The Mental Health Circus

Posted on 17/03/2021 By

A gravel path along a hill slope with a misty sun in the background.

As sure as night meets day the mist will lead to the sunshine.

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.

Mental Health - screen print of a share on the Self Isolating Bird Club. Text: "You can’t climb inside my head and see what I see or feel to be honest I didn’t even want to be inside it during my mental breakdowns. Constantly scared and confused and then going into St Ann’s hospital and not understanding why I couldn’t go with my family and loved ones when they left after they visited me in there. What I can share with you all is the feeling of freedom being in our beautiful countryside gives me and how just watching nature do it’s own thing helped me find the first building block to starting my life again. This time I’ve built my walls stronger to withstand any onslaught from our modern world. Every time I am surrounded by a green space I feel that much stronger ready to take on anything be it another radio interview, being on tv, being in a much loved magazine like the country life magazine or having organisations such as the RSPB writing a blog for me. I feed off the challenge of getting myself out there trying to help others it’s almost like a natural drug that’s given me far more confidence than I ever had before. Nature heals it’s a simple as that take care all."

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.

Hillside sloping down from right to left, with various worn pathways.


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.

First wild Violet of spring. Any day now, there will be true violet ones on the Downs. And Butterflies.

First wild Violet of spring. Any day now, there will be true violet ones on the Downs. And Butterflies.

Tiny snail shells all over the Downs.

Tiny snail shells all over the Downs.

The first Primroses, in a secluded corner.

The first Primroses, in a secluded corner.

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.

Text: Good morning all. A blackbird is sitting on her nest in the ivy.....right next to the greenhouse door! Wren seems to have taken to foraging around in there regularly ( door now left always open)So there's a brilliant reason to put off the annual clearing and cleaning of said greenhouse for a while. 😊The pond is full of frogspawn, the sparrows are squabbling and stampeding around the feeders as they return to their nest in the eaves. There's the occasional panic and screaming of seagulls as a buzzard drifts as you like. Bumble bees are visiting the heather and the daffodils are doing their cheerful thing all over the garden. All this I find wonderful and so many of you do too. Sending anyone who needs it today a virtual smile and hug from North Wales "Daw eto haul ar fryn". / The sun will again shine on the hill. X

Lighting a candle for Diddley

Bertie against a window covered in raindrops, with a candle lit for Diddley in front.

It’s raining again. Chill out. Live for today. We are watching The Sleeping Beauty streamed from Covent Garden. How about you?



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