What ya’ doin’?

When someone reveals a low or troubled mood to us, it is all too easy to give advice, suggesting  what they might do to lift their spirits, I often find myself doing that, at times it might be useful for the person, at other times less so.

Part of being able to stay well is that we feel heard; someone accepting we are not okay at present, or that we may have a long term, all pervasive, condition, we could attempt to be alongside them, avoid being prescriptive.

The nature of emotional distress, as I prefer to call mental illness, cannot be patched up with a few cheery words, advice what to do, presenting activities that are…out there, lack of motivation and money may make it difficult to access many events, courses etc, even if they are free or of low cost, there are transport and refreshment costs to consider, night time events will immediately restrict many.

The fact that we exist as ‘bodies’ with vital needs; eating, drinking, sleeping etc, means we already do plenty in order to survive, sometimes even those essentials feel like hard work.

After not seeing people for a while they will ask me “what have you been doing?”…..”oh, nothing much,”…. a common reply….fact is, if I did all I was committed to doing, I could be very busy, I often ‘fail’ to achieve what I desire, I try not be too hard on myself, keeping in mind,….a long luxurious bath is doing something, reading a book, a newspaper for pleasure, is doing something, listening to music/radio, watching tv is doing something, going for a walk, is doing something, some friends berate themselves for ‘just’ doing these simple things, why? …society seems to place scurrying about as more beneficial than living at a slower more reflective pace.

Social Media can be an easily accessible way of making contact with others, remaining informed, if we are fortunate to have access or can afford it, Disability Living Allowance goes some way to improving availability and participation.

Recent involvement with a course I am doing, requires an ability to use Twitter on a smart phone in order to ‘follow’ twitterers, prominent and otherwise, who chatter about current issues……will I won’t I, join the throng?….low income may be the biggest deciding factor, Technical know how is of secondary consideration since that is easy to self-acquire, attend class or ask a willing friend to share their knowledge. I am presently grappling with software, Dragon, Inspiration and Texthelp that will enable me improve my writing skills….whether it keeps me well remains to be seen.

Sue Margaret

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3 thoughts on “What ya’ doin’?

  1. Thanks Lily,
    Really nice piece. I appreciate that you have acknowledged that being prescriptive towards people who are vulnerable – isn’t always helpful. Infact it can be unhelpful, especially if that person is suggestible because of their vulnerability. People may need help, but this help maybe support to keep well, eat well, go out etc. But what they may not need is prescriptive advice of what major decisions to take in life, but rather help to get to a place where they are able to make these decisions, or support in discussing options. But yes prescriptive advice can often increase stress and pressure.
    I like the way that you use emotional distress instead of mental illness, I am sure that some people out there would like to separate the two. Does emotional distress lead to mental illness or are they one and the same. Interesting.
    Also you are right sometimes it is hard to look after the essentials, especially when your mind just wants to ruminate or problem solve or grieve or panic! Taking things slowly, going back to basics is something I keep having to do.
    Thank you 🙂

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    • Your comments are appreciated and thanks for sharing something of your own struggles, reviewing the terminology to describe the experience of ‘mental illness’ …emotional distress seems a useful topic for discussion and perhaps could be a way of remaining well, identifying ourselves solely by psychiatric labels may be a barrier from moving on, diagnosis serves several purposes, one may be that, being less than well, may give the person,time out from the demands of coping in the hectic world. Entitlement to some state financial help is at least a safety net to enable some level of recuperation, present cuts to this assistance sadly will target many of the severest ‘disabled’.
      I like the link you make between distress and grief particularly, loss of any kind…lost opportunities, loss of friendship, jobs and their impact on our self image.
      Lily

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  2. I think loss is a major part of distress and sometimes can keep us locked in a cycle of rumination. Then unfortunately incur more loss. That’s why I think things like Mindfulness can help, to start to live in the present again. Although we need other things too.

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