Just a little light bulb

I haven’t written much for this blog in a while, and for that I apologise. The main reason is I have decided to spend time in reflection. Not about my current situation, but rather the journey I have made to get here.

I know it sounds cliché, but life most definitely is a roller coaster. It throws you around at high speed, with only the smallest safety bar to keep you in place. It’s a great ride whilst you are out in the open sun, feeling the wind in your air. And then, before you realise it, you can be plunged into darkness; struggling to see an exit whilst feeling as though you are free falling.

One piece of text I always remember, which has a lot of meaning behind it, was written by J. K. Rowling, through her character Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter. “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Whilst it can be taken for the usual understanding of there is a light at the end of the tunnel, or to find that one thing in your life which is good and to cling onto it, I personally have a different way of thinking about it.

Scrolling through Tumblr (see my previous posts on this toxic website), there are hundreds, even thousands, of sketches associated with hanging. Whether black and white photos of nooses, or hand drawn sketches, in my own mind, I add the smallest of details to change it.

Take the hand drawn noose. They are normally pretty basic with a straight line leading to an oval at the bottom. By simply adding an additional line from the top of the oval to half way into it, in my own mind, I have changed that depressive image, into a light bulb, full of light, warmth and energy.

And that’s the thing that people struggle to do in their own heads. They cannot see the light when they are at the darkest. And that is where you, as friend and family, come into it. You need to help them turn that noose into a light bulb. You need to turn the blade into a hand written note from you to them. Turn the gun into a cup of coffee.

The most important thing though, above anything else, is to be patient with the person. There are times we will be frustrating. Times we will be infuriating. Times we will make you cry. But it is not done against you. It’s not deliberate. It is because, at times, we don’t know how else to be, or what else to say or do.

But, we will forever be grateful. Friendship, family, having that by our side, it means we can, in years to come, reflect back. And that, between you and me, can be the difference between everything and nothing.


What the General Election could mean for mental health

Theresa May has taken the somewhat surprising step of calling a general election only two years into the current Governments term. Whilst the reasons for doing so will be discussed for many years to come in history books, there is a very real question which must be answered. What does a general election mean for the mental health services.

In 2015, every main political party was talking mental health. They knew it was a topic that people cared about, and wanted to be seen as being willing to act on it. Going into this election, each party must maintain this desire to help and, most importantly, ensure it is key in the actions of the next government.

Whoever wins the election must, without any shadow of a doubt, enforce and deliver the promises that were made within the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health (the national plan to improve mental health). If they really want to act correctly on mental health however, they need to go beyond this to ensure that mental health is treated on an equal footing with physical health.

The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health was a landmark moment. It set out the details on a plan to invest £1 billion into mental health services, and improve care by 2021. All national bodies, including the NHS, who deliver services and support agreed to do their role in ensuring its delivery.

The only way we can ensure that this will happen is by targeting each and every candidate standing in your constituency. Get them to answer the question. Will they ensure that the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health is honoured and acted upon? You can either do this by attending a local hustings session, where you can put forward your question to be answered, or in writing either on social media or e-mail/post. However you do it, make sure it is done in a way where the answers can be recorded and shared, or where those who refuse to answer are publically seen to be shying away from it.

And, the most important thing you can do this election is to vote. If you are over 18, make sure you have your say. Do not believe people when they tell you that your vote won’t matter. As we have seen recently, in elections all over, votes do matter. If you haven’t registered to vote, then all you have to do is click here and put in your details.

Remember, only by working together can we ensure a better future for those with mental health.