Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The symbiotic cure for analysis

It’s a curious thing and a paradox that in order to cure analysis we have to analyse what we do when we are analysing things. Psychology is no exception. A paradox means you have an eternal loop of conflicting ideas.

Symbiotic relationships though are in essence those which do work. Symbiotic means that all sides benefit to their own satisfaction with regard to their needs being met; not wants being met - needs always outrank our desires when it comes to health. Another curious point to make is that we are not always aware of any, never mind all, the successful relationships we have with others that help us to be well. When we are mentally ill this is certainly true.  The fact that someone does deliver the local paper to your door inadvertently can help you access information which could lead to a happier lifestyle which then ends up one day getting reported in the local newspaper is but one example of many symbiotic relationships. It could lead to you seeing a job advert or a social event which makes all the difference to changing your life round for better.

When we look for trouble we will always find what we seek. When we look for illness we become ill because that is what we ‘want’ to find. We automatically want to be right about our suspicions so much that we become self-fulfilling prophesies of our own futures. We simply have to want to be well enough then, right? Sadly it isn’t that simple as real cruelty still pollutes and taints our planet but where does that stem from? Is there a desire to wake up in the morning to be vile to others without so much as a moment’s pause in that goal? The answer is no. Cruelty often stems from hurts sustained and very deep wounds. It might also stem from us genetically but we can never be sure as how people respond and react to us can literally alter the course of our lives. Another perpetual loop except and Catch 22/chicken and egg situation it seems.

If we are born genetically programmed to torture others, then in theory, given that our upbringing is equally as powerful an influence we can program that out of people. On the other side of the equation is the opposite argument that if we are born into a cruel upbringing then genetic advances can help us overcome the natural inclination to hit back via medication. That’s all very well so long as no one mucks things up at a critical point to remind us of our troubles and perhaps that is the one missing link we all need to be most vigilante of.

People generally are not born to be cruel or to torture others, they learn how to do it. If negative behaviour can be learned, then so too can positive behaviour but when do we know that people are truly fit to be trusted again? The answer is at present that we don’t, but does that mean we shouldn’t try to?

Recently in the UK our news channels have been awash with stories of corruption and nasties, from rape and child abuse to corruption from religious groups, governments, media, the world of business, police, councils, community services including the health care provision itself. Is it our true nature as a species to be corrupt? Are we infact nothing more than a cancer upon our own planet destined to always veer toward self-destruction? If so, then no one could know more about how to pull away from self-destruction than those who have felt compelled to try to take their own life. For them to pull away from that option and to do so repeatedly in the vast majority of cases is a testament to their courage and to the fact that mental health care is improving, albeit all too gradually. But why is it? Well because of people like us asking awkward, profound and fundamental questions and beginning to get somewhere with the answers.

The new kid on the block that seems to be making the difference is psychology. Psychologists have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world because unlike psychiatrists, their role is not to identify and treat with pills and potions, but to treat with little more than words (backed up by masses of research and study). We all loathe being subjected to intense scrutiny, that process alone is enough to cause trauma and distress and yet miracles happen and lives are converted from veering toward the cliff edge and the abyss of all things negative and painful to stepping away from the precipice to amble toward all things joyous, happy, positive, empowering, fulfilling and healing. Not only that but they do so in an increasingly safe manner with the aid of a trunk load of tricks in the form of creative outlets. And there is no limit to what forms positive and safe creativity can take.

Example: Writing has been traditionally thought of as beneficial to express emotions. Feelings cannot be transient (passing through us) unless they are let out. Therefore writing poems, stories and journals has so far been a favoured method of helping people. What if though, writing of any kind can help? If writing a report for work, or compile statistics keeps our minds occupied in something productive in a safe way works then do it. It works so long as we never over do it and never over analyse.

The Arts have always been far more forgiving of missed deadlines than the world of business, but it need not remain so if people can remember that health must come first in order to get even business decisions products, services and activities right. Can we not steer our own course in that direction? After all which is preferable, survival or destruction? This applies to companies as much as people for there too what we should be striving toward are symbiotic relationships between the company (which is an inanimate concept, ie a company is not a person) and all those who work for it. That means all who work for it, not just the higher ranks. Leaders are always better served and more profitable when those they lead have the desire to do their best; they tend to struggle when they bully as work is then done begrudgingly with many more mistakes that the staff care less and less about. In other words, be it work or home life, it pays to be more forgiving and compassionate toward others than not as everyone feels happier and achieves more and above all, there is less illness.

The cure of analysis itself is to live a simple life away from that part of it that is detrimental to our health, which is precisely where our regular contributors are right now. We need a simpler life. This does not need mean we will not return.

“Nothing is written in stone until we carve it
there ourselves.”

It's best to be careful as to what we choose to carve and how we do so.

We will leave the door open as to whether or not we will be posting thoughts again on here, so it’s not good bye from us, merely adieu for now. Besides, this site was intended to empower others to do even better than we have. As it stands we only have one more posting before 2014 planned.

To all those who fight to heal, patients and medical staff; researchers and community services...  thank you and good luck. We survive if we can for as long as we can by counting the numbers saved and honouring those we loose. “Tally ho!” from all at Mindwalking.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Breaking the chains of the branding irons

Perhaps the biggest hurdle yet to be overcome in mental health is the one over the labels of diagnosis itself. For the doctors to understand how a person is faulty or ill labels were designed. Historically they were never meant to be shared with those not trained which included patients and concerned family members. However, this led to misdiagnosis as no one much bothered with what a person’s upbringing was, nor the impact of a traumatic effect even from barbaric treatments. Yes, there were some rather foolish people who got the wrong end of the stick and the usual quota of corrupt people who set about just being cruel to the most vulnerable. 

What a difference for there to be more and more discussion over diagnosis from the patients themselves and with medical teams in order to get ever closer to getting things right with pinpoint accuracy! In order to do so medical teams have had to translate their grand labels into terminology that people can understand; to not do so was rather like both parties trying to negotiable with a brick wall in a bomb blast.

Perhaps the labels should now be more in the form of an assessment of things that need to be addressed under these five key headings:
  • Financial abuse
  • Intellectual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Natural disasters

If any and all are assessed in this way what could happen is that the symptoms (and therefore old labels) become less important as the cures become ever more obvious. It is irrelevant in our opinion as to how a person is distressed, what matters is the WHY are they?

There are two major snags with this approach, the first is obvious, it feeds into a class structure which itself can lead to prejudice. The second is less obvious but is also based in the same prejudice, namely that no one wants to be seen as equal to everyone else. The fact that we are not and never will be we are adept at forgetting until we feel hard done by in any way. The question is do we really want to be equal to everyone else, and the resounding answer is no. We merely want an equal chance which is entirely different. We desire the opportunity to be whatever we wish to be without obstacles in our way, but the obstacles are bit by bit being kicked away by people like you. With such determination to beat what should never have been the cause of illness in our world today and with evermore people signing up to help win that battle, we can only ever succeed. 

