Feeling Good?

A post for Mental Health Awareness Week

Many of you have started following my blog in the past year or so, and may not be aware that I originally began this over four years ago to share my experience of depression, in the hope that it would help others. From the comments I’ve received since then it appears that this has happened far more than I could ever have hoped, although I admit to having strayed off message quite a lot since then. You will probably also be unaware that I ran a series of ‘Dates To Note’ about key days in the calendar, mostly around health and social care. They can be found from the menu above, if you’re interested. Not wanting this to become stale or repetitive – I can do that without setting myself up for it – I stopped these as a regular feature two or three years ago. But this week has prompted a slight return, to borrow a phrase from Jimi Hendrix.

I’m slightly confused by this – it doesn’t take much – but I have seen various references (mostly American, I think) to May being Mental Health Awareness Month whilst here in the UK this week, from 8th to 14th May, is Mental Health Awareness Week. So, we have two ‘Dates To Note’ though as I’m British I’m concentrating on our week. This is organised by the Mental Health Foundation, and you can find their site here. The MHF do a lot of good work campaigning for better mental health, and provide a wealth of useful information on mental health matters. I commend their site to you if you want to know more. If you are in the States the equivalent organisation there is HealthyPlace, and you can find their site by clicking on the ‘Stand Up’ logo at the top of the column to the right.

For this year’s Awareness Week the MHF is turning things on their head. As they put it themselves, ‘Rather than ask why so many people are living with mental health problems, we will seek to uncover why too few of us are thriving with good mental health.’ To support this they commissioned a piece of research which has found that, rather disappointingly, only 13% of us feel that we are thriving in this way. The report can be found here – it is fairly short and easily read, and includes a definition of what ‘thriving with good mental health’ means, in case you were wondering.

Having been diagnosed with depression five years ago, I am acutely aware that it is something which is never ‘cured.’ I’ve been off medication for more than two years now, but always have that underlying worry that I might slip back into ways which allow the depression to take hold again. My physical health has been far from good for the past two years, and this has rendered me more housebound than I would like. If I’m being brutally honest with myself, I know that this isn’t good for my mental health, but physical health needs are winning out at present. If you look at the MHF site you’ll find a brief survey to complete, which gives you an assessment of how well, or otherwise, you are thriving. It is only seven questions and takes a couple of minutes. Anyone who has been diagnosed with depression will at some point have completed an assessment like this with a doctor, though this one is slightly different in its focus. Having had a few recent pangs of concern, I approached this with some trepidation. As always with such questionnaires, the important thing is to answer as honestly as possible – lying to yourself is pointless! I took the survey, and this was my result:

Click to enlarge

To be frank, I was pleasantly surprised at this, and found some encouragement from it. I would encourage you to take the survey – and if your score is low please consider visiting your doctor to talk it through. I know from my own experience that hiding from yourself, failing to accept that you might need help, can be very damaging. I was eventually off work for more than nine months, and have always felt that this could have been much shorter if I’d accepted the need to do something sooner than I did. So do as I say, please, not as I did!

The flip side of this coin is that you could take this test and get a similar result to mine, and think everything is alright. But there are limitations to such tests, and if you are at all worried about your mental health – if you feel that you aren’t thriving – it would be remiss to think that your result means you don’t need to do anything. As I say, I’ve had my own concerns recently, and these won’t go away simply because I’m ‘around the national average.’ Our mental health is precious, and I’ll be taking good care of mine, including signing up for the MHF’s package mentioned in the screenshot above. I hope you do whatever you can to look after yourself.

Regular readers will know how important a role music plays in my life. Indeed, it is one of many factors which contribute to our mental wellbeing, and is used in therapy. You may have recognised that the title for this piece is borrowed from a song, the most famous version of which is this, by Nina Simone:

I trust that listening to that will have raised your spirits a little! Have a good day, and be well.

33 thoughts on “Feeling Good?

  1. Reblogged this on Take It Easy and commented:

    As Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) is looming on the horizon again (14-20 May here in the UK) I thought it would be worthwhile sharing again the post I wrote to mark last year’s event. I haven’t decided whether to write something new for this year, so it seemed right to do something to draw attention to MHAW now in case I don’t get around to a new post.

    As I’ve often said, I began blogging to share my experience of depression and mental illness, and whilst I’ve strayed quite a lot from that it will always be a subject that matters to me, and to which I will always return at some point. The theme for this year’s MHAW is ‘stress’ – and that’s why I’m in two minds about writing something specific for this year. Having retired nearly five years ago I’ve now managed to remove stress almost entirely from my life, and don’t feel that qualified to write about it now. Maybe I can do something from memory, as the pressures of juggling work and family life, and the stresses that brings on, are still there in the canyons of my mind (bonus points if you get that obscure musical reference!).

    If you follow the link in the original piece you will find the website of the Mental Health Foundation, who organise MHAW. There are many good resources on this site, so if you are worried for yourself or someone close to you, do take a look. Don’t do what I did all those years ago, and close your mind to your situation. Take it from me and my experience: there is help to be found out there, but it won’t seek you out – it’s up to you to reach for it. I hope you don’t need it, but it’s always good to know it’s there, just in case.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly that. I didn’t, and it took me a long while to finally do it. With hindsight, I’d probably have been off work for a much shorter period if I’d sought help sooner.

        Liked by 1 person

      • One of the ‘advantages’ of living alone is that you can hide from reality, and live in your own little world. I’m sorry about your late aunt – that’s why having a good support network is important, as others may see what you don’t.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: May 2017: Mental Health Awareness | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  3. I haven’t listened to Nina Simone for such a long time. This was a treat this morning. I have been treated for depression for the last 15 years. It is not an easy thing when the black dog sits on your chest and won’t let you up off the ground to try to figure out how to get up and get going. I have found music helpful to change my mood but I have to be careful because some music only makes the depression worse. Thanks for the well written post.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for the link to the quiz, Clive – I’m curious. I’m with Osyth – kudos to MHS for flipping things around – and to you for taking care of your physical as well as mental health.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t take the test, since at this time in the morning, (5 a.m.) I usually answer emails, but I intend to take it later in the day. Maybe I’ll score better after I’ve had coffee and breakfast! I always like your articles on the topic of depression. It means something that you have been there, and are thriving once again!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Diane. At 5am all I can do is sleep so I don’t blame you for waiting till later. I’m sure you’ll get a good score, with or without caffeine! Thanks for your kind words and support 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Chapeau to the MHF for turning the idea on its head and letting us understand what thriving is, what the statistics are and how to understand, albeit it quite crudely, whether we are thriving, surviving or diving. I’m happy to say that I am OK according to the quiz and this doesn’t surprise me. I did not expect to come out as a supernova but I also don’t feel that I am crawling into the pit. Years of experience have told me to watch for both and to be mindful. My wish continues to be that we, as a society, will finally accept that our mental wellbeing is equally important to our physical which brings me to my last point. The physical certainly plays a point and I am very sorry that your physical health is preventing you from leaving the house and being as active as you want and indeed feel you need to be to protect your mental well-being. You should be extremely proud that despite this you scored reasonably well and that you are self-managing so well. Great article. Thank you

    Liked by 2 people

    • I rather liked the way they reversed the norm too. It gives it a more positive spin but also allows for potential issues to be picked up. I would have expected nothing less than a good score for you! You’re right, the main thing is for the need for good mental health to be more widely recognised, and it’s good to see organisations like the MHF helping us along that path.

      Thanks, I know I need to take care. Once bitten, etc. Glad you liked the piece xx

      Liked by 2 people

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