Times are Changing…

Today has been the day of the Mental Health Debate in the House of Commons. (NB. No doubt there will be catch up on BBC or a round up on various websites, I will post links as available)

It has been highlighted over and over today that 1 in 4 people suffer from some sort of mental health challenge, and I can safely say that of those, 4 in 4 will face some sort of stigma, myself being no exception. I try to always speak out openly about my mental health, but there is always the little voice in the back of my mind wondering if I causing myself harm in doing so (career related or otherwise), and whether if little old me makes any difference at all. I tuned in today with intrigue and hope, and the hope that the hype of this debate would not be in vain.

I am happy to say, it was not.

MPs spoke candidly, and with care. They showed empathy. The House of Commons we know so well was stripped bare, no shouting and shennanigans, no bickering and banter. Politics and policies were pushed aside, and the conversation was centered purely around people, and how to ultimately change lives for the better.

It brought a tear to my eye hearing Kevan Jones and Charles Walker talk so opening about their own experiences, and facing that same fears as I; Kevan even saying “I’ve probably caused myself irreparable damage now” after a moving personal account of depression, which (and I hope is true) was quickly dismissed by fellow MPs and praised his courage to do so.

It is important to remember, that we should not only congratulate those that speak out about mental health, but now take this opportunity to contribute to this reform, to use our own voices. The smallest of stories really can make the biggest of differences, and when we all speak together – as today has quite clearly shown – that we will be heard.

Many people said today was Historical. Momentous. I agree whole heartedly. For the first time in a long time I have felt that I wasn’t quite so alone after all. That there are so many people out there fighting the cause and fighting our corner. The battle against Mental Health stigma no longer feels like a ‘David and Goliath’ scenario; David has suddenly found a stream of support  he never knew he had. The crowds (in whatever form they be) stood by his side and said “no, we won’t stand for this, anymore.” Suddenly the defeat of Goliath doesn’t seem so inconceivable and far fetched at all.

Some key areas have been highlighted today; namely employment and funding, and the discriminatory attitudes that have followed and surrounded mental health for decades and seem never-changing in their stereotypes and judgements. MPs have looked at the elderly, the forces, the young, the old, and one fact remained and echoed every element of speech: Mental Health affects everyone. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, however you got to be there. This isn’t a ‘you’ and ‘them’ situation, this is about ‘us’.

A few people (including one MP) have said that its perhaps a big leap, perhaps a bit ambitious, the idea of stamping out the negativity surrounding mental health issues. I would have to hastily disagree.

When we talk about mental health discrimination, it is easily compared (and has been today) to racial prejudices faced not so many years ago. We remember Rosa Parks, and her personal stand for equal rights. But what we need to remember is this: although groundbreaking in her actions, Rosa Parks wasn’t making a political statement, nor making a stand. Her actions came from her heart and the hope of some sanctity and solace from a rickety old seat after a long hard day. She was simply an older lady sitting down because she was tired.

And I am tired too. Tired of keeping quiet, tired of judgement. So here, I sit, on the hopefully ever-changing and ever-moving bus, hopefully ever-moving forward, day by day, and encourage you to take your seats too.

History is being made, and this is your chance to be part of it.

3 thoughts on “Times are Changing…

  1. Paddy Mac says:

    Great article, today was a good day full of potential & hope, I think today could be the foundations for our society to move forward on the subject of mental health.

  2. Lee says:

    Morning,

    I read your article about your first experinces of anxiety in the workplace on the Mind website, I am currently on my 1st day on the “Sick” after having a really difficult 2 weeks at work. Currently I feel really guilty that i am letting my collegues down and not doing my job, I assume this is normal but I start to feel anxious and get really angry with myself. I am really concerned that on my return to work I will have to experience somthing similar to yourself, I have considered quiting my job and doing something else but the financial impact would be huge on my family. This is having a massive impact with my wife and I feel I am letting her down too. I read the blogs and people talk about the light at the end of the tunnel but it seems so far away and that uncertainty scares me so much.Reading your story and others like it do help and make me feel like I am not the only one.
    Thank you for sharing
    Lee

    • generalgubbins says:

      Hello, sorry to hear what you’re going through at the moment. The guilt and anger is perfectly normal, I felt it much like many others in a similar position I have spoken to. The uncertainty is the worst; and possibly the most frustrating part of it all. You’re not letting anyone down, I promise. Real friends and colleagues should only wish you well, and a speedy recovery. Please don’t read into what happened to me as a cause for concern, I’d hate to think its adding to your anxiety.
      What you need to remember (and maybe take from the time you have off sick) is to use this as a period of reflection perhaps, and some self discovery. It was tough when I left that job, and was lucky I didn’t have a family that depended on me, but I wouldn’t change what happened for the world. I couldn’t be happier now, it helped iron out some wrongs and issues in my life that otherwise I doubt I’d have ever noticed.

      The key thing to remember is that we are all there for you… those in ‘real life’ and virtually speaking too. Speaking to others in similar situations or have been in similar circumstance can be great therapy and path to understanding (which I guess you already know from your comment about reading other stories and blogs). Check out the ‘Black Dog Tribe’ online (they are on Facebook and Twitter too), its a great place to find other like minded people and talk through things with people who “get it”.

      All the best for the future,

      Sarah

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