Well, deserted readers, I think that Bender certainly puts it best. Sorry that this blog has been more barren than Spain’s coffers over the last month; settling into my happy new home in Huddersfield and new job at the Huddersfield Daily Examiner took up more time than I anticipated. This was probably due to the large amount of time I spent ‘getting to know’ the many amazing real ale pubs in the area-well, when in Rome (or wet and windy Kirklees, to be exact)!
Hopefully, now that I’ve learnt to write with one hand and a pint in the other, this post marks the re-start of regular updates/ annoying wordpress email notifications blocking up your inbox :).
I must admit though, another partial reason for the lack of blogging activity is that I’ve also been getting over an intermittent anxiety problem caused by a build up of stress (and probably a massive lack of sleep) over the last year or so. It’s a problem that I seem to have come across on a more regular basis whilst talking to other people in their 20s recently than before and I have a sneaking suspicion that the combination of a lack of good, stable jobs, other opportunities, increasing debts and decreasing social support is playing a part in it somewhere along the line, although sadly I think there are lots of issues in our society currently that may be leading to an increase in health problems such as this. You can make your own judgements about this, and if you think there has been an increase, who or what is responsible, but let’s just say I won’t be thanking those in charge of the country for their policy and governance choices any time soon.
Anyway, the upshot for me has been that although I’m no longer overworked and have got over a particularly stressful period at the start of the year that acted as a catalyst for my anxiety, I’ve still been struggling with symptoms. According to my doc, even when a stressful period in your life passes, your body can still act like you are still being threatened: basically, it’s like forgetting to reset your alarm. More annoying than anything else, it’s meant that I’ve had to cut quite a few nights short due to getting an out-of-the-blue panic attack, which, is definitely not the way I want to spend any more of my early twenties.
Funnily, I’ve realised that fulfiling the total middle class lefty stereotype by becoming a vegan and yoga lover has helped a lot, even if it has meant that I think I get less invites to tea as a result of the former. Making art (however bad my efforts may be, heh) has also been important, and has just reaffirmed to me how integral it is to improving people’s well being, something I began to notice whilst working in care homes and whilst volunteering a few years ago. Listening to music has also had a really good affect and I can’t thank Marc Riley, Cerys Matthews, Mary Anne Hobbs and other BBC 6Music djs enough for getting me through some of the rockier times over the last couple of months. One good thing about being unwell is that it’s allowed me to rediscover all the bands I’d loved and lost, as well as many new ones along the way, so it’s safe to say it’s definitely not been a wasted time :).
I’ve not told many people about the anxiety I’ve been having, because for me, now that the reasons behind it have gone, I see it as more of an occasional annoyance, like getting a sprain, rather than a permanent issue and don’t want to be tagged as such. However, the flip side of this has been that because I could act like nothing was wrong no one noticed when I was having an especially bad time. This meant that it took me longer to accept I needed help from my doctor. It’s made me realise that we need to be a lot more open when we think that our mental health may be suffering and not try ignore the elephant in the room. What may seem invisible at first will out itself at some point, despite best efforts to keep hiding it. Until we start discussing mental health issues in public more frankly we will not increase our understanding of them and that,in turn, affects our ability to tackle them. This is something we need to work together to address and, despite best efforts, mental health issues are something that, just like physical illnesses are hard to beat single-handedly with no support.
Anyway, all that writing has totally distracted me from the time. I guess my best laid plan to talk about all the places I’ve visited and people I’ve spoken to over the last month will have to wait yet another day-although hopefully only just one more. Stay tuned to hear about radical women of the Colne Valley, Sylvia Plath’s grave and updates about the archives of one of Britain’s first (and most amazing) electronic music pioneers. In the meantime, hope you keep wrapped up warm and avoid this freak hail that I can hear hammering on my window. I think I may consider making the most of the UK being in the EU and book my one way plane ticket to somewhere this thing called the sun is seen before any certain political leaders try to rip up our membership. Let me know if you fancy joining me :).