I was sat in a doctors waiting room yesterday, which seems to be a constant pastime of mine at the moment. Nothing related with mental health I must add; I’ve had a tremendously bad cough for the last few days, which got worse to the point where it was hard to breathe. Turns out I’ve got bronchitis…it never rains but it pours! Anyway, I digress. While I was in the waiting room, and like in a previous blog, I indulged in some people watching. Whilst the first 5 minutes were focused on the annoying kid who kept kicking my leg and laughing, it was about 10 minutes before I was called through that the person who drew my attention entered the surgery. A lady was pushing an electric wheelchair, in which sat another lady (late forties I’m guessing), who was clearly severely disabled, both physically and mentally. I have no idea what specifically she was suffering from, but she had the comparable appearance to Stephen Hawking, in the sense that she was in a similar medically fitted electric wheelchair, and had limited mobility in her face and body. I couldn’t help but notice that the only part of her that seemed to have life, were her eyes, and this made me incredibly sad.
So many thoughts went through my mind, and I complemented many existential questions. I couldn’t help but question if I was in a similar situation whether my quality of life (which for her seemed non-existent) would be worth living for. I also questioned how people can claim there is a God, when frankly I wouldn’t want to be overseen by a God that would let that happen to a human being. See this link for more on that. It also, on a more positive note, emphasised the concept of unequivocal love, due the heartbreaking image of the lady she was with (daughter possibly) holding and stroking her hand for the entire duration of their time in the room. The image stayed with me for quite some time afterwards.
The relevance of this, is because of what I suggested in a previous blog regarding the intended helpful advice that people give sufferers of mental illness, specifically the idea that ‘there are plenty of people worse off than you in the world’. As I touched upon in my blog ‘The Best of Intentions‘, depression is not a rational illness, and therefore “its not possible to relieve the symptoms by rationally comparing it to another illness”. However, the lady in the waiting room posed a new concept for me. She can’t do anything about her illness, she can’t make any changes to her life, or put into action any techniques or plans, due to the fact that she is entirely reliant on somebody else for every facet of her life. In fact I got the impression that she was even unable to speak, which in itself is an incomprehensible thought.
It’s made me realise that while it won’t necessarily cure my illness, and I’m going to still have incredibly desolate moments, and times where I lose all hope, I’m going to try and put in place some things which at least will give me the best chance of making positive changes. The initial things I have considered are:
- Continue exercise, which will have the twined effect of keeping me occupied, and being beneficial to my mental state.
- Surround myself with people/friends, even when it feels incredibly hard. Live rather than exist.
- Reinvestigate meditation and mindfulness
- Continue writing the blog, and consider writing a book, as putting words down is something I enjoy.
- Try and get back to my usual self. Making people laugh has always been the greatest feeling for me.
- Care and look after myself more. Try and learn to like me for who I am.
The list is just an initial set of ideas, which hopefully will grow. I think the philosophy that will stand me in good stead is the understanding that if I fail 9 out of 10 times, then it doesn’t matter, because I will have succeeded once. This won’t be easy, and I will fail along the way, and in fact I have done so many times before (as a lot of these techniques I have tried on numerous occasions). But if I don’t make the attempt, then it’s a major injustice to the lady in the waiting room, because she would give anything in the world to be able to make changes to her life. She doesn’t have a choice…but I do.