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  • Writer's pictureLiza Stirlinglass

Getting to Grips. #MentalHealth.

I have been in the house for the last seven days. It started off with snow and ice and not having the right shoes that would prevent me from going legs akimbo and upending myself. Not a good look on anyone, but especially not a 63 year old wearing big knickers ala #bridgetjones!

I ordered some shoe grips online which arrived last Friday, but no pun intended, I was also firmly gripped with my own agenda, working from home and to finish at least 25,000 words of my new novel, a murder mystery set in #Edinburgh. I hadn't realised until yesterday that I was experiencing more than just a touch of #agoraphobia.

Agoraphobia, first beset me in 1969. I left the house for school, got to the end of the driveway and had a complete melt down. It was a neighbour who helped me back up the short driveway and knocked on the door for me. I was frozen stiff, terrified. I and various counsellors have never completely got the the bottom of what started that two years of panic and anxiety attacks - there was no internet to blame, I barely watched the television, apart from #DoctorWho and it had been years since an earlier #trauma had occurred. Of course what I now know is it was likely that that early trauma had been lying in wait to erupt. There was no ryhme or reason for it to have happened that morning. It just did.

I have had moderate episodes of agoraphobia since then, and I didn't recognise this one until I started examining why I was resisting going out for a walk. The weather was nice enough, cold, but not raining and the sun had even popped out for a cheery hour or so. I procrastinated, did some baking, wrote more and then had the conversation I needed to have with myself. #Covid aside, what was stopping me from going out.

I still haven't answered the question, perhaps it is all the messaging about staying safe and staying home, certainly writing and working are keeping me indoors, but I do have another job and I will need to go out tomorrow and Wednesday to do it. A writer friend posted a couple of days ago that he still wasn't doing well, and another this morning, about feeling lonely.

So whilst Covid, the big pandemic has had an impact on all our lives, our economy and caused the deaths of so many people globally, there is another pandemic, one that remains under funded. Children and teens with mental health needs have to wait unacceptable lengths of time on a wait list to see a counsellor, adults are prescribed medication that does little to help resolve the underlying issues.

I am fortunate that I have the skills and experience to be able to talk myself through this, I will be going to work tomorrow. But for many, that isn't a reality. And that is something that we as a society, need to get a grip on. Mental health is one of the leading causes of death, often diagnosed as addiction, heart disease or even contributes cancer. So once the vaccinations are done and life goes back to some sort of normal, please remember to take care of your mental health, or reach out to a friend who is struggling. Their refusal to come to your party or go for a walk, might just be a sign they could use some help.

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