I have written about this before, and now Mad Pride Ireland are exploring ways to try to do something about it. If there is one common thread to the negative side of madness, it is loneliness. If there is one thing that needs to be cured, that it appears can be quite simply cured, it is this issue of loneliness. It is so complex.
We need to have a national debate on loneliness, and Mad Pride Ireland hopefully is going to start that debate. We are going to begin from the premise that we know no more than the fact that loneliness exists. We are going to go to small communities and open a space where people can come and discuss the ‘fix’ for loneliness.
These are distressing times. There is huge uncertainty stalking the land, and fear is not conducive to wellbeing. We have lonely and neglected people living in 8 x 10 ft bedsits in large cities and in bungalows in tiny rural communities. Lonely in negative equity, in mansions, in apartments, in crowds, and in isolated places, indeed, in families!
Self loathing – when that loneliness becomes overbearing, it descends into despair. When that despair spirals downwards it can become negative madness (depression). Broken homes, children ignored, widows, carers, widowers, being alone when you want to be hugged and there is nobody there; that is when you need love. To feel connected!
It is an issue that we as a community urgently need to address. Not just for altruistic reasons or even for self preservation. For very sound economic reasons; work days lost to negative madness are numerous. Negative madness (depression) is spreading like an emotional virus throughout all our community, but it is an emotional virus we can prevent with our own emotional resources, no funding or research needed. Just kindness and love! Being held in positive thought; so important.
We can kill this emotional virus, with emotional support, a friendly wave, a smile, a hello to a stranger. The feel good factor. Buy the milk and the paper for somebody, leave it outside the door, ‘how are you today?’ A simple gesture: to acknowledge the existence of a total stranger may create a friend.
Two problems; how do we as a community, ask the questions? We are thinking of the community Garda, the postal service, GAA, rugby, sports in general, credit unions.
Second problem; how do we define who wants to be alone and values privacy, as against those who are desperately, silently screaming for the right person to knock on the door, but will not open the door when the knock comes? Pride to be preserved. Negative madness is caused by self isolation and that creates a huge barrier to engagement. Nobody wants a group of do gooders banging at a door insisting they be allowed in! That is where the community debate comes in.
If Mad Pride Ireland calls to a small village, say Ballydehob, with the West Cork Mental Health Forum or a small city community like St Luke’s and gets advice from those communities, on how they see a solution, then we have a beginning. Mad Pride wants to listen, but there’s a problem; it is those who will not attend meetings, that we need to talk to. Therein lies the challenge.
And when the lonely do open up, they can be overpowering/overwhelming and so self centered it becomes gushing and boring and people disengage – problem! The drink driving laws and their effect on isolation, and indeed if there is a link to the increase in loneliness, as to whether there is a connection to elderly suicide needs to be discussed. Have we saved lives on the road and lost them in the home? The young person who has stopped showing up for training; why?
So many simple questions throw up so many complex solutions but therein lies the challenge, we the Irish will find that solution, somebody needs to open the space, to sit, talk gently, lovingly with laughter and reflect.
Hopefully Mad Pride Ireland will get to do this, it is not a bad ambition for 2012.