There’s a happy pepper…

You’re welcome!

He turned up in Gwyneth’s home-made chilli last night. I’m sharing him with you because it’s World Mental Health Day and the theme this year is ‘Psychological First Aid’ and how we can help people in mental distress and so I thought maybe, if you’re feeling a bit distressy, seeing a pic of my happy pepper might help you turn a corner.

I need to turn a corner.

It’s been 72 hours since the crying started. It’s an endless sort of weeping thing – I’m doing it now – it just drips on and on, occasionally stopping long enough for me to have a conversation, or to sleep, only to return with extra oomph an hour later.

As always for me, the crying is accompanied by a smashing dose of vomiting. As though my body is screaming at me OI! YOU ARE SICK IN THE HEAD! BECAUSE YOU PERSIST, AS USUAL, IN ATTEMPTING TO IGNORE THIS FACT, I AM FORCING YOU TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT BY MAKING YOU YAK UP FOR THREE DAYS…YOU’RE WELCOME. ARSE.

It also feels like vertigo; the landscape lollops and lurches and if I move my head too quickly, the scenery takes an age to catch up. Eating is gruesome. Ditto smoking…though I persevere.

Normally when this happens I can explain it by telling everyone it’s just a bug. Which it kind of is. Like a bug, you come down with it, your whole body over-taken with shaking and shallow-breathing and yakking. Within 24hrs it’s normally passed and then I can get on with the best bit which is trying to work out what triggered it. Triggers can include, in no particular order:

  1. Something reminding me of stuff to do with my childhood

Erm, yeah, that’s mostly it. Still. After all these years.

This time though, it’s sticking around and this time I couldn’t hide it because my boss came round and saw me being all bally and yakky and unable to get youngest to school and had to cancel my work session on Friday which made the balling worse because I felt so guilty letting people down and so guilty for youngest seeing me all bally and yakky and ashamed at having to call for help and ashamed that eldest has had to deal with it and ashamed to be me, to still be so pathetically me…

So, how to help loonies like me? It’s tricky. Ask Gwyneth.

If he asks me how I’m feeling I’ll tell him I want to die and who wants to hear THAT on a Monday morning? If he doesn’t ask me how I’m feeling, I’ll want to die even more which is why he keeps asking me how I’m feeling which then makes him feel pretty deathish himself and also deeply worried and certainly incredibly helpless and possibly, probably extremely BORED now actually, if you don’t mind.

Talking does help. But what else? Let’s begin with what doesn’t:

  1. Suggesting a nice walk will make us feel better. If we’re just feeling a bit low, a nice walk can be lovely and helpful. If we’re feeling suicidal, being outside surrounded by smiling faces and darling children running through the park will make us need an ambulance.
  2. Encouraging us to think about all the good things in our lives. This will only compound our feelings of shame and self-loathing that we are unable to appreciate/enjoy these good things, the existence of which, believe me, we are more than aware of.
  3. Asking us if we’ve ever thought about trying… EVERYTHING you are about to say will have been tried by us. We spend our lives trying acupuncture, reiki, marathon-running, eating green jelly stuff, talking to God. Some of it works. But when we’re already coming down with it, NONE of it works. Please DO tell us about them again when we’re feeling better though.
  4. Telling us about your friend/mother-in-law/neighbour’s cousin who is dying of cancer and how THAT’S really something to be sad about. This is like telling a person who’s dying of cancer to cheer up because at least they’re not dying of cancer in SYRIA.
  5. Saying nothing. If you can just avoid items 1-4, we need you more than ever. We are devastated to be struggling again and not making it to your party or replying to your messages and we know it must really piss you off but just knowing you’re thinking about us can make the difference between, well…sometimes just knowing you care can make a BIG difference in a fleeting moment when it felt like all was lost.

What really helps is so hard to nail. For me it’s lots of hot baths, being alone but not too much, sleeping whenever I can, avoiding pressure, watching happy telly, playing mindless games on my phone and now, for the first time, as of today…writing about it.

I’ve never been so honest before and if it wasn’t World Mental Health Day, I’d have buried it as usual. But this is an opportunity, isn’t it? A day like this is a chance to speak openly about this shizzle. It’s a teeny prod to maybe check-in with people we care about and see if they’re ok, tell them we’re there if they need us, maybe cook them a chilli or something.

Or maybe send them a pic of a happy pepper with the caption: “Saw this cuteness and thought of you…before I STABBED him with a fork and furiously MASTICATED him to death.”

THAT will defintiely help. I promise….