13 articles Articles posted in Mental Health

The Lonely Toothbrush

If you read this blog with any kind of regularity, you’ve probably noticed by now that I’m a little bit…unusual? Between my magpie obsession, my lack of direction and wanting to wipe my brain like a hard drive,  it’s fair to say that I err on the side of the slightly eccentric. However, I realised something about myself today that we can add to the ever-growing list of unusual pathological behaviors;  I have an unusual aversion to loneliness.

Now, I appreciate than an aversion to loneliness in and of itself isn’t that unusual. As humans, we’re programmed to believe in safety in numbers and there’s been absolutely masses of research into the psychology and anthropology behind loneliness – according to Wikipedia “Loneliness has also been described as social pain — a psychological mechanism meant to alert an individual of isolation and motivate him/her to seek social connections”. Loneliness and our feeling about it are central to The Human Condition. But see, this is the thing – for me, it’s not just about humans…

Don’t get me wrong, I have a special pain in my heart and stomach that kicks in when I think about how many old people there are in the world who’ve been left on their own and feel a deep sense of loneliness, that’s all there. But this morning, whilst in the shower, I became deeply disturbed by the living arrangement of our toothbrushes. We have two glasses, mounted above the bathroom sink in which our dental care accouterments live. Today, mine and Husband’s brushes were in one glass with the toothpastes and Sausage’s was by itself in the other.

By itself.

All alone.

So I moved it.

I rearranged everything so that all three of our toothbrushes were in one glass, together, so that no one toothbrush got lonely. It moved me to significant enough sadness that I had to take action.

And now I sit and think about it, I do it with other things too. If I’m making beans or spaghetti on toast, I dutifully bang the bottom of the tin until every last bean or hoop falls from the tin. Not because I’m tight or greedy, simply because if that bean or hoop goes into the bin in a can by itself, it might get lonely. I genuinely have anxiety about lonely legumes.

I realise I’m probably really asking you to plumb the depths of your tolerance to sympathise with me here; the majority of you nice, sane people are probably wondering where the nearest loony bin is that I can be flung into, but I do wonder where this feeling comes from. As much as I’d never crave loneliness, I’m perfectly happy in my own company. I quite enjoy my drive to work, along the seafront, listening to BBC Radio 2, singing if I feel like it. At lunchtime, I try to get away from my desk if I can and have 5 minutes to myself. It’s not like I can’t stand to be alone.

Why do I rate the beans and hoops and toothbrushes more highly than myself, when it comes to company?

Answers on a postcard, dear readers…

Suicide is Painless…?

…or so Mike Altman would have us believe. I’m not sure if I do…

I’ve had conversations with people about suicide before and in general people get very animated about it. I’ve heard a lot of negativity about people who choose suicide, words bandied about like ‘selfish’ and ‘cowardly’ and if I’m honest, I dislike it.

In terms of selfishness, I have two thoughts. Firstly, I don’t believe that you can apply rational emotions to someone who is so close to the end of their tether that they’d consider taking their own lives. Secondly, if you have got to that point and you can see no way out, you’re too tired to go on, surely its selfish of others to expect you to live a life against your wishes for the sake of them?

That’s a very base way of looking at it and I know people who are left behind have to deal with pain and suffering, I’m not trying to denigrate that in any way, I’m just making the point that people take it personally when it’s not about them.

In terms of cowardice, I don’t know about you but I think it probably takes a lot of courage to be able to take the steps to end your own life. I’ve been at a very low ebb on a few occasions in my life and although the thought of suicide has crossed my mind, I’d never have the guts to do it.

Is it guts? I don’t know, I guess I’m just lucky enough to have more reasons to live than die.

We were there.

Husband and I were discussing suicide today after we found out that an acquaintance of ours had taken his life and he put a perspective on it that I hadn’t thought of. I told him how sad I felt that the guy had been so low that he’d ended it all and he said that if suicide is a conscious decision (i.e. not drink or drug related) then it needn’t always be sad. Maybe some people just decide that enough is enough and that they don’t want to go on any further. I guess I can understand what he means, but I’m socially programmed to view suicide as an act of sadness and desperation.

All I know is, I’ve seen literally hundreds of Facebook statuses and conversations today that suggest that PB will be sorely missed and the fact that he made a mark on the world is something to be proud of.

I hope so many people miss me when my time comes.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Today I learned through Jo Middleton’s blog Slummy Single Mummy that today is the start of Mental Health Awareness Week. We’re all aware that ‘mental health’ or mental health issues exist, so what does this really mean? Raising awareness for something that we all already know about?

But, how much do you really know, and how much of it is an assumption?

If I said to you that someone was a paranoid schizophrenic, you may assume that said person was dangerous to be around. Did you know that, actually, people with paranoid schizophrenia are actually extremely unlikely to be violent to either themselves or others?

If I told you that I knew a person with severe post-natal depression or even post-natal post traumatic stress disorder, you’d probably assume, through no fault of your own, that I was talking about a woman. Did you know that it’s estimated that up to 25% of new dads experience some form of PND or PTSD?

Did you know that, despite certain terms being bandied about and used as common language, true cases of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder actually only account for between 2-7% of the population, whilst people with bipolar are around 0.9% and 2.1% of the adult population?

For me, Mental Health Week is not about making us aware that metal health problems exist, it’s about educating ourselves, smashing the stigma and the stereotypes and trying harder to be compassionate to others. It’s so easy to label people, put them into a box and write them off as ‘mental’ or ‘mad’, but have you ever stopped to think what it’s like to live with these afflictions? NO-ONE would choose to live with these illnesses, people who seriously self-harm don’t do it for attention. I guarantee you, the people who self-harm because they are mentally compelled to are the ones you’d never know about, not the silly school girls comparing chicken scratches on their arms.

Take the time to educate yourselves and perhaps suicide rates, which are higher in the UK than anywhere else in the EU, would drop.

Or don’t. It’s up to you. Just know that no-one is immune to mental illness and knowing how to help someone you love could make all the difference. If you’re struggling please connect with a therapist near you.