ALEXANDRA SHULMAN'S NOTEBOOK:Harry proves it's NOT always good to talk
ALEXANDRA SHULMAN’S NOTEBOOK: Bitter Harry proves it’s NOT always good to talk
Funny how things turn out. Far from encouraging us all to follow his lead into therapy, Prince Harry’s outpourings of recent weeks have prompted something of a therapy backlash. The ‘it’s good to talk’ mantra has been replaced by ‘it’s good to talk, to the right people, on occasion’.
Even psychotherapist Julia Samuel, known not only for her bestselling books on mental health but her closeness to both Princes William and Harry, has spoken out about the contemporary problem of oversharing. ‘We should not be venting all our feelings to all people. Promiscuous honesty, telling everyone everything, doesn’t help any of us,’ she wrote last week.
I spoke recently to Samuel and she suggested that the growing awareness of mental health terminology without any real understanding posed a real danger to the modern generation.
Everyone now talks about their mental health. Last week I passed in the street two girls, probably all of ten, staggering under the weight of their backpacks. One explained in a concerned tone to her friend: ‘I have to be careful to deal with all my mental health stuff.’
Even psychotherapist Julia Samuel (left), known not only for her bestselling books on mental health but her closeness to both Princes William and Harry, has spoken out about the contemporary problem of oversharing
While Harry has clearly not been well served by some of his therapists, in general, I’m a big believer in talking therapies
I wondered if she would be cheered up by a nice ice-cream. Words such as obsession, abuse, anxiety and trauma are chucked carelessly around, sometimes describing events that, frankly, are simply the by-product of being alive.
While Harry has clearly not been well served by some of his therapists, in general, I’m a big believer in talking therapies. But, just like in marriage counselling, you have to be helped to manage all the stuff that can get churned up.
In couples’ counselling, you can leave the consultation room, intent only on murdering the other person after the conversation you have just had. I recall several grim walks around a Marylebone mansion block after just such an hour.
While I have never had psycho-analysis, over the years I have had occasional therapy and have been close to many others who have done the same. Some have been helped, others less so.
Opening up to a non-partisan, trained person certainly has huge advantages. But banging on about every perceived injustice to anyone who will listen is not necessarily going to get anyone anywhere and definitely won’t help anyone’s mental health.
My lovely new line in Transit Wear
Every time a delivery person arrives on the doorstep and I am still in my dressing gown I feel hugely uncomfortable. I’m always tempted to say: ‘You probably think I’m a privileged, middle-aged woman in a nice house who can loll around in her night things all day with no need to work – but actually I’ve been tapping away for hours.’
However, I’ve now resolved to get out of the dressing gown first thing (even before that initial cup of coffee) and put on some clothes. It’s definitely better psychologically for writing and might make me feel less guilty about the Ocado delivery man.
This has satisfactorily provided a whole new shopping opportunity for what I call Transit Wear. A step up from pyjamas but flung on in seconds. Think the sartorial version of an airline lounge where you’re waiting to go somewhere but you’ve already started the journey.
I’d rather be podgy than face a needle
Forget intermittent fasting, keto, and clean eating – the diet method of choice in US celebrity circles, and now available here, is Ozempic, a weekly injection of the hormone semaglutide.
This will curb your appetite and regulate your blood sugar which, in other words, means you don’t feel much like eating and the weight loss is almost instant, or so I’m told. Personally, I’d rather be podgy than have to plunge a needle into me for anything other than extreme health reasons, but those who do are as evangelical as reformed smokers.
Would Eliot open this Pandora’s Box?
On my way to last week’s announcement of the winner of the prestigious TS Eliot prize for poetry, I stopped into a bookshop where I saw that Eliot’s publisher, Faber, had just published a children’s book – Gender Swapped Greek Myths.
I wondered whether Eliot – whose Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats and the subsequent musical Cats has helped bankroll the house for decades – would have approved of Odysseus becoming a monstrous Odyssea and male sirens luring young women to their deaths.
As one of the most inventive and unorthodox writers of his age, I suspect he might have been rather intrigued.
Photo that’s a touch closer to the truth!
Eagle-eyed readers might spot that I have a new photograph on this page. This picture was taken in our kitchen by Violetta, who has been living with us since April, as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. She’s a photographer in her leisure time and has done a great job, I think. It looks quite like me on a very good day, but with her Photoshop skills she has managed to smooth out the worst of my under eye bags and unwelcome jowls.
Byline pictures are always an exercise in vanity but they can become ridiculously old. The previous picture in this slot was taken five years ago and I was starting to feel there was something a touch Dorian Gray about it.
When people met the real me, would they be shocked by the aged portrait in the attic they were confronted with? This one is not the real me either but at least it’s a fraction closer to the truth.
Leaving office: Accusations that Jacinda Ardern is leaving her job because she doesn’t think she can win the next election confirm there is never a good way to leave any big job
There’s never a right time to quit, Jacinda
Accusations that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is leaving her job because she doesn’t think she can win the next election confirm my conviction that there is never a good way to leave any big job.
Since choosing to leave my own editorship at Vogue after 25 years in the seat, I’ve noticed that whenever someone moves on the vultures move in.
Either you stick around until you are fired, as many Prime Ministers and, indeed, magazine editors do.
Or you leave when you decide you’ve had enough, like Ardern and myself. In which case, hordes appear at the speed of light eager to mean-spiritedly trash your record and flock around the next guy.
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