I have matured a little over the years but every now and again still can’t resist being a little naughty in how far I stretch my sense of fun. I had completely forgotten at a Christmas party this year convincing a fellow party-goer that I was a sex therapist as opposed to conducting my therapy in mental health. Guess who was my nurse last week when I visited a local private hospital for a ‘pre-op’ ahead of my hernia operation??? At first, she just said “Don’t I know you?” I just smiled and said that I had one of those faces and we’d never met before. Whilst taking my blood she finally remembered who I was and called me a ‘cheeky sod’. Thankfully, she had a big smile on her face and I was the one left feeling a little embarrassed.
On a, less frivolous note, later today I am posting a ‘thank you’ card through the door of an 81-year-old lady who has written me such a lovely letter. I can’t even remember how she got my address but she read an article about me in a newspaper and felt compelled to share with me her lifelong battles with panic attacks. For privacy reasons, I won’t share all the content of her letter but despite huge personal suffering, she has clearly been a loving Mum and made sure that her own children have never missed out on anything. However, due to her anxiety she has still never been abroad, flown in an aeroplane and has been on one boat trip in her entire lifetime. To highlight how long she has suffered, she was unable to attend open days at the school when her children were young and still now at 81 has no confidence to venture out. Remarkably, she has such a positive attitude and believes truly that ‘what you haven’t done, you haven’t missed’ and signs off by saying ‘I just keep taking the pills’. A lovely letter from a lovely lady.
We talk often these days about the stigma of mental health but can you imagine how bad it must have been when this lovely lady was growing up. We hadn’t long stopped shooting members of our own army who had anxiety and were sill giving patients a lobotomy, which involved the cutting or scraping away of the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. If we think that a significant proportion of people still suffer in silence now, just imagine how many stayed silent back then. Incredibly scary times to have a mental health issue!!
I would like to finish this blog with a little plea. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day which for some people can be a difficult day. Loneliness affects so many people and those who have lost loved ones can particularly struggle on the 14th February. Why not call somebody who is on their own and simply ask “How are you doing?’ It might lift their spirits and make a positive difference to their day.
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