Men’s Health Week 2021: day 3 – Notice #noticewednesday
Updated: Jan 28
I’m continuing today with my five-post series on Men’s Health week and the theme for today’s CAN DO Challenge which is ‘Notice’.
Men and mental health
Men are historically nowhere near as good as women are when it comes to attending or confronting health issues.
This is especially true when it comes to mental health, and I am sure that our (almost genetically coded) resistance to asking for help is contributing to the horrendous suicide stats that we are currently witnessing, particularly in the male under 45's cohort.
It is important that more men speak out when it comes to breaking the stigma around mental health AND mental illness, but also when it comes to the stigma that still exists around asking for help.
The Men’s Health Forum is trying to raise awareness of these problems through their CAN DO Challenge this week which encourages us to support each other in different ways.
The themes for each day are:
Monday C - Connect
Tuesday A - (Be) Active
Wednesday N – Notice
Thursday D - Discover
Friday O – Offer
Wednesday – Notice
The suggestion from the Men’s Health Forum is that we turn our phones off for an hour (always a good idea) and take notice of the world around us.
I will definitely be taking this advice, in fact my phone is currently turned off because last night someone rang me at half past eleven when I was asleep so I turned my phone off and haven’t even turned it back on yet!
But there are also lots of other situations and benefits that the theme ‘notice’ can be applied to, a few of which I’m going to discuss now.
Noticing the environment
Getting out and spending time in nature has long been known to be beneficial for mental well-being.
Unfortunately, we seem to be spending less and less time doing this because there are now so many distractions, (and commitments) that prevent us from taking the time out to relax and unwind.
Since getting better from the most hideous mental illness, I am now noticing the small signs of life again that exist in nature. I had completely lost the ability to appreciate anything at all, so discovering an interest in the minutiae of life again has been such a wonderful experience.
I now try to walk for an hour and a half every day as part of my daily routine and I really notice the benefits of doing so. I always feel more relaxed when I’ve been out in nature and it gives me the chance to think clearly, away from the barrage of phones and emails which have such a tendency to rule our lives these days.
Noticing our own moods
Anyone who has ever had a mental illness will tell you that being aware of your own moods is imperative if you are ever going to survive or live alongside a severe disorder.
Having suffered brutally at the hands of revolting bipolar disorder for much of the last twenty years, I know the importance of being the master of my own moods and of being acutely aware of any fluctuations - however small!
For me, anything can be enough to rock the boat of my highly sensitive bipolar brain, so limiting the factors that can contribute to that is an absolute must.
Depression starts with low mood so if I begin to feel disinterested in former passions or notice the negative thoughts starting to creep into my mind, then I take action and ring my (thank God I’ve finally found a good one) amazing psychiatrist.
But being acutely aware of fluctuations is important for everyone, even for those who only have the ‘normal’ ebbs and flows of mood– as the famous psychologist Carl Rogers said:
“We must all learn to be the experts of ourselves.”
Noticing the signs in others
Men especially, have got to get better at supporting each other rather than ridiculing each other when it comes to mental health.
Unfortunately, talking about emotions or feelings is still really hard for a lot of men and they feel as though it’s a sign of weakness if they do so. This is complete rubbish, because speaking out and confronting a problem is always a far braver thing to do than ignoring it or wishing it away.
‘Not everyone is the same.’
We have to realise that not everyone is the same and that one person can react very differently from another in any given situation. This is why the ‘Man up’s’ and ‘Get over it’s’ have got to go now – we have got to become far more sensitive than that!
When I was literally ‘dying to stay alive’ with depression and was told by a close friend that I needed to ‘have a gin and tonic in the bath and get over it’, I realised that they had absolutely no appreciation for what I was going through - if they did they would know that it’s JUST NOT LIKE THAT!!!
The comments I’ve had over the years could have been enough to have killed me on their own so please think before you speak next time someone opens up about their feelings because you never know how close someone is to the edge and this could be the last opportunity to help them.
Getting noticed by the system
Unfortunately, the state of current mental health care on the NHS is nowhere near as good as it could be. I hope to be able to help improve this in the future through highlighting the problems and fundraising, but in the meantime I think it’s important that people know that you have to persist if you are going to get the help that you need.
I moved on every time I felt that a treatment or a professional was not helping me and unfortunately (this really shouldn’t be the case), you have to do this sometimes if you are going to find the right treatment.
I have finally found the answers for me when it comes to treatment but it took a tonne of persistence, patience and resilience to get here.
Always fight to get noticed when it comes to getting help – your feelings are valid and your life is important so (and I say this from experience) don’t ever let a failing system make you think otherwise!
Getting noticed for the sake of others
I am currently having to take a leaf out of my own book, and draw on my own reserves of persistence and patience as I try to get noticed in my mission to help others!
I have now written over 150 blog posts laced with information and advice for other people and have a self-help/memoir, survival guide and recovery strategy manuscript still sitting in a file on my desktop that I know can help millions of people.
The frustration I feel in all of this is palpable, especially as there are 400 daily suicide attempts in this country alone, but I will keep persisting until I get noticed because I really need to find an agent so that they can help me to actually reach the people who so desperately need help.
If anyone has any ideas for me could they please get in touch? I understand that I’m a nobody out here with no ‘voice’ but my experience could be vital when it comes to saving others and I really need to be heard!
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,