FW Presents – Geek Fitness 4 – Mental Health


Rob and fellow podcaster Tom Panarese are back to talk about maintaining good mental health during these...interesting times.

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10 responses to “FW Presents – Geek Fitness 4 – Mental Health

  1. Thanks for taking the time to chat, gents, it’s good to hear how you’re making it through the weird days.

    I know how you feel about wanting a break, Rob, I’ve been rotten jealous of colleagues on furlough, getting 90 per cent of salary paid by the government and, the idea is, topped up by the bosses, while the rest of us work on, picking up the slack, while having our wages cut by ten per cent (and it’s only just hit me, any topping up of furlough pay is coming directly out of our pockets!). I mean, it’s nice to have a reason to get out of bed, and to feel useful, but I’d love to be one of those people – just for a month or so – who moan about not knowing which box set to watch next or book to read!

    I realise it’s very much a first world problem but the worst thing for me, mentally (llet’s not talk about the toothache!) has been having our holidays cancelled – paid-for cruises to France and Canad/the US and one press trip to Iceland (it’s WORK, dammit!) … I want to have something to look forward to, knowing it’s going to happen. Ah well, we have rebooked two of the cruises for next year and the press trip should happen at some point.

    My partner, Steve, works for the National Health Service on mental health projects, and his teams are expecting a tidal wave of emotional problems as time goes on due to the Covid crisis…

    There is likely going to be an increase in psychosis, certainly. The crisis has been especially bad for people who aren’t comfortable with social media and Zoom and the like, being able to receive their regular talking treatments. Thank goodness, the NHS people are doing what they can to be prepared. We are so bloody lucky to have health care that’s free at the point of delivery in this nation – happy 72nd birthday for last weekend, NHS!

    Feel free to read anything out on the show, if you think it will be of any use.

    1. Not to be that guy, but furloughed people are only getting 80% of their wages from the government in the UK and there is no obligation on employers to top that up.

      I know this because I am getting 80% of my wages. My employer is currently going through an administration process and is keeping us on government-funded furlough while we wait to find out whether or not we still have jobs which they are announcing store-by-store as they negotiate with the landlords. Effectively my current job is to regularly check a website to see if they have decided whether or not I still have a job. The good news is so far I’m not on the redundancy list but the bad news is that I am not on the job is safe list. They release information completely randomly and we have been warned that we may not find out about our jobs until the end of July.

      I actually take medication for an anxiety problem which has in some ways helped (as I’m used to being anxious) but really isn’t doing enough to help with work anxiety added on top of general pandemic anxiety. Just to make everything better I got an email about 30 minutes ago asking me to book blood tests as my anxiety medication causes side effects that mean if I get covid I could be at greater risk of death. So I’m anxious about my increased risk caused by anti-anxiety medication.

      Having said all that I’m trying to hold onto the positives. I am well and so are all my loved ones. Also I live in the UK so my health care (including mental health care) is free.

      1. Well that’s all pretty rotten, Damien, I hope things get better for you, and as many of your colleagues as possible. Anxiety is such an awful condition, and you really don’t need ruddy Covid On top of that. All the best to you.

        1. Thanks Martin. I’m feeling a little more positive today. I think a lot of people are up and down at the moment and finding things challenging.

          Hopefully you’ll get a holiday soon. It’s really important to get away from the everyday now and then.

          Take care of yourself.

  2. It is good to have another mental health check-in with the geek fitness team.

    I’ve been handling the quarantine fairly well. I’m able to work from home. I’m quite introverted, so I find all of this self-isolation to be rather pleasant. I’ve even managed to drop some unnecessary pounds over the last few months.

    What’s really hit me hard is the issue of racism being thrust (once again) into the national spotlight. I feel personally convicted, because I have a young nephew, who is black. Over the last few years, I’ve thought about how different his life will be from mine (as a privileged middle class white male), but I never did anything more than think about it. Now, as a start, I’m trying to educate myself by listening to the experiences of black people and learning about my own biases. I have no idea where I’ll go from there, but I’m expecting it to be painful and awkward. Fortunately, my wife is committed to this journey as well, so I’ll have someone to help hold me accountable and keep me from falling back into my old complacency and complicity.

  3. I confess that this wasn’t the way I expected this conversation to turn. Not that I’m against political discussions (and you guys didn’t say anything that bothered me). I just wasn’t expecting it from the title….

