We warriors need a bit of time out …

May has come and gone and here is June.  It’s been a few weeks since I posted on here.  Things have been going quite well and I’m grateful.  We all need a break from worrying about how we feel so its lovely not to have to for this window of peace.   I’m keeping up with my exercise programme which is easier in the Summer when the mornings are light and sunny.

When I feel well my thoughts turn to writing.  Just as,  I suppose,  my thoughts also turn to writing when I don’t feel well but in this latter case it is much harder to engage with the process.

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I suppose what I mean is that writing about victory over  struggle is more interesting than writing about a nice day when nothing much happens,  although I am so glad to have a few days of calm when nothing much happens and I suspect I’m not alone!

I recently took part in a mental health focus group where the discussion ranged over many topics including: ‘What do we mean by mental health?’ and safeguarding for organisations. It was an interesting experience but it struck me that we were trying to discuss how to handle ‘mental illness’ ie in the safeguarding aspect,  when we had not even agreed on what we meant by mental health.   This is not unlike trying to measure the distance of a course run by a runner,  when you have no idea where and when he or she started the course.

This focus group consisted of non experts in the medical sense but most of us had either personally suffered or had experience of living with mental illness which in my view is about as expert as it gets.    If I went to a Doctor for treatment I don’t think I would really want one that had not the slightest idea of the reality that I mostly live with, although it seems to my limited experience that this is often the case.  On the other hand no -one wants to be treated by someone who is so depressed they can’t think straight.

I’m not sure what the answer is.  If I go to a Doctor with a broken arm I don’t expect the person treating me to have personally broken a limb in order to qualify to set my arm in a cast! Hopefully, the experience of setting other arms in casts is enough.  But that is not the case with mental health because everyone’s experience is different and because there are not always visible symptoms or a known healing sequence: X-ray;  broken bone; plaster cast; bone sets; move on.

We wish.   I’m sure there are plenty of definitions and diagnoses and learned tomes out there as well as empirical evidence.  But how woefully little is still known about this aspect of human health.

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