Happy thanksgiving to all of you all. I am so thankful for all the joys of writing, sharing with you, family, friends, All of it. Thank you all for reaching out to me for my previous blog post all your ideas helped me in so many ways!
So about a couple of nights ago, my mom had some of her friends over and they’re all hispanic and being from a hispanic background, it’s always nice to be surrounded by people who get it and are close knit with their families as much as I am with mine.
We got on the subject of mental health because, tragically there was a person in my town who died by suicide. I didn’t know the person, but I went to the funeral a while back and it astounded me how many people were there. I was to the point of tears! This entire situation hit home for me because I KNOW WHAT THAT IS LIKE. No one knew what the person was going through, until now. No one knew the severity of the issue, the severity of their depression.
Right now, depression and mental illness are at an all time high. Regardless of what age you are, whether you are wealthy or poor, the color of your skin, man or woman, mental illness does not discriminate, it can affect anyone at anytime.
Everytime I hear of someone, especially someone younger than me succumb to the decline of their mental health, it breaks my heart.
I was 18 when I got depressed. The way that the people in my corner helped me, was through understanding what I was going through. Anything and everything that I was worried about, they responded in a way that was non-judgmental and rooted in love.
We are surrounded by people going through different things and often times, it gets hard to manage and we want to help them in some way, but it’s not that we can’t, it’s that we don’t know how to go about talking about the issue with them.
Soooo. Here are a couple of steps that will help you with a loved one who is struggling or who is recovering from a mental health illness.
Ask “How are you?”
I know that right around this time it is the time joy and cheer, but a lot of times people aren’t feeling it.
When we are asked how are you, we’re always so quick to reply with things like: “fine”, “good”, followed by “and you?”, therefore deflecting the attention from ourselves so that we could listen to how the other has been doing.
While that’s great and all, i do feel that we should be a little bit more honest with each other, in terms of how we’re feeling. It is important that we let each other in on what is going on in our lives, like forreal. We live in a world that still stigmatizes mental health, even though we are working towards deconstructing the stigma, we need to do more to eradicate it. We need to talk about it more than ever so that people are aware that this is a thing that still persists today.
If we love the people who are broken, we need to learn how to communicate our support to them and allow them to be as vulnerable as ever. Their feelings matter and we need to listen
Educate yourself on mental illnesses
Become aware of the warning signs of someone struggling emotionally. Some of the signs and symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Withdrawal from groups and things that once made them happy
- Not sleeping enough/too much sleep
- Eating too little/too much
- Pain everywhere/numb
- Panic attacks
- Thoughts of suicide
When I would get depressed for days at a time (because it happens), one of the first things that I would do is withdraw from the groups that I am a part of. For me, that is HUGE. I’m the kind of person who loves being around people, so the moment that I see myself drift away from those groups, it’s the same moment that I say to myself, “hold up. What is going on?”.
Everyone is different in the ways that they show their emotions and this is part of the reason why you should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of an illness.
Keep in mind, that it can happen to anyone at any time. It is up to us to listen and play a role in helping them get to where they need to be.
Step in, offer advice or help
If you are ever listening to the person and they seem to be telling you something that rings a bell, whether it be troubles at home or with family. Step in. They are telling you these things because a) they need someone to listen or b) they need advice. Now, I’m not saying that you should be their personal therapist and take on their burden, but what I am saying is you can listen and give them advice the best way you know how-by seeing the situation from your perspective. If neither of those seem to work or if you don’t know how to give advice in that situation, then ask them if they’ve talked it over with a professional. It is totally okay to say something like, “hey, have you tried talking to a therapist about this?”
This will open the conversation up to looking for resources. There are tons of resources out there on college campuses and beyond, but they only work if we intervene for that person to take it and if we take the first step for ourselves (in the event we are affected). We need to push those affected in the direction of recovery. Reassure them that it is okay to let themselves feel what they are feeling, it is better to sit with those emotions than to fight with them
When we fight with our feelings, we will lose because we aren’t equipped to deal with those issues in a weird headspace. When we sit with them, we can become better at learning about ourselves, our situations and can ultimately grow/move on from them, naturally.
I love you all and I hope to touch upon this topic in further posts because it is something so near and dear to my heart.
May you all have a safe and warm holiday season. Hope is out there, all you have to do is look.
Sending a ton of love and light your way,