Both Sides Now – clouds & mental heath

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

Joni Mitchell was inspired to write ‘Both Sides now’ in a plane flying above clouds. What she sees imaginatively as ‘ice cream castles’, she then she sees as bringers of bad weather.

The simplicity, beauty, natural optimism of a child is contrasted with the brutal honesty and bitter pessimism of the reality of life….

Last night Prince William spoke with footballers about mental health.

Men spoke about the expectation for them to be strong, coping and invincible. Faced with the harsh realities of life, with bereavement and disappointment they crumbled and felt alone. They talked honestly and openly about their feelings and emotions, mental illness and sources of healing.

Anxious about his ability to cope Bill is going to ask his doctor to re-prescribe medication for his depression. Having been off work with mental ill-health Derek has now better and has returned to work.

Derek can look at his mental health from both sides now.

As a teacher I promoted self-sufficiency, internal strength, and the ability to cope with anything.

In contrast Jesus promoted meekness, gentleness and kindness. He presented paradoxes: strength comes through weakness, wholeness comes through brokenness…

We have all faced anxiety, stress, addiction or depression – in ourselves or in the lives of those closest to us.

With constant reminders of the fragility of our mental health I share Joni Mitchell’s conclusion:

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all.


Both sides now by Joni Mitchell (1967)

‘Football, Prince William and our Mental Health – BBC I Thurs 28th May

Bill and Derek (not real names) are good friends who I have spoken to in the last couple of days

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