Chain Mail

Ever thought about chain mail?  I must admit that it isn’t one of the subjects close to my heart or one that I know a lot about.  However, I was watching one of those historical reconstructions recently and they went through some of the weaponry and clothing worn at the time.

After the program was over and my mind did its’ usual quirky thought about chain mail, armour and all of that mediaeval thing, it struck me that maybe there was a lesson for me to learn about the sort of chain mail I needed in my life at times.

As I understand it, chain mail was a purely defensive garment, much like the modern day body armour in its purpose.  Designed to deflect and blunt the force of an attacker’s weapon and give the wearer some protection against penetrating wounds.  Like all defensive garments such as the heavier plate armour, it wasn’t infallible but it did make a significant difference in the survival rate of its wearers.

Chain mail is made up of a number of interlinking rings that bind together and strengthen the whole by sharing the energy of a strike across a larger area.  As I understand it – one of the most popular styles of mail was one called, four into one mail, which is every single ring in the mail was linked to four others rings.

Okay what has this got to do with bipolar disorder?  Has Graham finally lost all of his marbles?  That is of course assuming I had some in the first place.  But let me explain how it struck me.

I am honoured to get many emails from my readers around the world, and although they talk about many things, one of the most common feelings shared is a feeling of loneliness;  of being apart from those around them, or of being afraid of being misunderstood and ostracised.

That is why the analogy of chain mail struck me.  How each of us can be a ring on the chain mail of life and we can either be just that; a ring or we can be part of a linked set of people that can strengthen us and help us blunt the blows that we receive from life.

Who can these other rings be?  Perhaps family members, trusted friends, doctors, ministers, support groups, and chat rooms where fellow sufferers can help us in our day to day struggles and we can also strengthen others too.

The difficulty is, I feel, in that first reaching out from our own little ring to another to start the process off. The letting go of our fear and telling some one that we want them to be a link in our chain mail of defence is hard I know, but one to really think about.  Most of us can find some one – even if it is an internet or email friend to start of that process.  Come on – let’s find strength together and start the building process.

Just to show you how it works – here is a picture of chain mail links courtesy of Valiant Arms.  Just imagine you are one if the central rings with all of those other ones to support and help you.  Is it impossible?  No it is not – it just takes time and courage and you too, like me can start my chain mail defence.                              

And who are my links? One – my family, two - my family doctor, three - my psychiatrist, four – my friends, by email or in person, all make a difference.

Some of us don’t have family to help – that is sadly true and others don’t have many other support or friends to start off with. But it can start out with one link then two and it can expand given time and courage.

I have seen the wonderful courage that many of my readers have shown as I have talked to them via email and sometimes in person and I have learnt so much from all of them that have strengthened me too. So all of you who have honoured me by reading my articles and web site - are also part of my chain mail, and I hope that I may have been part of yours.

Find someone who you can add to your ring and trust them with letting you know if they feel you are not 100% and be courageous enough to listen and that’s how it starts.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for becoming an integral part of my defensive chain mail against this disorder and for letting me feel part of your lives too.

Graham Brown

19 September 2006


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