    My own practice regarding blocking is perhaps slightly less zero tolerance than Rob’s, but is probably pretty similar. I won’t block someone for being conservative, but it’s pretty easy to tell from the nature of a given argument whether or not someone is open to dialogue. If it’s clear that there’s going to be no debating a particular person, then I don’t need to expose myself to them. It’s not “living in a bubble.” It’s prioritizing what I spend my time and attention on.

  4. I’m not sure I can say I look forward to these episodes but I greatly appreciate them, if that makes any sense. You guys did a great job expressing your feelings with everything going on right now and, sometimes, hearing someone else express their feelings makes it easier to deal with mine. I find mental health is very important and should be talked about, even if it’s hard to do so. But that also includes me talking about my mental health and hearing this particular episode has really helped.

    I’ve been very lucky during the pandemic that I live in Canada (free health care), in the province of British Columbia (low numbers and a fairly flattened curve), and have been able to keep my job and just work at home. I can’t imagine what life is like for everyone else living in some of these epicenters of the outbreaks and I truly wish everyone on this network and in this community is safe and healthy.

    With the growing visibility of racial injustices lately, that has been very hard to deal with and I’m a white male so what do I have to complain about?!? There’s lots of points that Rob and Tom brought up that I agree with that I won’t regurgitate them here, but I did have a suggestion, if that’s okay. Is there a platform on this network for you guys to maybe highlight current black comic book creators? Or even point me in a direction I could go to discover some the better works for myself? I for one have been so sheltered that I definitely would like to educate myself and help support those creators. Also, with Pride month having just passed, maybe a highlight of LGBTQ+ creators as well?

    Anyways, this episode has been very helpful and beneficial during this time and I can’t thank you guys enough for sharing your experiences on the air. Keep up the great work!

    P.S. – If you want e-mails/posts that are okay to read on air, should we default to comics and say “OK to print”? This post is definitely OK to print.

  5. So far, in my practice in the South of the UK, we’ve been in the relatively fortunate position of having more patients presenting with mental health problems related to the Covid pandemic than acute physical symptoms. The risk of picking up a still-largely unknown virus, and one that could cause potentially serious or even fatal disease has raised the general level of anxiety across the board. Related to that has been the pace & severity of change: the world we knew at the start of the year looks very different now. There’s been almost no area of life or work that hasn’t been radically altered or put on hold by the pandemic. Most people like at least some degree or stability, routine and consistency, and those qualities have been in short supply in the last few months.
    Finding a new kind of rhythm in the pandemic could be a helpful coping mechanism, as is being kind to yourself and to others. I’m heartened by how many of the older patients we look after have been ‘adopted’ by young families – one of the benefits of the virus is how communities have come together in new ways.
    I’m finding personally (and with my patients) that sleep patterns are more disturbed than usual in the last few months. Good quality sleep and good mental health are intimately linked, so if anyone else is struggling with their sleep, I can recommend the book “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, which has made me re-evaluate the critical importance of sleep to health. I have altered the questions I ask patients to enquire about their sleep patterns much more than before.
    Politics on our side of the Atlantic is just as much of a garbage fire as in the US, and social media only serves to pour gasoline on that blazing heap of dung. I’m torn about blocking or engaging with people with opposing views; there’s something to be said about trying to persuade & change minds, but it can be exhausting, and the general level of open-mindedness doesn’t feel particularly high after a decade or more of highly incensed and partisan politics. It’s not worth damaging your own health getting stuck into a flame war you just can’t win.

    Oh, and I’m with Tom – I need music with a strong beat to exercise to. Much as I love speech audio (podcasts, audiobooks, speech radio etc.) I have to listen to those in the car.

    Wishing everyone some safe and healthy weeks ahead.
    (Happy for you to use this post if you want)

  6. Thanks for having this conversation, fellas. I listened to it while riding my bike. Only the second time I’ve been on it this year, after not riding for a couple of years. I appreciate the encouragement, which includes Rob’s daily postings of his running mileage! My complaints are few and insignificant in these unprecedented times, and I am appreciative of all the positive things in my life right now. As Chris above stated, I have new routines and I am doing well at keeping on a schedule. I haven’t missed a meal yet! I am grateful for this little community centered around the Fire & Water podcasts. You are all a great source of positivity! Hang in there, friends!

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