Ten final healing things to learn

The cures are within ourselves. With the aid of medical teams we can ask the right questions, get clarification on how they are interpreting our behaviours, thoughts and feelings and ask for them to look at things on the basis of what we know has deeply hurt us. We can ask them to help us move on from ask them to help us to:-

  1. Learn how to walk away and ignore all that is bad for us
  2. Learn how to fill our lives with all things creative, constructive, positive
  3. Learn how to dare to share and with who, when, and why to trust others, what for and how
  4. Learn how to form happy, rewarding symbiotic relationships
  5. Learn how to find joy and interesting hobbies and work to do
  6. Learn how to prevent ourselves and our loved ones from becoming ill
  7. Learn how to cope with new troubles, hurts and losses as well as new successes and nice surprises
  8. Learn how to cope with old memories being raked up
  9. Learn how to adapt, evolve to find ever more peace within ourselves and all that we engage with.
  10. Learn how to find laughter and to celebrate safely without harm to ourselves or others

It comes down to a joint effort and lots of hard work and practise, but be assured, it is worth it. With luck you will find that more and more it will not just be medical teams that help, but friends, neighbours, colleagues, strangers (potential new friends) and of course family members. In time that will mean that fewer people will ever get seriously mentally ill as generation by generation society itself will come to learn how to look after each and every one of us far better than ever before. It’s started already but admittedly still has a long, long way to go, but with your help and perseverance it will only ever get better.

Onwards to those happiest of all our days for our children’s sake and that of our children’s children... keep fighting in that way and be assured you’ll get there. Yearn and long for it, work for it and it will surely come just as day always follows night.

We at Mindwalking have only two more postings to make before we close. Please pick up the gauntlet we have thrown down. Please take up the challenge to help educate others although this site we hope will continue to be view by another then another and another 10,000+ readers. It still has hints and tips such as The Selfish Anger Wolves and the Two Chairs exercise to draw upon if ever you are struggling. In that sense alone we will always be with you, rooting for you to continue on your own very personal, very individual journey to pastures new, bright and happy. 

Monday, 11 November 2013

We WILL Remember

This site is a memorial site and always has been.
Those who made are moving on to better help elsewhere.

We hope all those who have worked and still work so hard to save life
and heal it will be remembered for all eternity.
We hope that those who heal increase in number.
We hope that the number of people at risk and suffering from 
mental illness decreases in number.

We hope more people learn to help others 
instead of hinder and damage others.
We hope more people learn the art of controlling their worst emotions.
We hope more people learn to embrace the best of life 
instead of being consumed by the worst of it.
We hope more people learn to fulfil their full potential 
instead of having it crushed.

We hope all will be rich in good health which we believe is the 
only form of riches worth craving and pursuing.
We hope no one will ever be too selfish nor too selfless again.
We hope compassion and empathy engulfs our species and 
dominates its conduct over the next 2,000 years and beyond
We hope our species learns that there are ways to share all that is
good and not be so greedy as to destroy it.
We hope all people learn how to express anger safely without
endangering others in the process.
We hope all people learn to channel their frustrations into
positive, constructive pursuits for the betterment of all.

We hope all who read this enjoy their lives and are permitted by everyone to do so 
without causing harm to themselves or others.
We hope the world will be full of gladness, joys, laughter and hope but 
that it will never forget to aid those suffering trauma from any cause.
We hope that one day the only cause of mental trauma will be caused 
by acts of nature, not of mankind.

To all who read, we at Mindwalking all wish you a very happy, 
productive, caring, sharing, loving life.

Be good to yourself.


Friday, 4 October 2013

Somme Carers

Now, there is a story about the rape of the Sabine... just another group of women and women are well used to being raped, as are their children, their brothers, husbands, parents and grandparents to name but a few.  We further rape women when we then expect them to merely cook, clean, teach and heal.

“Pain is pain. It is NOT a competition.”

What we are going to talk about here are those other forms of rape besides the physical kind we hear so much of. Such things we feel frankly should be discussed with SAFE clinical psychologists and mental health teams away from the media. Sadly if it wasn’t for such stories being forced into our homes now (while we try to eat our evening meals), NOTHING would be done and things would be a LOT worse. We’ll leave that one there for now as this is neither pleasant to write or read... we hope.

The word rape means that people are forced and/or coerced into doing something they really don’t want to do because it hurts them. It is an infringement of their basic human right to live and work without any hassle and be fairly treated as they do so.

So now, when we think of rape it becomes clear that when we don’t pay a person for their work that counts as financial abuse which is a form of rape.

Similarly when we don’t acknowledge a person for their bright ideas or for being brave enough to point out to those above them in rank and authority in the workplace and then subject them to intolerable levels of negation so that they leave, that too counts as rape. Only this time it is the hat trick. Add in physical abuse of ANY kind and you have the full package. In effect we become so jealous of each other’s intelligence that we’d rather destroy them than learn from them to overtake them or acknowledge them or show gratitude at all.

We in effect rape each other all the time. We steal other people’s ideas and then pretend they were OUR ideas... intellectual rape. When we steal those ideas to heal people it’s called emotional rape and when we fail to pay people or compensate them for being treated badly by others, again we commit financial rape.

“It is easy to hurt people, what is hard is to try not to.”

This blogsite will be left unattended soon. No one will post a new blog on it ever again. Why? All of us have been so overloaded by the sheer demand of help required in our OWN lives that we haven’t the time to help others beyond that.

Too many of you now turn to us privately as if we are the Messiah or God or a magic wand that can fix everything for everyone. No one can except with your own efforts to heal yourselves. If you do not know when you really need help no one can help you. If you cannot ask for help, no one can help you. If you cannot wait for help to arrive... NO ONE CAN help you.

With the world as it is today, demand is and will continue to exceed supply to such an extent that there can be no help left even for the most urgent cases of all. They are not screaming because they are so close to death that they cannot do so. Medical professionals, Armed Services, Charities, and ALL emergency services know the difference yet when any of them try to attend they are just as likely to be subjected to abuse, violence and obstructions from onlookers snapping pictures as someone dies before their very eyes. THAT is why they die.

People aren’t even helping in their own communities anymore, nor dipping in their pockets to provide the money to buy essential life giving resources nor life saving equipment and medical supplies.

In short if YOU do not want 2014 to turn into World War III to finally finish off this beautiful planet of ours then YOU have to start to get much more proactive than this to help achieve it.

  • First by looking after yourselves better
  • Second my knowing how long you can wait for help if you need it,
  • Thirdly by being fairer to others at work
  • Fourth by helping more in the community, from buying goods from charities and local shops to volunteer and most of all not just walking away when you see any stranger in need at all
  • Finally, and most importantly by letting the professionals who are trained to help you in an emergency get to that casualty without any further trouble.

YOU who are all so ill, by virtue of your conduct are not currently well enough to be let near anyone else on the face of the planet TO help if you cannot even do the above five things anymore.

