Out In The Open

Something wonderful happened today. It raised my spirits immensely, and I want to tell everybody about it. I found a small, oval stone with the letters ‘OTR’ delicately penned in Turquoise on its surface. Intrigued, I held it in my hand throughout my walk and googled the letters on my laptop at home. As I did so, a vibrant treasure trove of soothing, informative and encouraging articles, slogans, groups, contact details and advice columns popped up. I discovered that I had found the homepage of ‘Off the Record’, which is a wonderful charity that offers support to young people experiencing Mental Health challenges and difficulties. Whatever age a person may be currently, that website should be seen by everybody.  By the way, here is the Bristol one: http://www.otrbristol.org.uk/

My discovery struck a very resonant chord within my mind today. It made me feel happy. Discovering that somebody had left a message about how to access information concerning Mental Health felt extremely uplifting. Back at home, in the five minutes that I browsed the website (stone in hand), I read hundreds of practical and encouraging things that I WISH I had known about as a younger man, and even as a boy.

It struck a chord within me because anxiety is something that I have experienced for as long as I can remember. It is always a shadowy, lurking presence within some part of my mind, but usually no more than a minor affliction that I can bat away with coping mechanisms. Two years ago however, it became something more debilitating altogether, and I had to learn new ones. I did so, and am now much, much happier for the experience, and yet I am haunted by a question (probably held aloft on a neon-lettered banner by my anxiety). The question is: would I have suffered so badly had I benefited from the help offered (even just online), by an organisation such as OTR?  The answer , I think, is  a resounding  NO.

I actually found the stone whilst employing one of my anxiety-coping mechanisms, which is to have a walk. It was a pre-preemptive walk, to fend off a couple of lurking, grumbling anxieties. Twelve hours and an internet search later, they have gone. I feel calmed and cleansed by the thought that our current generation of young folk can and presumably do stumble upon wonderful organisations such as Off The Record. It gladdens my heart to know that I live in a society which is more informed about, and open to talking about Mental Health. I am retracing my steps tomorrow, to put that stone back where I found it, so that somebody else can find it. I might well leave an encouraging note with it.

I sincerely hope that anybody and everybody who reads this entry will have a look at OTR online, and tell other people about it. I would be so happy if these words were shared online or by word of mouth, so please ping them around. I want to embrace an openness towards Mental Health issues, and feel strongly that sharing information positively is the way to do it. If even one person reads this and feels a little better for it, then I shall feel very happy. So in positive anticipation, I say happy reading and thinking, all.


Copyright Tom Tide 2017

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