Mental health, Suicide, Empty Words and #Hashtags
Please note this post may be triggering as it mentions suicide and mental health. I write all of my words from my heart and this post is my perspective. This isn’t a post against all the good work done in the mental health sector but rather an open conversation on how we can do better. Triggers alert us to what needs our attention. If you are, perhaps note them down to be looked at with someone trusted. I always talk to a professional. I work with a couple of amazing people who I discuss these with, in a non-judgemental space.
Above all, please always be kind and gentle to yourself.
Last week another young life was taken by suicide. As is the way of social media, it was all over posts last week. I wish with all my heart that another young man didn’t have to take their lives for us to have this conversation. But it’s happened. So, let’s have this conversation. Firstly, I won’t apologise for my views. Suicide and mental health are close to my heart, something I am passionate about helping.
With all the ways we are connected now, how is suicide in males under 45 still the biggest killer in the country? More people than ever are dealing with anxiety and depression. We have all the charities and the ways in which people can talk including the #hashtags.
Something irks me and it has for a while. It is the use of #hashtags when we hear of someone taking their life and around mental health. I reposted something on Instagram where someone said how much they hated seeing the #hashtags. It felt like empty words and the onus being on the person suffering to reach out. When in reality, that person may not be in a state of mind to reach out. This resonated with me deeply. Up to this point I thought I was alone in what I thought. After I reposted this, I got messages in my dms of others who felt exactly the same.
We have all seen the #hashtags and perhaps even posted them. I know I have.
The posts that say you aren’t alone. Reach out to me. My door is always open or dm me. There are so many my brain feels dizzy trying to remember them all because they make me feel sick.
Why? Have you been that low? I have. The reality is when a person is in that state of mind, they won't reach out because they can't. They physically and emotionally can’t. It might not enter their head when their thought is of taking the next step and surviving. Imagine your every thought is of survival and of making it through to the next moment. Imagine you feel like you are walking in treacle. How could it then enter one’s head to ‘reach out’ or ‘talk to someone’? Could we please start changing our behaviours around mental health? How about instead of saying ‘someone committed suicide’ say they took their own life. Committed sounds like they’ve done something wrong like they committed a crime. Let’s change the language around this please. Change doesn’t need to happen in great big steps that aren’t sustainable to keep up. Change isn’t us going, right I am going to change the world. It begins right here, right now, with us, in our local community. From here, the power of this change will inevitably ripple out into the world. Imagine how amazing that could be!
What can we do? Where can we start? Let’s ask ourselves, how am I helping someone I know who has health issues, anxiety, says they're struggling, who I know has been having a challenging time or lost someone and holidays could potentially be triggering? Read between the lines of someone who says they're OK constantly. Gently and lovingly asking them ‘how are you, really?’ Rather than accepting the ok. What does ok mean anyway? It is a nothing word that doesn’t reflect anything. I know I’ve used it to hide how I feel or protect myself from being vulnerable. Love through action not just words. Being there for someone is more than words, it’s action.
Instead of the empty #hashtags, show up for someone else without them asking. You reach out to them. Go round and see them. Call them. Show them you are there for them through calls, turning up at their house, even sending someone flowers. E.g. I was told of a kind deed done throughout lock down in my local area. Flowers left on peoples cars. Imagine that. Doesn’t it warm your heart? Such a lovely random act of kindness.
Hugs – at least 20 seconds. I’m sure it has been scientifically proven that a long hug has many benefits. If you know me, you know how utterly obsessed I am with hugs, not the short and swift kind but the ones you put your all into.
Listening and holding space not trying to fill it with solutions. Ask someone, would you like me to hold space and listen or would you like solutions? I never needed solutions to help my pain I just needed space to be heard with no judgements and hugs.
We are all busy and fighting our own battles but it is time to change this conversation and do better. It's on each of us as society to step up and be better. For ourselves, for each other, for the next generation.
So what will you do today to change this around? #lovethroughaction. It is time for physical communities to be built out of the ashes of the last few years. Let’s ask ourselves, what am I doing to reach someone who is struggling? How am I shining my light, so it helps another human being? I don't have the answers but I want to be a part of changing this around. Let’s create change through easily sustainable actions that could have lasting impact. We each have the power to do this.