There was a blackout in our suburb. It happened just as dusk was falling, so I went out to the fuse box to check whether the power had failed or I’d merely tripped a circuit breaker. My neighbour was checking his box at the same time.
“Is your power off, too?” I called.
“Looks like it,” he said, in his accented English.
“Bugger.” That’s me, always the one with the witty comebacks.
He was quite concerned. “Oh, were you in the middle of something important?”
I could hardly tell him I was worried that I might miss my trashy TV show in half an hours’ time. “Nothing that can’t wait. How have you been?”
“Fine, fine. And how are you? You have been in hospital?”
“Yes, I have. Been home a few weeks now, but was in for around two months.”
“Yes, I heard. I am so sorry. Are you all right now? Are you back at work?”
“No.” Deep breath. “It’s a depression/anxiety disorder, actually, and there’s still some way to go.”
“Well, you’re looking fine.”
“Yes, if you don’t remember that I weighed 20kg less two years ago!” We both laughed (my neighbour is also slightly portly) and went back inside our homes.
There you have it: easy, straightforward, simple; the way talking about mental health issues should be.
My portly, balding, immigrant neighbour: the new pin-up boy of mental health awareness. Awesome!