Mandatory Mourning

It’s been quite a month, hasn’t it?

It feels like just yesterday BBC news started running their story about how the Queen had been ordered to rest, days after swearing in the new Tory vampire.

We’re doomed.

We had a chat in work about it throughout the day of the 8th September, speculating on the sheer amount of coverage, the announcement of family flying in from wherever they were and the sudden appearance of black ties on the news reporters, as it became increasingly evident that she wasn’t long for the world.

And by the end of the day, we had the news.

At the risk of being taken the wrong way, it didn’t affect me. It’s sad when anyone dies but I’ve never been a monarchist, I’ve never had that connection with the royal family, despite my feelings either way, they have no real effect on my existence other than the fact the hospital I visit is named for the Queen.

If I can rewind a bit, going back to the Monday before her passing, I was struggling. I was down, doubting my confidence at work, catastrophising everything, gripped by a depression that I couldn’t shake and generally shite.

I powered through with Tracy’s support and that of my good friend Jono, not doing good but just less bad, Thursday came and went with the individual significance it had for us all. and from then the period of mandatory mourning set it.

Everything was shunted from BBC1 to BBC2, the primary channel was wall to wall grief, literally death, death, death. On Friday morning, I put the radio on for the presenters to advise it would be a ‘different kind of show’, meaning no morning quiz, no funny banter, just sombre music.

Most of which covered the realm of break-up songs. It felt less like Queen Elizabeth had died, and more like she broke up with me. Everything from The Calling, to Ed Sheeran, to Take That to the Bangles. It was like living in a Bridget Jones film.

I’ve nothing against any of those acts, a good song is a good song but it was the concerted effort of every form of media to make people feel as sad as humanly possible that was too much.

And it got to me, deep within me at a time I was already struggling. I get that it’s sad, I respect it’s upsetting for some people, and insignificant to others but Jesus Christ and all his wee pals, was it overwhelming. If I felt this way, I know others did too.

It was after two days of this I decided to take control of my wellbeing and limit my exposure to media for the remainder or the next ten days, up to and past the funeral itself. I taught me something vitally important though. If something is a stressor or a depressor (it’s a word, I checked) we can remove it from our environment, or even ourselves from its environment.

We’re hit with stimuli every day, often self inflicted – my phone tells me I unlock it an average of 150 times a day – which is definitely something I need to work on but there’s nothing to stop you from changing the channel, from tuning into another station, from watching cats on Youtube and listening to something you actually want to hear on Spotify (other streaming services are available).

So here’s my point. whilst our mental health isn’t necessarily within our control, we can sometimes reduce the intensity of our feelings by making a conscious effort to affect out surroundings.

Wishing you all peace of mind as the nights grow darker.

Joe.

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