Thursday, 15 May 2014

Please talk about Mental Health

haven't really talked about anything mental health related for a while but recent events shocked me so much I felt the need to write this. I had this post in my drafts for a while but with it being Mental Health Awareness Week it seemed like the perfect time to put this up.

I've never been to a funeral before, my Dad's parents died when I was a baby and my Mum's are still alive. I actually dread the first one I have to go to as I seem to be getting more and more emotional with age and I'm not sure how I will cope.

My younger brother was in the same boat as me until recently. He found out that his old friend had taken his own life. This guy was/seemed happy, the life and soul of the party, he had loads of friends, an excellent job and was close to his family. Naturally it was a complete shock to everyone who knew him and although I only met him once or twice when I was little it completely sent chills up my spine and it really upset me to hear about it.

What could cause a 24 year old guy to do such a thing? I don't know all of the details and I don't think it's my place to go into any of them on here but it seems he had planned this for a few days. It wasn't a spur of the moment thing. He left a note but it had no explanation of what had driven him to this.

Many were so upset and blaming themselves, wondering why they hadn't noticed that he was so down. 

Whether it was the case for him or not there are so many people who seem fine to everyone else, but inside they are screaming and suffering with mental illness, sometimes they might not even realise it themselves. I think especially when it comes to guys it can be hard to bring up your feelings. Being out with the lads and going 'I'm so down at the moment' would typically be met with jibes of 'alright... don't be soft...' (I'm terrible at guy speak, but you get what I'm saying right?) so it can be really off-putting to explain everything to friends. Often there's a 'good day' where you don't just feel like bringing up how you're feeling and bringing anyone down.

I can relate to this completely. I know how it feels to have to put on a front, my old friends were always looking for things to complain about when it came to each other -I don't know how they are still friends now, I've never known a group of people talk about each other behind each other's backs so much before! They also had a lot going on in their own lives I just didn't want to burden them. I just felt I couldn't open up, and when I finally did to my best friend she saw it as me playing the 'ill card' or just moaning and bitching. When our friendship came to a head she told me she assumed I was 'over it' and told me I should have just come out with how I was feeling when we were all out together. It's not as easy to just go 'oh by the way, I've considered suicide'  -when I told this to my friend she told me I just should have -she still didn't get it. If someone opens up to you in the first place that is hard enough. We stopped talking as I couldn't let her use this against me any longer, I'd confided in her and she just made me worse. I now know that everything I had told her about how I was feeling was being used as some sort of gossip for the rest of them. Luckily I had some amazing people around me to help me and make me better but some are not quite as lucky. If they have no partner or real friend they can confide in they feel so alone and see no way out.

So if a friend of yours is acting differently, don't dismiss it. There might be something deeper going on than you know. Ask them if they're ok, and when they say 'yea, I'm fine', ask them if they're really ok, find out what's going on, they might need someone to talk to. You can't always expect them to come to you, it's a very difficult thing to talk about and a lot can feel embarrassed. But talking about it can be a big help, to let that person know they're not alone. If they feel less alone they might just see there are ways out of this that don't involve ending their lives and devastating their friends and family. 

I really think mental health needs to be taught in schools, young people need to know what they might be feeling. To be told that depression is more than just being a bit down, that it's ok to ask for help, it's fine to take medication if you need it, you are not a failure if you are struggling. With some knowledge and this subject being less of a taboo this boy might still be with us today. 


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