Mental Health Issues – the chocolate box is to blame

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It's another lockdown - what will the impact be on people's mental health and what can we do about it?

It’s another lockdown and there is growing concern about the impact on people’s mental health, with up to 10 million people needing new or  additional.mental health support as a result.  Here Martin and Chris from YouDriveHealth discuss what this means for some people and what can be done to help.

Discussion

Martin:

I really like the idea that you have mental health as well as physical health, and that these can be good, bad, in between or affected by something specific. It’s ever so clear that an accident can have a major impact on your physical health, but it’s not so obvious that life events such as a lockdown can have a major impact on your mental health.

Chris:

With life as it is now with a global pandemic and lockdowns, there’s no wonder a lot of people feel they have mental health issues. That doesn’t necessarily mean this is any form of mental illness. That’s a very strong word implying it requires medical intervention. Yes, there are real cases out there which do require professional help but where do you draw the line?

Are we mentally ill if we feel sad or down on a regular basis or over a period? What does regular mean and what period matters? What if there are lots of things happening in our lives that are causing upset – it could be a significant life/work change. I think that if that sadness or feeling down persists we might think let’s check it out, let’s talk to others and find out if it’s just life, and how others feel about it. This is where the problem often comes in, sometimes it’s difficult talking to people about what you might consider personal emotions and feelings.

Martin:

I guess the problem is that when we feel bad, other people can’t relate and don’t understand. With physical problems it’s clear, and it could happen to anyone. With mental health problems there is a social stigma attached. One in six people would have suffered from a mental health problem last week, so it’s not uncommon, but there’s a lot of discrimination involved.

Chris:

That’s true. If we talked more and did our own research, we might just find we are not alone and millions have the same problem. Depression is the largest mental health issue, and that can start from normal feelings of sadness. Initially the sadness could be a life issue and could be treated, but it can take hold and become a serious health condition. if your problem becomes serious then you need to try to understand the causes and recognise the symptoms, and if that doesn’t help talk to a counsellor or specialist body.

Martin:

It’s interesting that these issues can be treated if they are caught early enough. It’s interesting that so many people with poor mental health seemed to be on prescription drugs. There are a lot of alternatives to this, from simply talking things through with someone you trust or a health professional, although again there’s a stigma attached to the latter. There are other approaches used, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), but also things like exercise, yoga and changes in diets help!

Chris:

I recall once chatting to a 30-year-old chap who said he was taking medication and I asked why? He said depression. We went for a coffee and I after one hour I said you know; I must have depression too because I feel just like you do. I never liked Sunday nights from being a child and it’s stuck with me all my life.

After further discussion we both realised that he didn’t need medication to make him feel happy – it was down to him, his family, his friends and colleagues who working together can provide support and help him overcome his life issues.

He explained that when he was young, life was like a chocolate box. He was told life is beautiful and anything is possible. It was only when he got into University and then work, he realised life is quite tough and he wasn’t really prepared for it. He didn’t want to blame his parents as he said they tried their best and provided for him and both were kind hard working parents.

Martin:

I read an article recently that said we were too clean for our own good. It had a great phrase – “germophobic parenting” – which means bringing kids up in too clean an environment. Basically your immune system has to know what to fight – what’s dangerous and should be attacked. If it does nothing, it can find the wrong things to fight, from pollen to peanuts, or our own bodies. Amazingly, having read that the next day Jeremy Clarkson had it in an article in the Sun! I wonder if our mental health is the same – without problems and knock-backs we don’t build up an immunity?

Chris:

Yes, it’s a real balance between letting our children grow up and find their own way or offering a soft tiller approach to make sure they don’t come a complete cropper!!

So, this chap, felt guilty as his parents had done their best in his eyes. But in reality, the coaching about life’s knocks could have been a bit better.

You see life isn’t a chocolate box and is this why so many younger members of our society are now struggling to deal with life issues, because they have never been exposed to life’s knocks.

I think life can be like getting in the boxing ring – the chances are you’re going to get punched. If you do, you have to get back up and learn to duck and weave because you’re going to get punched again.

Martin:

A very good friend of mine once told me that the best thing to teach your children was disappointment. I didn’t understand it at the time and thought it was a bit bleak! Later I got it. He said it made them stronger and more resilient – more able to deal with setbacks.

Chris:

The second area this chap talked about was self-motivation and self-worth. He felt down quite regularly as he struggled with his ideal job, finding a relationship, living at home, managing his finances. All these things he had to learn himself because his parents had never really trained him how to deal with it.

He complained that some days he felt really good but then found other people pee’d him off and he would get down. I said that you do get those people, the glass half empty forcefield busters. Again, his parents never educated him on those people or children in life that are determined to put you down and burst your bubble.

I said read the book ZAPP – you need to identify these people. They attempt to burst your inner positive bubble for a variety of reasons; jealousy, sour souls, internal frustrations, naturally negative people, spiteful people, their own stress levels etc. Often these people don’t always realise they are positive forcefield busters.

Martin:

Whenever you get in your car or at home you only need to listen to the news and hear how negative and deliberately depressing news headlines are pushed out every 30 minutes. No wonder we are all have mental health issues.

Chris:

With that guy we discussed how he wasn’t alone and I said next time you’re on the train or bus look at the faces of the people. Very few have a smile on their faces, most hate their jobs [70%] and cannot wait to get back home. They do this for 50 years and then retire. So, no wonder they have hidden frustrations and anxiety. When they see a positive person, they cannot wait to burst your bubble.

We concluded by him thinking he wasn’t the only person here and his negative feelings were resulting from dealing with life issues.

I said to him life is a journey not a destination and the road is never or very rarely paved with gold and smooth. On the contrary its full of obstacle, incendiary devices, mines, traps and people who don’t want you to succeed.

So, join the life club with me an actually embrace the feelings as they are life feelings. You cannot let them get out of control and need help sometimes when things get tough. But it’s down to you to manage.

Mental Health

This video describes mental health as a continuum, with illness at one end and extreme happiness / wellbeing at the other. The objective of an ‘intervention’ is to move people up to a better place in the continuum.

It describes how factors can affect our mental health.

This video is from Maudsleylearningonline  

If you’d like to discuss life issues or mental health with Chris you can email him at chris@staging.youdrivehealth.com 

YouDrive thinks…

We enjoyed the discussion – I hope some of it was interesting or vaguely relevant to you!

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