Imagine that your mind is like a computer and you open a window, then another one, then another. The computer may start to slow down a little, struggle to function, then all of a sudden it will completely crash. Blank screen, time to re-boot. Essentially this could be a metaphor for our way of living. There is no time to pause, no time to reflect. Everything is accessible, every time of day, the machine does not stop. There is a need for instant gratification and we want everything yesterday. We watch what we eat, attend fitness classes, yet how many of us factor into the equation that we also need to be mindful and look after our mental well-being?
10 October is World Mental Health Day, the annual global celebration of mental health education, awareness and advocacy. The theme for 2015 is Dignity in Mental Health. Sometimes it is not a case of there being an elephant in the room but the whole jungle. Let’s be frank, it is not always all good and as the world seems to be on fast forward, at times the mind is being totally neglected and abused.
I find two people in the public eye are exemplary in shouting out and being proud about mental health, Ruby Wax and Stephen Fry. I used to find Wax quite annoying, possibly because I recognise a lot of my own qualities in her manic, hyper, louder than loud self. However, I tip my corduroy cap at this energised lady in trying earnestly to do what Polonius recommends in Hamlet – to be mindful and ‘Know thyself.’
The comedienne has done exactly, that going off to Oxford to study Mindfulness with the master of the subject matter, Dr. Mark Williams. Wax bravely tackled her battle with depression and has toured the country discussing the brain and mental health, detailed in her book, Sane New World: Taming the Mind
It doesn’t matter if you’re famous or live in a mud hut or what culture you’re from: depression loves everyone.
She uses her comic presentation skills to inform, cajole and offer clarity on how our busy, self-critical thoughts can be controlled through re-wiring our thinking.
Stephen Fry is a champion of the human race; his unflinching brutal honesty is inspiring. It takes a courageous individual to reveal such personal vulnerabilities. Manic Depression is a disease that’s little talked about and little understood. In The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, the actor sets out to explore the causes and treatments of a condition that may affect as many as six per cent of the population.
The more people speak up and out, the more the taboo subject of being mindful and even discussing mental health will become the norm. What is the problem, if someone breaks their leg they need to get it re-set and re-constructed? However, as it’s in the mind, people keep quiet. In this frantic world, this silence is why more and more people are being hit with illness. For me personally, my mental health is essentially like the weather. There are bleak storm clouds all in the sky some days, completely filling the eye’s view. But behind the clouds there is an azure blue sky, it is still there, things do pass.
My mantra used to be ‘Its all good.’ I’d often recite this affirmation when things were problematic. After a while it became like I was on auto pilot, uttering this remark. Sometimes it’s not all good, but that’s okay. Sometimes it’s just plain alright!
Statue photograph by Chris Ensey via Unsplash