A brief talk about mental health…

In a year where everything has appeared to weigh even more heavily than usual on our minds it’s critically important to talk about the subject of mental health.

Social media and the rise of it has also coincided with the apparent upward trend of those suffering with depression and anxiety. Perhaps this is linked with the constant need for instant gratification or likes for the overall fight towards being noticed. As a modern author I am a regular player on the social media scene and sometimes it takes its toll mentally. Whether it be from a bad interaction or a lack of ‘likes’, many times have I been pushed to the point of deleting apps and going dark for a while – that’s my coping mechanism sometimes and it can be referred to self-care which is the practise of preserving and protecting your own mental health in any way you see fit. Sometimes with social media and anything else that might cause some level of mental health trigger it’s best to take a step back.

While I’ve given social media a somewhat bad light initially, and yes it has many potential toxic and depression causing drawbacks it is also a truly wonderful tool for communication. Social media might be the modern wonder of humanity when it comes to reaching others and so with that in mind never before have we be in such a wonderful position to talk about mental health, not only to normalise it but help bring others out of the dark and stigma that its’s okay to not be okay.

From depression and anxiety caused from real world issues outside of the internet such as work, family, friends or just trying to navigate yourself through this world in which we live, all the way to that social media or virtual world triggered depression, I stand beside anyone who is not feeling okay mentally and I implore you to do the same.

Today is World Mental Health Day and while I cannot be with many of my friends and family right now, I’m still thinking of them.

We can be so much more than we are.

Weekly Ramble #52

Anxiety, depression and loneliness are all things we should talk about way more. Even in this modern age where we appear to be more connected than ever before, we still face these issues on a pandemic scale. You would think the concept of social media would help to battle such issues but from my experiences it can foster depression and possibly make it worse. Perhaps the original intention of social media – if it ever was good, has been overlooked and overshadowed.

2010 – you’ve got to get a Facebook profile picture..

2019 – you’ve got to get off Facebook…

It’s strange how time can turn things around, or in this sense nearly a decade .The same generation (folks like me) who knew a life before being internet reliant and then embracing it is now choosing to come away. Perhaps the old saying too much of anything is bad for you turned out to be pretty accurate.

The reason I link mental health and social media together is because last year these two subjects culminated in what I recall as a particularly dark time for me personally. I know many people who have been on their own mental health journeys; many of them blog or post about it (the good guys!), and well I’ve been quite vague until now because it is still fresh and context along with timing has urged me to share it only now – plus compared to last year right now I am probably in one of the best places I’ve been for a long while, as I said it’s funny how time can turn things around.

Off the heels of my 4th book release and the 2nd one of last year which didn’t go particularly smoothly and subsequently didn’t turn out how I envisioned. I’ve only learned all of my ‘book stuff’ by doing/ trial and error and well the release of Cemetery House was indeed just another day at the learning factory – sequels are a specialist thing in indie publishing, and while I did put the whole thing on a pedestal with a long running social media campaign and a whole bunch of expectation, let’s just say in my head I didn’t exactly get a hole in one. By this time I had already drafted the Darke Blood sequel and immediately I pulled the plug on releasing that this year – it wasn’t ready and neither was I.

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There was also a bunch of other stuff going on at the time; that whole year had been building up towards me moving into my own place with my more than better half. Moving places is naturally stressful even if it went quite well – there is more paperwork than any book I’ve ever written… So by the end of November and with my mind trying to crawl towards a better place I took the huge dive into deleting the Facebook app off my phone – for those who know I was always on Facebook; that’s my secret captain… I even decided to go dark across all platforms probably apart from this place. This may have been the best health decision I have ever made in my entire life –  arguably probably better than no carb Thursday or no meat Monday… Immediately my mind and focus turned towards other things, of course the move was coming but very quickly and after being burned by book 4’s ‘debacle’ I wanted to write again!

For those who have read my books will know they are about more than genre and even the main plot. In everything I have created there is an underlying message within. I took on a new writing project and with my crusade against staying off social media I went a further step creatively and decided to hand write my next project. My vision was to take away page counts, word counts, windows updates and the temptation of logging on to Life Invader as well as finding my writing routes. This was just Lee, his pen, some paper and words. At this time I was still healing and so I got writing and subconsciously put together a story that reflected how I was feeling in a sense.

That recollection of feelings reflected via a story ended up becoming a book called ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ which is due for release this December. Because it was handwritten and had a sole focus on just telling a story it turned out to be quite short but it could arguably be my most powerful and important project. And so we go back to the start of this entry… Anxiety, depression and loneliness are all things we should talk about way more, you’ll find these subjects in my next book and they are talked about. That is something we need to do so much more. There are some creators I know that also talk about self care – this is just as important, finding away to get through stuff is a vital part of talking about it!

Now I’m not just using this as an opportunity to sell some books, this has never been about that, it’s an opportunity to use my writing for something more than just telling stories. 

By the end of December last year I had mostly recovered and dove into Indie Book Reviews which has probably been a lifeline for me. Connecting with other authors and bloggers who face what I face gives me a great sense of not being alone in the huge overpopulated world of social media. Even now I am weary of Facebook, it’s #4 or #5 on my platforms for author stuff, this place  is numero uno followed closely by the tweet machine.

For what is my 52nd ramble post – a year of rambles, although I started this series little over a year ago – I would like to take this opportunity to everyone who reads this and say thank you! This blog and your support has given my writing a new lease of life and very soon ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ will be my redemption, whether or not it is a success actually doesn’t matter, it’s the journey of creation that truly matters. 

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Time to change: More like it’s about time we changed

Never before has society of the free world ever been so aware of mental health. We know so much more about the human brain that we used to but still there is a rather taboo stigmatism towards the whole subject.

If we look back some years, let’s say 1950. A time where cars were on the road (although fewer than today) but the concept has been left unchanged since. You fill up with fuel, you fight traffic, get new tyres, avoid costly maintenance bills and repeat. But recently the electric car has begun to emerge, we have hybrids and more people opt to cycle. Research and development is happening and the world is very much aware of the pollution most standard vehicle causes. People are beginning to think and want to do something about it.

The car is a luxury but the human mind isn’t. After years of medical research we can pretty much diagnose and tell when somebody’s mental health is not so good. But why is our approach so bad?

I don’t want to start a war between two perfectly viable contingents (that being the whole green issue vs mental health). But they seem to care about the long term effects of the planet and not what is happening now in society, that being the wrong perception of mental health. Whether that is depression or any other condition somebody has, back in 1950 you were locked away for the most treatable conditions.

Look how far that has come on.

Having never suffered from any mental health issues I am outside looking in. But I have been mistreated and discriminated at some level. We all have. That’s a part of life and that’s what is happening to people with mental health issues. I have close friends who do suffer with depression, but I have found it’s handled better if you just talk about it. Even asking them about what they are going through helps.

It isn’t difficult to say something nice and if you haven’t got anything nice to say, treat people with a level of respect that you wished to be treated with. That shouldn’t be any different towards people who have mental health issues in any degree. They are people just like us.

The Hall of information is open to anyone and everyone, that includes people who thinks it’s time to change.

There is a campaign currently running for a better work capability assessment. Rethink Mental Illness, the National Autistic Society and Mind are all working in association with each other. Courts have ruled that the WCA is unfair and puts people with mental health issues, autism and learning disabilities at a ‘substantial disadvantage’. So check it out and help change happen.

You can treat and pioneer in medical care as much as possible. But my philosophy as of recent is simply to have the right attitude. If that changes then everything else will follow!

time to change