Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Depression and Mental Health Week

Last week was mental health awareness week - with the theme "Let's Get Physical!" You can find out more here.

The first mental health awareness week was in 2000, and focussed on stigma and discrimination. Even 13 years later though, there is still a lot of discrimination against those who suffer from mental health problems, and a lot of fear and worry even about admitting you have had difficulties. There are still people who don't understand the very real affects that mental health problems can have on our health.

About 10% of us will suffer from mental health problems at any one time with many people suffering long term effects.

I suffer from bouts of depression. Even writing this is difficult because of my fears about how people may react when they read it. "But we thought you were happily married" or "But you're a Christian" as if depression is some kind of negation of the good things in my life. It isn't. It is a darkness lurking within, moving in the shadows awaiting its moment to strike. Most of the time I can cope, I can keep the darkness in check, and no one knows of the periodic battles within. But there are times when the battle is a struggle, and there are even times when I am almost overwhelmed. Luckily I have my family, and I have my faith, and I hold on; the darkness recedes, and the light returns.

What sets me off?
Stress, tiredness, overwork, fear of failure, shock, helplessness, rejection.

How do I manage these?
I know enough by now to keep my self-esteem and self-worth in the places that are strong, in the places where I am affirmed and loved no matter what. With my family and with my God.
I know enough to view careers, and hobbies, and political action, and even churches as places where I might be let down, as places where I might meet the darkness, and therefore as places where I must not spend too long. So when the darkness approaches, I withdraw, I retreat to my strongholds of my family and my faith.
There are always those who don't understand: "you don't work hard enough", "you don't put enough effort in" and so on. They don't see the darkness and some of them wouldn't care if they did, for in their ignorance all they see is weakness.

So next time you see someone struggling with stress, or anxiety, or depression, stop and think.
They need your support, and care and encouragement, not condemnation.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

How to change the world... (or at least local politics)

  1. Choose the party most likely to win;
  2. Get 15 church members to join your local branch;
  3. Attend the AGM, and get yourself elected Branch Chair;
  4. Recruit another 100 Christians to your branch;
  5. Attend the Constituency AGM en masse and get yourself elected Constituency Chairman;
  6. Whenever candidate selection meetings come up, attend en masse, and get the best local candidate selected;
  7. Win lots of seats;
  8. Change the world.
Too many times Christians complain about how politic parties are out of touch.
So quit complaining and join up. Get your friends to join up. Get your churches to join up.
Change the party.
Change the world.

And yes, it is (almost) that easy. Political party membership is at an all time low. If we, as Christians got organised enough to set out to change the system, then are more than enough of us in almost every area to take over. Parties are run by their members. Numbers make influence. Influence changes policies. Policies change the world.

Sadly, the hardest part would actually be to get enough Christians to agree to work together on a project like this.

Because of course, it's much easier to sit on the outside complaining, than it is to make the effort to make things better.
Are we brave enough to make a difference?