It was mental health awareness day yesterday, so my social media feed has been inundated with messages of hope and support for those struggling. Sorry, but I’m going to shit all over that now.
Firstly, let me just say that I think it’s wonderful that people encourage others to talk about their issues and want to let them know they aren’t alone. Loneliness kills, so by sharing their own stories they can make a real difference. It’s also cathartic to put your real truth out there (I should know, that’s essentially my entire blog). The other thing I love about this day is that resources are shared. Mind and the Samaritans logos are pushed out into every corner of every news feed and people may find services they weren’t even aware existed. Great work. The rest of my feed looks like this…
“Talk to someone… It’s important you ask for help… Speak to your friends…Ask for help.”
Sure. Now, I am someone who has suffered with mental illness for as long as I remember, I’ve also known a lot of people who have to varying degrees, so I’m not just pulling this out of nowhere but what a load of complete bullshit. You’re talking to people who are suffering. Maybe they feel like a burden, like they aren’t worth your time, maybe they find it hard to speak to people about the weather let alone their dark and twisty thoughts, maybe they can’t even get out of bed. He’s an idea … why don’t YOU speak to someone? Why don’t YOU reach out and ask if someone’s okay? Why are we once again putting the pressure on the victim for their troubles and making sweeping statements to cover our own backs.
I am a talker. A lot of people I know, I have spoken to about my issues at one time or another, whether that was for my own benefit or to maybe explain that I’ve been in a similar place and can relate to what they’re going through. When I struggled I did talk about it, I did try to talk to friends and I did ask for help and about 90% of the time I was shot down. Professional services are under funded and frankly, under-perform. I waited 9 months for treatment on the NHS. My room mates literally watched me in possibly my worst mental health crisis, then chose to isolate me after and chastise me for me erratic behaviour (one was even a mental health professional). I have told people that I’m struggling to eat and they meet me with jealousy that I’m loosing weight, or want tips on how they can “diet” too and ask me to go to exercise classes with them. I’ve opened up to people about health concerns, and been met with defensive anger and hostility because somehow, they have to make it about themselves. Sometimes it’s even as simple as asking someone to hang out because I’m bored and lonely and my head is going into overdrive, someone I know has felt like I do, and being rejected more than once. I know I can ask for help, but how many times do I have to ask before someone hears me?
This isn’t a cry for help. I’ve got my own back these days and I’m very well at the moment. I have learnt from these mistakes and I have built my resilience. I can understand that not everyone is there yet though, so do you know what I do when I think someone’s having a tough time? I don’t tell them to talk… I talk to them! I know right, mind blowing idea. I don’t wait for them to tell me they’re having a bad time, I ask them how they are. The other day, a friend said he was having a “me” day and ignoring his phone, so I figured in the evening I’d just check in and let him know I was there and hope he had a good day. For me, when I isolate myself like that, it’s usually so I can be self destructive without people bothering me and trying to convince me I’m not alone, so even though he said he was okay I just wanted to let him know I was thinking about him. That’s all it takes sometimes. Reach out to people first. If someone’s not messaging you like they usually do, text them first. If someone sounds miserable over message, then give them a call. And please, please, please when someone is trying to ask you for support, don’t be a dick. If someone says they’re sad or lonely, they probably aren’t doing it for fun or attention. Sometimes there are more important things than Netflix and video games. And if you’re really set on doing that, then do it sat next to someone who might need the company.