It has been a struggle to write this, to find the right words, to not disappear off on a tangent. I’ve started at least three times and deleted everything I’ve written. I’m not sure whether I just don’t have the words to explain how it feels, or it’s too entwined in my own experience and that’s making it difficult.
Guilt and shame played a huge part in my mental health story. Though, like any ‘negative’ emotion they have their uses. They are a guiding power for our moral compasses, but in excess they can be completely destructive. Shame is a powerful force, if you are interested in reading more about experiences with public shame I’d recommend ‘So you’ve been publicly shamed.’ by Jon Ronson. It’s a brilliant read and, he clearly depicts the role shame plays in our society through time and to this day.
There are some specific things I’d like to share, hence the part 1. Shame can be the reason we don’t talk, the reason we don’t reach out because we are ashamed, because we feel weak or our acts are stigmatised. I’d like to talk about two acts in particular, suicide and self harm.
Suicide – it has made this city feel heavy with loss more than once. Over 6,000 people on the U.K committed suicide in 2013*.Suicide can be incredibly difficult to talk about, suicidal thoughts are scary and people’s reactions vary so much that it can be like plunging into cold water trying to tell someone. There is no shame in struggling, the causes are endless, it can be one of the most isolating feelings and that is difficult to break free from. Try not to let fear of reactions stop you from talking to someone, anyone. If you don’t feel comfortable going to your GP or talking to a friend or family member you can call the Samaritans helpline 116 123 (UK) or papyrus 0800 068 41 41. You can also contact these if you are worried about another person and they can advise you on how to move forward. Find support and distraction here.
If someone comes to you to tell you they are having suicidal thoughts or that they have attempted suicide, first make sure they are physically okay, if they have not been to the hospital after an attempt take them there first! Put whatever you feel to one side and make sure they are safe. Secondly I know it’s heartbreaking, and you may feel angry they didn’t come to you first but the important thing is that they are coming to you now! It’s important you listen and support them. Express your feelings calmly and you will be able to grow stronger through it. This was their action, it can be easy to blame yourself but not everything is about you 🙂 Let this go. All you need to do is listen and show support, show you trust that person and hopefully you can be a positive part of that persons recovery.
I think self harm might have to be part 2. If you have any experiences, advice or anything to share please comment or send an email!
I know this time of year can be really hard, if you are struggling please reach out, don’t stay isolated you are IMPORTANT!