Yes you are strong, yes you are resilient and you’re so capable of overcoming anything which life throws at you. But you’re also human. It’s ok to say, I’m not ok! It’s ok to scream “I need help”. I have suffered with anxiety, I battled with depression! I’m living proof that you can overcome it! There are days when getting out of bed is a struggle.. communicating your feelings seems pointless. There are days when putting a brave face on for your children or the world becomes to draining.
You have tried tirelessly to keep it to yourself because the stigma attached to mental health is both ignorant and so far from the truth. Enough is enough, it’s time for us to support each other through these chapters of our lives, it’s time to talk. Not only have I battled my own demons I have been on the receiving end of some one close taking their own life because they couldn’t see the way out of the storm. This will NOT be you! We are here for you, we care about and we LOVE you. Please check on your close ones. Because the truth is, everyone is going through something. “To the women of the world”
So last week as part of my mental health and emotional development series I focussed on developmental disabilities. “Walk a mile in my little shoes”. This week my focus is on mental health in the context of depression and suicide. There are an abundance of mental health illnesses, however I have chosen to focus on these two elements as I hold them extremely close to my heart.
The invisible face of mental health
She was 5’4 with the biggest brown eyes and the most beautiful smile. Always full of wisdom and inspirational words, the epitome of grace. She had a vision for her future, one which others couldn’t understand because it was ahead of her years. She was 18 years old with a partner and an amazing future ahead of her. When I looked at her, mental health wasn’t something I associated with her. Because the truth is, sometimes mental health is invisible.
Our final conversation
We both commenced a new chapter in our lives, university. We giggled and joked about all the things we would get up to at freshers week. We spoke about that pair of shoes she really wanted and as usual I talked her into getting them “treat yourself you deserve it”. We spoke about our future aspirations and what we hoped the next 5 years would look like. I told her I was overwhelmed with this transition to adult life and as always she comforted me with her words of wisdom.. Our last conversation was so positive and left me with a warm heart!
The call that revealed the invisible truth
Receiving that call to say my cousin had passed away was one thing, but to be told that she took her own life was something I found so difficult to comprehend “No not my cousin, she was happy!! she told me”. My hand released the phone and my body felt weak, as though I was no longer in control! I waited patiently to wake up from this nightmare, I called her number, I checked her Facebook.. I hoped that the “RIP Angel” comments on her page were just some sick jokes that we would all look back on and laugh at one day. They were real, it was all real! I endlessly rationalised with myself, “it wasn’t your fault, there’s nothing you could have done P”. Guilt was my enemy.. like a whispering voice telling echoing “you could have saved her”.
The 7 stages of grief
No-one can prepare for the death of a loved one, however I can only describe Suicide as a “death like no other”. It often leaves families feeling heartbroken, confused and guilty. Although it happened in 2010 I still don’t have the answers or closure that I need to move on.. The re occurring questions will stay with me until we meet again.
It is unfortunate that societies perception of suicide is often very negative and the stigma attached often leaves the family members battling to justify the actions of their loved ones while seeking answers themselves. Many people have their opinions and thoughts on the topic of suicide, however I feel that many people failed to delve into the Mental health aspect of it. Research suggests that’s 90% of people who die by Suicide have a psychological disorder. Now I’m not saying that every single case of suicide is linked to depression, however in these particular circumstances this was the case. So before you describe suicide as “selfish” or ask “why they didn’t get help” please please please do your research!
What people don’t tell, you is that when you are a family member of some-one who has committed suicide you then become a survivor. With this title comes an abundance of support and help. Please utilise this as you will need it. You’re not alone, you do not have to isolate yourself.
What can WE do
If you feel that some one close to you may be feeling Suicidal:
- Please use the helpful contacts I have provided below.
- Take warning signs seriously. Please evaluate the immediate danger. If you require help please call 999 if in the UK.
- Do not keep it a secret, please seek help from a trained professional who can direct you urgently in regards to next steps.
- Don’t leave the person alone.
- Encourage them to speak about how they’re feeling.
- Ask open ended questions to ensure you’re reducing accurate information.
- Please look after yourself, being in such a situation can be emotionally draining.
5 reasons why we should be kind to others
- What glistens isn’t always gold, Just because you see some one smile everyday it does not mean they’re happy. Be kind because your gesture could be what it takes to get them through the day.
- What does a person with mental health even look like? There isn’t a generic face. So be kind because your bad day could be amazing in comparison to that person sitting next to you on the train.
- Being kind to others actually makes us happier. Let’s be real, we’ve all done something kind that has made us feel happy inside, it’s a natural human instinct. It costs nothing to be kind.
- Being kind to others will inevitably open up any opportunities and possibilities for social interaction and collaboration.
- Kindness is often reciprocated, if you’re kind to others then they more likely to want to help and support you in your time of need.
UK based Helplines
End note: My intention was for this to be short and sweet. Through this post I endeavoured to raise awareness regarding the invisible face of mental health. We aren’t always aware of the journey people are travelling. Behind every face we pass on our daily travels holds a story. Sometimes this story is one which is coming to an end due to pain, struggle and the inability to continue with life.. Please be kind to others, you could be that very influence that encourages a story to manage the next page.
With love from P ❤️