The Art of Looking Up 

Looking up. The most natural thing in the world. And a phrase encompassing a multitude of meanings

Without it, you wouldn’t recognise the sheer beauty of your surroundings. How many Mancunians fail to raise their heads and absorb the architectural splendour of our great city? It’s no London, not even a Liverpool, but just the simple act of looking up can lighten the soul.

I’ve suffered mental health issues for a number of years. Unlike many in these – politically chosen – straightened times, I’m “lucky”. I’ve received treatment – counselling, cognitive therapy – and am able to recognise the signs. The barking of the black dog at the heels.

Or so I thought. 

And then, a few weeks ago, whilst walking along the elevated walkway between the train station and Terminal 1 it hit me like a brick. I had been walking with my head down. And I realised I was sinking, struggling. My heels were being nipped at. 

And it all started to make sense.

I thought I was a “talker”. Someone who could reach out when feeling “low”. I thought that I was emotionally eloquent. When all I was doing was holding it all together. Performing. 

The sighing on the way to work. I should have seen it. I should know better. 

This is my talking I suppose. Being sat on a speeding train. Tapping on a phone. And how many of us do that? 

I’ve started to get stressed over the silliest of things. Social media interactions, snapping a little in social situations, then feel the guilt of losing control. 

For which – to those affected – I can only offer apologies. 

There are always excuses, reasons, triggers. Things you think you can cope with, but you realise too late that they take their toll. Mine has been the recent funerals of two people taken before their time. People of my age. I thought I could handle it. But… 

The good thing is, that I’ve caught it. I can do something about it, I have “systems” in place to drag myself back up from the ditch. It’s not a black hole. 

There IS occasional light that gets through. That laughter is genuine when it comes. I let it come. Like the occasional tears, I don’t suppress those – I’ve had the odd funny look on the early train, to work, trust me! 

This is all part of the “ups and downs” I suppose. Getting by. Coping. (And I AM coping) I’m luckier than many. I can use this space as a vent. I neither seek nor require sympathy. 

There are things I can do. Exercise. Lose weight. Stay busy – ISBF was good for the latter. And I’ll be doing all of those things for certain – except ISBF. I’m still waiting on that one. 

No matter how grey or dark you may feel, the sky is still blue. I can see it now. 

By looking up.

Be kind to one another. J.