If you take just psychosis for example... Professionals know that if you acknowledge in any way WHATSOEVER the reasoning of someone who’s reasoning is faulty, you make their condition WORSE. So, by saying there are no such things as ghosts, gods, aliens and fairies you perpetuated and deepen their traumatic episode, set them up to be stigmatised for life and make it IMPOSSIBLE for PROFESSIONAL HEALTH CARE WORKERS to be able to help anyone at all. INCLUDING those that do such things, including bereaved children from war zones. Yet the internet is awash with well meaning helpful people is it not. Including false counselling sites and magazines and pills that DO NOT WORK and NEVER COULD. It’s a shame science and technology do so little to sort that out is it not? Just when was the last time they were psychiatrically assessed by a world class clinical psychologist WE wonder, you know the ones... the ones that help the Head of the Commonwealth, oh now what IS her name, oh you know the one I mean. The one that dishes out awards and medals a lot that celebrated being on her throne for 60 years only last year. Now what was her name?


“Which currency would you like to pay for ANY health care support in, Sirs. Blood, death, insanity, war or CASH?”

“Cash Sirs, that would do nicely. Now would you like to pay a little extra to have ‘benefits’ with that Sirs?”

“Oh well thank you, that’s most generous of you Sirs. Would you be interested in buying some superb education for all too perhaps? Or perhaps you’d like to save that for food and accommodation. We can see you’re looking tired.”

That human being that the professionally trained are trying to reach, could not only be you next, it could be the most vital person to you in the world whoever that may be.  And... when they are late in arriving so you have to wait longer, it could just be they are late because they just saved a newborn babies life, maybe even the latest edition to your own family too.

“Lest we forget” – we forget all the time because we cannot live merely by having the worst of our pasts raked over. At some point we need a break, but when that leads to no one remembering at all, then something drastic has to be done.

If you don’t care anymore, just let the professional rescuers (including politicians) know and they won’t bother to show up for you. They would rather turn up for those that do anyway.

Please... help us to help YOU. Yes ask them for your support, but hold on for as long as you can on your own, your own parents or children might be in the way taking pictures or throwing rocks or... firing bullets.

“After all the pain, there is only love.”
Mother Teresa

SPECIAL ANNOUCEMENT: Mindwalking has decided to close in January 2014 as so few people in the UK have ever bothered to read it. It is time all its contributors moved on to work to help others in better and more effective ways, not least in helping others who do get heard reach even more people. Three of our number are terminally ill anyway and always were. Now another two have joined their ranks. The first is a clinical psychologist, the second a victim of rape, another’s death sentence hangs in the balance. We have always been in the thicket of battles of all at the frontline in our own version of the Somme. This site is our memorial. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Three Little Pyrite Pigs

Pyrite is also known as fool's gold and the little pigs we all seem to fall foul of are far from little. In the fairytale wolf tries to invade the houses of three pigs. One house is made of straw and the wolf blows it away to get at the pig inside. The second pig makes his home out of sticks and the wolf succeeds by huffing and puffing in blowing that in too.  The third pig builds his home out of brick, but the wolf cannot huff and puff enough to succeed in demolishing a brick house, so the pig (or pigs, depending on which version of the story you go with) remain safe inside.

Wise Wolves

It's sometimes tricky using metaphors to explain things as the word pig has associations with greed and muck. So one analogy of this simple fairy tale might be that the wolf is a hero forcing the pigs to think more sensibly about what they want from life in order to be happy and safe. In such an interpretation it would be easy to view mental health teams as wolves with their nagging and eternal checks on every aspect of our existence until the time comes when their help is not required. 

No one likes to be analysed in such an intensive way, even if it is for our own well being. The process can and often does encourage us to blurt out everything and dwell on our nastiest memories and worst behaviours and this can result in new bad habits forming; much depends on how experienced the mental health practitioners are. If we are not careful we can become addicts to being ill as it is often easier than fighting the stigma, ignorance and prejudice of the rest of society. 

Luckily the days of ending up in a mental health hospital on anyone's hearsay are gone in the UK. It now takes three people to agree on any one person needing hospitalisation under the Mental Health Act of 1983. All have to be highly qualified. Once in hospital, it is likely to take a team of four or more people to get one patient well enough to return home. They usually include a psychiatrist, a GP (doctor), a psychologist, a Community Psychiatric Nurse and a Social Worker. Other medical staff can include nursing staff in the hospital and a variety of therapists or counsellors. All of them can seem as if they are the enemy with their prying questions which often get repeated by way of checking up on your progress.

Unfortunately there are still old school thinkers about among medical staff, but they are steadily decreasing in number thanks to brave sufferers that refuse to be spoken to as if they are already lobotomised. In all cases staff and patients must be able to 'click' for any treatment to work. Staff cannot help those that 'confess' what they are thinking, feeling or doing that might be at the root of the suffering. No one can, but much relies upon staff listening carefully and thoroughly to what any patient finds so distressing. It is interesting to note that the mentally ill are seldom unable to function at something. However, while we continue to live in a world where the mentally ill are largely unwelcome, few are given the chance to function in society at all.

Pyrite Pigs

For the purposes of this article the pigs are the addictions that we are all susceptible to. They are the behaviours of people rather than the people themselves and with aggressive marketing techniques forever bombarding us all it is little wonder that people become disturbed, confessed, stressed and anxious. They are not little pigs at all, they are huge as there is no escaping them in mainstream society for they govern just about every aspect of our lives. Rather than think of ourselves as pigs, we should be thinking in terms of a 'pig of a problem' to overcome.

According the latest thinking among the good guys and gals of psychiatry (i.e. those that actually listen and work with the mentally ill and not dictate to them), everyone is suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and everyone is on the autistic scale too. It is just a matter of to what level and over what that can herald problems. One the best ways to illustrate this is to look at what we spend our money on.  

This little piggy is money

In the developed world we shop for our joys quite literally. Here’s a brief list of some of the things we spend our money on in order to reward ourselves to make our lives more comfortable, stimulating and of course pleasurable. 

Food, clothes and shoes, sports, games, crafts, books, specific interests (e.g. the history or mechanics), holidays, relaxation, alcohol, socialising, gambling, donating to charities, clubs and societies, business advice and events, illegal drugs, investments, cars, homes, tobacco, technology and the latest must have thing or experience.

Of these none of these treats are safe in excess.

People who do not have money or very little of it do not have those “cheer up” options. They will also seldom have much in the way of connections to support them by way of family, friends, neighbours or colleagues at work or indeed information with regard to support services which are already stretched. Hence we have all manner of charities and community initiatives to try to save those that would otherwise fall through the nets like a kind of holding pen for when professional support is freed up. It is debatable if it is enough while we remain in a recession especially when so many services have been whittled down to only offer crisis services. All support is also utterly pointless if people’s trust in the system has been betrayed, or if people do not or will not share what troubles them. In a recession, retail therapy is a high risk game to play if you do not stick to a manageable budget.

When any of us are depressed or low in mood our behaviours change to compensate us for being of low mood. Some will look for something to cheer themselves up (called the distraction technique in psychology). This can include an increase in our spending on items we find in shops and on sale on the internet, as well as an increase in our social and work activities. 

In moderation that is never anything to worry about, in excess it is.

This bigger piggy is power

It is surprising how few people even know or have thought of why people turn to alcohol and illegal drugs given how stressful the life can be at times. Put simply they do so to escape their sufferings without thinking about what it will end up costing them health wise, financially and socially with regard to stigma and prejudice. Thereby they end up reducing their chances of ever getting support exponentially. It is often the exact same behaviour that normal people engage in when they are having an off colour day but in excessive proportion; the difference is that that proportion is out of control. Some illegal drugs, such as cocaine can result in a person feeling invincible when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. When we turn to heavy weight drug abuse we are on the road to destroying everything good we already have.

