It was last week. How time races on. Anyway, I'm never sure if the idea of a World Mental Health Day, like days for women, peace, the eradication of poverty or disease, is a good idea, a 'can't hurt', or an insult.
Although never diagnosed with anything in particular, I've always thought of myself as someone with fragile mental health. When I was 6 or 7, my parents took me to a doctor to ask if I perhaps was mad. I wasn't very happy and responded to discipline by yelling a lot. The doctor said no: maddening perhaps, but not mad. But the question had been planted and didn't leave.
Recent weeks have brought some difficult states of mind - intense, bleak disappointment in myself for... well, for being me. Sad realisations from which - as always with the toughest stuff, be it self-inflicted or inflicted by another or by fate - there is no escape, for which there is no comfort except: "well, it hasn't killed you." or "well, this is not all there is."
If you tend to be depressive, this kind of experience is always a reminder of... how to express it? a reminder that the default state is paralysis and that motivation for living is something that has constantly to be cultivated. It breaks the habitual rhythms, the chugging along, hopefully without too much self-questioning. The power of habit is huge - as huge, I think, as the power of deeply internalised beliefs, and mental health is inextricably tied up with both.
Sadly this seems not to be the prevailing view in these parts, where WMHD was marked by a proud UK governmental announcement of new funds for the training of Cognitive Behavioural Therapists. Everyone who goes to their doctor feeling depressed or behaving oddly is to be offered a few sessions of CBT, and Bob's your uncle! It's cheaper in the long term than drugs and just as effective, research is claimed to show.
Excuse me, er, we're all the same, then? You have human nature cracked? This is going to work for everyone? Mental illness has nothing to do ever with life experiences, past or present, or with heredity in all its nature-nurture complexity? Gee.
This initiative has been in the pipeline for a while. Ms Melancholy, on her blog Confessions of a Psychotherapist, wrote informatively and movingly about it here, here and here, while blog-friend Stray contributed with equal knowledge and eloquence from the client's viewpoint.
One sentence of Stray's, I think, strikes to the heart of therapeutic wisdom and why neither CBT nor anything else is a quick fix: "There is no 'solution' - simply a (very) slow growth in tolerance of emotional discomfort."
That slow - slow, slow, tiny, tiny, but oh-so-signficant - growth of tolerance has certainly been my experience. So I find this book, and the kind of practice - now slowly finding its way into the mainstream health service - of which it is part, though emphatically not a panacea and not claiming to be one, a more hopeful sign in a climate scarily typified by the blanket CBT initiative.