It’s Mental Health Awareness Week. A quick scan across the political and social landscape and you might recognise that things aren’t hunky dory. The divide between classes feels ever wider, those that can afford therapy and those that don’t have much of anything; issues that existed in the time of Dickens still exist today.
That said, the will of those to help others hasn’t diminished, it’s knowing how to help that potentially halts the process. We have a lot to give, and need the outlet to express it.
We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.
That was one of a great many quotes from President Ronald Reagan, known as the Great Communicator. On our own we will struggle to be able to support all of those who need it, but every person is able to do something to help at least one other person. Collectively, that’s extremely powerful stuff. It’s the power of the tribe.
When people come together they form a community. Our communities can be geographical, but they can also be aligned in terms of ideas, traits, passions, conditions, beliefs. And there’s a very good chance that we’re all part of more than one community.
If we consider the topic of mental health as a stand alone community, then 100% of the world’s population are part of it. We can survive without certain limbs or with one kidney, one eye, etc., but take away our minds, and we no longer have a functioning being. Our minds are what are keeping our physical form active. Yes, sometimes our minds play tricks, and many of us have to contend with a mind that doesn’t really like to behave in the way that society expects it to…but when it comes to the crunch…there is no one-in-four, two-in-three, scenario. There is only 100%.
We are all part of the mental health tribe.
When I thought about what the term community meant to me, my first thoughts were only that of the town in which I live, in Denbigh, Wales. That is my community. I admit, I don’t feel I play a great deal in its functioning. I’m perhaps what’s considered an outsider in the mildest of terms; I moved here, I didn’t grow up here. But it’s definitely my home town and a town I am very proud of, and fond of.
When I’ve been ill, though, it’s not my town that has come rallying to help me improve, to take over the chores when my children have had to fend for themselves. There will certainly be pockets of people for whom this is the case, but for me, I love where I am but know little about the people who live here, and they simply don’t know what dramas are occurring in my life either. So when we start to think about our communities, geographically speaking, perhaps we’re all short of a true tribe. And this feeling of not being part of the community exacerbates the solitude that many folk can experience when crises happen. This has been my experience for sure.
While I don’t feel I can reach out to my geographical community, perhaps it’s simply too embarrassing, too much of a sensitive issue to have face-to-face—(I know my social anxiety gives me grief at times, which must make some folk wonder what planet I’ve really come from as I’m hot and cold year-in, year-out. It’s the nature of the beast, I assure you.)—there are other communities that I seek out whose words, images and ideas are able to tap into elements about myself that resonate. Here’s a few of them:
- UKRunChat Community
- Women’s Adventure Expo
- Tough Girl Challenges Tribe
- Say Yes More YesTribe
- The Mighty
OK, so there’s perhaps a fairly common activity thread between these sites, but that only goes to show that there’s no one size fits all, and that feeling a part of one tribe will not mean that you cannot also feel a part of another. Each of them allows me to access different areas of my passions that I want to discover more of. Here you really can have multiple overlapping families without any of the issues of incest arising.
The FierceMind Tribe
Engaging with each other pulls in the notions of storytelling—the sharing of experiences through meaningful phrases, and support—the listening, the learning, the framework for recovery. It also gives an opportunity for people to draw deep on their courage and share their own experiences, in stories, in other creative ways too, to become inspired to support someone they don’t know, to recover, or to achieve, etc. And this leads me on to an idea I have been churning over since the beginning of the year, when I realised that my own future depended on how I could help support others, particularly when I am housebound.
A tribe isn’t prescribed, it’s an organic process that evolves and adapts and works for the benefit of the community. To begin with, ‘setting up’ a tribe feels like a huge commitment which could frankly go either way—flourish or nose dive into the cow pat—but, we learn best from diving in at the deep end. I’m also quite excited at the creative process…
Beginning this process also feels like one step in a grand scheme of positive actions that mean more can be done to widen, not just our awareness, but also, our ability to take decisive action on matters of the mind: with insight, dialogue, and personal contribution.
Written and Visual (photography/illustrations) interviews: I have several interviewees lined up to share their stories for the Tribe which revolve around the central topic of our minds—whether or not they are healthy, medicated, considered completely and utterly insane, creative, genius, you name it—and their backgrounds couldn’t be any more different.
Reviews: There will be an open collection of reviews—books, races, films, training courses, seminars, therapies, there is no prescribed or definitive list. It would be a sad shame for folk to feel that their particular angle of experience isn’t interesting enough, or is too left-field for folk to comprehend. The point here is that without seeing the big rainbow in the sky, we’re only getting a monotone spectrum. It’s people who are the parts of that rainbow, with all their shapes, colours, sizes, languages, ages, beliefs and passions.
Focus Group: For discussions, research announcements, pep-talks, meet-ups, to ask questions that need a human answer, to suggest actions that could be taken, to help drive the movement that is clearly underway in society towards parity of health. This will take place on a closed Facebook group and be monitored by an admin team.
Sharing nuggets of experience between the rocket scientist and the PE Teacher bridges more gaps than occupational seclusion does.
The FierceMind Tribe that I’d like to be a part of expresses itself creatively, poetically, but that’s just my take on the world. Creativity isn’t limited to photography, vlogs, haiku, or literature. It’s also mathematical equations, scientific advancements, technological wizardry, and even Rubik’s cube patterns (yes, I know someone who can do this!).
If this sounds like it could be your thing too, with parity across all areas, hooking in to the idea that we have a commonality of, that of simply being human, and we have minds that either get fucked up, are fucked up or will be fucked up at some point in our lives for a million different reasons, then get in touch. Leave a comment below. Reach out across the waves. I don’t bite, unless you’re made of chocolate.
Over to you
Which community do you feel most empowered, accepted, or perhaps inspired by?
What would your tribe look like?
Would you like to get involved in the development of the FierceMind Tribe?