Power can be addictive too. Those who have it generally fall into two distinct categories; philanthropists and do their best to give back to the community, and those who become so addicted to accumulating wealth that they become harmful to our societies and communities while becoming increasingly dissatisfied with everything around them. We often think of the latter as psychopaths or sociopaths but it isn’t the soul domain of the wealthy to be psychopaths. Not being permitted to care about anyone for long enough can result in even the poorest person not caring. Corporate psychopaths are by far the most damaging as they usually care so little that thousands suffer as a result of their business practices which can be brutal, vicious and dictatorial. 

There would be no need to place a cap on any income if it was law that businesses as well as individuals must give back to the community – punishment for failing to do so could be a cap on income and level of responsibility instead of what is currently and commonly the reverse. Surely we collectively have wit enough to make that happen without any need to totally ruin that person’s life forever. Make it compulsory for such people to see a psychologist and we would minimise the risk of millions suffering while and helping them at the same time.

In the middle of rich and poor we have the ordinary folk who get sucked into things they think they need in order to reach the upper echelons of society and who end up having to field the extremes of those at the top of tree and those who are poor, often destitute and above all desperate. Keeping up with the Joneses is a power game.

Everyone makes mistakes but when anyone is disallowed to function sufficiently it leads to resentment, deep unhappiness and ultimately huge problems for the individual, those who know them and for our societies. A maxim from the world of business and industry that is thankfully beginning to catch on is:

 “Look after the others and the others will take care of you”. 

It has been proved and is proving to work. Joseph Rowntree (look him up on Wikipedia) in the 19th century proved it by not only providing its labour force work, but also homes, education and access to basic health care.

This biggest piggy it the hardest piggy of all - relationships 

If the first pig is money and the second pig is power then the third pig is the hardest and toughest of all - relationships. 

As individuals all of us have a degree of responsibility to correct our own and group behaviours. None of us can do it alone, but together we might be able to make a far happier and fairer world. How and where do we even begin to start? Who and what do we start with?

We start by acknowledging our most basic of instincts is to survive as a species. In order to survive most of us are governed my the desire to have sex and sexual relationships can be the trickiest of all to get just right. Sexual relationships are so complicated that it warrants a separate article. Here though it is enough to note that impressing the person who is the target of our dreams often leads us to shop 'til we drop or push ourselves career wise. Some argue that having many sexual partners is the only way they can be happy, however while that may be fine for them it is seldom fine for all their sexual partners. Promiscuity often causes many long term damage. 

To get any relationship right requires consideration, communication that is clear and up to date and acknowledgement of everyone's right to be themselves. This applies within our social and work circles and most of all in our relationships with our families.

When it comes to relationships is it less a question of “Is it something you can change in that person”, more a question of "Am I being fair to that person?" when tensions run high. Then we need to think about “Do I want to do something about it, yes or no?” Therein lies the key. Do we? For without that desire to consider other people's needs and change for the better nothing can ever change for the better.

This is at the crux of mental health as no medical team on this planet can change anyone. We have to be resolute in wanting to ditch what makes us unhappy in the first place that is within ourselves rather than enter into blaming everyone else. If others are that damaging to you - leave. Get support to do so if you need to.

Next is to identify in precise and minute detail what it is that we want to change about ourselves, then what to and only afterwards comes the how, who to seek support from, when and so on. This process is the same whether we are trying to overcome difficulties in any type of relationship or emotional distress.

We will never stand a cat in hell’s chance to get the formula right while we are bickering and competing for attention or being in anyway emotional. We need to don our thinking hats first, however, often we need another outlet for our emotions first before our thinking hat can sit comfortably without pinching or giving us a headache. 

We need to communicate, calmly, clearly and coherently which sadly is not usually the domain of people who are desperate for help, but the first step toward helping anyone recover is to listen first to what isn’t or hasn’t worked isn’t it? That way we identify exactly what it is that needs sorting. When we are mentally well we are all capable of this. When we are concerned for others we do this whether we are well or not, so it follows that we could be doing this more of the time when we are ill. That little bit of difference can in the long run make the biggest difference of all.

“Where there’s a will there’s a way.” 

There is no person or section of society that is without risk to their mental well being. The latest thinking in mental health circles is that "We are all potentially a car crash waiting to happen.” To put it another way – life’s a lottery and instead of thinking why me, what we should be thinking is why shouldn’t it be me that suffers next? What am I doing to prevent this happening to me or my loved ones? We already do this with regard to many physical ailments, diseases and illnesses, but seldom stop to think about what we can do to prevent the most important organ in our bodies - our brains.

Our brains define who we are and they are the control centre for everything else. If we can master it to adopt a helpful attitude to combat whatever life may throw at us, then wouldn't we also be equipping ourselves to overcome whatever we perceive to be the worst happening? 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Pandora's Box - Tales of denials

In Greek methodology we come across their version of the first woman on Earth, Pandora. As with all religions free will is granted and we find that there is nothing particularly wrong with Pandora except for her curiosity which was given to her by the Gods anyway. 

Women are often thought of as nosey to this day, although if the truth be told, male curiosity is just as prolific, just more acceptable. As human beings we want to know answers in order to be able to know where we stand, know where our boundaries might lie and most of all to know how to function safely and within the laws of our nation (whichever that may happen to be). Our inquisitive natures help us to make all manner of wonders from clocks to clothes and from cures to chaos.

"Pandora's box is an artifact in Greek mythology, taken from the myth of Pandora's creation in Hesiod's Works and Days.[1] The "box" was actually a large jar (πίθος pithos)[2] given to Pandora (Πανδώρα) ("all-gifted", "all-giving"),[3] which contained all the evils of the world. Today, the phrase "to open Pandora's box" means to perform an action that may seem small or innocuous, but that turns out to have severe and far-reaching consequences." 
SOURCE: Wikipedia

Denial is a double-edged sword

This then is an article about the demons we keep in our cupboards, the skeletons that are often best left there, but sometimes it is wiser to face them in order to solve difficulties properly. It is an article about denial which is a term used in psychology to describe an attitude of mind for when we do not wish to face the harsh reality of truth and frequently we do not.

To take a large scale example from present day life, if we look at the .com revolution it very much repeats the industrial revolution of the 19th century. In the current global economic crisis workers are once again working twice as hard for less pay and that's if people are able to secure work. If you are unemployed, disabled or ill in anyway support services that work are once again hard to come by due to demand out stripping supply. It's almost as if we are taking a step back in time without learning anything from our collective history. Some would argue that that is just the way of life and nothing will change it. Those that claim that are suffering from denial because things do change albeit gradually.  

The world we live in is complex. Just as the industrial revolution eventually led to more people enjoying a better standard of living, so too has the .com age to a degree. Those left behind are often far further behind that most would like to realise, admit or face up to.

