Today is the #Bellletstalk day, the campaign to help break down the stigmas of mental illness. I for one, greatly support this cause, and I would like to join the conversation. Quite a few people who are near and dear to me have suffered from some form of depression at some point in their life. I have learned a lot from trying to be a support to the people that I love the most who have suffered from depression. It was never easy, and it can definitely be heart breaking at times for sure, but if I could summarize what I’ve learned, I can break it down into two things:
1. Never assume that everyone is doing well, even when they say that they are doing well. Most people aren’t willing to tell you their troubles. Even if you are the closest of friends, or even family. A lot of times there is a lot of shame, and guilt that come with depression, and they may not be willing to burden you with their troubles. So, they carry this cross on their own, suffering in silence. If you suspect that something may be wrong, or that they aren’t as “good” as they say they are, then please ask again! Keep asking, and let them know that you care. Make them feel safe, this may mean that you have to reveal something about yourself in order for them to be able to feel as though they can reveal something about themselves. You need to keep the lines of communication open, let them know you’re always there for them.
2. Another major thing I’ve learned is this, if someone does finally come to you with their troubles, LISTEN!!!! Don’t start spewing advice, that’s not why they came to you in the first place. They don’t expect you to help them, because they know you can’t really help them in the way that you think you can. If they honestly believed you could make all their troubles go away like magic, they would have probably come to you sooner. In reality, all they’re looking for is for someone to really listen to them, and try to understand them on some level. They just need to be heard.
Too often, we are superficial in our conversations. Sometimes, I feel like we talk to each other for the sake of talking to one another, without really listening, or caring about what the other person has to say. This is not to say that we do this all the time, or that we do this on purpose. But sometimes when we say “Hi, how are you?” We don’t really mean it. We don’t really want to know the whole truth about how someone is actually doing. Maybe it’s because we don’t really know this person that well? Or, we don’t feel that close to them maybe? OR maybe we’re not prepared for the answer? Who knows. At the end of the day, when we ask it, we generally expect a generic answer like “I’m good,” or “I’m fine thank you.” We don’t really ask the question and hear a different answer, and if we do, it’s generally a surprise to us (unless that person is visibly upset). I hope today, that when you ask this question, you are genuine about it, and that you really probe the person to know more about their life, and how it’s actually going. Even if they are happy, or content, that’s fine, but stop and take the time to take an interest in someone else’s life for a change. You may learn something! It also shows that person that you really do care about them, and that’s how you can start to open up those lines of communication. That way if someone is truly suffering, they may now feel like they have someone to confide in, and that can make a world of difference!
So spread the word and raise awareness today! Please join me in helping to break down the stigma of mental illness, by starting a conversation about it. Help me create a safe space for anyone who might be suffering to feel as though they can talk about it, and ask for help. One in five people suffer from some form of mental illness, that means that every one of us has been effected by mental illness in some way. There are many reasons why people suffer from depression, or any other form of mental illness, and since it’s so common there is really no point in judging someone for it. I know that this is a touchy subject, and it’s not easy to talk about, but the best thing we can do for one another is to pay attention to one another!! Take the time to LISTEN to one another and have meaningful conversations, that is how I think we can start to heal those who are suffering in silence.