By Gail Rundle
Investment banker, wife and human being on her campaign to put mental health issues on an equal footing with other body health problems....
Hi. My name is Gail. Now let’s get one thing straight….I’m fifty years old. For those of you who succumb to contemporary myth, that makes me a ‘wizened’, menopausal old hag with a face as lined as a grid reference map, as I sit sipping luke-warm Ovaltine and tapping my pink furry mules to the lachrymose ballads of Val Doonican.
Nonsense, I say, and Hoorah for the menopause! This morning I decided to tidy the landslide of papers in my messy study. Yet here I am, relaxing with a gin and tonic and enjoying my favourite Led Zeppelin tracks while I chat with you. Yes, Mesdames, growing older disgracefully has many benefits, not least of which is the realisation of what’s important. And dusting isn’t.
And there’s more…On my fiftieth birthday last year I threw away my big knickers and treated myself to some serious lacy numbers. I also made three wishes for the coming decade, two of which have already come true. My first novel is now underway. It’s a comedy and so what if I laugh at my own jokes? However, my biggest wish was to work in mental health, as I have bipolar illness.
I was diagnosed in my early twenties and have spent the subsequent thirty years managing depression and hypomania. I say ‘managing’, because I was able to forge a career in investment banking which took me to over sixty countries. I have known times from the black hole and empty soul to the soaring ascent of hypomania….
But I digress. My wish came true when I read a newspaper article featuring Jonathan Naess, and ‘Stand to Reason’ the mental health charity he founded. It’s wonderful to be part of something so empowering for service-users. The charity campaigns for the rights of all who suffer mental ill health and that’s one in four of us at some point in our lives… Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know someone who has suffered depression, or anxiety? Somebody’s mother, somebody’s partner, somebody’s sister, somebody’s friend. It could even be you. And it is certainly me.
Stand to Reason is a service-user led organisation that works with and for people with mental ill health in the way that Stonewall has for gay people: raising the profile, fighting prejudice, establishing rights and achieving equality. We are committed to fighting discrimination and stigma, challenging stereotypes and changing attitudes.
We have a vision of a changed world, one in which it will be common sense or ‘stand to reason’ that people who have experience of mental distress and ill health deserve the same respect and consideration as those with physical ill health and problems.
Stand to Reason is tackling discrimination and stigma in the following broad areas: business and employment, politics, culture and media, education and health.
Why not read about our work at http://www.standtoreason.org.uk/ ? Or better still, join us? Membership is free and we are the fastest-growing membership-based mental health charity in the sector.
Dear Reader, delighted to meet you and I look forward to getting to know you better in the coming months when I address some of the issues raised in this column and share some of my experiences…
Gail K Rundle, Business Development Director, Stand to Reason.
http://www.standtoreason.org.uk/ 07747 105432 You can also email Gail at email@example.com