Change happens gradually for two reasons, the first being that we don't like sudden change as we find it difficult to cope with, and the second is that only a small percentage of people are prepared to roll up their sleeves and campaign tirelessly for changes that are truly for the benefit of all. You can probably name those at the top of those trees for they are all those famous folk who make history and who end up being globally recognised for doing so in the name of peace and well-being. Their reputations are usually untarnished despite many an attempt to discredit them. The reason such attempts are made are precisely because people don't like change especially if it means people giving up the 'perks' that enables them to take advantage of others less fortunate. Behind every famous name though are literally thousands of team workers.  

"Next came the Brazen Age, more savage of tempter and readier to the strife of arms, yet not altogether wicked. The hardest and worst was the Iron Age. Crime burst in like a flood; modesty, truth, and honour fled. In their places came fraud and cunning, violence, and the wicked love of gain. Then seamen spread sails to the wind, and the trees were torn from the mountains to serve for keels to ships, and vex the face of the ocean."

To give one instance of the effects of the .com age, instead of less paperwork we have more which is bad news for trees unless we recycle. Instead of more pleasure time away from computers we seem to constantly plugged in to them or other media gadgets.

When Pandora opened her jar of evils and she was immediately aware of what she had done and was fearful of what would happen next. Rarely is this true of us when we get answers to questions we weren't prepared for. When we ask for help and it is delivered in forms that we are uncomfortable with or that end up causing us even more harm we can sometimes end up wishing we hadn't asked for assistance at all. Good intentions can cause the most damage of all when a person's right to choose is not respected. 

This applies as much to those trying to provide support for others as it does to those on the receiving end of that help. This applies too, not only to individuals with their personal relationships, but to all human relationships from business to government departments and all the way to international politics among the world's leaders. 
It is of paramount importance to listen carefully and never to lie if we either want to help others or are in need of support ourselves. Truthfulness and listening skills are vital to both at all times for no one can help if you lie, nor can you be helped if you refuse to listen when someone has heard you properly. This is an absolute truth because all relationships involve people and all people have emotional responses to everything they encounter in one way or another.
“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” - Plato

Sadly we live in an age whereby it is easier and sometimes safer and seemingly advantageous to lie which hardly helps and only serves to escalate suffering of all kinds. 

"The earth, which 'til now had been cultivated in common, began to be divided off into possessions. Men were not satisfied with what the surface produced, but must dig into its bowels, and draw forth from thence the ores of metals. Mischievous iron, and more mischievous gold, were produced. War sprang up, using both as weapons; the guest was not safe in his friend's house; and sons-in-law and fathers-in-law, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, could not trust one another. Sons wished their fathers dead, that they might come to the inheritance; family love lay prostrate."

It took two world wars to get to the point we are at now, let's hope it doesn't need another global conflict to turn the corner on our current dilemmas and present conflicts. With the .com age we have gained an 'awareness' and in counselling terms, "awareness is the first step." What we do with that awareness is critical to our futures. The difficulty we face now is avoiding overloading with so much information that we have no time to absorb or see what is 
actually good and is working before we make a blunder and muck it all up again. 

When we tell the truth, we do not have to share everything with everyone, merely what is relevant to that particular relationship at that particular time. It's how we can help ourselves to stay safe. 

"Do not trust all men, but trust men of worth; the former course is silly, the latter a mark of prudence." - Democritus

Three simple words

What is true of things on a global scale is also true for any individual. Any difference of opinion, thought or belief should just been viewed as just that - a differenceIf as individuals we can accept that we will not always agree on everything it opens the doors to better and more amicable communication. If we can all remember that one difference due to experiences of life never being identical even for identical twins then there is hope that respect for other peoples' perspectives on life will be established. How many differences can you tolerate before you decide to break off a relationship? If you do choose to break ties, how would you do so in an amicable fashion? This is far easier for individuals to manage than it is for governments, but if all individuals did manage it would it not also be far easier for governments to do the same?

In some instances it is better to cut ties immediately, such as any form of abuse - hence why we now have the United Nations and bans on trading with tyrannical regimes as and when they will help prevent suffering of the people of those nations. On the individual scale, in the UK we have refuge homes for victims of domestic violence which are kept secret except to those who MUST know in order to protect abuse victims.

"The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best." - Epictetus

For many who are mentally ill, the ethics of how the world functions and their frustrations in it not being more humane can figure so large that recovery is not viable and only management of their stress and anxiety levels is ever feasible. This particularly applies to those who have been in position of power or authority; or have work professionally in health and social care. Management of such conditions usually ends up being via long-term if not permanent medication regimes. In effect we live in a world where to care about it too much can result in being forced to take medications to silence you or switch your brain off, often by request of the sufferer themselves as no one individual can fix the planet and all it's problems.

Learning how to deal with life in a non-confrontational, amicable and stress-free fashion is largely what is at the centre of all the talking therapies that have been proven to work. Interestingly, though perhaps not surprisingly, here in the UK our Head of State her majesty Queen Elizabeth II has a team of mental health professionals on tap. They are there not only to ensure the health of herself and her family, but to safeguard a nation and hopefully help guide the Commonwealth which she happens to be head of too.  Perhaps all governments should employ similar departments in the future, perhaps... many already do. 

"Nothing is more active than thought, for it travels over the universe, and nothing is stronger than necessity, for all must submit to it." - Thales

In any one day as human beings we are privy to huge amounts of information regardless of what social status we happen to be born into or achieve. On the one hand we are swamped with information, on the other there is little or no time to analyse it enough to understand anything completely. One of the core aims of counselling as a talking therapy is to help people to focus upon what is working and what we have in our lives that is of meaning and pleasure to us.

Nothing is or can be as valuable or as meaningful as close personal relationships but getting to form them with so much misery, misunderstanding and worry is hard work; doing so when isolated from mainstream society can be one of the hardest and longest battles of all. Three vital words to adopt and to help us are "please", "thank-you" and "sorry" in any sort of relationship at any level.

Ideally the word 'please', should be used instead of abusive expletives when we want something; but frustration at not being heard can soon turn to anger to make it all the harder to maintain control of our reactions. The word 'thank-you' is in psychological terms a validation and acknowledgement for things that DO help so long as we never use it when we don't mean it. Without the use of this word we can only ever be guessing that we are doing any good at all. If we fall silent and never thank anyone, how can anyone know if any shred of their efforts is helpful?

Hardest of all is the word 'sorry'. It can be said without it being meant at all and then it becomes a lie that can obliterate all trust and hope. Even when an apology is meant it can seem that it isn't because unless the person apologising can correctly and accurately identify what they are apologising for it can feel virtually useless and a complete waste of time to then become a seed of future frustrations. Full understanding (or as detailed an understanding as possible) can only occur when we truly comprehend another's plight which requires detailed information devoid of assumptions and lies, a leap of faith in the trust department, courage and hope. That's never easy if you have ever been maltreated.

“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realise how little we understand about life, ourselves and the world around us.” - Socrates

These core values are present (or absent) in all our relationships with other individuals to varying levels at any given point; be they relationships with family members, children, friends, neighbours, colleagues at work, clients, suppliers, regulatory authorities or support services. They are the foundation stones to our well-being regardless of who we are or what health we enjoy. We cannot enjoy good health unless and until these foundation stones are thoroughly cemented in and built upon and it is hard work to not only establish them, but to maintain them too. 

