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wellbeing

Mental Health: Don’t bother telling me your door is always open

Posted on 6th May 2017 in #guestpost/ charity/ depression/ Mental Health

A lovely lady I know online recently posted the words below on Facebook and has kindly given me permission to share them.

She makes such a valid point, so incredibly well, I’ve always found the ‘type the colour of your underwear on your status for breast cancer awareness/share this heart for breast cancer’ posts quite infuriating. Surely sharing signs to look out for or advice for supporting a friend/loved one would be much more use.

The same applies to the recent flurry of posts stating that your door is always open and people can just pick up the phone – anyone who has ever suffered would know that is the very last thing you would be able/willing to do.

Anyway, Abi puts it beautifully:

“Do you know the problem with all this talk about mental health? I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want a hug. I don’t want cup of tea and someone to tell me it will all get better. What I want is to hide under the duvet and cry until I have no more tears. If you think the answer is to post that you are always listening it won’t help. I know you mean well but I’d never send you a Facebook message to say I’m losing my grip and I’m good at faking it.

To the person who stepped in front of a train, took an overdose, slit their wrists, hung themselves, all I want to say is I understand and I’m sorry we lost you. Sometimes what people need most is space and understanding, a cave we can run away to occasionally and not be questioned.

So yes let’s talk about mental health but don’t ever expect someone suffering from severe depression to come to you when they need you. I don’t have the answer, the only suggestion I have is that we stop communicating through technology and start using our eyes. When that friend makes excuses and can’t come out, ask them if they would like you to come over. When someone you love shouts and pushes you away, give them space, but do ask what’s wrong and if you can help. When you pass a stranger on the street, smile and say hello, you may be the only person they speak to all day and it may break their thoughts and help them smile.

Sometimes it’s the silence that gives us away. I won’t ever tell you what goes through my mind but you can help distract me and that goes a long way. I’m just trying to stay in control so don’t push me. Just reach out and touch someone the edge is closer than you think.

Speaking as someone who has lost 2 dads to suicide and having attempted myself I can tell you that it’s release that we need. To stop the nightmares, the paranoia and the overwhelming fear of failure. It really doesn’t matter how real those things are. They are in our mind. So don’t tell me it will get better or that I’m loved, I know that but when?

Do you know my biggest fear? That my girls think it’s an acceptable choice. That one day they may contemplate the same. I really don’t think I could survive that so I will always watch and love them.

PS if you post that you are stuck in traffic or the train is delayed because some “idiot” has decided to end their life, I will unfriend you. They didn’t get there lightly and they won’t bother you again. You will get home and your life will go on so shut the f*ck up. They will be gone forever and the only thing that will follow is devastation but don’t worry that won’t affect you just their family and friends.

Thank you all for all of your support.”

 

One last thing from me. Did you know you can email the Samaritans? It IS hard to pick up the phone sometimes, but even the act of writing your fears, worries, feelings, in an email can help to lift the burden. The Samaritans will email you back, doesn’t matter if your worry is trivial – if it is important to you, it is important to them.

Contact Samaritans

Where Is The Help? #WMHD2015 #MentalHealth

Posted on 10th October 2015 in child/ child abuse/ childline/ children/ depression/ family/ swearing

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 14.08.55It’s impressive to see so much focus on mental health today as part of #WMHD2015, how we can help others and how we can help ourselves.

I have seen several posts online from famous people in support of this day and the message behind it, which is an important step towards ending the stigma and shame that so often goes hand in hand with the words ‘depression’ and ‘mental health issue’.

But where do you go for help if you currently feel like even getting up out of bed or out of a chair is like wading through porridge. How do you ‘go out and make new friends’ if you don’t find anything likeable about yourself and therefore can’t imagine for one second why anyone else would enjoy your company. How do you put yourself out there if the previous end result was that you stood in a room wrapped in a cocoon of fog while everyone around you was vibrant and engaged and fully embracing that elusive casual happiness that seems as unattainable as a lottery jackpot?

This post is focussing on children and teens as if we don’t start reaching out to change their attitudes and improve their self-confidence and self-worth then this situation is only going to keep on growing and self-perpetuating.

So for children and teens in the UK, where can they go for help? If the generation above them is full of people with no tolerance and no understanding then they will be met with a wall of ‘don’t be so pathetic’ and ‘oh for god’s sake, just get on with it’ not forgetting ‘man up’.

I personally think there needs to be a new programme throughout schools put in place to deliver grass roots help and support to children and teens, building their confidence and self-esteem in such a way that the earliest niggles of self-doubt may well never develop into anything further.

I’ve seen that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are championing #WMHD2015 and I hope that with their backing and support there might finally become a time for our children and our children’s children when mental health can reach a parity with physical health. A time when children will grow up with a sensitivity to others so that they are an inbuilt peer support system for each other.

You don't have to hit to hurt

However angry you are with a child, shouting and using abusive language is never the answer.

I have found it fascinating on #EducatingCardiff to see how the teens change their behaviour once the adults change theirs; the commitment and patience shown by several of the staff at Willows High is a joy to observe and surely should serve as an example to others in the profession. This ties in with the quote ‘You don’t have to hit to hurt.’

It can’t be coincidence that shouting, punishing and belittling students makes their attitude and behaviour deteriorate (along with their self belief and sense of safety and wellbeing), whereas praise, encouragement, trust, friendship and support makes them flourish and re-engage with their work, friends and the world around them.

If children were built up and nurtured at home and at school then they would stand more chance of growing up to be strong, confident, caring adults who would in turn build up and nurture their own friends, family and children; there is a great quote by Frederick Douglass ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’

So what is there in terms of support for this age group? The local mental health services are all suffering cut backs and only the more severe cases are getting through to access care. (Needless to reiterate if children were loved and nurtured appropriately in the first place this would vastly cut the numbers who would need to be referred.)

For adults there are many services available, like Blurt.org

For children and teens there is of course Childline, our local YMCA runs a free counselling service for this age group and there are several Facebook support groups out there but it is important to check that it is a supportive one as there are also several very scary pro suicide groups too.

There is also Big White Wall which offers an interesting take on support and is well worth looking into, I believe they have an app too. Speaking of apps, here is a list of apps that may help with wellbeing.

With support it is a case of finding what works for you. Joining a club or an evening class may be the solution for some people, but having secret online peer support is what works for others. Don’t give up if the first thing you try doesn’t work.

If anyone can suggest other support options in the comments that would be really helpful.

With love – and remember – you are worth it, you are a good person and you are doing fine x

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