Mental Health Awareness Week: Time to Listen

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You’ve heard it all before, no doubt.

You’ve heard the earnest cries that it’s ok not to be ok; that medicating a faulty mind is no different from medicating a faulty body; that this too shall pass.

You’ve heard it all before, but I’m frightened that you haven’t heard it enough. I’m frightened that though we’re saying these things, none of us are really listening.

Did you hear what I said?

Did you see what Matt Haig tweeted about mental illness, what Sally Brampton wrote about depression, how beautifully Lena Dunham spoke about her struggle? Did you hear?

Are you sure?

Because I really don’t think it’s getting through.

Things may be better, but in all honesty, they’re still bad. Shame is endemic among those with mental health problems.

And no wonder!

I am met with surprise when I am open about my conditions (which are intermittent anxiety, depression, panic and OCD, by the way), as though I am expected to hide them away. People react differently to my therapy visits than they would if I were to mention say, physiotherapy.

This, despite the increasing volume of people who are taking the step and saying: ‘hey, me too.’

I will not live in shame for the sheath of pink pills in my purse.

Quite frankly, I’ve had enough. I will not live in shame for the daily tablet I swallow in the morning or the sheath of emergency pink pills in my purse.

There is as much sense in this shame as in that of a diabetic taking her insulin. And as for the emergency beater blockers: that’s nothing other than sensible, like the condom I carry around alongside them.

I am here to tell you that being mentally unwell does not make you weak, or dramatic, or crazy. Having been called all three of these things – and believed them for a time – I have come to realise that I am not any one of them.

We are unfortunate because we exist in a world where stereotyping of this kind is prevalent. When you would rather call in sick with explosive diarrhoea than admit to a panic attack, we as a society have a real problem.

And this state of shamed secrecy we the 1 in 4 still live in makes me really, really angry.

I’m angry that my anxiety and depression went undiagnosed for six years, and my OCD for ten. I’m angry at the GP who rolled his eyes and said “I don’t know what you want me to tell you” when all I needed was a little hope. I’m angry that an application for a niche NHS therapy I needed led only to an eighteen month-long waiting list.

If I’m angry for myself, I’m furious for people who have it worse.

I’m furious that suicide is the biggest killer in those under 35, and that still there is more conversation and sympathy surrounding car crashes, cancer, and myriad other less serious things that don’t actually kill you. In Matt Haig’s seminal Reasons to Stay Alive, he lists things that garnered more sympathy than his depression. Among them: living in Hull in January.

All this despite those horrendous statistics that show 10 and 20 million people try to kill themselves annually. 1 million succeed.

Still there are those who will not listen; who hear then dismiss; who, worst of all, scoff.

Far from just rude, regressive and insensitive, sweeping mental health concerns under the carpet is incredibly dangerous. Talking can be an invaluable combatant to mental health problems, and silence a deadly co-conspirator in misery. Perhaps it is even talking-as-therapy that bred the saying “to get something off your chest” (depression can leave the sufferer feeling as though a tight band is constricting his or her lungs.)

Remember this though: talking is wasted bravery if society isn’t hearing.

You’ve heard it all before. But this is 2016.

Now’s the time to truly listen.


You can contact Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123 and find more information about mental health at

My email ( and DMs are always open for you if you feel comfortable enough to discuss with me (anonymously or not) what you might not with others. 

In Which I Try To Elucidate The Last Shadow Puppets’ Miracle Aligner Video

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The fake tan! The homo-eroticism! The camp dancing! One baffled YouTube commenter declared he should rather his mother catch him watching midget porn than try to explain her the video he had just seen.

I’m talking of course about the newest video for The Last Shadow Puppet’s album Everything You’ve Come To Expect. This one for track two, Miracle Aligner, Alex and Miles proceed to deliver the same kind of decadent hedonism into our eyeballs as they had hereunto delivered into our eardrums.

The video opens – as a good video only should – with Turner and Kane standing/sitting meditatively above what I can only presume to be Regent Street, while petals fall spectacularly around them. “What is this?” Miles asks in badly dubbed Italian, giving voice to my own thought process at that exact moment.

“This…is an attempt to extract truth…approximately” Turner replies.

Cut to: the two heads of our favourite indie flâneurs, Kane’s close cut, Turner’s spectacularly coiffed, as they stare with undisguised lust into each other’s general vicinities.

And from there it only gets better. While I’m a definite fan of the video for Aviation (in which Miles engages in the practise of digging his own grave whilst wearing Gucci horse bit loafers), Miracle Aligner takes the biscuit.

Clad in off-white suits jackets and half unbuttoned dress shirts, the pair continue to frolic around a dingily-lit Versailles-esque set as the camera tracks around in dizzying circles.

No doubt this video is a direct and delightfully amusing response to criticisms the two have been receiving of late. Alex is often laughed at for his move to the US and its effect on his once-rugged British accent and demeanour. Cue Liberace-style fake tan and flamboyant hand gestures.

Meanwhile, it seems the pair can’t get by without speculation as to the extent of their relationship. Obviously, their response is campy intimacy with one another and a conclusive shot that appears as though they’re having a good old snog in the middle of the dance floor.

And to think, the lyric: “get down on your knees again” was titilating before any visual accompaniment.

Watch the vid here.