Practise, practise, practise is the only way to achieve this but things are made all the more challenging when we are constantly reacting to life and what it throws at us - that is a constant that never changes. However, if human beings have the ability to dwell and fester on the negative aspects of life then we also have the capacity to focus on all the joys it brings too. Concentrating on one or the other will only ever make you ill and in the long term unhappy so a balance between the two is the theoretical ideal, as we cannot solve what we do not face. In many respects Pandora was right to open that box/jar of demons as otherwise we would never have been able to recognise or amend our faults.

Remember that a difference of belief, opinion, thought, behaviour or emotion is just that a single difference. We have the right to choose to stay in a relationship or walk away from one if only for a 'time-out' type of break. There is no law to say you cannot or should not start afresh with the same people you've walked away from yesterday at some future date, is there? If there is a recipe for getting relationships right it must surely be to decide upon how many disagreements will result in it not being worth our while continuing with that relationship at that point if all communication attempts to resolve difficulties fail. It may be one major difference if someone decides to use physical violence against you. It may be dozens or hundreds of little niggles for someone who merely expresses things in a way you dislike but their deeds outweigh and outrank their words enough for you to want to stick with them longer.

Perhaps the greatest difficulty of all for those suffering from mental illness is the feeling of isolation. In our sophisticated 21st century world it is nigh on impossible to be left in peace to live alone if one wants to have food to eat as our social structures involve either having money to buy food already grown, land to grow it or for people to not mind 'vagrants' living off the land by foraging for it.

You do not have to live alone to be isolated though, you can be awash with company or acquaintances who are all too busy to have time to support you. It is pointless to gauge or measure who suffers most as suffering should never be viewed in terms of a competition any more than who is financially better off. As one of our contributors has put it elsewhere, "pain is pain not a competition and whenever we view it as such we automatically escalate the problems and distort matters by diverting away from what needs to be addressed." We live in a world that has to prioritise suffering to be able to offer the most vital support immediately for those who are at crisis point first.

"Men would live exceedingly quiet if these two words, mine and thine, were taken away."  - Anaxagoras

Prevention of any and all reaching a crisis is always going to be quicker, cheaper and less time consuming than any cure. Perhaps governments will one day encourage much more investment in preventatives for mental health than has so far been tried. It is wise to seek help from your GP (doctor) early on, but if you then refuse to act on their advice, are you not in fact making it harder for yourself? Then again, are you sure you cannot think your own way out of stress, anxiety and depression without causing harm to anyone else or yourself? Have you tried? Some people can succeed in this, while others cannot. Why that is, we just don't entirely know yet. Most likely is it a combination of genetics and environment as neither can be separated from the other.

Much of our well-being comes down to a mixture of choice, will power and respect for others in terms of priorities. It is a matter of learning to set your own boundaries and limits for what is acceptable to you in realistic terms with regard to your well-being; and to do so without imposing or demanding preferential treatment unless experiences and highly qualified medical teams deem that it is necessary. All things end up being a question of understanding. Sadly the most in need will allow others to jump the queue time and time again for any and all support. For systems to work for our individual and global well-being we all need to take much more responsibility for opening a lid on our own demons in the jar as they can often end up causing harm to innocent parties including of course our own children.

There is never any harm in asking for support, but always be careful about what you wish for - wish and work for your own health above all else. Do what you can to prevent yourself either becoming ill or minimising the effects of illness just as you would over your physical health. Knowledge is power, but only if you use it wisely - it is better to ignore what is not useful with regard to your mental health. We are fortunate indeed that we live in an era whereby corruption and cruelty of every kind is distinctly going out of fashion.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Icarus's Tale

"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new." Albert Einstein

The story of Icarus was about a very clever man who wanted to fly, so he built himself some wings out of feathers. He glued them together with wax and then he tried them out. Encouraged immediately by the fact that they worked he flew higher and higher... and higher until... he flew too close to the sun so that the wax melted and he crashed back down to earth and died. 

"Man is what he believes." Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

None of us are Icarus and yet according to the latest thinking about mental health, we all have the same susceptibility for enthusiasm and obsessive behaviour. Some of this obsessive behaviour though is to our advantage for without it people would simply not be dedicated enough to undertake highly pressurised and responsible roles in their working lives. From health care itself to education, from business (including finance) to security, the list goes on. We admire those who display such commitment in their working lives and very often reward it even within seemingly less vital roles such as acting, sport and research.

At least we do if we approve of the person and don’t see them as a threat to our own status. Icarus was a smart fella to come up with his design for his wings. He must have studied birds, the feathers, aerodynamics and how a bird wing is put together, as well as how it actually worked in order to fly at all. In some versions of the story he is warned not to use wax, in others the warning is simply not to fly too high, lest he fall. Who of us though think about the consequences of a great idea when we’re that excited by it? Who could stop us if we are that determined to continue regardless? 

“A known mistake is better than an unknown truth.” Arabic proverb

This is precisely why people can get sectioned (or committed) under the various versions of the mental health act where the safety of individuals is uppermost. Sadly mental health has a dark history where anyone could be locked away for a single thought, deed or feeling that did not conform to what others wanted. From oppressive regimes to people being subjected to horrendous and barbaric treatment for such things as not paying a debt, having sex with the ‘wrong’ person or even being related to someone who has been in trouble by some means or another.

It is therefore not very surprising that people now fear mental health treatment even now – but here’s some good news. In the UK it takes three people to put a person in hospital. You can refuse to be assessed unless you are a risk to yourself or others and treatments no longer include lobotomies or electric shock treatment (ECT – which stands for Electro Compulsive Therapy) without your consent. In addition you should never be prescribed medications that merely suppress your symptoms for the convenience of the rest of the population because it is now fully recognised that you are distressed for a reason and the aim is to help you cope and overcome whatever it is that has caused the difficulty. Most importantly of all, patients these days are encouraged to talk and discuss their treatment and are asked what things they would like to try to help them get better. 

"A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood." Chinese Proverb

This can only happen though if people are willing to take part in that dialogue and some people, such as those with learning difficulties may not be able to fully understand what is being asked. Fortunately in the UK we have people who are fully trained to even help with that. Why, with all that good news about mental health care stigma persists can seem like a mystery. 

Icarus would not hear good advice and as a consequence he ended up dead due to a tragic accident, he also was not well enough informed to realise what the properties of wax were, even though he must have melted it himself in order to join all those feathers together. It could be argued that he was also arrogant, complacent and conceited, but who of us can ever avoid those traits if we are never prepared to listen to others?

An analogy

A metaphor, or analogy, for Icarus might also be that this is how we can all end up with a mental collapse due to an overload of one set of facts and a shortage of another with which to temper and balance things out. We, in the developed world are in many ways, all at high risk of that with the sheer amount of information buzzing around on the internet and very little in the way of guidance about what is genuine and what is not by way of facts. The same is true of the entire media and that presents a problem with regard to safeguarding our most vulnerable members of our societies.

We are also at high risk from the sheer speed at which things happen, leaving very little time to even hear the warnings over the melting point of wax.  The percentage of people who go to see their doctors complaining of stress are increasing all the time, and depression due to feeling more and more as if we are merely becoming plug-ins to the working machine is also increasing. 

