Mental Movember

[This is a post I just wrote for my own site – but figured it is worth sharing here as well]

I haven’t posted anything in a while because I’ve not really had anything to say.

Actually, that isn’t true. I’m notorious for having “something” to say: whether it should be said or not. But if I didn’t self censor sure this part of the Internet would be full of the ramblings of madness that I should keep to myself.

But today I figured what the hell.

As most folk will be aware, it currently is Movember. That wonderful charity event that happens in November and makes folk walk around like 1960’s pornstars with lip caterpillars that belong consigned to the bins of history.

Originally it was an event targeting testicular cancer, the whole purpose being that folk sporting a ‘tache were meant to encourage people to talk about this topic. One thing the male folk are notoriously bad at is talking about health things with each other. It probably stems from the whole “man-up” culture that was prevalent for so long in the world, but luckily we’ve evolved past that and people are needing gentle nudges to talk about things these days. I learned recently, however, that the scope of the event has changed in the last few years. No longer is it about just testicular cancer, rather the purpose of Movember is to encourage men to talk about all manner of health concerns: mental and physical.

It’s the first health topic that I figured I would post an entry about today, because it is just as important in this world as the physical health conversations. Maybe even more so.

Recently I was at a conference for work and there was a fantastic talk on this topic called ‘The Unmonitored Failure Domain: Mental Health’ by Jaime Woo who works at Incident Labs. The whole premise of the talk was that the world is now moving at such a fast pace that people can find it hard to look after their own mental health. More importantly the talk highlighted people need to pay attention to external signals to identify a problem, much like how a computer system needs to be monitored.

The example explained how system monitoring itself may never see that an issue is occurring, as it contiguously makes adjustments and corrections to remain at 100%. But external signals viewing the system can come back and point out that the constant adjustments are not keeping things in a healthy state but rather compounding the problem.

Just like a person who is fighting with their black dog. They can keep telling themselves that the mood swings, the dark thoughts, the lack of motivation or interest in things that bring them joy are all normal. Part of everyday life. But that is how the black dog works, whispering in your ear that joy is bad and misery is good. It is the system making those adjustments to prevent you truly questioning if you’re doing okay or not.

Then somebody comes along and asks ‘Is everything okay?’ – the external signal that has seen something isn’t as it should be.

With Movember now encompassing all manners of health it is important for people to pay attention to their external signals, just on the off-chance their black dog is tricking them. Never forget that people, generally, have good intentions when they ask these questions. You should never assume they are trying to trick you or are pointing out a flaw. Rather if a person has asked this question it is coming from a good place, because they want to be part of the solution and not add to your problems.

Plus, as I’ve said before on this topic, talking is really easy to do. You open your mouth and words come out. Maybe they don’t start as the words about your problem, but like water falling over a cliff it is very hard to stop the flow once it starts (anybody who leaves comments about dams and the likes can just bog off :P). But the joy of Movember is that the world is going to be full of people for the next month literally wearing a sign that is basically saying ‘I am doing this charity event so that people like you can have a stranger to talk to if you need it.’

All you have to do is ignore the fact they look like a 1960s pornstar and have that chat, you’ll feel better for it.

A bucket of cockporn for three

What do we say when we fart 

The answer would be “excuse me”…not “it wasnt me mummy, it was the stinky man behind me.” 

Standing in the queue in EuroSpar there was an unmistakable “ppft” and, mortified, I whisper-spoke (is that a thing) to Olivia the usual phrase only for her to loudly declare her innocence and both my face and the face of the aforementioned man, to turn puce with embarrassment. Apologises muttered to the perpetrator and then to Olivia for my misjudging, I scarpered out of there as fast as my two legs could carry me. Not the first time she has landed me in it. 

As adults we learn to keep certain things to ourselves, which makes the funny or brutally honest things that littles say all the more hilarious and sometimes excruciatingly embarrassing. Here are my two more of those very moments: 

Mummy loves cockporn 

Out in Swords for the day when we were a family of three, our car broke down. Luckily we got towed to a nearby mechanic who assured us the problem was easily fixed but that it would take a few hours. Rather than getting the bus back to Skerries we decided to kill some time in the Pavillions. While there we noticed that Paddington Bear 2 was due to start in the cinema – perfect. That would wind away a few hours. Tickets bought we headed to the concessionary stand. Based on the subtitle I think we all know where this is going. 

Snacks ordered, popcorn and a criminally large amount of ice cream, Olivia who had just turned two, tells the hormone riddled teenager serving us that ‘My mummy loves cornporn”. Bad enough on it’s own but I was heavily pregnant at the time which only made the whole situation even more embarrassing. 

Taking too long to poop

Why on earth are the locks on family toilet rooms within toddler reach?? Those doors need more locks than a cell in Alcatraz. 

Picture the scene, it’s a busy Friday afternoon in a play centre, the eldest, having panicked and announced to the world that she needs to pee, is racing across to the toilets. In we go for some quality mother-daughter toilet time, thankfully in a cubicle big enough for the two of us, and up she sits on the toilet seat. After Olivia had finished her business I decided to answer Nature’s Call myself and we swapped places. 

A move that, in most circumstances, is not something to share with the world. But Olivia, with all the patience of an energised three-year-old, decided that I was getting in the way of her playzone fun. She reached up, unlocked the door, and opened the cubicle for all to see me with my jeans around my ankles. Then she ran out and announced to everyone ‘Mummy you’re taking too long pooping, I’m going down the slides’. 

Baby bum

I am sure I am not the first, and certainly I wont be the last parent to have their child loudly pass comment on a largers persons shape. Standing in the elavator in the Pavillions on a busy Sunday afternoon a lady with a fair round behind gets on with us. It was around the time one of the creche workers had just finished up in work to start her maternity leave. Naturally her changing shape drew questions from the unfiltered minds of 12 or so three years olds. All of which were answered perfectlly and Olivia proudly updated us on the fact that she knew a baby lives in a house inside it’s Mummy until it is born. 

Unfortunately for me it seemed she took away that big body parts = baby growing and so in the cramped lift she loudly asked me ‘Mummy why is that ladys baby in her bum and not in her belly. As soon as those doors opened, I slipped out dragging Olivia whileher still pointing at the baby in the bum. We werent even on the right floor but no way could I endure another three levels with my cheeks flying out of me.

So yes it’s true, Kids can be cute, sure, but without a doubt they can be really, really embarrassing, and it just seems they choose to have their most humiliating moments tends to happen with there’s an audience. All we can do is grin and bear it….and of course store all the gems away somewhere to bring out and re-tell them and their friends in their teenage years.