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

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…

Attention and intention

Full of life, banish loneliness, be a good listener

Is this the face of a good listener? Would you like to have her as a friend to talk to?

One crucial thing to understand is the way we connect with others. It’s not enough to be in the same place as other people. You can be in a crowded room, a busy station, a park full of people, even in bed with your spouse… and still feel lonely. In fact, it can feel much worse – to be close to others but be shut out, shut off from them, invisible. Sometimes you feel that even if you yelled and screamed, no-one would hear you.

Sometimes even if you’re in the middle of a conversation, you can feel that your companion has drifted off, distracted by something else or just daydreaming. They’re not listening to you any more, and when you prod them, they are startled as they pull their attention back to you.

“Sorry, I was miles away…”

Not very flattering, is it? Is what you were saying so boring?

Who knows what was going on in their head. Maybe they were terribly worried and couldn’t concentrate. Maybe they saw something fascinating over your shoulder. Maybe they’re exhausted after a hellish day. Maybe they’re shallow and selfish and need a slap…

Ignore that last bit – it’s how it makes us feel but it’s almost certainly not fair.

We’ve all had it happen to us… but have you ever been guilty of it? Not listening, not keeping your attention focused on what someone is telling you?

Being a good listener is a great way to connect: here are seven points of a listener.

banish loneliness, be full of life

Are they listening? Are they people you’d want as friends for their kindness and empathy?

1. Keep eye contact as much as possible; keep your eyes on the speaker’s face, at least.

2. Listen with all your senses – more is said with body language and tone of voice than with words.

3. Don’t interrupt. Don’t argue. Ask questions to get clarity, not to interrogate.

4. Stay close but not too close – don’t invade the speaker’s personal space unless invited.

5. Let your body show your interest; lean forward just a little, don’t fidget, but nod your head to indicate you hear them and understand.

6. Listen with empathy. Don’t criticise, and don’t judge – not even in your head.

7. Be kind. The speaker will feel your kind intention.

Do you know how it feels to have a good listener to talk to? 

Are you a good listener?

 

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?

 

Non-attachment -v- loneliness

2011: The Year of Planned Abandonment

The Year of Planned Abandonment (Photo credit: benrmatthews)

Interesting article, this (read it HERE) – but I think the writer used the wrong word.

“Abandonment” is a passive term to imply that you have been abandoned, ie it wasn’t your choice, and you don’t like it. There are lots of very negative emotions resulting from the feeling of abandonment, whether it first happened when you were a child, or at any stage afterwards. It’s closely related to rejection, which is never comfortable…

Having read the article, I think what they’re talking about is the Buddhist concept of non-attachment – not hanging on to things in the past, needing very few material baggage, and carrying minimal emotional baggage. it’s interesting to see how similar the Christian and Buddhist teachings are on this, although of course Christians are taught to put their faith in God, where Buddhists are encouraged to take responsibility for their own lives.

The essential argument of the article, though, is hard to deny – the more we think we need Stuff, and depend on others (human or divine) to make our lives better, the more we are likely to be disappointed.

And that lovely point about health insurance – how true! Do you recognise that paradox?

Whether, like me, you’re not of a religious bent, or have a strong faith, I’d love to know what you feel about this article. Do please leave me a comment.

English: pink lily flower

English: pink lily flower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

50 vital questions

From Occupy Ottawa’s Facebook page, here are some questions for you. They might be easy to answer if you feel strongly, but some of them will be tough, and more will make you think very hard. Perfect Sunday musing.

These 50 questions have no right or wrong answers because sometimes, asking the right questions is the answer.

1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
2. Which is worse, failing or never trying?
3. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?

take what you can use and let the rest go by

take what you can use and let the rest go by (Photo credit: harold.lloyd)

4. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

5. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
6. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
7. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
8. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
9. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
10. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
11. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire. They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend. The criticism is distasteful and unjustified. What do you do?
12. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
13. Would you break the law to save a loved one?
14. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?
15. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
16. How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?
17. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What’s holding you back?
18. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
19. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?
20. Do you push the elevator button more than once? Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
21. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
22. Why are you, you?
23. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
24. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
25. What are you most grateful for?
26. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
27. Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
28. Has your greatest fear ever come true?
29. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset? Does it really matter now?
30. What is your happiest childhood memory? What makes it so special?
31. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
32. If not now, then when?
33. If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
34. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?
35. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
36. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?
37. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
38. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?
39. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?
40. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?
41. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
42. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
43. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
44. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
45. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
46. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
47. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
48. What do you love? Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
49. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?
50. Decisions are being made right now. The question is: Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?
How did you do? Have any of these questions prompted you to make even a small change today?
What questions would you ask your family, your friends… and the people you dislike or who make you angry?

Living emotions through drama

Working out emotions through fictional characters, Full of life, full of joy, loneliness, grief

William Hurt in ‘J’enrage de son absence’

A good review of a new French film, “J’enrage de son absence” (Maddened by his Absence) reminded me that living through painful emotions through fictional characters can help, especially if the emotions are complicated and confusing. Of course, jumping into a film about grief-stricken, lonely people when you’re feeling much the same can lead to a sense of drowning in it, so it doesn’t always work… But if, like me, you don’t quite know what you’re feeling and can’t quite sort out why and what and how and when, watching a drama play out through fictional characters can help get things a bit straighter and – bonus – make us realise again that we’re far from being alone in feeling this way.

When my sister rang to tell me she had cancer, it was just as I and a friend were going in to a cinema to watch ‘Love Actually’. Disaster. The upbeat, sweet romantic comedy was so much at odds with my feelings that it meant me crying silently through most of the film, especially at the end, with the images of happy people greeting each other at the airport. Hundreds of them, all ecstatic at seeing their families and friends. Instead of thinking positively about what I could do for Ginny, and being able to talk it through with my friend, I was stuck in the dark cinema with my imaginings and all this happy sweetness. In contrast to the feelings on screen, I was picturing the worst and starting to grieve for what was in danger of being lost. Not good.

Have you had an experience of fiction affecting your emotional state for good or ill?