There’s an awareness day/week/month/year for pretty much everything these days. But how much awareness do they really raise or is it all just a load of patting folk on the back for their social media posts about pretending their kettle is always on? I actually don’t agree with a week for mental health awareness. Because it should be every single friggin day of the year! It’s something everyone needs to be aware of every day. Mental health doesn’t just show up in time for its awareness week. For many, many people, it’s there 24/7 and having a week of awareness doesn’t make it go away for the other 51 weeks of the year.
So, please, honestly, stop your damn stupid virtue signalling about mental health because you think for one week of the year it’s cool to post about it on your social media. Your kettle isn’t always on and your door most definitely isn’t always open. But if it makes you feel better about yourself hun…………… (massive feckin eye roll).
How Many Sugars Do I Take?
Remember not so long ago when it was all about being kind? How long did that last? Five minutes later a killer virus came along, we all got locked in our houses and the Karen’s were fighting over bog roll in the Asda!
Being kind isn’t something you do because you bought the £8.99 t-shirt with the slogan on. No charity donation is ever going to replace actually being kind.
Think about it. How many nice things for others have you done during lockdown? Or have you been out doing the conga and getting shit faced for VE Day because you figure you’re young enough to survive getting the Rona? It doesn’t affect you, so all is well in the world. How is that being kind to your old or vulnerable relative that you might pass it on to and kill off?
Being kind is a way of life not a virtue signal for a sunny day. Ironically though, I have noticed it being overused by some of the most unkind people I have ever encountered.
Negative Nelly The Expert
At the moment everyone is a mental health expert. The government say they need to get the country moving again to prevent the next mental health crisis that’s looming. What next mental health crisis?!?!?! We’ve been in one for years because of a vastly under funded health system and everyday people being absolute arseholes to others and forcing them to the brink of suicide!
There is no next crisis, just the current one getting bigger!
I had to listen to someone, who is clueless, tell me the other day about how vital it is to get out and about and get on with life as normal now. Forget the risks. Mental health is far more important. Clueless. I also know a lot of people with years and years of mental health issues who are loving lockdown because suddenly all their social pressures are gone. All the stuff about leaving the house that used to cause them horrific anxiety, has gone. They are actually feeling better. This may be a short-lived feeling, but for those that have had to deal with that level of crippling anxiety for years, it’s a welcome break.
Tea and (Mental Health) Awareness
If you are actually concerned about someone’s mental health, reaching out with a straight forward, “hey I’m concerned” probably won’t work. Neither will posting on Facebook that your kettle is always on. Everyone is different so the approach that works will be different.
For example, anyone that knows me well enough knows full well that you only have to prod me or buy me cake and I’ll tell you anything. I’ve gone past the bottle it up stage long ago and created my own level of just letting it all out. Usually minus any filter. Others that I know who struggle, will never do this. They need a ton of trust, kindness and understanding and an absolute certainty that you are there for them, no matter what. If someone can be an absolute shitty arsehole to you, but you still show up for them, with kind gestures and no judgement, you are truly the person who has a kettle that’s always on.
It’s Not About You
When people are arseholes or do something to hurt you, it’s usually not about you. Well unless you’ve also been a complete arsehole to them, and they want payback. A person’s actions are usually about them and what’s going on inside them. And how they feel about themselves.
Often those that need help the most will push against it. They fight it. They feel they aren’t deserving of another’s kindness or worthy of leading a better life. How do you react to someone that constantly pushes your kindness away? You stay kind. Granted you might have a moment of telling them to go fuck themselves, but once you’ve calmed down or realised it’s not about you, continue being a nice, kind person. Don’t shut that person out. Just keep reminding them you’re there. Be patient. They’ll thank you for it someday. You may just have to bite your lip a lot in the process.
Remember, life is shit for many people and there are a lot of horrible people in this world. Don’t add to it. Be the solution not part of the problem.
So, you have a friend that is at home and not leaving the house at all during lockdown despite what Boris says or others best intentions to get them out. What do you do?
Firstly, how they deal with lockdown is kinda up to them and what works for them. And the same goes for when we aren’t in lockdown. If someone struggles with anxiety and doesn’t want to go out, makes excuses, cancels etc, then rather than telling (dictating) to them that they really should get out and about, turn the situation around. Ask them what they are up to. What are they binge watching? What crap are they eating?
Have they got a coping mechanism for getting through this? And if so, what is it! We could all do with some coping mechanisms. And if theirs is watching Tiger King, then show an interest. Get them to tell you about it or better still have a Netflix watch party with them, and watch it together, virtually and discus it. The first step to getting someone to engage with you so you can help, is trust. If you can share in each other’s guilty pleasures, then the bigger stuff will come in time. Patience.
The same goes for someone that is suffering with depression. Don’t ask them what’s wrong because they probably can’t tell you or pin it down to specifics. Instead, ask what makes them feel better and focus on that. If eating their body weight in chocolate every day makes them feel better, well get yourself off to Tesco rather than telling them about Joe feckin Wicks.
Nobody likes a pity party, but sometimes you need to get yourself an invite to change the party theme.
Today, Tomorrow and Beyond
Mental health is a lifelong thing. It’s not just for Christmas or a week in May. It’s like a puppy. A pain in the arse but you’re stuck with it. Anyone can have a time of crisis in their lives. Anyone. I don’t care how strong you say you are. How resilient. It can happen to you. So, before you post your bullshit, virtue signalling rubbish to Facebook, think for a minute how you would feel if you were that friend suffering. Would you reach out with a sad face emoji and an ‘inbox me hun’? Would you fuck!
Practise awareness and kindness every single day. Just don’t buy the t-shirt or tell us all about your feckin kettle always being on.
*Obviously, if you are seriously concerned for someone’s welfare then seek professional help, not the help of the internet.
**Karen is a slur, not an actual real or specific person