Hi Everyone. Hope you’re doing well.
After recently going public with my mental health issues – which is not something anyone has to feel under pressure to do – I have received some great questions on the topic of what friends or colleagues could have done to help me?
Thankfully out there in the world, there are a lot of wonderful people that want to help. And it is only natural when these wonderful people find out someone they know or love is going through the mill, they think to themselves, “What should I have done?” “Should I have spotted the signs?”
In this blog I’m going to give you my personal view on this, but I want to be clear that I realise not everyone’s experience will be the same as mine. I’d love to hear from you to get your take on this. So lets look at:
- What could someone have done for me?
- Should men’s mental health be so mainstream it’s discussed in the pub alongside football and whatever other nonsense we talk about?
- What comes out of greater awareness?
What could someone have done for me?
So in short, I’d have to say nothing.
Well that’s just great Dave, thanks for that wonderful insight, really helpful 🙂
OK I’ll try to elaborate.
The more I think about how to position this response, the harder it gets – and more complicated. So I’m going to attempt to simplify it, hope this works.
Ultimately I guess the main root problem I had was that I didn’t want anyone to know what was happening. Right so lets look at why.
Firstly I was reluctant to raise it with anyone, because I didn’t know what the hell was going on in my head and where all this pain was coming from. Unfortunately life serves some of us a forking shirt sandwich. However I hadn’t just lost someone really close to me. My marriage hadn’t ended. I hadn’t just been sacked. So why was this happening?
I thought you needed something really bad to trigger a mental health crisis. As a result I had convinced myself that it was just normal, everyone gets like this and I should just get on with it. This meant I couldn’t speak about it because I’d be moaning about stuff everyone else just gets on with.
A lack of education on my part.
Secondly, because of the stigma attached and that horrible little green fella sat on my shoulder, I thought people may also think I was soft. Weak. Strange. Weird. Now if you are reading this and thinking the same as I did, I want to tell you now, you are wrong. Trust me when I say it took all my courage to talk to someone about my problems, but it was probably one of the best things I ever did. Except that I left it till crisis point.
For me, again a lack of education on my part and I refuse to point a finger at anyone in my story, but if pushed I would say part of this is to do with the stigma. If you recall in one of my previous blogs I talked about the “old school” messaging driven into us throughout our lives. “Men don’t talk about feelings” blah blah blah.
So I guess I’ll never know what might have happened if someone had pulled me to one side at an earlier point. One thing I can say is that I REALLY didn’t want anyone to know and I was very good at hiding it. Even from my wife and she apparently knows everything! And is always right too funnily enough??? 🙂
Should men’s mental health be so mainstream it’s discussed in the pub alongside football and whatever other nonsense we talk about?
In short, my opinion here is…it depends.
I know, another amazing insightful answer, but as ever I shall now shed some light into my initial drab and dreary response.
I personally think it should be so mainstream that it could be talked about in the pub with your mates, IF that is the environment in which you usually talk about personal stuff.
For me, my mental health and my feelings are a very personal thing. “Well why the hell are you putting it all over the internet then?” For starters I feel strongly that I should be doing what I can to help break the stigma. Also the issues I’m talking about are things that I have processed and discussed with my friends, family and my counselor. If it was a fresh raw subject, I wouldn’t want to talk about it publicly.
I now know that I have several people I can ask for a chat when things are troubling me and do it on my terms.
I would however talk about the overall subject of Mental Health in the pub or anywhere else for that matter. I think by doing that, and making the subject of mental health a mainstream subject, then people like myself would be more willing to ask someone to lend us an ear.
What comes out of greater awareness?
Well in the spirit of this blog and short answers, I’m gonna say see my last point.
I know, I’m such a tease. Well believe me I’ve been called worse!
Right then , what comes out of greater awareness? Well if people are able to spot the early signs, such as:
- behaviour out of the ordinary
- difficulty sleeping
- social withdrawal
they may be able to reach out to someone early on and prevent them ever reaching crisis.
Also, seems a bit of an obvious one, but if people are more aware of how their actions can affect other mental health, they might not be so much of a tool in the first place but here’s hoping 🙂
For me greater awareness of things may have helped me too. I’ve touched on a couple of points above around better education on things like knowing what is and what isn’t “normal thinking”. If certain things are going on in my head, I should act early and address them by reaching out for help to prevent me going down the road I did.
So to summarise by talking about mental health and making it less of a taboo subject, it can help in numerous ways. I certainly can’t guarantee it will solve all the problems. It may not work for everyone or every situation. But ask yourself, what do you think you would need?
Take good care of yourselves.