Saturday, November 29, 2008

What happened on Tuesday.

Tuesday seemed a slightly brighter day to me.

The reason was not very substantial and very much of this internet age - I 'spoke' to people. Rather I interacted with them remotely.

Part of the rut into which I've sunk is to log onto the Guardian website each day. Specifically, the Comment is Free section - a robust discussion forum if ever there was one. Seeing an article on cannabis - something I know plenty about - I joined the discussion and got some nice responses.

Although the Guardian is quite the home of the liberal left, a Labour Party house journal even, Comment is Free draws a much broader spectrum of views - in fact the comments tend towards the right in my view. Perhaps it's because the Guardian has that reputation and those on the right see the chance to beard the so-called Guardianistas in their den. Maybe it's simply because the site is the best established, nicest looking and easiest to use (the simple expedient of putting new comments at the bottom rather than the top of threads makes a great deal of difference; that's the way we read innit).

I should stop going there to be honest. I just read the comments generally, not being brave enough to enter the fray myself very often. And, believe you me, a fray it is. The words 'I think', or 'in my opinion' rarely feature in comments, everyone's so fricking certain, it's seldom 'I disagree', it's 'you're an idiot'.

The level of polarisation it reveals in our society I find rather distressing. But, I've never coped well with conflict, I hate it.

A further reason for cheer popped into my email inbox. On my walkabouts I'd seen the offices of an organisation called Journeys, recovery from depression, and in one of my days of real despair I dropped them a line. Partly bemoaning my own unhappiness and also mentioning that I'd been a journalist and was keen to find voluntary work as part of my recovery - feeling useful would be, I believe, a great boost.

Some weeks had passed since I sent the mail, but the reply made my day. They offer a self-help approach, including stuff like diet and exercise, which makes sound sense to me. They also asked me in to discuss volunteering. I haven't replied yet - falling into my slough of despond again - but I shall today and hopefully it will go somewhere.

Just reading up on the coverage of their launch is sobering - not literally in my case.

In Wales, the adult suicide rate is nearly double that of England, while amongst Wales’ young people the suicide rate is five times higher than England’s.

Stereotypes are rarely helpful, but perhaps there is some truth in the idea of the melancholy Celt. It seems more likely that the frightening figures reflect a country that has lost its economic heart.

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