How many of us are feeling low right now? How many of us will actually admit to that? Should we be ashamed to feel bad and should we hide that? So many of us put on our ‘happy’ face to engage with others, yet I wonder if this is the right way of dealing with everything.
Too often we hide how we feel for fear of judgement or the fake sympathy we receive. The acceptable norm of sadness is to feel a little rough now and again.. but what of those people who don’t just feel a little rough but feel like their whole existence is fake. The people who are too scared to allow their true feelings to be seen and shared, and instead push their emotions deeper inside until they feel like they will explode.
Sometimes this manifests in self harm, self destruction or anger. Whichever way it displays itself, it means that the person is treated like a second class citizen by all those around them. This can be viewed as a personal flaw, but I think the blame lies at society’s feet and the stigma attached to raw feelings of depression or other mental illness.
We all like to believe that we understand and can empathise, but in truth we can not. Until you have been at the bottom of the well, with no way up and no help to get there, you will never understand the loneliness and desperation of someone in inner turmoil. No amount of kind words can change how a person feels. We need to start accepting this in our worlds and not ignoring it.
Services are stretched beyond limit and support groups are few and far between. Even with those available, the stigma attached means that sufferers do not want to openly engage and be honest. The very nature of the mental health illness is secretive, so often people go unnoticed until it is too late. They have to rely on those around them to sense when something is wrong and very few people have this kind of insight. Much of the time the expression ‘out of sight, out of mind’ seems to prevail… we may know someone needs help but can’t cope with it or know how to broach the subject, so we feign ignorance.
Next time a friend or colleague behaves in a way that you feel is unusual for them, instead of shrugging it off, talk to them… sometimes that is all that is needed to stop someone thinking they are alone. Support is a word thrown around far too often at the minute.