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The Black Dog - mental health awareness
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For this reason, I used to find hitch hiking a really good mental reset.
While waiting for a lift, the only thing to worry about is when you'll get a lift. Once you get a lift, you have an hour or so with someone who you'll never see again. Mostly people only stop to give you a lift if they want to talk. It's often as much for them as it is for you. I always stop for a hitcher if I'm going the right way, but even pre-covid, there weren't many out...
My way of coping with life pre covid was to walk in isolated places, trips to the mountains and caving. I live in a city and there is no-where quiet to walk now. The woods by my house have become playgrounds, massively eroded and full of people that don't understand how to leave no trace or protect them, pre Covid it was a safe haven from the noise of life. I'm autistic and struggle with noise. Throughout the summer we were disturbed by really loud garden parties constantly. Although we can drive for exercise I get very anxious about occasionally needing to be driven a short distance in the city. I fear catching Covid as I know I couldn't cope alone if hospitalised. I had pre existing mental health problems before Covid and relapsed in September. Accessing help was difficult as although I was under health services the mental health hospitals/crisis houses were at breaking point. Eventually I did end up in hospital. 1 week after discharge we went into lockdown, which changed most of my discharge support. I haven't caved in a year and I miss my caving friends. I did get to the mountains in the summer and like Pete said earlier in the thread it massively lifted my mental health. I don't know how to manage my mental illness without free-er access to the outdoors. We have to stay living in a city due to family, but I feel envy of those who live in the countryside. Then I feel guilt for feeling envy as I know we could be far worse off.
I have got some enjoyment out of photography and run an online photography group for autistic people, a clip on macro lens for my phone was a diversion for a while. There's also some decent mental health support from local NHS 24/7 helplines set up.
Here's an interesting one on the mental illness impact of the pandemic from a team based at Sheffield Uni - surprisingly not that bad overall, though that does conform with my own personal experiences - and including the people I socialise with, obviously:
At the same time, it is important to recognise that average levels of psychological symptoms in the population could never be particularly informative. Even if there really were a tidal wave of mental illness washing over the population, what would anyone be able to do about it (it would not be possible to install a clinical psychologist in every neighbourhood)? Instead, when we use advanced statistical methods to discover different patterns of change, we see that the majority of the population (56.5% in the case of anxiety and depression) have been resilient, showing no evidence of mental illness at any time. These are contrasted with a small group who have been unwell throughout (6.5%), some who have deteriorated after starting with low (17%) or moderate symptoms (11.5%) and some who have shown considerable improvement in their mental health (8.5%). So, in total, about a quarter of the population is doing badly. This picture of what we might call “different slopes for different folks” does not look like a tsunami.
Regardless of my earlier posting i am coping quite well.
I am a rather singular person, perfectly happy in my own company. I went into last year with an awareness of a veritable mountain of jobs that needed doing, and that I wanted to do, on my home.
So I am quite busy through both lockdowns.
Also, I started a project visiting old colliery sites around my area, the cannock Chase coalfield. I have a very interesting site with extant remains within a short walk of my home.
Two other sites about 2 miles away. I want to survey them.
I also have my martial arts and am learning advanced katas from a Youtube sensei and books.
I have to consider myself lucky in the circumstances.
I'm also pretty happy in my own company, and I've repurposed my spare time into cataloguing a bunch of industrial archeology sites in the local woods near me - Q-pits for whitecoal, working areas and other less obvious, but clearly man-made features, but with no clear use at present. I suspect ancient coal mining, but I'm facing scepticism, given where it is. I'm learning to use QGIS so I can make my own custom maps using LIDAR and bedrock geology, and bought a GPS unit, partly to accurately record them but partly also to improve my work options. It's fascinating stuff, and I'm finding out all sorts of things through other expert people that are keeping it interesting - like extremely high lead levels in one small area, suggesting at least one of these sites was for smelting, and possibly very old indeed. There's plenty of exercise involved too.
Apart from the (I hope temporary) collapse of my social life, and very little work, I'm having quite a good time, but then my lifestyle's set up like this anyway - everything's research of some sort, and it's all connected together as much as possible, so that it rarely gets properly dull. Most of my non-caving friends all seem fine too, if bored. My main frustrations are not being able to see some of the people I really care about, and not being able to get underground to carry on my many projects. But apart from one slightly riskier site, they'll all be exactly the same when I do go back, so it's not the end of the world. To coin a phrase ;)
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