Sunday, 25 June 2017

Summer Strum Monday Missive 12 - 26th June - All We Need is Love and Understanding

All We Need is Love and Understanding

This hostess is not happy! I am feeling decidedly sorry for myself. Snapping at the family (nothing new there maybe) and effing and jeffing a little bit more than usual. A proverbial bear with a sore head. I've been told that if you talk about things though - get them off your chest - then that's half the battle so here goes:

Last week I chipped a tooth when eating a mouthful of watercress - I kid you not! Great - I HATE going to the dentist. I got an 'emergency' appointment for Friday thinking that it'll just be an easy filling job. 

"Ooh yes you've really cracked the tooth there ... the position it's in is going to make it quite difficult to fill but we can give it a go" said the dentist. I should have just nodded in agreement BUT imagine the horror upon hearing the following words spill out of my mouth: 

"I can see this just becoming an ongoing problem - just take it out if you want'!!! 

"WTF?!?!" said my inner voice. "Did you really just say what I think you just said?". Well yes it seems that I did because before I knew it the needle had gone in and I heard those fateful words "just go and sit in the waiting room whilst your mouth goes numb". Never mind my mouth I think my brain had gone numb. So surprised was I that I started shaking, felt dizzy and rushed to the loo to burst into tears. "That's quite normal", said the receptionist as she ordered me a glucose drink and a glass of cold water; "It's the adrenalin". "Don't worry" said the elderly lady sat next to me. "I had one out last month - it was over before I knew it". 

Well it wasn't over before I knew it - it took a good 20 minutes of knocking, wiggling, cracking, pulling, pushing, jaw-breaking trauma. That tooth was not happy about coming out and hung on for dear life. I felt like I had just been beaten up - and still do two days later. The pain is constant, despite taking the most pain killers I have ever taken in my life, and I am truly pissed off. PLUS I had to pay for the privilege! 

The thing about relating pain to others is that you just can't can you? They can never know how much it really hurts because they can't feel it. There's an angry looking hole in my mouth but nothing on the outside shouts "PAIN" - no bruising, no swelling, no blood - just a face like a smacked arse. I personally just wanted to curl up in bed for a couple of days, get asked if I was OK, if I needed some ice cream or soup perhaps, or a hot water bottle or a cuddle - these kind of things are what help a soul recuperate. But because I look okay it was business as usual but with a really bad temper - even worse than normal! 

So it got me thinking about invisible diseases and mental health and how hard it is to convey to people how you feel inside when for all intents and purposes you look fine on the surface. My pain will get better - it bloody better had -  but there are many many people out there who are suffering inside from debilitating illnesses and mental health issues who, because they look fine on the outside are assumed to be fine on the inside. These are illnesses that rule people's lives - their work and social lives suffer and they find themselves all too often stigmatised because of them - labelled hypochondriac, lazy, miserable, unsociable ...  And these folk don't necessarily want to draw attention to their illness but at the same time they need empathy to help them deal with it. All too often humans find themselves running out of empathy when it is really one of the easiest things to give - you don't have to do anything - just understand that's all. It's not a finite resource that can only be sparingly given for a day or two. It's something that should just spill out of our hearts unquestioningly and for as long as it is needed. 

It can be as simple as this - swapping these attitudes:

With these:

Pat and I have a lot of time for mental health, in particular, which is why we choose to support MIND as one of our charities for the Summer Strum. - 'For a Better Mental Health'.

Mental health care has come a long way with the development of psychiatry and psychology giving medical folk more understanding of how our minds work. Organisations like MIND work to increase public awareness and understanding about mental health issues, aiming to ensure that nobody has to face mental health problems alone or live with the stigma that is all too often associated with them. They offer information and support through groups and helplines and campaign tirelessly to highlight issues such as workplace stress, debt and depression and victimisation as a result of mental illness.

It's not that long ago that women, in particular, were being thrown into mental asylums for all manner of reasons that are now understood and attributed to such wonderful conditions as post-natal depression, PMT, menopause and my two favourites "fecking sick of doing EVERYTHING around here" and "I've had a tough week, pass me the gin" - ah the joys of womanhood ... 

I am sure most of you will have seen the list compiled from the admissions books of a Kentucky asylum in the 1800's but I'll post it here anyway. There's a few I could put a tick next to! Happy reading. And next time someone looks a bit glum just put an arm around them and ask them if they are okay and whatever comes out just offer them your ear and your compassion and understanding. 

I'm going to knock myself out with some extra strong painkillers and try to just 'bloody cheer up' tomorrow! Mouth pain and work - a heady combination :-) Steer clear! 

SUPPORT MIND and Wirral Hospice St Johns at this year's Summer Strum Ukulele Festival - all profits and all raffle proceeds are split between the two charities.

Em and Pat xxxx

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