Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mental Health Time? Urban Isolation? Not Bullshit.

You know, it's funny. You can go your entire adult life confident of your beliefs and events can still over take you and cause a fundamental reappraisal of things that you have believed for years.

As you might have guessed, the beliefs that I am addressing are the relative bullshit nature of two concepts, those being "mental health time" and "urban isolation." We will discuss them in turn.

Mental health time, as I understood it, was time taken away from one's primary activities to gain some sort of mental perspective. I knew that it was related to stress and how people deal with it (see these guys for more info on that score).

Now, being the (usually) driven and ambitious person that I have always been, I thought that mental health time was a lame cop-out, an excuse given by the weak-minded for their failures to cope with the whirling shit-storm that is modern life. These people should quit whingeing and get back to work.

Well, um, this turns out to be not so true (for me, at least). A lot of things in my life were coming to a head at once (professional, financial, emotional) and I thought that I could soldier on and shrug it off easily (like I usually have before).

Not so fast, Will. Something was different this time. That something was urban isolation.

The term urban isolation describes a phenomenon that has been a part of the human experience since at least the time of the Industrial Revolution. People move to cities, away from their friends and relations and although they live in the midst of a teeming multitude, they still feel isolated and alone.

The usual perscription for dealing with urban isolation is to form a network of friends and meaningful associations to get you through the tough times and remind you that you are not alone. I usually have this, but because of the vagaries of academic and personal life, it was not as prevalent is it has been in the past.

I thought that urban isolation was bullshit because, well, I like being alone. I like spending time by myself reading, thinking or whatever (if I was a smart-ass, I would say here that spending time with myself is the best way to be assured of intelligent company). Anyone who claims to be isolated while surrounded by people is, well, either delusional or not trying hard enough.

Again, these assumptions on my part turned out to be rather wide of the mark.

So, in other words, I guess that need for mental health time + urban isolation = mental ground zero for me.

Worry not, dear readers. I am fine now. I retreated to my family and friends to, well, get some mental health time and remind myself that I am not as isolated as I might think. It did wonders for my mental state and I am back and ready to go again. We, as ever, have much to discuss.

Thanks for your continued support. Goodness knows I need it.


Lost A Sock said...

Hmm, I just noticed that my comment didn't post the other day.

Just wanted to say that I'm glad you took some time for yourself - and that you realize a litte more that mental health is where it's at, haha. The modern shit-storm, as far as I'm concerned, isn't at all what life is about anyway. Being good to yourself and growing (spiritually, emotionally, whatever) is most important. I hope everything is looking up for you. You deserve to be happy. :o)

Dad said...

Life has strange ways of teaching valuable lessons. I have been taking regular "mental health days" for years (i.e. at least one per month). When you regularly take some time for yourself to actively do nothing critical and do something fun that you have been "wanting to get around to" you'll find the satisfaction level is very rejuvenating. Start planning your next "mental health day" right now. Then you'll have something to "look forward to" (another interesting well-being concept).
My love and support means "I always "got your back"

Vanessa said...

I hear you Will. I think we forget sometimes when our lives are in so many different places that although we love what we do, the place we are, and the people we are with, that we have other very important components of our life--family, home, other friends (ourselves)--that need time too. I myself am having some "mental health time" here in Oregon with my family, and definitely getting away from urban isolation, which I am definitely prone to.

Glad you took some time for yourself. I'm going to miss you tons next year, so take care of yourself. I'll see you back in Madison in September for a good football weekend.

:) V