This coming week is Mental Health Awareness Week: Our contribution to the awareness week will be publishing three articles about mental health. The choice is to make the submissions anonymous. In a way, this gives the articles more impact. The anonymity forces the reader to acknowledge they could be sitting next to a stranger who is working through their moment of discord.
Discord is the word. When someone is within mental illness, they feel dissonance with their surroundings, environment and people. There are different degrees of disease. One can feel just ‘low’ or in a place of despair. And of course, there are further and deeper stages of mental illness.
Liz and I can remember being subject to constant and somewhat frightening interaction with someone who was going through a psychotic episode. We realised the person was not responsible for their actions and we bear no malice. However, there could be no doubt someone of a weaker constitution could have been severely affected. Although the event occurred over four years ago, we have not forgotten the phone calls, letter and confrontations. Indeed, one of the reasons for highlighting the mental health awareness week is directly due to this episode.
The point here is it is near impossible to understand the illness of another person. And it is also impossible to help someone unless you are a health professional. ‘Hang on a minute Ian’ you’ll comment ”we can help people who need support’. And indeed you can. The suggestion is: help with kindness and emotional support, but know when to encourage your friend to seek professional help.
Do not think that mental illness means you cannot function. And do not fear to discuss the problem with your doctor. You will not automatically be prescribed drugs, and the visit will not result in being sectioned!
Monday’s article is not to be missed. It offers a real insight into one person’s perspective of depression. No doubt some people will find immense support form this article. You can feel the power of the story and become uplifted from the outcome.
On Wednesday we listen to an article about happiness. Jon Sharp believes joy, comedy and laughter are the best ways to open the door to freedom. He say’s ‘I used to take life so seriously. Today is see the funny side of every small trauma. The adage that you’ll laugh about an issue later is true!’ Jon is right; he’ll guide you to his confrontation will mental illness and how he overcame the darkness.
Douglas Cox told me about a situation: He worked in Africa during the late sixties laying an oil pipeline. During the excavation of the path of the pipe, they came to a man chained to a tree. He had to be moved, so, Douglas ordered the chain severed. None of the workforces would free the unfortunate. When asked why the reason was given was the man was possessed with demons. A doctor was called for as the hold-up was costing thousands of dollars a day.
After an hour the diagnosis was epilepsy, and at the time nothing could be done to help the unfortunate. The compromise was to build a small wooden house for the man outside of the village before he could be moved. After expressing my sorrow about the story, Douglas replied: ‘Remember Ian; less than one-hundred and fifty years ago, possession was a normal explanation for mental illness.’
Douglas was no stranger to depression; he’d flow bombers during the second world war. The fire-storms of Dresden tormented him for many years. He talked about the suffering people must have experienced during the inferno. ‘You could see the target one-hundred miles away. My crew were silent during the approach and some time during the return journey’.
Douglas Cox was my stepfather, a wonderful and kind man who built a successful business. Few who met him would know the mental illness caused by his war years. He proved beyond doubt it is possible to function and indeed thrive while living with mental illness.
As a ‘Well Being Organisation’ we should promote The Mental Health Awareness Week. If one person benefits from next weeks articles, then we have made a positive contribution to The Mental Health Awareness Week.
See You Soon