#gmAsks Q&A Session For Mental Health Awareness Week

This evening I hosted a question and answer session for Grey Matters on my twitter (@mentalbattle) on the topic of “Improving The Moment” for Mental Health Awareness Week. Here are the questions and answers:

What coping strategies have you used and found helpful?

Crochet and colouring in. Crochet helps you keep your hands busy while your brain gets a chance to rest. Colouring in needs to be intricate so you have to focus on it and not on anything else-form of mindfulness?

Do you find mindfulness useful?

Yes, I’m quite new to it, but already seeing the benefits. I take a class at the local Buddhist centre and read at home. It clears my mind of clutter, and stops me stressing about the past/future. It’s also helped my insomnia. I also practice when I’m on my bike-I focus on the countryside instead of negative thoughts. Mindfulness on wheels!

I don’t know that much about mindfulness and haven’t practiced it but I found the #healthyminds taster session interesting.

Ironically, I find it much easier to practice when I’m more well. When I’m more in need of the skills, they’re harder to use.

It’s not necessarily something to be taught but something that we all do but just don’t realise.

Have you had support from friends/family/mental health services? Has it been useful?

The best support from friends is offers of cups of tea, dinners and hugs.

It’s the small things-a text or a phone call can make all the difference to someone who’s struggling.

What do you do to improve the moment?

A few deep breaths.

Does being outside have a positive effect on your mental health?

Definitely helps me relax being outside walking dogs by sea and enjoying nature.

Being in the countryside doesn’t help me but being in sunshine or by water does! You have to find what works for you. Sun restorative, water calming.

Yes! Whether exercising, a walk in the the park or just being in the sun-all beneficial.

Absolutely-cycling is my big thing. Just disappearing into the countryside for a few hours. Fresh air and exercise.

Do you think it would be useful if mindfulness was taught right from nursery school through to workplace?

Definitely, as part of a mental education class. Children are taught PE, so why not mental education? It just seems like common sense. It would also pretty much normalise mental illness and eradicate stigma.

What does self-care mean to you?

Self-care is my aim, I want to be able to cope without relying on 3rd party help. Methods could be varied.

Looking after myself-washing, sleeping, eating properly, positive thoughts, exercise. Not always possible of course.

Self-care is anything that makes me feel a bit better. Reading, walking, colouring, showering, music!

What do you do to self-soothe?

Self-soothing-reading, writing, shouting (actually works for me, not so good for others around me though)

Yes! A world-changingly good idea.

To follow more of the conversation, check out the #gmAsks on Twitter.

Where Has Society’s Compassion Gone?

I was deeply saddened this morning to learn that someone had taken their life on the Victoria Line but I was even more saddened by the reactions that I read on Twitter. I thought our society valued human life and did whatever was possible to stop human suffering but I was wrong as quickly people’s commutes seemed to become more important than the life lost.

Among some of the disgusting and heartless tweets were:

“Always in rush hour on a Monday selfish b*stards”

“Who decides to kill them self on a Monday morning #selfish”

“If someone wants to kill themselves they should do it in their own time not when it interferes with others”

Where has society’s compassion gone? I thought we were beginning to become more educated about mental health and suicide. I thought we had the emotional intelligence to think beyond a delayed train and see the painful and upsetting reality of the situation. The person who died on the Victoria Line today is someone’s child, they may be someone’s parent or sibling, they’ve got neighbours, they’ve probably got friends. The devastation and upset their death will bring is unimaginable. Think about the train driver, any witnesses, the police and paramedics that have to get the body. It is traumatising and upsetting for so many people. You will get to work eventually today but that person, they will never feel the sun on their skin or send another Christmas card. Can you imagine how horrific that person must have been feeling?! The emotional and mental pain must have been unbearable, and the physical pain of the way they died…I can’t even think about it.

You might have been delayed this morning, you might have had to take a different route to work but you are still alive and count yourself lucky if you didn’t know the person who died because we all think we are so far away from suicide but when my best friend died from suicide it was so unexpected. I can almost guarantee that each and every one of us know someone who has seriously contemplated suicide.

We are a wealthy country, let’s start valuing human life more than a delayed train.