The storyteller chats about their thoughts around mental health as part of the Oral Histories Project
Hello, Lee. Um, I would be really interested to hear something about your thoughts around mental health. Mm hmm. It is It's an interesting question, because, I mean, there was a time many years ago when I took a real dip in my mental health. Um, probably started after my divorce, Um, with all the issues around that and that took quite a bit of time for recovery. And I would say I was secretly, um, covering up my true mental health status to the outside world whilst inside I was falling apart and hardly managing from the outside If anybody asked me How are you doing? I'm fine. No problem. And and? And there have been times over the years when, Yeah, my my spirit has been really low, and it sort of came as a shock I didn't Yeah, came as a shock. I never really expected that I would have those experiences because I've always considered myself to be quite independent. And quite, I'm not a strong alpha male type person, but just confident in myself Um, so I'm still liable to have those feelings now, But one of the things I've recognised is that well in my life. It might be the same for others as well. But I think you know, if I think of my my mental health is being like a spiral There are times when I can do things that help that spiral go up and up and up, and so I'm getting happier. And but equally there are things that I can do, that the spiral will go the opposite way around and go down and down. And it's when you're going down and becoming a bit more morose, a bit more lazy and lethargic Then, um, it is those times that I need to step in with my own interventions, and those interventions are really quite simple. It's nothing to do with possessions or buying things or anything like that is to do with. One of the things is walking, hiking, and I can do some great hikes over locked down And what have you been regularly doing 20 and 30 miles in a day through the mountains and feeling fantastic and I just love it. So that's that's one thing Um, I can do is just get out and walk, and that's cost nothing. Apart from carving out That's the other thing, you have to carve out the time because everybody wants your time. Everybody wants your time and you know, work and family and all sorts of commitments come so we have to carve it out. No, I'm going tomorrow differently and making sure whatever happens that you do it The other thing that really helps is connected with friends. Back in the day when I really was suffering, I had very few friends. I didn't know who to connect with and I was lonely Now I go to I played badminton badminton group and even though you know often on a Monday night, I don't fancy going. It's cold and wet. When I come back, I feel much better I always feel much better. Having gone out and things with having a sport like that is that, um, you're able to play and you're able to laugh and you're able to have little connections and conversations and maybe you're drinking the Pope Africa and so putting those things together, I've got other little groups, different areas in my life where I meet, people can meet and that is my key for helping that spiral. Got there are the things that I can do as well to make sure that I eat properly, because when I'm going down, I tend to make worse and worse and worse and quicker and quicker festival and stuff like that Which takes you to where? If you actually cook food from scratch, start eating good food. Um, then you can. That's going taking spiral because you're you're worth it You're worth cooking for your worth, making it and when you realise your physical and mental health doing it so quickly. So so there's things like cooking and your attitudes around food, getting people friends and getting some exercise. Those are some of the indicators that I can put in to switch around So that's really interesting at you because it's not about necessarily notions of absolute recovery. It's about having the tools to rebuild things when you realise that they need rebuilding as it were and building up your life. And you know what those tools are now, don't you? I'm getting a sense of that, Yeah, and I guess the key thing is to recognise it when it's in progress, because when you're starting to go down by the very nature you don't want to do much, but actually that And also I learned something from a very clever man, and he was clever as a consultant. And he's doing He was working out what some of his patients have to do, uh, to save their lives. And they have You know, they have to do certain things to save their lives. Um, and if they leave it to willpower, many of them will will shorten their life expectancy by 10 or 20 years because willpower says, you know, I don't fancy doing it today, even if your life depends on it. But if you create a habit that once it's gone, so I'm doing it and you just do it, you don't have that moment of thought You just change it around, and that's that's really powerful.