I’m again sat in our local London library, giving our cleaner the flat space while she attends to what we can’t at the moment. It’s a grey day today, at least here from where I’m sat looking across the Canada Water pond/dock. Still, a chance to wrap up in jumpers, leggings and thick socks and reflect.
I’m now one week into the anti-depressant meds that my Oxford cancer & psych team prescribed. I’ve also had my second counselling appointment which was I have to say incredibly constructive and helpful. While I’m told that the meds don’t really start to take hold until at least 2 weeks in, I have in conjunction with the practices and techniques I’m learning, been able to enjoy for the first time in a long while some calm and peace from a challenging interior monologue. I’ve been able to sit, rest, relax and not think about illness for longer periods of time. Instead I’ve been able to think about and enjoy being part of the present day and moment. While far from ‘there’, wherever ‘there’ is with this whole mind-f***, I’m going in the right direction and I’ll take that. I’m proud of myself.
Concerning mental health and on World Mental Health Day yesterday, I saw an upsetting news report about how we’re still massively failing the population when it comes to adequate support. This was alarming because (excuse the my past naivety) I don’t view the body and mind so much as separate any more – if one part isn’t functioning well, the whole system isn’t really. Knock-on affects abound. On the report a statistic was referenced from the ONS, that in 2015 at the last ONS check, there were 4,820 deaths by suicide registered in England averaging out at 13 per day. So each day in England, 13 people will wake, will decide that there is nothing anyone can do to help them, and will end their own life. How did we ever get here?
While personally very far from wishing harm upon myself, I can see from trying to fathom how I’d sunk to a much lower state, that you don’t necessarily spot an altered mood. Mine had crept upon me daily to a point that I had people suggesting I was depressed and sought help, and still I denied it. I was tough enough (and stubborn) to handle the mental cancer battle as well as the physical! Except it turns out, I wasn’t. While I’ve been able to access support quickly because of the cancer, what about people that don’t have an accompanying medical condition, that their chief condition is that they have mental illness? Like some friends that have previously sought help with altered mood-state, will they simply be offered antidepressants and told to report back on how it’s going? A questionable approach when depression zaps your energy and effect; drags you into privacy, rather than active collaboration with others. Though I understand that it would take an incredible amount of money to change this general first-line medical approach (and it’s not the saintly GPs being mean here – they live within budgets) there has to be some way to improve this picture. Financially and policy-wise, it’s for the government to flex the purse strings on and they need to. Happily, there is also community and the act of caring for one another. What a great world it would be if we webbed ourselves a little tighter under the act of treating your neighbour as you would like to be treated yourself. This isn’t necessarily religiousness, it’s kindness. Maybe while the government are farting about allocating pennies in the pound, we can reduce the number of people waking up and deciding not to face another day though a collective community action.
“How are you today?”