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Keeping Mum: a case of the twisties

The Olympics never disappoint. That amazing combination of human endeavour and persistence, failure and victory, pageantry and pride.  Plus three weeks of great telly – even if it is at odd times of the day and night.

Tokyo has already been full of tears, cheers and surprises, and Simone Biles, one of the most extraordinary Olympians and human beings, has stunned again, but not for her medal haul; by pulling out of some of her gymnastic events, citing the need to look after her mental health.  Bravo. 

The twisties - lost in space

She spoke of suffering from “the twisties” which for a gymnast executing the routines she does, could lead to serious injury.  They sound so innocuous, the twisties, but the definition is utterly terrifying; a loss of space and dimension in the air causing the gymnast to lose control of their body, sometimes being unable to land safely on the floor.

A forward roll is way beyond me these days, but I wonder if there are more than a few of us with a case of the twisties as we move out of this incredibly difficult time.  The rules and guidance seem to be increasingly blurry as they transfer from law to personal responsibility.  Beta or delta? Masks on or off?  Wembley or stay at home?  Amber or amber plus? Lateral flow, pcr, passenger locator forms, track and trace.  Enough to make your head spin.

Fomo or Jomo?

I have no idea how ‘life before’ actually happened any more – organising the diary, making plans and getting somewhere on time on the right day with the right paperwork and accessories – seems more complicated and exhausting than the simplicity of stay home, protect the NHS and save lives. Fomo has been replaced with Jomo.

Whether we’re on our way out, or still passing through (sadly the latter), managing the twisties and other very real consequences of the last 18 months is likely to be another Olympic sized challenge. Simone Biles calling it out has, despite the horrific nay sayers, done a great job at raising the issue.

Be kind - it's all our mental health

Mental health affects us all to a lesser or greater degree. It doesn’t matter how much preparation you do, how fit you are, how talented you may be. Nor how big or little your life  once was and has become. It’s on all of us to look out for ourselves and eachother.  Be kind. Be careful and watchful of others.  And if you’re worried about you or someone else landing safely, ask for help. 

Despite the next few weeks of great achievements in Tokyo, life isn’t a competition.  Simone Biles has firmly demonstrated that.

Have a great weekend.

Annabel James is founder of Age Space.  Her views are her own. 

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