Thursday 22 August, 6:50am
The isolation of home working and effects on your mental health
Guest blogger this week is togetherfriends member, Morwenna Holman, a writer of fiction, living in rural Wales.
So where do most of our friendships come from and how come some people have an impressive circle of buddies and some struggle to even find one?
Can we put it down purely to character and personality or are other factors working against us? It seems to be harder to find friends as we age, presumably because we do not indulge in so many social activities. But age alone does not seem to be the leading factor.
Working from home limits the people we come into contact with and even daily "chatting" on the net or indeed by phone can never give us a fulfilling friendship from all angles. We need to see the person's face...the smile, the light in the eyes and that physical contact too....a hand on the shoulder when times are tough and a hug to get us through the darkest hours. Yet so many of us do a lonely job on our computers and this can be further compounded when, as in my case, we have no family. Add in a measure of mental health problems and you have the ideal recipe for isolation.
It was Mental Health Awareness week recently and probably the ideal time to champion the difference friendship makes to someone like me. Having a reliable friend to talk things through or meet for a coffee has saved many a distressed person from hours of misery.
Mental health challenges can happen to any of us at any time and about one in three people will have mental health problems at some time in their lives and require support. There is little out there now in terms of help from the health care professionals so friendships to someone like me are my life blood.
Most people meet their closest friends and even their partners through work, but if your job is solitary involving a machine just how are you going to make that contact that is so important to many of us? Isolation leads to both poor mental and physical health. But so many of us lead hectic lives so friendships are never developed due to other commitments.
Reaching out to someone and admitting you are lonely and have no friends often sparks the "what is wrong with her?" question and alarm bells are ringing before any contact has been made. Having a friend with a mental health problem can be viewed negatively but people like me have a lot to offer people. At the end of the day we are simply people....we laugh, we talk, we eat, we have likes and dislikes. We live under a cloud because of our disability but it does not define us or it should not.
Look beyond the label and you could find a loyal and loving friend. So many people have met me and said in amazement afterwards that they would not know anything is wrong with me. I don't broadcast it and fight my demons alone but how much better equipped am I to do this with a friend or two at my side!
I do hope websites like togetherfriends will flourish and help many of us build those bridges which so enrich our lives. Friendship is a two way thing. You can start off befriending someone and saving their life only for them to do the same thing to you years down the line. What you put into a friendship is usually returned and sometimes with interest!
I have written a number of books: Westerdale, Rainharrow - both published by Olympia and The Calling, published by Heaton. The Awakening, Summer Madness, Briarly, Winter Violet, Gabriel Messenger and Split Moonbeam which I self published with FeedARead. All the royalties from my books go to Torre Argentina cat sanctuary in the Roman ruins through AISPA which protects and helps animal in Italy. My dad was Italian hence me helping these wonderful people.