Guess whose birthday it is today?
I will give you a clue. Happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear Horace, happy birthday to me. Got it now?
Because it is my birthday I feel justified in devoting today’s column to my favourite subject – which is, of course, me – by looking back on how I have been impacted by the last year.
The last 12 months have easily been the best 12 months for me since 2007. Technically the first six months of 2008 were also very good to me but on average the 12-month period between my birthdays in 2007 and 2008 were the worst of my entire life to date. For those of you who are not regular readers I need to declare that I am not fully compos mentis. Regular readers and followers on social media probably think I am referring to my, to them, crazy view of the world. But in this case my statement is backed up by reliable medical opinion.
Back in the day my main response to those suffering with mental health issues would have been ‘Pull yourself together’. But now I have personal experience of how fickle and illogical our old grey matter can be. And I’ve also come to realise just how back-stabbing the brain can be by fooling you into believing there is nothing that can be done and this is as good as it gets.
In the years between Trafalgar Day 2007 and today my head has been even more addled than that curate’s egg and less trustworthy than the current contingent of Tory MPs in the UK. It took me to some very dark places and there were times when the thought of reaching 21 October 2008 filled me with dread.
I’m pleased to say that with the good efforts of Dr Gallagher and the help of Big Pharma I not only embrace life today but I want as many tomorrows as I can possibly get. All may not yet be well in the state of Horace’s head but the sun definitely shines there now and the even sunnier uplands are within easy reach.
One unusual side-effect of my road to recovery is that I seem to take notice of the troubles of others on a similar journey to my own. Hopefully when I finally recover my senses these alien feelings will disappear again. But here and now I seem to be concerned about the mental wellbeing of others, even those I have never met. Is this what the woke call empathy?
On Monday I became slightly concerned about the UK Prime Minister Liz Truss, who went on to announce her resignation yesterday.
My concern was not about her politics or her policies. My concern was over her mental health.
Imagine what a rollercoaster of emotions the last month has been for her. She has gone from the emotional high of achieving her greatest ambition to the pits of despair in the twinkling of an eye. All around she sees and hears only accusations of incompetence or is ridiculed even while the last reverberations of the adulation following her great victory are still echoing in her mind.
And she will not be the only one troubled by the seemingly endless portions of doom and gloom served up to us every moment of the day via our internet connected devices.
No wonder people are driven to do seemingly crazy things like throw tins of soup at a work of art or tip perfectly good milk onto supermarket floors. The final straw was one young male protester who couldn’t even wear the appropriate footwear to complement his skirt and tank top.
I was blessed with young years untroubled by the world issues over which I had no control. When I was young I was wrapped in the certainty of a world where the sun would always rise in the east and set in the west. I worked in the great outdoors, experiencing all the changing seasons had to offer and backed by the never-ending sights and sounds of nature.
As a child I was never encouraged to apologise for the empire or taught to consider my sexuality or gender. Life seemed much simpler and I never even thought about the rights I didn’t have but which seem so necessary for children today.
I feel sorry for my grandson that in some ways he will be treated as a child for many more years than I was, yet has been and is being loaded with more ‘adult’ issues than I had to worry about at his age.
With so much bad news, often hyped, often faked and often blatant manipulation, surrounding us in real time, we have to take action now to protect ourselves and others in our community around us. Especially young people, who do not have the worldly wisdom to properly process the information streaming into their heads.
For me, with a little help from happy pills, the natural world is what keeps me grounded. I lost my way for a while and although I’m not yet entirely certain of my bearings, I do seem to recognise familiar flora and fauna, which reassures me I’m not too far from the path leading to my home.
If you want to do something nice for me for my birthday, then as well as slipping a fiver in a nice card for me I would like you to stop worrying and be happy for the rest of the day. Because as the man said in the song, ‘In every life we have some trouble but when you worry you make it double.’
One more thing, if you find you can’t stop worrying and you obviously aren’t happy, then consider seeking some help to get yourself rebalanced. I wasted years by not reaching out for help or even considering I needed help.
Don’t be a Horace and wallow in despair – find your own Dr Gallagher and get yourself sorted.