Jon is a devoted father of three and was born in 1967. He has experienced panic & anxiety on a regular basis, but has come to conquer them. Jon learnt to manage his feelings, mostly without any outside help and over three decades of trial and tribulation. Jon openly wishes that he had been able to enjoy the reducing stigma over mental health that now exists in society and been able to seek out additional help growing up. He is now writing a book about allowing yourself to meet emotional demons head-on and learning to realise that you are not alone. The book is about becoming a man, in an all too often, unfamiliar world of emotions and feelings.
We now live in a society that openly discusses matters that were, up until very recently, still very much taboo. “Never discuss sex, religion or politics” was a phrase that was often heard growing up through the last few decades, as that was what our parents & grandparents had been taught and there seemed little reason to defy this teaching. After all it had stood them in good stead. Hadn’t it?
The fact that this phrase didn’t mention whether to discuss one’s ‘health’ was obvious. Health was always discussed. It was discussed almost as much as the weather. “What a lovely day Janet, how are you and the kids?” was and still is, a standard greeting amongst Brit’s – with just a mere change of name required with each separate enquiry.
Opening with a comment about the weather is an obvious thing to do. Britain has notoriously fickle weather patterns and so everyone is happy to comment accordingly. It is the natural ice-breaker (pun intended). Add to this a thinly disguised interest in the individual/family’s health and BAM you have initiated chit chat and if you are lucky, some gossip will result from the effort.
But nobody’s really interested in the answer to “How are you?”.
In its various formats, it is used as a throwaway greeting these days – especially by the male of the species…
“How are yer?”
“You alright mate?”
…all accompanied by a short, sharp raise of the head and there you have it – the 21st century equivalent of the early 20th century hand shake and the “Good day to you, how are you this fine day?”.
If you dare to answer the inquisitor’s question regarding your health during one of these encounters, then just watch their face. Squirming, embarrassment & horror will all be personified in an instant and then add to this the perspiration and you have the complete reaction.
So if everybody that we meet isn’t really interested in our health, who do we talk to about this?
Well, the above is a little bit sweeping….our true, close friends are interested in our physical health and will be genuine in that interest. But this conversation has to be at the right time. The right time for the required privacy, mindset & - usually – alcohol.
Notice the use of the word ‘physical’.
Now replace that word with ‘mental’.
WOW. Feel the tension in the room…
Mental Health? Nobody openly discusses their mental health. Why? FEAR…the fear of verbalising your innermost emotions. It’s bad enough for your mind to think the things it can think, but say them out loud. “F*** off, no way”
Now ‘listen’ carefully to me and digest this:
Talk, talk, talk. Seek help and talk. The stigma that you think may exist DOES NOT. At the last count, it is reported that 1 in 3 of us will experience some form of mental health issue in our lives. That’s 60,000 people in Ipswich alone. It is common. It is now understood by the medical profession. It is now absolutely ok to verbalise your feelings. I’m talking to you ALL….boys, girls, men & women.
Off you go – today….now. Good luck and my very best wishes.