Wouldn’t it be great if you could measure mentalness?
Imagine if you could buy a special digital thermometer which you popped in your ear, pressed the button, waited for the beep and on the display, it would tell you how mental you are on a scale of 1-10.
Anything from 0-3 you could live with. As an adult living in a world which includes May and Trump and a gazillion legalised guns in the hands of yankee chumps, we don’t expect to live without at least a level 3 of permanent despair and fear.
Add to that the fact that most of us have endured a childhood and at least one interaction with another human in the last twenty-four hours and the idea of ever scoring a 0 becomes evidently daft.
If you measured a 4/5, you could see it as an early warning sign. Have a gander at your life and check if there’s a reason like getting divorced and being heartbroken and lonely and drinking too much and smoking too much and eating too much pâté (I never thought it was possible to eat too much pâté but have developed a dependency bordering on addiction to the speed at which it delivers such salty-smooth satisfaction) and working too much because you’re in a panic about money/the future and not even finding time to write the blog which brings you peace or read the books which bring you sleep or enjoy your own children which makes you weep.
If you measure a 5 and there isn’t an obvious cause, you could use the thermometer to keep checking your mental temperature because if you’ve ever been a 10, you’ll already know that 5 can rise to 10 in a matter of hours and maybe you need to speak to someone like a doctor or that lovely fella who works in the co-op.
Then there are the times when you’re fine fine fine, when you’re so fine you don’t need to even own a mental thermometer, until one day you wake up on a hospital ward with one rammed in your ear and beeping like mad, flashing 10 10 10.
There was a day last week where I managed a whole twenty-four hours without crying, for the first time in months. That day I would surely have recorded a solid 3. I worked, dressed-up as a troll which is always a pleasure. I played, drinking in the pub. I relaxed, sleeping well for a change.
But then existence reasserted itself as the utter RUNT it is and ever since, the temperature’s been rising.
Today I estimate I’d record a 5.5. Not lost it, but aware that losing it is calling me like the last remaining inch of pâté in the fridge, because some of what’s happening at the mo is very triggery and familiar which makes it all that bit harder to cope with.
How to get that temperature down today, which also happens to be World Mental Health Day?
The theme for this year is ‘Workplace Wellbeing’ which sounds great and important an’ that, but is a bit shit for us self-employed mentalists who can’t demand better working conditions or more support because the brain wot makes those decisions is in our own wonky heads and, as we’ve already established, mine is already locked in a half-way holding position between functioning and fuck-up-ing.
So I’ve taken the advice from last year’s MH day theme which was ‘Psychological First Aid’ and was all about how we can help people in mental distress in very simple ways and one of them is just saying, ‘Er, you alright? You seem a bit mental’ before they get to the stage of being utterly spangled with terror.
That’s what Gwyneth’s just done. Because he knows me, because he still cares about me. He asked if I was ok and what he could do to help and I told him I was ok and no thank you. And then I thought, hang on, you stupid arsehole of a woman, who else in your life can really help you right now apart from him? So I told him actually maybe I wasn’t ok and could really do with his help.
He made me good coffee. We talked it through. We made a plan which includes him rearranging everything so he can have youngest for a few days while I work. His help made me cry because I needed it and didn’t want to need it, especially from him, but also because I felt deeply relieved and surprised at getting it, especially from him.
It also means I’ve been able to have this time to talk to you and tell you that I hope you’re scoring low today on the mental thermometer and if you’re not, maybe you can try to seek out some psycho first-aid.
NB: it doesn’t have to come from your ex-partner. Unless they’re epic like mine is.
I’m going to fill the rest of my day with getting more of that first-aid. I’m going to eat cake with a mate and hit deadlines and I’m not going to spend the evening alone, panicking about how on earth I’ll ever cope, but will take myself out into the world and be with other humans wot are mentalish like me.
Also, I shall buy more pâté.
Also, I shall work on inventing that mental thermometer and make a billion off the back of other people’s misery.
I’ll be back to a solid 3 by bedtime…