Real life

Life isn’t ever like it is on the TV, or in films or books. Because space and time is precious in a programme or a novel every event has to mean something. A mundane story about stroking a stray cat or running to catch the bus is only told as a metaphor for the struggles of one of the characters. Domestic tasks like putting on a load of washing or wiping down the kitchen counter are only added in if they either make a point about the domestic prowess (or otherwise) of a person or because they add description.

Real life is not like this. In real life lots of mundane things pack around the extraordinary or the traumatic or the difficult. You put on a load of washing because otherwise you will have no clean pants for the morning. Not because you are a drudge or a domestic godess. You discover there is no washing power and debate whether washing up liquid will work and whether wearing dirty pants would be all that bad.

I often think I’ll write a novel and probably it will be related to Mental Health because it’s something I feel so passionate about communicating. But I doubt I’ll ever get published because in the middle of the characters distress I will still want to write about the fact that they shopped for milk or attended a boring work meeting or chatted with someone at the water fountain/coffee machine/microwave or changed their child’s bed or handed in some work. Real life stuff, that doesn’t stop in spite of how we feel or what’s going on.

If there is something I’ve learnt about people in the years I’ve been doing this job, it’s that their ability to keep going in the face of really really tough stuff is pretty awe inspiring. Their ability to keep breathing and walking and talking and standing upright and to find food and to phone a friend and to shower and change their clothes. And to keep doing this until things get a bit better. And it’s often not easy, and things will slide sometimes and not everything will get done and some people will really need others to help them. But often the mundane is what anchors us when everything else feels like it is spinning out of control.

So, when you are struggling (because we all do), find a way to keep doing something – buying milk, washing your pants, drinking water, breathing. This helps us keep in touch with real life. It doesn’t make for a dramatic film but it is a way to get through when you really don’t know if you can.

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