So why is it important to master this art and what does it really mean? In this article I will share with you what it means and how it can help you get out of the house and back into society when dealing with a personal illness or injury.
In 2011 whilst coming to grips with the fact that I had a mental health condition (PTSD) I didn’t actually work for a period of ten months, this might sound like fun not working but I can assure you it was far from a fun time for myself, my family and our bank balance.
After an initial period of time staying locked away from the world in our house, I felt I needed to get out, not to do anything special, just to get out of the house. Enter problem No 1. How do you do this when you have lived in the same location for the last eighteen years and worked in front line, community facing occupations during that time?
Why was this a problem? Simply because I did not want to head to the local shopping plaza to have a coffee and bump into someone I knew every 50 metres and be asked ‘So what are you doing these days?’. What would I say when I had been out of work for six months and lost 10kg’s? That I had become a professional triathlete? That was never going to fly.
Enter my and your solution to problem No 1. Google and Junk Mail! Yes junk mail, you know the brochures and papers that are thrown on your lawn in the middle of the night, and are usually all wet and soggy when you pick them up, only to throw them straight in the rubbish bin.
Google – Simply google coffee shops then the name of your local suburb or area. This is where you can find those coffee shops you’ve never heard of or seen because they are tucked away in the not so public areas. These are the ones you are looking for.
Junk Mail – I found it quite useful to browse through the local and free suburban papers that got thrown on my lawn. Often this may be where your smaller out of the way businesses may advertise because the rates can be substantially cheaper than the mainstream larger papers or magazines.
Use these two methods and you will find, like I did, that you will be able to get out of your safe-house and have a coffee, read the paper or a book, or just sit and people watch. Either way it gets you out of the house and makes you feel like you are still part of society.
So why is getting out of your safe-house so important when you are going through one of life’s rough patches? From my personal experience I found that it made me simply feel like I was still doing something normal, something that everyday people do and still a part of society.
I was also able to do it without the pressure of bumping into someone I knew and having to have that awkward conversation about what I was up to or where I was working.
After a while I found that some of these hidden coffee haunts/gems began to know what coffee I drank and I just had to gesture at the barista that I was there and take a seat and my coffee would be delivered to me.
I had slowly created a new safe space where I was comfortable. I was just ‘flat white guy’, not ‘recently out of work due to mental illness guy.’ It was a simple but excellent tool in re-building my confidence in a social situation and becoming more comfortable in a public setting.
So stop and think next time before you throw that wet and soggy junk mail from your front lawn straight into the bin, am I throwing away my ticket out of the safe-house and back to a bit of normality?
If you would like to know more about this subject or share your story with me I would love to hear from you, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or a tweet at @HMHFuture.
Stuart Rawlins | Healthy Mind Healthy Future
Strategies to improve your Mental Health