“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.” Lau Tzu

The solution is simple... slow down, set your boundaries and take control by taking your time to be able to hear those warnings about the melting point of wax and why one should never fly too high too soon.

Those at the top of their professions are at as high a risk of mental collapse as those who are the most deprived because no one can endure high levels of pressure (be it from levels of responsibility or lack of support) indefinitely without becoming ill. FACT. Work and rest time are important things for all to get the balance that suits them just right. Enjoy relaxing and switching off... it is as vital to your mental well being as contributing and engaging with the world, sleeping and eating well and getting regular exercise. Put your health first always. 

"It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it." Eleanor Roosevelt

The true story

Icarus in the original story was locked up in prison with his father, and it was from prison that he escaped. His father told him to not fly too high or too low. If we relate that to anyone suffering from prejudice we soon realise that once subjected to stigma of any kind, it becomes extremely difficult for find the balance between asserting one’s rights and not saying enough to be able to do so.

It is all too easy to assume that because Icarus was a convicted criminal he deserved to fall to his death, but that presupposes his accusers were right to convict him. If his only crime was to be ill, from whatever cause, can a person be blamed for wanting to escape and take to the sky?

Much depends upon what a person does in their quest for that freedom to take to the skies. That is a freedom that many take for granted – millions crave to have respect and acknowledgement for who they are and what they have experienced for a multitude of reasons and yet they are denied it. If any person was never a danger to anyone but themselves, should they not be forgiven? Should they not merit and deserve consideration, forgiveness, kindness and above all acknowledgement for all their sufferings?

“Only a wise person can solve a difficult problem.”  Akan proverb

If we know our limitations and tell others of them, should that not earn respect rather than ridicule, dismissal and a wariness that can and does result in a lack of trust for their courage to just be honest? We all have our limitations; our faults and errors. As human beings we also all have the habit of allowing our feelings to rule our behaviours, often regretting them only with hindsight. To deny what we feel is to deny being human.

How mentally ill a person is sometimes gauged upon how quickly they can switch from one behaviour (or emotion) to another when asked to do so. Yet all things are relative. If a person has been silenced by society for years, is it reasonable to expect them to suddenly stop once they have found their voice? A sufferer may be extremely proficient at listening when asked to in the appropriate (i.e. respectful) way. Such has been proven through the many and diverse forms of talking therapies. Eventually the hope is that no one ‘flies too high or too low’ for any great length of time as both can result in enduring psychological damage without appropriate and sustained support. Extremes of any kind, including fame and fortune as well as emotional excesses, always need that support.

To be allowed just to be ourselves is difficult for everyone when we all contribute to being judgemental.  The cure for that is to try not to judge others wherever possible and to understand when, how and why we do. We are at our best when we are honest with ourselves and those around us and at our worst when we decide others are ‘bad’ when we know little or nothing about them. If we do not like being treated that way, it’s wise not to respond to others that way too.

Be true to yourselves, but thoughtful of others in the process. That is the road toward the best of riches... inner peace and happiness. 

Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.” Dalai Lama XIV


Three of the team here at Mindwalking have been veering toward mental collapse in the last month alone. The team consists of a mix of people who have suffered from mental illness and medical professionals in the field, notably a couple of up-to-date psychologists which came on board soon after it was launched. Luckily all are being supported and are regaining their health now.

Above all the biggest contributor seems to be loneliness when it comes to people suffering and from that comes isolation which can devastate the chances of recovery and lead to suicide from the simplest of causes. From friends, neighbours, colleagues, employers to  even family members who just watch and do nothing (either out of fear of getting it wrong, or because they don’t want to get involved) the result is the same. No one likes others meddling, but what is so awful or dangerous about asking? You might just find you know where guide that person to get the professional help they need, be a solicitor, a removal company, a financial advisor or indeed medical services who DO understand. The world really doesn’t need to suffer this way.

Finally... note the latest news on how to beat the stigma at the top right hand side of this blog. It can be hard to trust others, it can be hard to speak of painful things, but it really is the only way to ever hope to recover. If one method fails, try another and another, and another for it is only by communicating and finding the right people to do that with that we can ever hope to be happy and well.

Hope is better than the alternative isn’t it? Take good care of yourselves first, but try never to forget the needs of others too.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Emperor's Clothes

The story of the Emperor's new clothes is this: An Emperor is conned into buying the most wonderful new suit of clothes by a couple of con merchants and none of the Emperor's entourage has the courage to tell him that actually there is nothing there. The clothes are not invisible, the do not exist. The only person who is brave enough to say so is a small boy, and more or less, that is where to story ends depending on which version you read.

If we translate that into our real world the Emperor could be an organisation, an employer, a powerful or influential person, a boss, a parent or just someone everyone else adores. The small boy would be anyone of disadvantage and/or anyone who just, out of sheer innocence or ignorance of what the Emperor believes, speaks out. When we talk about such Emperor's in the real world though, these clothes are not new at all.

1. Imagine if you will, that you are being bullied at work.

2. Imagine you are being stalked or suffering from physical, psychological, sexual or financial abuse. 

3. Imagine you have a brilliant solutions for a problem.

4. Take another scenario that you fear that someone is at risk of committing suicide and you are a child that no one will listen to.

5. Imagine you are unemployed and your benefits have been stopped for no legitimate reason.

6. Imagine that you have not been paid your wages by a multinational company and you are of low rank in the organisation.
7. Imagine that you cannot not communicate and/or have no communication devices and you have serious problems that you need help with.

8. Imagine that you are starving or homeless.
9. Imagine you are stranded and do not know where help is to be found because there is no information or signposts to it.

Now imagine you are any of the above and have (or have had) a mental illness that you openly tell people about. What do you think your chances are of being heard properly or taken seriously are?

British Law changed in October 2010 by way of the Equality Act. The Equality Act seeks to eradicate ALL prejudice without any indication as to how it is to be done. It may now be illegal in the UK, but it supplies no indication of how it is to be upheld. The only way to find out is to enter into a long winded, expensive and extremely stressful litigation action. (You take the culprit to court) where your opponent still has the advantage because it usually has the money and the contacts to discredit you totally - hardly fair, hardly just.

There are numerous organisations out there that can help in theory, but alarmingly they have all been hit extremely hard by recent cuts from the government, they include: Mind, Rethink, ACAS, Citizens Advice Bureau and even access to legal aid has been cut. Good intent can be far more damaging than the most malicious of intentions if it is not properly implemented and thought through.

The process is made all the more difficult when it is a powerful organisation or government department, e.g. a bereaved person on benefits that I know of was subjected to stoppage after stoppage after stoppage for two years with no reason. When they finally got an appointment to sort it out at a job centre, the member of staff said "Yes, gosh, it is in a mess isn't it? But I haven't got time to sort it today and I'm on holiday for month tomorrow." It took two years to get it sorted via the Parliamentary Ombudsman (you need to go via your MP for that) and the outcome was: that the DWP was at fault but that as the person was bereaved it didn't merit any compensation, not even so far as their credit rating being restored. 

