Mental Health, Cakes and Communication

You may have heard recently about Prince Harry hosting a barbecue at Kensington Palace for the mental charity Heads Together, saying he didn’t talk about his mother’s death for 16 years!

I see this a lot in my practice, when someone close dies people often feel they have to be ‘strong’ (usually for others), or they haven’t got the time to really mourn and just take a very pragmatic approach and get on with their life.
Whilst a strong and pragmatic approach can be a good step, it shouldn’t be the first one.
The first thing to do is to face up to what has really happened and how it has affected you. It doesn’t always mean you need therapy or counselling, simply talking about it with a good friend can help. However, there are times when a trained therapist can really help see what you may be missing and help you to move on much faster
It’s when the repression of emotions has not been dealt with that it can cause future problems, ranging from depression, to phobias, to somatic symptoms. Mental health problems are more prevalent these days, from mild anxiety or depression, to fully blown anxiety which can lead to suicidal tendency.
The stigma about mental health is really ridiculous, most people will have a mental health problem at some point in their life, even if just very mildly. It’s about time society started to acknowledge it. Why should it be okay to say you’re suffering from IBS or chronic pain, but it’s not okay to mention anything even vaguely related to mental health. Well it’s about time we got a grip on this. Let’s just talk about it, what is the problem?
A huge amount of my clients are suffering with some form of mental problem, and they often afraid of being judged, being seen as weak, or not being able to cope. They don’t usually tell their friends or relatives, and to add insult to injury, most of them put themselves down about it because they ‘should’ be able to cope.
We have to be open on this and communicate about it. It’s nothing to be ashamed about. Just in the same way, several years ago, it would have been unheard of to have disabled athletes compete at anything, far less the Olympics, now it’s not only accepted, it’s quite incredible and inspiring to us all.
I recently heard about The Depressed Cake Shop which made me laugh. A few years ago in the US, a lady suffering with mental health problems started to bake cakes, which in itself was therapeutic, and to reflect how she felt, decided to make the outside of the cakes grey. However, they also had beautiful bright colours on the inside, as this is how she felt, somewhere deep inside there was brightness.
She then decided to open a cafe to sell her cakes and share with others. From there a community started and pop-up cafes began sprouting up around various countries, including the UK. A few people get together and decide they fancy doing a depressed cake cafe and they do it. One of the ladies responsible for this said “it is just wonderful to see so many people sitting and talking animatedly about their various health issues and also having a laugh”.
We all know having social connections is good: we connect, we share, we feel understood and it feels good, to all of us, not just people suffering with mental health problems.
So I have a request, how would you like to do something similar? It may not be over a grey cake but a drop in centre where we get to share, have real strategies to help and understand the brain and mood more. This is something I very much would like to start as it’s been swirling around in my head for ages.
Please let me know if you or anyone you know may be interested. All names will be kept confidential as we are setting this up. Nothing happens without movement so let’s go on-wards and upwards, things can be better, let’s share and make changes!

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