Last weekend, another young life was ended too soon. What makes it worse, is that this local young person chose to end their life. No-one should feel so much without hope that they feel this is their only option. So what can we do about it for ourselves and for our community?
Firstly, let me remind you that it is okay not to feel okay. And as Vasundhara Sawhney, quoting Dr Jaime Zuckerman, says, “Not only is it okay to not feel ‘okay,’ it is essential. An abnormal emotional response to an abnormal situation IS normal. We cannot simply pick the emotions we want to have. It just does not work that way,” Dr. Zuckerman said. So feeling sad and scared about my parents after they contracted Covid was normal. Crying after you get into a fight with your partner is also normal, as is feeling anxious and scared about an uncertain future. When we think we might lose something we care about, that’s sad. When we don’t know what to expect next, that’s scary. We should let ourselves, and other people in our lives, feel these things as they come up — which may be more than usual right now.”
Secondly, (and I know this is easy for me to type here but not so easy in reality), there is no need to suffer in silence or alone. Whatever you are feeling – whatever has happened – no one will think so badly of you that they would leave you on your own to deal with suicidal feelings. Find a trusted friend to talk to. This would be better in person but if a text/messenger exchange would help you get started then go for that. But do something. If you’d prefer to talk with someone you don’t know who maybe won’t be connected with your situation, then link up with a local organisation or national service that is there for you no matter what. Contact details for some of these are further down this blog.
Thirdly, we all need to better understand who we are and help our minds focus on that. Now I know that’s a big statement to make, but I want to emphasise that speaking with others is an essential part of that. Not pretending to be someone we’re not. Not trying to be like someone else. But being our awesome potential-filled selves.
Matt Meher says “we live in a day and age where we are very distracted. There’s a million places to be in our minds and our hearts – anywhere except here, now, in the present moment. And usually when we’re in the present moment, a lot of us avoid it because what’s waiting there is sometimes grief, fear, anxiety, or suffering. In fact we kind of live in a day and age where we’re more and more tempted to escape suffering instead of embracing it. We need to be willing to embrace the reality of the human condition, and the reality of this life, even to the point that it moves us to tears, because you can cry from grief and you can also cry from laughter – both require a heart that is so present to the moment that it is willing to be moved to that place. If you’re not present and you’re not free, you can’t get moved. Not only that but fear and anxiety can actually choke off our emotions and so crying is actually a natural involuntary response of our body, our subconscious. We’re getting stuff off our mind, off our chest in a way. And if we’re willing to do that, it creates an environment where we’re more in touch with who we are, and more in touch with the reality our circumstances. When we do that we tend to be more likely to find and experience peace.”
You may have heard about the swan syndrome. This is where everyone looking at you will think you’re all calm, sorted, and just gliding gracefully through life! And yet, just like the swan who’s wee legs will be flapping away to keep it going, under the surface of your outer appearance, things are going absolutely crazy. Your mind is a blur of different things and really you’re just going through the motions. You might be involved in so many things but never really settling. You might be so busy that you’re not sleeping because you’re not having time to wind down. You might be drinking so many energy drinks that you just can’t switch off. This list could go on and on. Things need to change and you need to take time to assess what is most important in your life. Now that might mean some tough choices. I’ve had to make some choices over the last year and have given up some things that I really enjoyed. It was tough. I miss the things I was doing and the people involved in them. But to be honest, I don’t know how I had the time to do them before. Not because I’ve replaced with them other stuff, but because I’ve spent time for me and with my family and friends. Yes, I was happy doing the things I’ve given up, but that doesn’t mean I’m not happy now I’m not doing them!
Dan Gilbert says “Happiness is not a final destination – it is just somewhere you visit on the path of life.”
What that quote is saying is that sometimes you’ll be happy and sometimes you won’t. And as we started this blog, THAT’S OKAY! It’s sad to say that happiness may not last forever in your current setting, but it needs to be acknowledged. That doesn’t mean you should be expecting things to go pear shaped at any minute and so you stop enjoying where you’re at. Please enjoy the moment for what it is. What it does mean is that if that joyous situation does come to an end, you’re ready for it and can pick yourself up with the help of trusted friends, and move forwards.
What I want to do just now is give some key contacts for local and national organisations, but first, here are some key statements from two local organisations that we would recommend:
Falkirk’s Mental Health Association (FDAMH) say “You may feel that there is no hope, but our experience shows us there is. All lives are precious. Don’t feel alone with your thoughts or feel ashamed of struggling, we can all struggle at different times. We are here to listen, without judgement, and to help find a positive solution to what might seem an impossible situation. We offer a range of services that can and do help.”
Quiet Waters Listening and Counselling say: “Do you feel anxious, depressed, angry, sad, hurt, or any of the many difficult emotions that are part of the human experience? Emotions are not good or bad, but they are trying to tell us something. Do you have difficult thoughts whirling around in your head? Is life a struggle? Do you want an opportunity to explore your thoughts and feelings in confidence? We are here if you want to talk through your situation.”
Here are some recommended contact details for you to have for yourself or to pass on to someone who you know that is struggling right now.
FDAMH: 01324 671 600 (Monday to Thursday 10am to 4pm, Friday 10am to 3pm)
Quiet Waters: 01324 630643
The Spark Counselling Falkirk: 0808 802 2088 (Monday to Thursday 9am to 9pm, Friday 9am to 4pm)
Wellbeing Matters: 01324 630 100
Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87
Samaritans: 116 123
The Campaign Against Living Miserably (support for men): 0800 58 58 58
Childline 0800 1111
Young Minds: text YM to 85258
NHS 24: 111
Emergency Ambulance 999
There is lots of help out there and they are ready and waiting to support you and those you love. Please, let’s ensure no one suffers in silence to the point of complete despair. As our friends at Camerados say, “The answer to our problems is each other”. We have an amazing community spirit across Camelon and Tamfourhill. Let’s continue to build on that and be there for each other.
To finish this week, I encourage you to watch the video below from the World Health Organisation. It’s well worth the 4 minutes it lasts. This was shown to me when I undertook Mental Health First Aid Training a couple of years ago, and I have used it many times since. If you’re struggling with your mental health just now, this may help you understand what is going on in your head. I’ll leave you with the best 5 words I could ever say or have said to me: “I’m here if you need”.
Dan Rous, Community Coach, 07444 873151 firstname.lastname@example.org