• Introduction to ZHUCHI

    I am sitting at my computer drawing a complete blank.  The purpose of this forum (I am told by my beloved web developers/sometime mentors/life guides in all that is hip in the Village), is to put in to words some of my thoughts and feelings around Mental Illness and the stigma associated with it.

    Indeed, when I first met with them, I waxed lyrical about the urgent need to reduce stigma, and that I wanted to be afforded the opportunity to make social commentary around this issue.  But in “my words”, I emphasised, “in MY voice”.  

    I take it all back.  

    I know nothing about this stuff.  I high-fived myself when I got a smart phone six decades after the rest of the world.  And now I have it, I am slightly afraid of it.  It has all kinds of powers and I know its voodoo is working because I keep asking Siri if she will clean the toilet.  

    But, all technophobia aside, my main fear is that I am not sure anything I will have to say will be worth hearing beyond my circle of long suffering loved ones.  To even think I might fiercely opposes my stiff British upbringing that inferred all tall poppies should be quietly cut down, and if Knighted by the Queen, keep it to yourself because no one likes a show off.

    In truth, I don't really understand how the world wide web works.  It baffles me.  How, for instance, will people navigate out there to find me?  How do they know what they are looking for?  How do I know what they want to read?  And the crux WHY are random commentaries by someone unknown or not vouched for worth the optic effort?

    So having had a look around at which blogs are successful and frequently subscribed to and I've drawn my own conclusions.  I speculate the reason people like blogs is because they can safely reach-out without necessarily having to identify or make themselves vulnerable.  

    People are re-discovering “community” in its present incarnation.  Community, from what I see in 2013 and beyond, is about reaching out across wires and waves to connect, to belong, to re-establish, to observe, to proffer opinion, to receive advice, to find solutions, to party, to play games, to share tips, to provide support.  Community does still exist but it now resides in a massive network of signals that zig-zag around far above our heads and well below our feet, coming in and out of our homes in order to allow us to connect with others – either next door or on the other side of the world.  This is a privilege we had not been afforded up until the birth of the internet.

    Up to this point in history we had to rely on what we were told by our town crier and later the media; which would be further manipulated by factors like political leanings, sales targets and what the Editor felt was "news" that day.  The internet (sometimes mercifully and sometimes mercilessly) lifts this shroud and enables us to source data on virtually every issue under the sun.  The internet enables the common man to bite back, to start small revolutions for the better.  The internet's absolute appeal is that any one can have a voice no matter how small or scared they may be in the face to face combat of life.

    Looking around at any blogs pertaining to mental illness or mental health does show that a revolution is happening across the globe.  A cohort of people have taken it upon themselves to document their own experiences, or the experiences of others, chat-rooms and online support groups exist for those in need, reference sites and help sites are more readily available as big organisations realise they need to meet a particular demand for relevant, up-to-date, evidence based self help and recovery strategies.  So mental illness is being talked about by some in a more positive and accepting way. If enough people join in, myself included, then maybe these voices in the wilderness will become loud enough to form a chorus, then a Mexican wave, and perhaps eventually the common way of thinking about and referring to mental illness in our culture. 

    On a personal note, since community and social connectedness is a important protective factor against mental illness and relapse, I need to pick up my tools and start actively engaging in this new community anyway if I want to increase my chances of staying well. Ghandi nailed it when he said "you must be the change you wish to see in the world".

    And in response to my inner Brit:  Indeed you're right - no-one likes a show off, but no one likes a coward either.  So ner.

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