I've been wanting to write this blog for a while now, but ironically, I haven't had time!
I've been really quite busy scooting around the country going in to schools and Universities, trying to inspire and encourage children and teens. Trying with all my heart to demonstrate to them that they are special and that life is full of joy and that joy really isn't that hard to find, when you know where to look.
As I've travelled around the country engaging with our wonderful children, I have been shocked at how 'depressed' they are. You'd expect to see children sparkle with the wonder and mischief life has to bring but instead, they look worn, afraid and suspicious. We all read recently that 30,000 children contacted child-line with depression but it has only since I have been going in to schools and seeing these kids up close, with my own eyes, that I realise just how terrible this problem is.
Kids with eating disorders, anger issues. Kids who are confused about their sexuality, kids who have contracts with schools to be treated in a certain way or they can't go to school. No longer carefree, our kids seem to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. They are grown up before their time but I couldn't help notice that all of them seemed to look at me with eyes that screamed, notice me, help me please! Tell me what to do and guide me out of this pit of despair I find myself in.
I'm not an expert with degrees but when it comes to mental health, I'd like to think I do know a fair bit about it and how to fight it, having battled it for over 30 years myself. I know the causes, I know the tricks it plays on you and I know all too well the stigma it brings, I was very quickly ostracised from the Cbeebies Channel after I spoke up about my addiction to Prozac. Click on picture to see article below. If our mental health issues keep being swept under the carpet like this, when it comes to our kids then very soon we will have a society that is on it knees.
We need to support and understand. Not ignore or just pander to the depressed.
I also know that our children should not be depressed, childhood should be a delightful experience, no matter your status or geographical whereabouts. Childhood used to be fun. I fear it is something that we are doing wrong. There is a hole in society and our children are slipping through it.
I honestly think one of the problems is that children have no boundaries anymore. Human beings need boundaries and restrictions, they actually make us feel safe and loved.
I think the internet is a problem too, in that children get less and less physical interaction these days. They would rather text each other than 'talk' to each other and this isolation leads to anxieties. Social media means there is a great deal of 'one up man-ship' as they vie to be more popular than their peers and it also means you can live out a fantasy life, while ignoring your own reality.
There is a lack of crafts and arts in school these days too. Everything is geared towards passing exams. Everyone is treated the same, individual needs are swept aside for school stats, while emotional needs are pandered to without any real investigation as to why a child could be feeling these emotions.
I've spent hours trying to find ways to inspire these poor lost kids and one of the things that really seems to help them is to just slow them down. Get them to enjoy the moment they are living right there and then. Often then the problems that seem huge in our heads, pale in to significance as we truly notice the now.
Of course as I rush around trying to inspire others to slow down and savour their own light within, I realise my own soul has been rushing too far ahead of me for quite some time now and even though I love my life and all it is, I realise I haven't taken a moment and just enjoyed a few seconds in the now, for far too long.
Then something happened to me yesterday.
I have loads to do and catch up on. Interviews to complete, my 'Secret Weigh' eating plan to write. Brand reviews and research to finish off or film. So yesterday I fully intended to write up a very exciting interview I've just done with a very famous Hollywood director, then I hoped to film a vlog and and finally write up the next instalment of my 'Secret Weigh' eating plan to blog about tomorrow.
Well, I ran around all day doing things that needed to be done. Emailing people, writing up reviews for people, finding material for workshops, as well as generally sorting out 'life stuff' like tidying away toys but when it finally came round to doing my blogging work, I found myself sat on the bed watching Phoenix sleeping instead......
As I sat there, I weirdly heard the Alanis Morrisette song, 'Thank you' in my head and as the words 'How about just enjoying a moment for once', rang through my brain, I looked at my precious baby and a wave a joy fluttered through my body. I felt my soul settle in to my physical body, like a cat settling in front of the fire and I could have cried with happiness and peace.
I realised as I sat there yesterday that even though I lecture about it - I am rarely completely present in my own life and I'm not sure that many of us are.
It is human nature to rush of ahead of ourselves. I have even noticed that Phoenix does this. As he plays with one toy, his spirit is busy searching round for what he wants next, which means he isn't truly enjoying playing with the toy he has at that very moment.
I know we all do it. My spirit is very rarely with me because it scurries out of my physical body, yearning for the next thing. Thinking about anything but the present. Madly searching for ways to better my life, making me forget life is happening right now and that's the best living of all.
It got me thinking about why humans do this? I guess it's for our very survival. We are always ploughing forwards, always looking for, what's next, forgetting to notice what's right there.
I think it is essential to our existence to be like this too but I also think it is essential for our mental health, that in the super-fast highway that we live in these days, every now and then, we stop and enjoy a moment, even if it's just once in a blue moon. Being truly present can light up a moment like a sunbeam shining on your face. So please, look around and notice your life right now. I promise even if your life is full of hardship at the moment (and most lives are) it will make you feel smile ad feel at peace.
You might truly look and see your baby sleeping, hear him breathing, imagine him dreaming. You might notice a beautiful tree you've never seen before across from your house or you might fall in love with partner all over again. Take a moment whatever is going on in your life and savour it and please teach your gorgeous children to do the same, it's a life map lesson that could save them the torture of depression or at least lean to fight it.
Let's not rush to the end of our lives, let's take the time to notice the now.
i will be blogging more about mental illness in children - but for now I wanted to share this with you. I saw it on Matt Haigs Twitter account, he is the author of 'Reason's To Stay Alive'. It is such a good illustration of how to treat someone who is depressed or even just a bit sad, whether they are a child of two or a depressed teenager or an adult, this is the best way to help them.....