Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Mental Health - Part 1

The space we occupy inside our head is the only place that no-one can ever reach. It is Man's most private area - it can be guessed at, but no-one, not even the most sensitive and intuitive observer or professional, can ever actually know the words, the thoughts, the emotions that pass through someone else's mind. At its best it is the space where we can be truly free, where we can think those blissful, private thoughts that no-one will ever know (unless we choose to tell them). Our imagination can run wild and we can be the most happy, successful person we might ever want to be. Yet while it can be the most positive of spaces where hopes and dreams are nurtured and examined and explored, where insights, analysis and intelligence are born and developed, it can also be the deepest, darkest of places. It can be the loneliest place in the world.

Fifteen years ago I was diagnosed with chronic depression. It had crept up on me over the years, life dealing me various blows which bit by bit built up into an insurmountable wall behind which I could no longer see the light and over which I had no energy left to jump or to smash it down. None of my experiences were exceptional - it was just a slow drip feed of events which built up inside me, sapping my energies, my self-confidence, my self-esteem and my sense of self. When I looked in the mirror I did not recognise my reflection. The light in my once sparkly eyes had dimmed and left me looking empty and sad. Where had that positive, cheerful, confident, singing-around-the-house, optimistic person gone? The one who embraced life, in all its possibilities, who loved people, who loved learning, who loved just being alive? Where had I gone?

It is quite scary to accept that you are no longer who you once were, especially if it is a negative change and one you hadn't contrived or ever imagined. It happens to so many of us, and is on the increase daily in this modern, stressful world which never stops spinning and demanding. There is no resting place, no hiding place. Life is full-on, in-your-face, 24-7. This is not healthy. This is not what life should be.

I have at least two family members who have suffered with depression, beyond myself. Another has just been added to the list. Mental health is currently slowly making its way to the surface of society from the depths of the abyss. It will finally find it's moment in the sun. It's been a long time coming and we must embrace this opportunity to let it shine like a beacon in this world we have created. 'Progress' never comes without a price. Currently that price is the cost to our mental health. 

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