The other week I went on a BBC training course, during which we were given the task of individually developing an idea and then going out onto the streets to interview (or vox) people, before coming back to the studio and editing it all together.
We had around 2 and a bit hours to do all this.
At the time — as I say, only a couple of weeks ago — the Labour Party Conference was going on. The day before I had to do this the issue of mental health had been raised by a Labour MP who suggested that mental health should have parity with physical health when it came to day-to-day treatment.
I’d already decided that I wanted to do something along the lines of mental health for my pretend package. It’s a subject that has always been close to my head and, at the time of doing the task, I was coming off Sertraline.
Sertraline, I had (and have) decided, had more detrimental side effects than positive ones. In fact, as far as I could tell and beyond an initial 4-or-so month period, they weren’t having any positive effects at all.
What the tablets did do, and this was even after an increased dose, was to make me right mardy. There were a few other side-effects that I don’t need to go into here… but the main one was the drug was making me quite irritable and snappy. Just not me.
Irritating, sure; not irritable.
And that’s not really the point of Sertraline, I thought. Surely it’s not meant to make you less bearable than you were before.
So I came off it. The doctor had offered me more but that did seem like offering a drink of water to a person who was drowning.
Or rubbing sandpaper on a mardy face.
Anyway, that isn’t really all that relevant. Save to say, if you are going through a period of withdrawal that is going to heighten the anxiety that you’re on medication for in the first place; don’t give yourself the task of doing something that is going to really trigger that anxiety.
That is probably a bit daft.
But, that is what I did. Armed with a microphone, a fragile confidence and an undoubted wavering towards the foggy dark cloud, I set out onto the street to initially ask this question:
Should mental health be treated on the same level as physical health.
Now, when I went out onto the street I sort of had an idea what I wanted to do with it.
At the same time, I was massively unsure as to how I was going to go about it. After all, the question was a bit vague and the answers could be “yes”, “no”, or “ummm… I don’t know”.
Regardless, I went out onto the streets to find out what would happen.
The results are a little rough and ready. Had I more time, maybe the result would be more polished. But then, that could be read as an excuse.
Suffice to say, I put together this not-to-be-broadcast package for the BBC and I thought I’d share it.
Happy World Mental Health Day to you. And I hope, for you.