The Laughing Toastmaster – Mind the Mind

Join the Conversation. It’s Mental!

The 10th of October brings Mental Health Awareness Day, and boy do we need it! Just last week a friend of mine called shouting, ‘Meta (aka Facebook) is an evil plan to RULE THE WORLD by Mark Zuckerberg!!’ I’m thinking … Meta? Everyone knows it’s X (aka Twitter) by Elon Musk!

People are going crazy! Oh sorry – I shouldn’t say that, it’s not politically correct. Instead, I’ll use the word LOCA, (crazy in Spanish), that’s OK, isn’t it? Cause of the song? ‘Living la vida loca’? Such a great song about mental health! Thanks Ricky Martin, you made it cool to be crazy!

I should know. I’ve suffered from depression, which in case you’re wondering is like going on a terrible date. You’re exhausted, can’t wait for it to end but you’re expected to say, ‘Everything’s great’!

Today one in every four people will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives (WHO study). That means in every game of LUDO, one player will be affected. And no, we depressives don’t always play BLUE. 

Statistics have never been higher. Not long ago it was one in every ten people. At least back then I felt unique and extra special! Now everybody is jumping on the mental band wagon and the remote working isn’t helping. You hear things like:

‘Oh, I have desk-phobia! I’m afraid to sit at my desk!’ – that’s not a condition … you just hate your job like the rest of us.

‘I can’t get out of bed. I have climate emergency anxiety! No, it’s not. You just stayed up Netflixing until 4am!

Listen up people! Get your mental health together! Resources are limited and some of us were here first! And for goodness’ sake don’t say, ‘Well, we’re all a little bit mental.’ That’s like telling someone who’s bankrupt, ‘Well, we all have cash problems sometimes.’

They say relaxion techniques help, which is why I took a course called ‘Mindfulness: Creating Inner Peace.’ The only peace I’m getting is if they can help me clear my credit card debt … the course was £150!

Debt collectors aside, MINDLFULLNESS consists of staring into the horizon chanting stuff for hours. That’s all well and good, but what if you have a bladder that’s the size of a walnut? I ended up chanting, ‘I need the toilet, I need the toilet.’

Don’t get me wrong, these techniques help, but there’s something to be said for munching through a jumbo size bag of KETTLE CHIPS (salt & vinegar) until I’m so bloated my face turns into a round, smiling emoji. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper (£2.50).

For those with a sweet tooth, reliable sources say raw cake dough works a treat. Don’t worry about the sickly aftermath, after all, what truly fulfilled life doesn’t include Pepto-Bismol?

What does NOT help is what I call the ‘Happiness Brigade.’ People who insist all we have to do is stay POSITIVE to beat mental health. They’ll say things like, ‘You have so many things to be thankful for,’ yes, but your advice is not one of them. You wouldn’t say to someone with a broken leg, ‘Why can’t you make an effort and go skiing, just start with the kid’s slope?’

It’s time to talk. If you are suffering from mental health issues, come out of the mental health closet and seek help. Don’t wait until it’s so crammed in there you can’t even open the door. By the time I came out there were so many skeletons in there it was like a walk-in graveyard.

For the remaining three at the Ludo board (those not affected), it’s time to listen, something all Toastmasters learn to do with skill. Organizations like MIND, SHOUT, Mental Health Foundation and humble articles like this one are asking you to please join the conversation. Let’s create a world where we can talk about mental health without stigma and without shame.

Now it you’ll excuse me I’m off to dance to Ricky Martin, because despite mental health issues, I can still shake my Bon-Bon.


Sonia Aste is a Toastmaster who’s living ‘La Vida Loca.’

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