I’ve realised lately after recent passing’s of celebrities, people have begun speaking up about how everybody dealing with mental health should always speak up and reach out for help before things spiral too deep. However, what I’ve also realised is that people only ever speak up about this stuff when it’s already too late to help – and that is a really big part of why people find it hard to reach out.
Personally, I find it absolutely terrifying reaching out to people because what if their reactions just make me feel more deflated than I already am feeling? Sadly, this has pretty much always been the case for me and every time I pluck up the courage to tell somebody how I’m feeling, it always gets brushed to the side – I also had the pleasure of being slapped in the face last month with that good old saying ‘people have it worse than you’. Another reason as to why I don’t really ever speak up about my anxiety is because the first time I went to express to the doctors how I was feeling, after having a huge mental breakdown the night before, he responded simply with “it’s just a phase”. Because of his response, I had never been on proper medication for my anxiety and it took me a long time to talk to another doctor, because I was afraid of being let down again. My most recent encounter with a doctor was much better and I was prescribed propanolol to keep my heart rate down when I become anxious and stressed.
I can’t stress (wrong wording for a stress-head like me) enough how important it is for loved ones to PAY ATTENTION and actually help! It’s alright posting a quick tweet saying you’re there for people, retweeting posts or sharing crisis helpline numbers when celebrities end their lives, because you want to let your loved ones know that you’re there for them, but what happens when it comes to your loved ones actually coming forward and speaking up? What are you going to do then?
Should the person who does deal with mental health always be the first to step up? If you can tell something is off, why can’t you be the person to mention something? I don’t think people realise how hard it actually is to speak up and be able to describe exactly how you’re feeling without having the constant fear that someone is going to respond with “it’s all just in your head” or “the feeling will pass”.
If you are a person who knows someone with mental health problems and are unsure on how to approach the situation and/or waiting for said person to confront you, here’s a few ways in which you can make the first move and help a loved one out:
1. If you ask said person how they are and they reply with “I’m okay”, DO NOT take this as an answer, especially if you know they’re not okay. Ask them again if they are really okay and this time around they may open up to how they’re actually feeling because by you acknowledging it a second time, they know you genuinely care.
2. If a person begins to talk to you about how they’re feeling, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, divert the conversation to another topic – especially if they’re giving off a negative vibe! Hear them out and if you believe that they need professional support, please help them seek it out.
3. Being a girl who loves hugs and never really receives them – HUGS ARE IMPORTANT. I know if the right people showed affection towards me and gave me a hug, my anxiety would not heighten as high as it does, because I’d know people do really care and want me to be okay.
4. Talk to them about the future – maybe a holiday that you can book together? Or a day out? It will give them something to look forward to and also show them that there is so much fun out there in the world, regardless of what their head might be telling them.
5. With someone dealing with any type of mental health problem, I can’t stress enough how important it is to consistently keep in touch with them, so they know that they are thought of and it’ll keep them from staring at their phone 24/7 believing no one cares about them. I’m definitely not saying make your whole life revolve around one person, even if it’s just one text a day asking how they are or how their day was – it makes all the difference.
6. This final piece of advice is one I find quite effective, personally anyway. It’s really good to praise a person with mental health problems when they achieve something that their mental health would usually hold them back from. One of my best friends, Lydia, will always tell me “well done” if I accomplish something that I would usually run away from and it really gives me the motivation I need to keep moving forward and not let my anxiety get the best of me.
So remember! If a loved one hints in any way that they need help or they just straight up tell you they need help – please do help them! You will be saving a life.