My Reasons To Stay Alive

It is no secret to those around me that my favourite book is The Humans by Matt Haig. I love the way it reaches into what we think is the norm and compares it to how another race could possibly see us. Our thoughts, ideas, habits and they way we interact with each other all merge into one big question mark. What makes us all different?

Our DNA, for example, will never match any other living thing on the plant. It’s unique to us. Just like our minds and imagination. Unique to each and every one of us.

The grey matter is what gives us our sense of humour, our passion, our creativity and our ability to love and hate in equal measures from both sides of its gloopy glory. But what happens when the chemicals inside your brain decide that today is not your day? From this day forth the neurons will change the way you think about life forever and there is nothing you can do about it? What would you do?

Last night, I attended an event – Head on Fire, Mind and Scottish Mental Health Association. It involved a panel of ordinary human beings coming together to discuss a subject that affected them and those around them on a daily basis. Mental health.

The panel: Matt Haig, Richard Holloway, Jenny Lindsay and representatives from NHS Lothian and See Me. With acoustic music from Withered Hand, the audience were captivated from start to finish.

Mental health – the stigma attached to these two little words is still rife in our world. It doesn’t need to be. It shouldn’t be. So, what can we do to help? What can we do to raise awareness? What can we do to understand what is going on in our partner/friend/son/daughters heads? What can we do to inform ourselves? What can we learn NOT to say to them, to let them know we are on their side?

Resources to combat increased GP visits, educating communities and stamping out prejudices and assumptions were the main talking points. The work that SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and SEEME (See Me Scotland) have done over the many years has been amazing and yet we still find ourselves fighting the ability to tell everyone how we feel for fear of ridicule and discrimination at work, among others. This needs to stop. We, as a human race, need to step away from the stereotypical nonsense that seems to arise whenever the words, depression, anxiety or mental health are spoken. They are usually whispered but they should be said as normal, every day words. They affect every day people so they should be spoken every day without fear of recrimination or even worse, a pat on the head and a ‘have a good nights sleep, you’ll be grand in the morning’. No. There are people who won’t be grand in the morning, or be able to open their eyes and look forward to the day ahead and take that huge leap to get out of bed. These are the people who need support from those around them. They don’t want to be diagnosed within seconds and given pills to ‘get them back into the game’.

It’s an illness not a personality trait.

I do not have a mental illness but I know people who have. I need to know what could be going on in their heads when they tell me ‘they’re fine’ when they are not fine. I can tell when they have their game faces on now and I will always be there to help them. Even if it’s forcing them to climb Arthur’s Seat in the rain or eat chocolate covered pancakes.

Right now, I am reading Reasons to Stay Alive. I have counted mine – the list is endless. You should count yours too.