As indicated in my article of last month, even the health care sector itself has insufficient safeguards and knowledge of how to prevent mental illness among its own staff and if that is the case then what hope is there for anyone else understanding the need of the mentally ill to be heard and more to the point, understood and helped?

There is something very important to consider here...

10. Imagine that you are so mentally ill that you are imagining any of the above.

Therein lies the nub of the problem when it comes to providing support for anyone with signs of mental illness and sadly there are people who will lie to get what they want even at the expense of honest folk e.g. women who pretend they have been raped who in my opinion, need psychiatric intervention in addition to a prison sentence. Fortunately such cases are rare but because they exist at all it causes damage in the form of genuinely distressed and desperate people not being heard and not being helped, whether they are in need of a living allowance, need of an advocate such as a lawyer or need of a doctor's appointment.

However, I would rather risk the occasional fraudster receiving support than risk a genuine person in need ever going without it as it literally costs lives and seriously jeopardises their chance of anything like a quality of life. This includes taking someone seriously to begin with even when you suspect they are imagining things or lying. Why? Because if you don't you might be wrong and there are ALWAYS ways to corroborate the truth. There are always evidence to prove or disprove anything. 

You do not have to be mentally ill to be treated unfairly, but once you have been so treated the likelihood is that you will be mentally ill for a very long time with all manner of trust issues if nothing else.

I am currently off work with work related stress and our Human Resources Department expects me to attend an Occupational Health assessment while I am ill. If I was a scaffolder with leg in plaster this would not happen and during such an absence the cause of the accident would be investigated and the risk reduced. Not so when it comes to stress at work which in itself is a form of mental illness. What is worse is that anyone with any mental health history has it continually raked over, dredged up as soon as they mention they are unhappy. Everything about that person is in question.

If a ‘normal’ person were to be subjected to the same treatment, then (call me crazy for this one), but I have a hunch they would end up with serious mental health problems. We will never prevent mental illness when the world continues to rake up everything that is painful to ANY individual. 

And what of the little boy who shouts that “the Emperor has no clothes!” sadly, whether you are mentally ill or not, if you don’t have means and you don’t have solid connections the reaction will most likely be one of resentment and intense wrath. No one likes it when it is pointed out that they have been foolish, far less those who have power. When that is done so publicly, as it is in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, and indeed in real life throughout the media, then guess what? The Emperor suffers mental anguish as a result i.e. mental illness.

Steven Biko 

I have always advocated that anyone with a mental health history who wishes to speak out needs to do so anonymously to protect themselves, particularly when they are low, are poor and when they have no one to defend them. I’d like to update that. I would now highly recommend that for anyone who is not in a position of power with regard to any situation at all.

The real world is a troubled one. It is riddled with hypocrisy and it only takes a few, a very few to spoil this beautiful planet of ours. So it is wise, if not essential to be cautious, to be wary and if that means you need to be paranoid to keep yourself safe from harm, then be that too, but still speak out or we can never hope to rectify anything at all – just do it safely.

Take your time to trust people, choose your words carefully and your tone of voice and wherever possible only speak out about your issues when you are calm, fed, well rested and when the emotions are largely out of the way first so that you can think clearly enough to communicate. “We are never in control when we are angry” is something I have been reminded of recently and how true it is.

The exception is the professional teams who are there to help you (when you find a good one). With them write down what you need. Write down what you do not need. And only afterwards write down what has happened. That way you will begin to understand how to fix whatever it is that has gone wrong.

We can never remedy anything without facing it and we all make mistakes but it is very much what we do about them and in the how we fix them as well as who helps that really makes the difference. A former GP of mine said, “Do not dismiss support from unlikely sources as just occasionally they can be the very thing you were looking for.”

Luckily my new doctor is turning out to be fabulous, so fabulous in fact that he promises to read this blog site and being head of the practice, he’s already had a word with the receptionist that I found so exasperating. So you see, you can get help if you are prepared to want it enough and fight for it enough. Though I must say, it comes to something when you have to know more than those who are supposed to be experts, (not that it applies to my new doc).

But what of the little boy in the story? What can he learn? He would be far safer to say “Is the Emperor wearing any clothes? Where is the proof?” And to do so privately, or send a note to the Emperor although even that may all to easily result in terrible retributions. Far better then to ensure that he has people to defend and protect him first before saying anything at all.

I am angry with the world and the older I get the shorter my fuse and the angrier I get with all it's very human errors which I make too because I am product of this world just as much as anyone else - but I refuse to take the blame for all it's mistakes on my own. I own up to mine and do my best to rectify them as soon as I can. Why doesn't everyone? It amounts to about 200,000 thousand years of human errors so far according to the Smithsonian Institute, somewhat shorter if you believe in God but its still between 2-6 thousand years. The trouble with anger is that it ultimately only ever serves to destroy those who are angry. The remedy to that is never to act when one is angry but to let those feelings run their course away from others and subside. If there is a God then surely we should focus on the ethics and not the origin of our species to get the recipe right, because either you cut it ethics is the key to us all being able to co-exist peacefully.

I can only hope that all Emperors (and Empresses for that matter) have the good sense to listen to small children some day and that that day will be very soon for all of us. I hope too, and firmly believe that honourable people will always say thank-you, sorry, make amends and recompense those injured of their own volition and will do so privately for what is their part in causing such misery and suffering. What is so often the case is the errors made are nothing more than a silly, petty error of judgement which we all are and can be guilty of. When all is said and done, it is the con men that pretend to be tailors beyond compare that ought to be reigned in, if not punished... is it not?

We are all complicit when allowing the con men of this world to get away with their villainy - the courtiers, the general public and the little boys who see the truth but say nothing. High time I think, that the whole world stopped and thought about what advice it is actually seeking, who from and why they are seeking it; as well as what its aims are, and how to sensibly and above all, safely, proceed.

I could cite hundreds of pearls of wisdom if not thousands from around the globe, from every century, from every culture, race and religion and age group on this planet but I'll close with this final quote from a man that managed to save three lives that we know of. Just three but if we could all do that then there would be no unnecessary anger or deaths. We can never eradicate death or suffering. People die of natural causes, from disasters as well as from malicious intent and silly errors but we can certainly minimise the risks if we keep fighting to get that little bit closer to increasing compassion for those that are left behind trying to fight. With compassion comes a little bit more sense, a little bit more humanity and above all else... HOPE for absolutely everyone.

"Let's work the problem people. Let's not make things worse by guessing." Gene Kranz

I have a hunch Gene Kranz's words have just saved a few hundred more lives... if not more.

PS: I have to confess that the last three articles in particular have had a lot of input from others for me to be able to write them. Sadly I have, since writing this article learnt of someone who is so traumatised by the DWP benefit system that they are selling their belongings to get money to buy food as they refuse to go back on benefits. I used to be proud of being British, today I am not. 

I would particularly like to thank an anonymous retired psychologist in Australia for their support at this time, not least for giving me the courage to continue to write. As before, early signs are America is reading and the UK is disinterested. OK it's a bigger country, but this is a UK problem right? Or is it quite possible global?

Please do not expect me to blog for a while... I feel the need to rest, but if it's that important...

Thank you for reading and caring enough to do so.