Shame pt 1

20151122_140946-1It 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!





7 thoughts on “Shame pt 1

  1. Inspired Counselling says:

    Thank you for pushing through and putting these words and excellent art out there to help people. As you will know it is extremely hard to talk about shame when you experience it. Hopefully this may help some people open up to someone. Looking forward to part 2. 🙂 Stephen


    • charlyfreehand says:

      Thank you for your kind words, there is so much to say, I think it’s a hard thing to understand if you haven’t experienced and I think the more people speak openly, the more the fog clears and the stigma can be destroyed. It won’t save everyone but it might make people feel safer about talking to others.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Brain in the Jar says:

    I would never put a suicidal person in a hospital. I’m that kind of bully. I’m not going to violate anyone’s right to die.

    Yes, I will talk to such a person. I’ll try to understand why they consider life not worth living, but they live their life and they know it best. The idea that suicide is a problem is exactly what scares suicidal people. No one is more supportive than the people at Sanctioned Suicide.

    The only way to remove the stigma of suicide is to accept it as a rational decision.


    • charlyfreehand says:

      Thank you for reading the post and writing your thoughts in response. I’ve waited to approve and reply to your comment as it actually gave me a lot to think about, I found your points interesting. I can only draw from my personal experiences and i try to be as general as possible. I had written a long comment about my own experiences but decided that it’s probably not relevant.
      I’m definitely not trying to add to the shame surrounding suicide, thank you for giving me something to think about. With regards to me talking about mental health, saying suicide is a rational decision is a bit of a grey area. When you live with mental health issues they often come with irrational thinking and actions so to say that it would be a desicion based in rationality in that case might be difficult to prove. In my head the right to die and suicide are on a spectrum and, for me there are shades of grey and everyone’s case would be differing, making it difficult to generalise.
      What I was talking about in this post and obviously haven’t made very clear, is that if someone tells you they attempted suicide and they have changed their mind, you should put your own emotions to one side and help them to make sure they are physically okay first, before you react emotionally.


  3. The Brain in the Jar says:

    Suicide from mental illness is one of the most rational things you can do.

    Mental illness is not a distortion of reality. It is a part of your personal reality. Hallucinations are not real, but the fact a schizophrenic hallucinates is real. A person making the decision that life is not worth living because his brain distorts reality in a negative way is being rational.

    So far, mental illness isn’t a wound. It’s like a chopped arm. Sure, you can deal with it but the loss will always be there. It’s cruel to withhold euthanasia from a person suffering from mental illness.

    I will be supportive of suicidal people who want to live for the same reason I will be respectful of suicidal people who want to die. Some people want to live but can’t imagine they can live a good life. They need help. Some people just don’t want to live, and instead of bullying prevention campaigns we need euthanasia.


    • charlyfreehand says:

      I’m actually not disagreeing with you, I was just explaining better the circumstances of the example I had written. Like I said it may be unclear but I did mean if they come to you and have already changed their mind.
      I’m not judging anyone that has committed suicide. It is was it is. It’s theirs not mine to comment on. It’s actually a very fair point about schizophrenia, but like I said before there is a lot of grey area. This post was more about supporting a change in someone’s feelings than forcing a change in someone’s feelings and the shame that surrounds it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s