Mental health awareness

World Mental Health Day (10th October)

Across the world this week mental health will be featured on radio and television programmes and in our daily newspapers. The reason the World Health Organisation (WHO) have designated 10th October as World Mental Health Day. It is the hidden illness, the one nobody ever talks about, the one with all the stigmas attached. “Men don’t cry”; “Buck up, you’re not ill”, “What have you got to be worried about?” you hear it all the time; but not from sufferers. There are too few safety valves, all too often the sufferer bottles up the feelings, then breaks catastrophically.

Work place stress

As the UK’s Mental Health Foundation outline this year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is mental health in the workplace. This is no minimal issue, the HSE’s official figures for 2015/16 identified nearly half a million sufferers or 1.5% of the UK workforce! That the NHS services to aid suffers are being cut is a scandal and a national disgrace.

I link my quad heart-bypass op 10 years ago to accumulated issues; a primary cause being workplace stress. I hope my two written pieces included below can put over the alternative; it is out there and needs to be shared.

Weather vane image

Wind rider; Colwall, Herefordshire. (C) John New

Panic attack

When you’re standing on top of the world and you start looking down it begins; a mix of fear and exhilaration, waltzing in on the wind in the air, a maelstrom possessing your thoughts. They react, taking over your brain, turning, spinning, one moment laughter, the next like someone has grabbed your neck, garrotting, you feel for a moment that you can’t breathe. Then the panic attack disperses, you look, take in the view, the far distant horizon, blue and hazy. Not touchable but definitely visible.

You know how sometimes you smell something and it’s the same effect. Grabbing you, taking you out from where you are, to the place you remember; often fondly, but sometimes with fear, leading down into a dark abyss. On a good day you’re abseiling, the tethering rope holding fast, the drop manageable, the climb back a quick hop onto the escalator.

When you ride the wind, taking the chances, the horizon is in reach, an achievable goal growing ever closer. When the wind takes you, it gusts and buffets, twists, turns, the horizon spinning and turning. Only you will notice, inside all is in turmoil, but outside all is looking normal with the world turning as it always does, always will.

Release day

An October morning like any other
but that’s not actually true
alarm gone off as usual
tea and coffee made
dressing for work
today though the bus
probably off to the pub later.
What will it be like?
Will it be stressful?
Is this how a prisoner feels?

Normality for a while longer
who am I kidding.
Get through it, keep going
No tears, relief,
yes feeling that
Don’t plant the boss whatever you feel
Management may be callous
Thumping them though
not really the answer
The sort of B’ word you want to say
welling in you, but stifled.

It’s over, twenty six years gone
You can walk away
The big door opens
You are free!
Free to begin again
Do what you’ve always wanted to do
Stress free at last,
a last look at the door over your shoulder
Then back to your mates
Off to the pub, a celebration
No regrets, just relief
So glad, unlike them I can get a bus
No walk back to the shackles
of a hell hole office
Yes, I do feel like a released prisoner
The scars may be easier to work off
but they’re there going deep
Management bullying no more
Release, freedom, retirement,
Thank god I’ve survived
and, unlike my father
I’m still healthy enough to enjoy it.

Support networks

Hoping that in some small way this post today can at least help someone realise they are not alone.

Copyright

The above is not released into the public domain and remains the copyright of the author; John New. (C) 2017.

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