed, to relate their stories using the themes and words of the poetry as a starting point. It’s not counselling in the traditional sense, but its definitely emotional support.
Sitting in workshops, I’ve listened to carers talk about family members with depression, mood disorder, borderline personality disorder, post traumatic stress, self-harm, and the impact it has in them as the primary carer. Managing mental health has become part of everyone’s life. As a society we are moving away from the stigma but it still remains. Many people still feel the need to conceal, rather than reveal what they are experiencing. They shy away from help, rather than open the windows and doors to the kindness and compassion of others.
Coping but not cured
Then it hit me. To be human is to constantly experience changing, fluctuating emotions. Some of these emotions are joyful, some make us miserable and inflict great pain on us. It is these painful ones, that we leave festering in our minds and soul, that start to develop into a dis-ease (literally) of the mind. I think for some people living in their heads is a more natural state than living in the moment in an intensely physical experience. This could be due to a variety of psychiatric reasons or an aspect of their unique personality. Many of us weave in and out of mental health and mental instability as we navigate through life. To experience mental illness or mental health either in ourselves or in others, is, in my opinion, part of the human experience. Changing unpredictably like weather. For some people mental illness doesn’t go away, they have to learn to live with it like constantly fluctuating weather.
We are all sensitive people
Considering the complexity of our minds and our infinitively different human experiences, to feel in a moment that our mental health and well-being is in equilibrium is a gift to treasure. If you can remember the bliss of feeling whole, when your mind body and spirit are in alignment, try to bring that feeling with you to every human interaction. You might find yourself interacting with someone who live with the changing weather of mental health every day, which they find exhausting, either personally or in a support role.
Mental health is not a to be taken for granted, we realise this as more people start to share their stories. Children and young people with autism and ADHD are especially prone to a range of mental health issues, mostly due to societies inability to properly understand and integrate their conditions. Parents and carers are at risk too, as they neglect their own-well-being in the active role of caring and advocating for those they love. I’ve chosen to give the stigma of illnesses you can’t see the SIDE SWIPE; because mental dis-ease potentially exists within us all.
© Suzy Rowland