It’s mental health awareness week and 999 (my psychotherapist) is away on holiday.

This is surely an incident of malpractice.

Here we are, us mentalists, being forced to endure a full week of hashtags and shit memes shared on social media by non-mentalists who want us to know that they too have ‘down days’ and what works for them is going for a nice walk in the park with a friend and talking about all the good things in their lives which will DEFINITELY cure us when we’re trapped in the paralysing pit that is a PTSD episode or a panic attack or uncontrollable crying or just the numbing deadness that is depression.

#nature #walkinthepark #sunshine #mentalhealthawareness #yourmentalismisannoying #walkintheparkorkillyourself #eitherwaystopbeingsomental #hashtagsaretheanswer

Meanwhile 999 is lolling about on a beach, indulging in a full week of UNAWARENESS. Bitch.

She should be struck off.

If all this mental health awareness weren’t hard enough to endure, now the bloody sun’s out. Of course it is. Of course the sun is shining on mental health awareness week, beaming its cheery rays all over the non-mentalists, fuelling their fingertips to feverishly tap out another curative hashtag because surely it’s impossible to be sad on sunny days such as these.

In fact the opposite is true, for me anyway. The sun drives mentalists further into the shade to protect ourselves from seeing the bastard couples walking hand-in-hand down sunny streets, the bastard parents playing with their children in sunny parks, the bastard friends laughing and chatting in sunny bars. All of them scorching reminders of all that we’ve lost and all that we cannot manage to enjoy.

If we’re feeling especially fruitcakeish, we might sometimes deliberately place ourselves among these bastards so that we can more fully torture ourselves, more comprehensively fuck ourselves up and feel the burn of our losses, our whatiffery.

I like to mix things up a bit when it comes to self-care in the sunshine.

Sometimes I venture out to be with people, leaky eyes hidden behind shades, making my mouth move to form words while my ears remain unlistening, unable to hear anything over the chaos in my head, the old voices that replay on a constant loop, memories of conversations, of events, of pain, while all around me people are laughing, loving, existing. Yes. I am incredibly good company.

Other times I cannot stand to be so visible, so illuminated. Much better to stay inside and alone. Pretend there is no sunshine, no couples or parents or children or friends. No love. And especially, above all else, no hope.

Hope is the biggest bastard of them all. Hope leads to dreaming. Hope makes you dream of walking in the park with someone you love, someone who makes you feel amazing, who understands your fruitcakeishness and still wants to lie down on the grass with you, the sun warming your backs while you talk.

Hope says: Anna you can have this, you will be ok, you will find a way to support yourself and your kids, you will find a place to live, you will find happiness, and love is going to find you again.

Then I remember that hope is a liar. Hope has made a fool out of me.

Aristotle said, ‘hope is a waking dream.’ Positive types will interpret it as meaning that we must never give up hope, never let our dreams die. Mentalists know that he meant the hopeful are living a fantasy, walking around stupidly full of hope while their eyes remain closed to reality.

What I’m trying to say is that hope is hopeless when you feel hopeless. That is the awareness I wish to raise this week.

Ha. That is my kinda hashtag: #hopeishopeless

It seems to me that mental health awareness week should be aimed not at us plebs but exclusively at politicians. Because those lunatics are entirely responsible for making us all more mentally unhealthy.

I was referred to the NHS self-care service in December as an emergency case. I got a letter yesterday. A letter which offered me some online counselling. After five months of being in suicidal despair. This is the same, EXACTLY THE SAME, as telling a person having a heart attack to wait five months for an ambulance.

How incredibly fortunate I am to have my own 999 who charges me half-price now I’m a single mother on benefits. I still can’t afford it but I honestly don’t think I’m embellishing when I say that without her professional support over the last five months, by now I might be nothing more than a fast-fading memory, my voice and image playing on a constant loop in the minds of my grieving children.

Mentalists don’t need a bit of sunshine, a chat and a walk in the park. We don’t need hashtags and memes. We need free access to decent mental health services. Only then can hope return.

For me, hope will return next Wednesday at 1.30pm, sporting a disgraceful tan. Until then, I will be playing her soothing voice on a constant loop in my head. She’s saying: you will be ok Anna, you will be ok. You and the kids will all be ok.

I will allow myself the tiniest hope that she is right. Also that she was punished for abandoning me by it pissing it down on her holiday while we basked in the sun.

Well, you basked. I stayed in the shade.

Maybe by next summer I’ll be able to lie in the park, or on a beach somewhere, in the sun, full-up with love and joy.

Hang about, I sound dangerously close to being hopeful there, don’t I? It must be because it’s nearly nightime.

The sun always goes down, eventually…