28 January 2017

Misery loves company

Last week was Blue Monday. And blue, it was. Even if you didn't know it was a *thing*, you probably knew about it from the dozens of emails from companies telling you to BEAT THE BLUES with 20% off, or a free burger, etc.

Blue Monday is supposedly 'the most depressing day of the year' due to the Christmas comedown, the fact it's utterly miserable outside, and because you're scrambling around, trying to make ends meet whilst payday is still a week and a bit away.

For some, Blue Monday isn't a day. It's a mindset. The overcast, grey skies. Wondering if the sky was ever blue. If the sun will part the clouds.

And the fiscal anxiety of January is, for some, the tip of the (anxious) iceberg.

I'm going to stop saying 'for some', actually. Because 1 in 4 of us will experience mental health difficulties at some point in their life. Personally, my life is very much defined by my mental health, and at times it seems like those bloody clouds will never, ever part.

But on this miserable day, why should we suffer alone, in silence? This was a sentiment shared by two of my favourite ever writers, Daisy and Laura, and they set about creating an event on Blue Monday with a panel discussing mental health. And they called it 'Angst Fest'.

Such a simple concept, but utterly genius. It begs the idea, why the heck did no one think of this before?

Gradually - thankfully - society is beginning to appreciate that mental health is equal in importance to physical health. We're not there *yet*, but it's getting better. It's this zeitgeist , I think, that meant the event went down so well. It was attended by people like myself, who experience mental health difficulties, but also people who wanted to learn more about different approaches to it.

Before we got stuck in, we were treated to treats courtesy of Redemption Bar - low on natural sugars, vegan and gluten-free. So you can have as much as you want, right?

I certainly did...

Fruit martinis...

Veggie & quinoa sushi...

Edible flowers, anyone?

The panel was led by Daisy, and consisted of Roshni, Amiera, Calum and Joel. A mixture of sexualities, genders, ethnicities - all with interesting experiences and insights on mental health.

They say that misery loves company. And it's true. Pretty much everyone agreed that it was great fun and extremely refreshing to discuss mental health in such an honest way. And subsequently, we all felt a bit lighter because of it, kind of like we'd had a group love-in/therapy session. 

If anyone has dealt, or is dealing with a mental health difficulty, they will appreciate how troublesome it is trying to talk about it openly.

So imagine a whole evening dedicated entirely to talking about it. As if it's a normal thing.

Because guys, guess what? IT IS A NORMAL THING. Completely, utterly, normal. It's human. And there we were, a mixture of people, and you looked around and it sounds weird, but I looked around and thought 'everyone here looks like an average person'. Because duh. Because you don't walk down the street, see someone in the street and think, 'They look like they have bad anxiety' or 'They have a history of depression,'

I left later than planned - I ended up in a discussion with Laura about dating - and felt like I was on a cloud. This, I thought, is the future. And, mental health difficulties or not, it looked bright. 

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