I was in Yorkshire recently staying with some mates from that neck of the woods or dales.

They are a funny lot, I mean hilarious, intelligent and talented. Prior to my virgin visit, they thought it would be a great idea to task me with getting to the bottom of a longstanding subject: “What time is teatime?”

I researched, I googled and yahoo’d and wiki’d. I asked about in London and got all manner of irrelevant southern classist and off-topic suggestions and answers. I phoned and spoke to mates living in Yorkshire and they couldn’t agree. The most popular answer was “well, it’s teatime!”

Within 5 minutes of me getting to the first local pub, outside, complete strangers that were loosely involving me (they’re much friendlier up north) were talking about, yep, teatime.

I sniggered. “Say summit funny lad?” No, I replied. Then explained about my ongoing theory of  A brief history of Teatime.

I concluded that it was in fact a vague time after work and before going out. Or going straight out after work. Frequently between 5pm and 6pm. Teatime works for cliques or groups of mates.

It’s shorthand for what they know in a certain area and certain group. It’s a concept.

It’s a concept that I could research, google and try and guess at. One I had no idea about and hadn’t really concerned myself with. Until someone asked me to. Until a mate mentioned it. Until it could affect my understanding of something else, a subculture, a friend or enjoying a night out.

Not exactly life or death. Not a taboo. I can’t imagine MIT are funding research into it.

The only possible way to understand was to listen, enquire, listen again and then learn.

It’s frustrating isn’t it, when you have no direct experiential reference on something, not being able to understand things, however simple. Anyone who is a parent or has siblings knows it is very hard to do the right thing if you assume the role of guardian or advisor. Even if you have had a very similar experience or think you know the answer, it’s OK to realise you don’t have all the answers. Researching certain things won’t always help. The most powerful thing you can do is listen.

Men and women tend to have different approaches to things. I speak for men when I say that a lot of us think our role in life is to know how to fix everything. We are the teachers to our children, the mothers are the empathisers. That’s tradition.

That’s what our parents were taught. Maybe that’s why the sayings “Man up” and “like a girl” mean opposing things, psychologically not just physiologically.

I can only speak for myself as a human when I say we may all be similar, but we are never the same. We may not all be unique and beautiful snowflakes, but we are a highly individual product of our environment multiplied by our nature. The ability to think for ourselves is the greatest educational gift we can open. An open mind is not an empty mind, as long as we know our self.

If there can be a vagueness and enigma surrounding “teatime”, imagine how scary it is for a young person to be inept to why they feel “Depressed”. Depression, particularly amongst younger people is a massive problem. I wager there are an awful lot of parents that don’t understand it, think it’s a phase or think it’s about “pull yourself together”. Judging by the increasing number of my friends talking about it, some whom I never ever guessed suffered from it – it’s rife.

If you want to be intelligent, consider the source of your intelligence.
Think, enquire, listen and learn.

Even the experts aren’t necessarily experts, I mean it’s a big ask for the NHS and its a big ask for anyone. The mind is a brilliant but fragile thing. Would you know the difference between asking a Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, Consultant, Pharmacologist, Cognitive therapist, Humanist forensic Psychologist, Clinical Psychologist, Behavioural Psychologist, Therapist or Counsellor?

Even glued to the internet for 7 years solid do you think you could learn, unlearn and rewrite a theory on neurolinguistics and its impact on behavioural system psychoanalytic theory?

Writing something funny on twitter is more than enough struggle for me.

What concerns me is the taboos perpetuated by silence.

The silence of the people that are unwell.
So, encourage those in need to talk, by listening.

If you are worried about your children or family,
arrange a time for you all to go to see a GP, together.

And try to listen. They are best placed to give next steps.

Be as supportive to the person as possible. It’s not your job to fix things or over advise.You can help them most by understanding and listening.

There are many group therapies and counsellors they can see.

If you want to do your own research, great. The internet is good, but its vast.
The best thing to do is to go and talk to people already affected.

It can’t help to get a broader picture.

Read books not just the web.

Share you experiences with those you trust. Listen and support those who share.

I hope you don’t have to experience something first hand to finally understand. Meanwhile, advice can come from the most unlikely of sources. So stay calm and be open.

As we say down south, put the kettle on and let’s have a chat about it.

You may have the best of intentions to help someone .
Until you master the skill of using two ears over one mouth, you’re not learning and they’re not listening.

You can practice this by just watching something on TV without commenting. If you’re parents, listen to one of you talk for a period without interrupting. At home, in the car, in the park, wherever. Listen with a view to understanding someone, don’t just wait for your turn to speak. You’re not in a business meeting, you’re helping your loved ones. For once it’s not all about you.

Take time to listen.



About thejonedge

Creative, designer, business do-er, author and thinker.
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