Blog for mental health – no more stigma

mental health, blog for mental health, mental illness, depression, loneliness, isolation, alientation, lonely feelings, full of life, dying of loneliness, bored and lonely, stuck, friendship, connection, well, ill, suicide, suicidal, feelings, emotionsI pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project.  I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others.  By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health.  I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

After five family bereavements in 14 months, I had a melt-down in 2008 which had a serious impact on my business, on friendships and work relationships, on my finances and my whole way of life. It resulted in a huge change – leaving the country and starting a very different life in Europe. The peace and clarity of the mountains gave me back the ability to think, but it took years to reach the point of being able to go back into the ‘real’ world. For many reasons, I wouldn’t turn the clock back as, despite the bad bits, I have learned so much and found so much good in the process. I would only wish to undo the damage I unwillingly caused to others.

This blog is a major route to putting something back, to sharing what I’ve learned and, maybe, giving people some new options to getting out of deep ruts.

Two good ones to read:

Knocked over by a feather

A canvas of the minds

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Loneliness, whether chronic or acute, can be wrapped up in the despair that leads to thoughts of suicide. Read this powerful post and keep your eyes and ears open for the tiny clues that might alert you to family or friends’s hidden feelings. If this is you… talk to someone, please. If you feel that no-one you know cares enough to listen, talk to someone whose job it is to listen. You won’t be a burden – exactly the opposite. They’ve trained for years to be able to help you and all of us who need help from time to time, so they are completely focused, ready and more than willing. Please… pick up the phone, send an email, or walk in. Don’t fester on your own. Another perspective really helps to pull you at least part of the way out of your rut. And when you get a better all-round view, you may start to see some solutions. There will be some, but you need to be in a position to spot them. You can’t see anything when you’re in the depths where it’s dark and cold. Let someone give you a hand to reach the light and the warmth…

Happy high-flyer hides lethal loneliness

Loneliness does not just affect the elderly and vulnerable. It’s a feeling that can hit anyone, any age, any circumstances – and can be devastating.

A 28-year old woman living in Manchester felt so cut-off from her family that despite being thought happy and successful, she felt acutely lonely to the point of suicide.

The Kenyan online paper The Standard (read the report here) reported the sad death of Sharon Bukokhe, a high-flying business woman living in Britain, with her family scattered around the world. Her sense of disconnection must have agonising, as it lead to her planning and carrying out her own death, presumably to stop the pain of alienation and separation.

On the surface she was happy, busy, intelligent, ambitious and heading for success. But she was disguising profound loneliness, even from her family. She was in her twenties, married, with everything ahead of her.

Loneliness, isolation, disconnection – whatever the feeling’s called – can break strong people and shatter lives.

Don’t let it kill someone you love.

 

Confusion and conflict over non-sexual touch

The Daily Mail ran an article about a New York woman who offers a cuddle service to anyone, man or woman, who’s feeling touch-deprived. And she’s being branded as a prostitute by some who don’t understand the difference between touch and sex.

Read the article here.

Jackie Samuel, founder of The Snuggery, has a degree in Brain and Cognitive Science from the University of Rochester, and is doing a Masters degree in social work; she is very clear that her service has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with healing: “My philosophy embraces the idea that we are all aspects of the same self—to be a healer is to be healed. When we cultivate or nurture something outside ourselves, we’re nurturing what’s inside as well. Touch can breach the perceived separation and provide us with a healing connection.”

Two comments: the first is that it’s tragic that such a service should be needed, when kindly, simple touch should be part of everyday life; and that people’s values should be so distorted that they mistake compassionate touch for sex. She apparently has had plenty of mail from outraged citizens accusing her of prostitution and ‘selling love’. What nonsense. She doesn’t “love” her clients, except in the purely spiritual sense of general compassion. And it’s hardly an outrageous fee she charges: $50 for a session is a fraction of what you’d pay for PR advice, let alone dentistry or medicine. I’d guess that most New York therapists charge considerably more for considerably less benefit.

And she’s doing something about the drastic touch deficit we’re facing now, and which our children are facing in far worse proportions as the taboo on touch increases.

The first time I set foot in New York I’ll be booking a session and will report back to you. If any readers in and around Rochester NY fancy giving her cuddling service a try, please send me a report. I love the idea and wish her well.

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A big hug, a light touch

The best medicine

Hugs are supposed to be great. The best hugs are great. But are we too scared to give each other proper, heartfelt hugs?

How do you like yours?

I like huggers who hug gently but completely. A hug of kindness, from top to toe, long enough for the kindness to sink in. A gift of a hug, that gives energy and kindness and doesn’t take. A hug that doesn’t hurt or strangle. A hug that leaves me tingling with life. A hug I want to repeat…

A hug should be two-way, that gives and receives at the same time.

But a return hug should be received, not taken. Do you get the difference? Receiving the love or kindness from your hugger is allowing them to give; taking  from your hugger is a bit like a vampire sucking the life out of a victim.

‘Give me a hug’ is the cry of a needy person. “Let me give you a hug” is the offer of a generous soul.

Heartfelt hugs are life-affirming, kind and loving

The best hugs feel safe and warm, gentle but firm, kind, giving, open, no-strings, head to toe, wholehearted and heart-felt. The best hugs are  life-affirming, reviving, reassuring, generous, sharing, unconditional kindness.

Who’s your favourite hugger?

Who can you hug right now?

All the lonely children

Loneliness can blight the life of a child

Much of the focus on loneliness is aimed at the elderly. Not before time, but they’re not the only group of people who feel lonely much of the time. Too many people begin their lonely lives when they are still children.

Lots of people hide their emotions, disguise how they feel and pretend that everything’s just fine. Truth is that we never know what’s really going on behind the disguise, let alone behind other people’s front doors. Loneliness can lurk behind the smartest doors and the busiest schedules.

Look again at the children around you. They may not say they feel lonely. You may not guess from their behaviour. But more children than you’d think feel lonely most of the time, and it has nothing to do with being alone. Loneliness feels lonelier if you’re around other people.

Chronic feelings of loneliness and isolation are high within these groups, for example:

Bullied children and their bullies; children who look after a sick parent; children of alcoholics; children with disabilities; children who have been scarred or disfigured; children with a parent in prison; children whose parents are focused on an ill or injured sibling; children who are expats or immigrants; children in a bereaved family…

Know kids who behave badly? Some of them maybe yearning for attention and don’t know any other way to get it; ‘attention-seeking” may be another way of saying “lonely”.

Christmas is coming – how will you make sure the kids you know aren’t feeling excluded, invisible or unloved this year?

 

Touched

Such a simple remedy for loneliness

Emma, young woman who trained in massage with me, went to an old people’s home to do some simple massage with the residents. She told us that she was massaging an elderly woman’s hands and suddenly the old lady’s eyes filled with tears. Emma asked her what was wrong, and the reply was: “This is the first time I’ve been touched since my husband died, 20 years ago.”

She discounted the touch of her professional carers because the touch was impersonal and a matter of logistics. Emma’s simple hand massage was intensely personal, with a focused, kind intention behind the touch. The old lady instinctively knew the difference even if she couldn’t explain it.

Two decades without simple, kindly touch. Think about it.

How easy to remedy.