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  • Writer's pictureKarl Walker-Finch

Looking back into the valley

Wow. I am completely blown away by the response to last week’s blog (read it here if you missed it). Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to read it and to all my friends, and friends I’ve yet to meet, who have reached out to me in support.

I know mental health issues, concerns and fluctuations are far more common than are talked about, but I cannot believe just how many people have attested to experiencing similar variations in their mood or their own struggles. The reality of the situation to anyone reading this who has concerns over their mental health, no matter how big or small, is that you most definitely are not alone!

I have had several messages that have really touched me. I received messages from some close friends who have said they struggle at times and who now I can be there for them, as they can for me, knowing we share a common vulnerability. I also received messages from people close to people who live with any one of a vast array of mental health conditions. Knowing that someone may be able to better connect with their friend, partner, son or daughter, who is struggling, affected me greatly.

My voyage of introspection has been a long one, for as long as I can remember I’ve had similar variations in my mood. It is only through talking to my wife (who very conveniently, or perhaps by fate, is a counsellor), that I’ve been able to work through and understand my own mental state to get to where I am today. For sure I am not “fixed”, I don’t believe there is a “fix” for this, but gaining some semblance of understanding my mind, lightens the load I’m carrying.

I’m very happy to declare that my current experience is one of eight weeks of happy and two/three days of sad, if it can be declared in such black and white terms, rather than any more prolonged periods of depression which have hampered me in the past. For this reason, I do feel somewhat of a fraud because undoubtedly there are many people worse off than myself (note to self: reread Robert Webb’s story about the broken arm).

I still hold some trepidation regarding whether the GDC are about to come knocking on my door telling me I’m not fit to be a dentist, which of course, they have not done. This is my own insecurity playing with my mind and will probably seem a ludicrous proposition to most people reading this.

The other thought was that perhaps some patients would be put off coming to see me because they’ve read these post. A realisation hit me that any patient who expects their dentist to be perfect and inhuman is not likely to be an ideal patient.

The reality is I have had nothing but support and positivity from every single person I’ve interacted with since the post, and for this, to you all, I am eternally grateful.

We are all surrounded by beautiful human beings, individuals, no two alike, who all experience the world in different ways, and yet we can all pull together when the proverbial hits the fan.

To my wife, Marisa, I would not be who I am today if it were not for you. You have stood by me through the darkest nights and in the deepest caves. As I look back into the valley, I know that with you by my side, I will have the strength to climb a thousand more mountains and together, we will enjoy the view.

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