‘How are you feeling?’

Those of you who read these musings on my life with mental health problems, will know all too well the analogies I make between aggressive car drivers and cyclists.  They push us up against the kerb, overtake at narrow points in the road…and they knock us off our bikes.

I was out on my bike in the countryside the other day on one of the first proper rides of any noteworthy length that I have ridden this year, when I came to a narrow lane that serves as the only road through a village. A car approached from the opposite direction at a sedate speed; I pulled over to allow him (or her – I tend not to notice these things – but that’s a topic for another edition).  The driver raised his hand slightly from the top of the steering wheel in a kind of half – wave as s/he passed me and continued down the lane. I, too,went on my way.

It’s nice to be acknowledged.

Sometimes we don’t have to have a long conversation about how we’re feeling.  Sometimes a simple acknowledgement does the trick. I don’t need people asking me for a full break down of how I’m coping with my moods.  Mostly it’s nice just to be asked, with no danger of the prospect of a ‘heavy’ conversation.

There have been a couple of recent releases at the cinema of films that explore mental illness: ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and ‘Side Effects’.  While these films raise some questions about the portrayal of mental health problems, they are a soft way of showing that the subject of mental health isn’t a topic that is taboo, and that without even asking about your colleague or friend’s own issues, you are signalling that it’s a topic that doesn’t have to be skirted round.

Click on the link below to see how asking about how someone’s feeling needn’t get you into a ‘heavy’ conversation which you may find hard to cope with, but signals acceptance and support which goes a long way to eroding the stigma which continues to linger while we steer clear of even the smallest of acknowledgements.


Not Waving But Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Stevie Smith (1902 – 1971)

This entry was posted in Bi Polar Disorder, Cycling, Depression, Mental Health, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to ‘How are you feeling?’

  1. Well, I must say that I relate more to the second reaction, where he just turns to dust. If people ask me how I’m feeling, I get teary and defensive and just want them to shut up and go away. What I want is for people to just treat me like any normal human being, not like someone with an illness at all, because I have enough trouble just getting through my common day without having to deal with anyone but my therapist asking me how I am. If I am asked by someone I know well, that’s one thing; but then again, I don’t know many people that I’m “out” to. Oh well.


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