The past couple of weeks have seen a rash of posts across my social media feeds from brave friends raising awareness of mental health. From depression to anxiety, eating disorders to OCD, there are few people who can get through life without suffering in some way, be it temporarily due to various situations we find ourselves in, or, more cruelly, chemical imbalances meaning the brain is just not working quite right.
I am lucky enough to not suffer in any serious ways. However, I am not as brave as my friends who have shared their stories of panic attacks and depression. Maybe one day I will publish one of the many paragraphs lingering in my draft posts and phone notes on what is going on inside my head, but for now I’m taking the easy route and telling you a little story instead…
A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon I went out for a walk on my favourite stretch of the North Cliffs, between Portreath and Godrevy. It was unexpectedly warm and I was overdressed in long pants, jumper and waterproof. As I drove along the coast road to the car park, fog started to settle in. Close and thick, by the time I got out of the car the sea was invisible, only making its presence known by the steady rush and roar of the waves. I started walking, heading west, with only my thoughts for company. And oh, what thoughts. Anything and everything, things that come and go, the weights of the world. With the gorseland, road and fields on my left and the hidden sea on my right, I prayed, opening up my messy head and heart to God in search of something, anything that would help. Stopping at Hell’s Mouth to peer over the edge of the cliffs I couldn’t help but think of those desperate souls for whom it all got too much, too painful to continue. Signs for the Samaritans fixed to the fences were a haunting reminder.
Halfway point reached, I turned around to start the march back to my car. Up over the a stile, up a slope, down and round a muddy path until a cove came into view.
‘Oh look’, I said to myself (because yes I talk out-loud to myself in public), ‘the fog has lifted!’
The fog had lifted, the sun had come out, and below me was a glorious sight. Waves lapping gently at the shore, tumbling cliffs, blue sky; a scene found in so many of the photos on my phone and that never fails to make me happy. And I found myself smiling, thanking God for the goodness of his creation, and getting back to the car with a lighter mood and clearer head. The fog had lifted.
Because no matter how dark and long the days can feel, or how heavy your heart and head can get, the sun will always come out. There will always be something that pulls you up, whether that’s a bright yellow daffodil shooting through in spring, or a baby discovering its toes for the first time, or a dog chasing its tail in circles. Life should never drag us so far down that it feels like there’s no way out. You never know just what people are going through inside their heads, so let’s be gentle with one another, and look after each other.