Lewis King, Compere of WordSpace and dangerous idiot, talks about some deep stuff on Mental Health Awareness Week
I’m glad that Mental Health Awareness Week has come again.
This year’s theme is ‘Surviving or Thriving’. The Mental Health Foundation explain:
“Rather than ask why so many people are living with mental health problems, we will seek to uncover why too few of us are thriving with good mental health.”
I like this because it’s practical, it’s encouraging and it considers the whole population.*
I also like this for more personal reasons. Most of my friends are comedians and poets. Types not renowned for their mental stability. This is partly why I started volunteering with The Samaritans 3 years ago.
I’m open about this because it’s no longer policy to keep it secret, and I can also tell you there’s now a national free phone number (116 123). If you were cautious about ringing because muggins here might answer, you needn’t worry. There’s like 200 branches across the country and I do a 4 hour shift every 2 weeks. You don’t need to do the maths to realise it’s close to impossible.
So I’m in the habit of being concerned about others. Recently, the tables have turned.
I’ve been having a rough time in the last couple of months. After seven years, my girlfriend and I broke up. I’m not being overly sentimental when I say that it was wonderful seven years. I’m also not hiding anything when I say that I can’t tell you why we broke up. She just stopped having the same feelings.
I’m not dealing with it very well.
I have been drinking more, not excessively but enough to be wary. I’ve been having on and off phases of tingling sickness, which might be some kind of anxiety thing. I have times when I don’t cope with it very well and I want to purge my body with tears. And I only cry if I’ve been drinking.
And I’ve not been writing as much. Early on I did bits of reflective writing about how I’m feeling, I’m not very good at it. Now I’m avoiding it.
I’m not really doing anything about how I’m feeling. I’ve avoided going to the doctors or counselling.
I’ve not kept how I am feeling from friends but I’ve also not stretched to talk about it either.
I’m struggling to understand myself right now.
I’m an extrovert, I like being around people but now I’m struggling to understand how to be around people and how to interact. I’ve lost some self-awareness. I don’t feel like I’m doing or saying the things that I would. Like I’m pretending to be. I keep apologising to people and they keep telling me I have no reason to. I’ve gained a habit of doing it. And I keep losing my patience. I’ve done and said things that I didn’t think are ‘me’.
The other night I threw my drink in someone’s face.
It was no episode of Eastenders. No declaring ‘You’ve betrayed me, Simon!’ followed by that dum dum dum dum.
I just lost my patience at a stranger in beer garden. He was being deliberately provocative and wouldn’t go away. He was drunk. He kept saying stupid but hilarious things. He thought that 3/11 (lest we forget 3/11) was an inside job.
I didn’t want him near me. I just wanted to talk to my friends.
After some of our group left he came back to us after doing the rounds, bothering other people in the beer garden.
I think I asked him to go away. I don’t remember. I tried ignoring him. I tried many docile things to try and send him on his way. He wouldn’t go. And he kept talking. And I just lost my rag and chucked the rest of my pint (about a ⅙) in his face and walked off.
I wanted to go home anyway.
I was so embarrassed as I walked out the pub, I hid around the corner. I poked my head out when I heard my friends laughing.
I felt awful. I don’t know why I did it.
“There was no reason to do that,” said my friend. “But I’m not against what you did either!”
I apologised profusely, as I do, for making a scene, and again they said it was fine. No one in the pub really noticed anyway. Also, that guy was irritating.
They said there was no reason for it. There wasn’t. The guy wasn’t saying anything offensive.
I thought I was a more patient and forgiving person that that. I’m who I am and what I’m doing.
I’m going through a period of self-doubt, hopefully not a lasting phase, but I’m still managing to do stuff be productive I guess. I do my day job, writing and performing, keep running WordSpace and now Bettakultcha, voluntary work, and I’m training to run a 10K for St George’s Crypt.**
I don’t feel like I’m thriving, but I’m managing to be creative and do things when so often there are forces driving me away from it.
To all my friends and other people who have to deal with mental health issues and shit; who still manage to do things, I think that you are excellent for doing that. Have a metaphorical non-patronising pat on the head from me.
I just wanted to acknowledge that and blow away some cobwebs.
I’m not asking for ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhs’ either. I’m sorry if it’s been a bit overshare my friends. There I go apologising again. I think I will keep doing that for a bit I’m afraid. It’s a phase I’m going through.
But I make no apology for the guy I soaked.
I don’t think I need to. So sorry, pal.
Old habits die hard.
* Also if you look at the stats from research on the state of the UK’s mental health it’s a pretty subtle dig at the powers that be.
** If your ‘shameless promo’ detector hasn’t just gone off then you need it checking.