The Castrol GTX of love and friendship

Or how people go mental

Your brain is like a little motor.  Most of the time, it purrs away under the bonnet of your ‘bunnet’, baseball cap, hat or hairdo.

Life, on the other hand, is like a bucket of grit and grief that fate pours into your petrol tank, (usually just as you’re going round a dangerous bend on a slippery slope).

What keeps us going is the Castrol GTX of love and friendship and support. Believe it or not, family, friends, neighbours, co-workers, teachers, kindly shop assistants and that nice bloke on the 22 bus who smiles and says “Morning” –– that’s what helps protect you.

But sometimes there’s just too much grit going into our minds. You leave home or move house. Or you’ve got money trouble. Or Boy trouble. Or Girl trouble. A relationship breaks down. You get divorced. You lose your job. Someone close to you dies. These are often the times when the works get gummed up.

And you know what’s worse? You’re down. And, right when you find yourself on your back, you’re on your jack.

Friends avoid you. Ex-colleagues don’t call. Neighbours don’t want to know. To put it more crudely, you’re in the shit and suddenly it seems no-one gives a shit. Or even worse your nearest and dearest give you shit.

“Pull yourself together.” “You’re lazy.” “You’re doing it to yourself.” “It wasn’t like this in my day… blah blah blah.”

It’s not that they don’t mean well. But it’s like taking your car to the garage and the mechanic lifts the bonnet and says: “Tell what you need. I’m going to open the oil cap and pour a load of extra grit in there for you. That’ll do the trick.”

All together now: Oh no it won’t.

Fortunately, three out of four of us will get through life without serious mental mishap. But, at some time in our lives, one in four of us will find the grinding of mental gears so loud and horrible that we can hardly hear ourselves think. We may have to pull into one of life’s lay-bys to let our mental motor cool down. Some of us may have to call on specialist help.

Most get back on the road feeling brand new. Some may prefer to drive more carefully afterwards – and they certainly don’t need the rest of us honking and swearing and gesturing at them on the highways of life.

Just a few of us – maybe one person on a well-filled double decker bus – will experience a more severe mental breakdown. Except they’re not on the bus. Like any one else with a serious illness, they’re usually in hospital.

So, what the answer? Maybe the Beatles said it best. “All you need is love.” Though some guy in the middle east about 2000 years ago probably said it first. “Do to others as you would want them to do to you.” You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to see that it’s a wise and practical guide to treating people fairly regardless of their colour, race, beliefs, social standing, wealth or even their mental health.

If you’d like to know more about mental health and the simple ways you can learn to help yourself – or indeed help anyone you know or meet with mental health issues – you’ll find some very useful stuff here. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a parent or medical practitioner, a schoolkid or a teacher, a co-worker or the Chief Execuitve. Here’s the truth: we could all use a few more friends.

Check out the anti-stigma website: see me