Finally the country starts to wake up to the debilitating nature of mental illness. The BBC reported today that Dame Sally Davies has said that mental illness needs accounts for the loss of 70 million working days last year, up 24% since 2009.
However, greater emphasis on mental health services are a must with 3/4 of people with mental health conditions not receiving any form of treatment at all. Waiting lists are far too long; the crisis department are stretched and cannot get to people in crisis. I am grateful for the treatment I received in hospital but know about the lack of NHS beds available and the threat of being ‘recalled.’
It is a courageous step to say that you need help, not a weak one as I had thought. I remember my first assessment and was turned away because I wasn’t a risk to myself – no services or alternative services offered.
Hopefully mental illness and a commitment to spending money on NHS and better services will be on the agenda for the next election – sort that out and you will not get 70 million sick days in a year.
Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher and author. His best-selling book, The Power of Now, was published in the late 1990s and translated into 33 languages. Oprah Winfrey is a big fan, saying that this book can ‘transform your thinking.’ High praise indeed, but does it live up to expectations?
The book is based on the concept of mindfulness and living in the present rather than the past or future. Tolle talks openly in the introduction about his battles with ‘periods of suicidal depression’ but omits any details. I suppose in the context of the book they are not important. Tolle explores the idea that ‘I’ and ‘Self’ are two separate entitles: these binary oppositions are key in the book and dominate the dialogue.
After coming to this epiphany, he surmises that this realisation made him fully conscious and ‘felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy. Cue song birds and the enlightened state. Although his descriptions are maddeningly idealistic (the inner skeptic in me!) is is a book worth pursuing.
In the form of questions and dialogue, Tolle explores the idea that our minds, our thinking, becomes the enemy and that ‘thinking has become a disease.’ People live their lives in the past or fret about the future, and therefore we often ignore the now, the present.
What Tolle fails to recognise or discuss in this book are the importance of external factors when contributing to our ‘mind-identified state.’ For example, primary and secondary socialiastion that often plays a vital part in forming our thinking, and can be important when on the road to recovery.
The author’s conversational tone and style make it easier to digest and understand between the ‘conscious’ and ‘unconscious’ mind and his message is an important one: Surrender and live in the present, because that is all we have. This takes practice, but mindfulness is becoming more popular in psychotherapy. It is not easy to become ‘enlightened’ and I can’t quite imagine the doves and harps when that moment comes, but persevere and it becomes an inspirational and interesting read.
I was 19 when I was first diagnosed with Clinical Depression and was in my second year of University. At the time I didn’t quite understand what was happening to me; I was feeling isolated from everyone and the world around me. This gradual feeling kept on getting worse, where I no longer enjoyed anything that life had to offer. I kept thinking to myself that this was meant to be the best time of my life; everyone around me were enjoying their time at university except me.
These feelings eventually got much more intense over time. I stopped going out and wanted to shut myself away from the world. I kept feeling guilty of why I was feeling like this and tried to ignore it. Eventually it got too much and I started feeling suicidal.
I remember the doctor asking me my symptoms and if anything traumatic had happened to me. I was in tears, shaking my head and truly believed that I was a burden to everyone. It was a relief when I was diagnosed with depression in one way – there was a name to what I had, although I didn’t know anything about it at the time. At 19 and bewildered by this diagnosis, I was determined that I would not go on antidepressants and that I would face this alone and try to battle it.
Fast forward 12 years, and I am still battling but have recently learnt that you cannot fight depression: it’s exhausting! Plus, you will lose. After all this time, I have learnt to surrender to it. This is not something that will go away for me, but I now know (and I have learnt some very hard lessons) that it can be controlled.
With 1 in 4 people experiencing some kind of mental health problem in their lifetime, it is still surprising that mental illness has such a stigma. Depression and Anxiety are the most common mental health problems in Britain, and after battling for 12 years with clinical depression and severe anxiety, I have decided to create a blog. I will be writing about my experiences, posting discussion topics (which I hope you will contribute to) and be putting up suggested resources and activities that have helped (and are helping) aid recovery.
I will be updating the website regularly and hope that my suggestions and posts help others.