I am rather embarrassed to say that in the past, rather like many men of my vintage, I have taken a rather cavalier attitude to mental health. Not in an unpleasant way, just - shall we say, a little indifferent to what many of my generation believe to be a purely modern phenomenon.
However, I was recently reading an article regarding depression in the United Kingdom and was surprised and not a little shocked at the figures that were published. Suffice it to say, as someone who firmly believed that certain types of mental health issues were firmly rooted in a sort of modern, self-obsessed, ‘look at me’ mindset, the numbers of people taking antidepressants in the UK is truly alarming.
Between October and December 2020 doctors prescribed over 20 million pills, 6 percent more than in the same period the year before - and similarly, the years before that. It seems that more than seven million people, that’s 17% of the adult population of the UK are on antidepressants. Is it me, or is that number really disturbing?
Various bodies within the NHS are desperately trying to move away from chemicals to other forms of medical help - e.g. people suffering from mild depression should not be automatically and routinely offered pills as a default, but to encourage meditation and mindfulness advice. As someone who in the past has gently mocked the concept of mindfulness, I have to say that surely anything is better than almost a fifth of the adult population of the UK having to take ‘happy pills’ to get through their day.
WHAT’S ALL THAT NOISE ABOUT?
As I have mentioned in past ‘Confidential’ columns I am at the moment staying in the lovely town of Cheltenham. For good or ill, it is middle England writ large, with its Regency town houses in the posh part of town and an air of restrained good manners about the place. Nevertheless, for all of this subdued gentility the air around us is often filled with the sound of wailing sirens. As the local general hospital is just up the road, I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised that ambulances will occasionally whizz around making an awful racket in an emergency, but - and here’s the big but - surely every call-out can’t be life threatening can it?
I am almost too embarrassed to mention this fact because there will be those of you who will say that I am quite mad - or even worse, selfish. Then we have the Gloucestershire Police Service (We apparently can’t call them ‘forces’ anymore - No, me neither!) On occasions you will see and hear (I mean really loudly) several police cars in town in obvious pursuit of bad-guys with sirens blaring as if in the Upper Bronx or some such hell-hole. The truth of the matter is that you never ever see a police officer in town, other than screeching around the place in hot pursuit of someone or something.
Over the past week or so, as in most UK town centres, the streets and shops are packed with people Christmas shopping. Nevertheless, you will rarely spot a police officer out-and-about in the streets at any time of the day or night. I really don’t like to measure England with Majorca about anything, because it is both unfair and a bit naff - but, you certainly see more police officers going about their duties on foot on the island than is the case here. Is this about money and resources or just a different way of policing?
ARE YOU A MENACE IN BED?
And now for something completely different! We have all known annoying bedfellows in the past haven’t we? (Come on - steady the Buffs!) Anyway, can I assure you that I will not be going anywhere remotely mucky in my search for unfortunate bedroom activities. It appears that research by bed retailer ‘Dreams’ listed snoring as the numero uno irritant in the bedroom.
This was followed by the ‘duvet thief’ who will happily leave his partner cold and uncovered, just as long as he is as snug as a bug in a rug! Third one up, is the face breather - who likes to share his dinner and booze intake with his partner on a nightly basis. Next is the phone checker - who is convinced that at 03.14 am someone interesting will have WhatsApp’d him and is demanding an instant reply. What about the throat clearer? He/she’s the one who can make a light cough last for a number of hours without waking up themselves.
Are you a ‘Starfish’? Legs and arms akimbo forcing your partner into the furthest corner of the bed with just half of a bum-cheek clinging on to the mattress for dear life. What about the arm-rester? This will be the one that sleeps on you and numbs it - thus, when you wake up you think that you’ve had a stroke. Finally we have the ‘spooner’ who will cuddle your back uninvited and then complain loudly if you try to shake them off with a jab in the ribs. Alas, I have some more - but as the Bulletin is a family newspaper - perhaps not!
THE CHRISTMAS CARD CURSE
Do you count the Christmas cards you receive? Come on, tell the truth. Well, I still do, a bit like a rather lonely old lady. Indeed, I will carefully note who sent me a card and who didn’t and swear that they will never get another card from me/us - this is because I’m in charge of cards at Christmas.
Unhappily, because of social media and a mixture of bone-idleness and tightfistedness every year we are ‘down’ on Christmas cards received. Rather embarrassingly, if someone should phone us over the Xmas break and hasn’t sent us a card, I will confront them with this fact and try to make them feel guilty, which in truth, doesn’t really happen ‘cos they don’t care and think me to be an old f***. Just saying!