Saturday, 11 April 2015

Blueprint for Life...

Between 1 in 12 and 1 in 15 children and young people are thought to deliberately self-harm.

That is such a dreadfully sad statistic. Children without hope. Children in despair. What is it that is causing the rise of mental health issues for so many? Aside from the pollutants, industries, additives, pharmaceuticals and other factors that can affect our mental health, maybe there’s something in the way  we live and the example and options we offer our young .  

I recall those childhood wonderings about what it would be to grow up;  hearing about school, work, falling in love, marriage, children etc. I waited each time at the end of conversations about this scenario, this ‘blueprint for life’ - thinking there would be at least another option, if not a whole set of multiple-choice blueprints to choose from.

I didn’t hear any real choices – just success or failure based on matching up to the blueprint

My mum was loving,  fabulous and successful  in her career but she too had the blueprint; doing her best to be the shape it required and help my sister and I to be too. We act with good intent, not wanting our children to be outside society and wanting to make the journey as smooth as possible. There is no malice in shaping our children to fit because this is what life looks like, if you grew up according to the blueprint  - but there is harm.

The confines of society have closed in so much that there are fewer exits and where they lead, grows smaller and smaller. We live anti-nature – shut-in buildings, ritual working patterns,  societal norms,  structured politics and probably most damaging of all, limited boundaries of education that attempt to create those shapes for humans to be - in order to fit the blueprint. 

I know so many out-of-shape people

Of course we can go rogue… live life away from the norm but it is far from easy and getting more difficult all the time. There is little common land to disappear to, few incomes that aren’t attached to a ‘regular job’ etc. So odd-shaped people spend lifetimes trying to squeeze, stretch and bend into places, spaces  and states of being that will always be ill-fitting… and eventually, maddening.

Mental Health has been in the news more recently than at any other time I can recall. Statistics warn:

  • Suicides rates show that British men are three times as likely to die by suicide than British women
  • Self-harm statistics for the UK show one of the highest rates in Europe: 400 per 100,000 population

Of course this is a health issue that we need to look at from a medical perspective but much more than the diagnosis and treatments – the biggest concern is surely:  

What are the causes and how can we address them before the harm starts or is beyond remedy?

The world is dramatically different than the one I knew as a child and yet the blueprint remains pretty much the same. We can see that as a species, we are capable of amazing creativity and ingenuity and yet here we are, stuck in austerity, in debt, discontented with our systems of government, at war, in poverty and often, feeling the huge sense of hopelessness at it all.


As technology races ahead, social media gets us talking and the internet provides ready-resources of information and learning,  people WILL challenge the blueprint. Each day though, suicides, over-medication and self-harm are stealing some of the most creative, feeling and unique minds from us. History reveals that the brightest inventions have come from those with wilder minds; the untamed Einsteins, Teslas and Da Vincis (would they have been medicated as teens in order to get them to conform to an homogenized norm and stop fussing with crazy ideas?). 

Change can't come soon enough and it has to include a review of the blueprint so we can start to set ourselves free.