The Mental Health Circus
We are deeply saddened by the current media circus using mental health as a weapon to attack whose ever side people may choose to be on. Our own stance on the subject has always revolved around Bobby’s own struggles with GAD (General Anxiety Disorder). An honest personal insight into a much misunderstood world. When the pandemic started, naturalist Chris Packham started the Self Isolating Bird Club, which has now exceeded 60,000 members from all over the world. Chris has also been very open about his own mental health issues. The Bird Club is essentially an uplifting forum for members to share their joy and experiences with our feathered friends. But, on occasion, you get a more profound share. Like this one that really resonated with us.
We walk in the hills most days. Partly for Cardiac Rehab and physical health reasons. But also, most importantly, for mental health. I have to remind him when he worries he hasn’t cleaned the bathroom; washed the car; pruned the Buddleia of what is really important in his life. Basically everything is, but has to be prioritised. Too often that walk could be classed as self indulgent, fun; nowhere near as important as cleaning the bathroom.
Our readers need to decide on their own list of priorities, but we urge you to look after your mental health. It may be that your list of priorities will need a little shuffling.
If you are self isolating, living on your own, you may well be an expert on Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, FaceTime and all those other electronic wonders of the modern world. But nothing replaces the human contact. For Bobby (and I, sometimes) every walk has chance encounters, a friendly wave, a chat about a Portuguese Water Dog, John Evelyn, Lucinda Lambton, Annie’s Song, even the…weather.
Regular encounters for those doing exactly the same thing. One day things will be different. But, for many, we believe they have discovered a way of life they actually like. Lockdown has reduced the pressure of time. The need to justify every second of your day. The guilt experienced in staying indoors doing nothing.
So while the claim is justifiably true that mental health has suffered during the pandemic, the alternative view for some could be that it has improved their mental health. And while I am writing this I, am listening to the Jo Good show on Radio London. A listener just confided that when he was suffering from mental illness he felt he was letting his family down. Men had to be seen to be strong. Not weak.
Mental illness is not weakness. For many, it is incredibly brave to keep going through a world of misunderstanding.
It’s a lovely day tomorrow. Frank Sinatra.
In the week since we wrote this story, another gem has appeared on the Self Isolating Bird Club. And here it is.
Lighting a candle for Diddley