‘We all need something to lean on’ – Wilberforce the teddy bear is a mental health lifeline

A beautiful and insightful new post by guest blogger Helen.

“We all need somebody to lean on”. That’s a line from a song by Bill Withers, first released during the year of my birth, 1972.

But what happens if we live alone, or are isolated from friends and family for prolonged periods, as has been the case recently during the COVID19 pandemic. What happens if we don’t have any pets at home either?

That for me, is where Wilberforce comes in. Wilberforce is my teddy bear. His fur is soft and fluffy, it’s pleasing to the touch, and he has been keeping me company. He likes to sit on his favourite tartan cushion.

Wilberforce is just over 12 months old. I had wondered when I went in search of a cuddly toy, whether as a middle-aged woman, it was really even appropriate for me to want a teddy bear, to need a teddy bear?

I’m on the autistic spectrum, I very often stim. Stimming or to stim, refers to self-stimulation, and typically involves making repeated movements or sounds. It might be hand-flapping, rocking, spinning objects or stroking certain objects or surfaces. My preference is for a soft, smooth texture to repeatedly stroke. Stroking calms me, it soothes me, and often it distracts me too. I am never alone when I have Wilberforce with me. He sits on my lap during Zoom calls, and I can massage his ears if I start to notice my anxiety levels are creeping up.

I don’t particularly like being touched by other people, however I do find myself in need of receiving comfort. I live with cPTSD, and I’ve found hugging my teddy bear in the aftermath of being triggered is incredibly helpful. Likewise, if I wake in the night from a nightmare, Wilberforce is always there. He helps to ground me.

With the sense of isolation that came with lockdown, I found myself talking to Wilberforce. He is great company, and super-low maintenance; he doesn’t need to be fed or let out for a comfort break! In the absence of a living pet, having a teddy bear is a wonderful solution. I think having a cuddly toy of any description can be a beneficial tool to have in our mental health took kit.

Perhaps the line in Bill Withers song should be “We all need something to lean on”. A teddy bear works for me. How about you?

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One Response to ‘We all need something to lean on’ – Wilberforce the teddy bear is a mental health lifeline

  1. Maureen Gilmour July 10, 2020 at 9:15 am #

    Love the idea of having something smooth and comforting to lean on in the absence of a pet.
    Great piece Helen.
    Wilberforce is so cute.

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