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“Um. Hello. Hello.”  The voice on the telephone sounded somehow urgent.  “Is there anyone there?”

“Yes I am here.” Came the cool, calm, and collected response from the attendant.  “How can I help you?”

“Oh. Good.” the caller replied.  “Is that The Cube?  The most secure mental asylum in the country?”

“Yes it is.”  the attendant responded.  “How can we help you?”

“This is very important.”  The caller advised him.  “I need you to go to cell 13 and then come back and tell me what you see.”

“I am sorry?”  The mystified attendant replied.  “You want me to what?”

“Trust me there’s no time to explain.”  The caller insisted urgently.  “You have to go to cell 13 and then come back and tell me what you see.”

Totally surprised by the demand and somewhat alarmed by the caller’s insistence and the urgency in the caller’s tone the attendant quickly laid the telephone handset on the desk and rushed off to do as he was told.

Many moments later and many doors unlocked and relocked then unlocked and relocked once again, the now somewhat panicky and out of breath attendant picked up the telephone handset.

“I, I, I don’t understand it.”  Stuttered the breathless attendant.  “It, it’s impossible but Cell 13 is completely empty and the cell door has been left wide open.”

“Oh good.”  Came the now calm and reassured voice of the caller.  “That means I have escaped.”

Ok so it is an old joke and one that will no doubt evoke different reactions in different readers.

Some, who have heard it or a version of it before, may simply groan and say, “that old chestnut” or something along those lines.

Others, who perhaps have not heard it before or even those who have, may find the talk of mental asylums and even the whole premise of the joke disturbing perhaps even offensive.  I assure you I did not intend for it to be.

Some of course, might find it amusing.

Yet others, and certainly I would be prone to this kind of response, might not only experience one of the aforementioned reactions but then also go on to analyze it further.

The caller is calling ‘the cube’ – a place which both he (or she) refered to, and which the attendant confirmed, as being, “the most secure mental asylum in the country.”

The caller is obviously calling from somewhere else other than ‘the cube’.  We know this as a result of the need to confirm that they had actually got through to someone in ‘the cube’.

Furthermore the caller, from their final response of “Oh good.  That means I have escaped.”, must have been the  occupant of Cell 13 and since they were calling from somewhere else other than ‘the cube’ surely they should have already known they had escaped.

Ah but that’s the part that I can relate to so well.  Even in the face of the obvious there is an inability or perhaps an unwillingness to believe.

No matter what your reaction to the old joke maybe and certainly I do understand all of the reactions I listed above isn’t there some truth in the joke?  You may be repelled by the circumstances in the joke or even the inference of the joke but does that remove or negate the truth contained within?

I have mental health problems and like the caller in the joke I have real trouble accepting or believing the obvious sometimes.  What is more, whilst the joke may present a more extreme situation than thankfully a lot of us experience, I am fairly certain that I am not alone in having difficulties accepting or believing the obvious…

That I really can be loved.

That I am worth loving.

That I can still contribute something to society despite all my medical and psychological flaws, difficulties, and/or conditions.

That I  am able to achieve despite all the negative arguments from all the neigh-sayers that are so keen to warn against trying.

The fact of the matter is that I am convinced that if we take a little time to step back and look objectively at our lives, even in the midst of all our mental or physical health challenges, there are victories that we have already won.  It is these victories, I believe, that are the nuts and bolts or the rivets and studs that hold our armour together against future attacks and which can give us the motivation and the confidence to go on and to attempt and subsequently to achieve more things.

Recognizing and acknowledging those victories is therefore important and essential.

I am of course not recommending that we ignore all advice which tells us to be cautious or to take it easy or to exercise wisdom in what we attempt.  Without doubt some of that advice is both wise and beneficial but working out where it is coming from, how credible it is and indeed which advice we should or shouldn’t listen to can certainly help us.

An excellent example of this – in my own situation – is in respect of my poor, all too absent memory and the echoing advice that I have received to simply ‘let it go’ and ‘not to try to recover’ for those memories not currently available to me.

“Your mind has probably forgotten them or suppressed them for a reason”  has been the suggestion made by several people including psychiatrists.  “Perhaps it is better therefore to just ‘let it go’ and ‘not to try to recover’ those memories.

I refuse to live that way and I likewise I refuse to be defeated by this.  Those memories are important to me if i am going to retrace and rebuild and  to understand my mental health and its effects on me.  Likewise, being able to retain future memories is also very important to me.

So in response to this, the other day I started a new blog on which I am going to record past events in my life as and when they come to me and today I managed to write out one such event.

Will this potentially place me in a position where I have to face my own demons?  Yes I have no doubt it will but you know what?  I have faced them before and survived to tell the tale.  How’s that for recognizing and using those past victories!

Was it a good memory?  Well yes actually it was amusing to rethink it and remember it even if it did then lead onto somewhat darker thoughts.

“Without illness would we truly appreciate good health?”  is a saying that comes to mind and which I have often said in the past.  Those dark thoughts were present certainly but were put into context by the victory that I felt I had achieved in the process.

It has been a good day today and I am extremely thankful.  In respect of my health I am still just as fatigued as before and I still have this darn flu.  But it hasn’t beaten me or debilitated me.  I managed to redesign this appearance of this blog, to a much more appealing design I think.  I managed to write some more to the book. I managed to update some websites. I managed to re-face past events and to do so without crashing into a more depressive state.

I am incredibly tired, now but just as thankful and I am tired.

Tomorrow is another day and another chance to claim more ground in my journey towards wellness!