Mental Heath: Time To Break The Silence
Mental Health. Depression. Suicide.
When you see these words, what are the first thoughts that come to mind? Do you cringe? Flinch? Grimace? Maybe you feel anger, or shame, guilt or sadness. This isn’t a trick question, and I’m definitely not out to judge you or make you feel bad. It’s simply an honest observation of the thoughts or emotions that a person might experience, in the split second after hearing the above words. Did anyone else experienced all of those thoughts and emotions when they thought of those words? I know I did.
Lastly, I rest on a final concept: “We need to talk more.”
That is were the problem lies. The very last thought I had, was the one that is the most important. All those thoughts and emotions might run through me in a matter of seconds, but it doesn’t matter. Seconds is all it can take for someone’s thoughts the become an action. Seconds is all it can take for a seed to be planted in someone’s mind. In those few seconds they might feel judged or that it’s not okay to speak up. Seconds can literally make all the difference is a person’s life, in our own life. I know that this is slightly outside of my usual blogging zone, but with the tragic death of Chester Bennington it’s something that has been on my mind lately.
I say tragic, because that is exactly what it is. A tragedy. Chester was part of a movement with his lead vocalist position in Linkin Park. This was a movement that touched millions of people, inspired those people, comforted them and guided them through their darkest times. His lyrics literally left him naked and exposed to the world as he laid bare his demons and nightmares.
That is where the tragedy really lies. Chester Bennington sung songs that spoke to the deepest darkest horrible parts of so many, and held their hands as they got through it. He spent almost his entire music career writing music that saved the lives of thousands of people, while he expressed his own cry for help and the demons he struggled with. To fans of the band this is not surprising news, he was always open and honest about his battles with alcohol and depression. The world-wide out pour of grief was both a mark of devestation and admiration that one person impact so many. A few days ago I watched Chester in an interview, in which he said:
“You don’t have to know someone to feel safe enough to talk to them.”
Most of his fans, myself included, have never met him personally, but that doesn’t mean that his death has no effect on them. In this situation when someone’s words has saved people time and time again, when they pass it can feel like a crutch has been ripped away from them. It’s just a hard reminder that no one is safe from the clutches depression, it can hit anyone at any place and anytime.
What we, as a population need to be able to do is start talking about it more. Be more open and honest. Start understanding the issues around mental health and the signs that someone might be struggling. Earlier I spoke about how quickly a seed can be planted in a person and how it can impact them. Let me ask you this, how many times has someone asked “how are you?” And you’ve responded with “I’m fine” or “I’m good” when really you are feeling quite the opposite.I like to preach for people to speak up and encourage people to talk to me if they ever need it. Promoting awareness for mental health and addiction has become a passion of mine since my own struggles.
Yet I’m also one of the last to take my own advice and tell everyone I’m fine when I’m not. It’s one thing to keep on saying we need to talk more, love more, listen more and an entirely different thing to actually do it. So when you wake up tomorrow, tell yourself that it’s going to be different and that you’ll be different. Pick up the phone and give a friend a call to see if they are doing okay. Talk to a stranger or being honest with someone when they ask you how you are. A little can really go a long way when it comes to words, you never know what a person might need to say or hear.
The struggle is real. The problem is real. It’s about time, as a society, we stopped ignoring it or placing a taboo on it. Another thing that I heard Chester speak about in an interview was comparing your story and not feeling like yours is “bad enough” to complain about. Because of this assumption, it almost forces people to believe that they don’t have the right to speak up as their story doesn’t compare to others. How he speaks about it, is just…it’s honestly amazing hear, it’s so powerful! It’s amazing, inspiring and otherworldly to hear someone who is honest with his struggles, talk about mental health this way.
I’ll leave the snippet to the interview here, which is bits and pieces taken from a longer interview. Which I’ve tracked down and listen to it as well…just to make sure they didn’t take his words out of context and they haven’t. If anything they missed out on the dark humour that would come after some of what he says. I’ll leave the longer version of the interview here, which I think is amazing as well, it’s 40 minutes long but at times he goes into great detail about explaining depression. His experiences with it, how he worked through it and started learning to talk to strangers and even how to be honest with his closest friends.
Regardless of the events that have passed I don’t think the words should be discredited. even if they are bittersweet. There is inspiration to be drawn drawn from someone talking about how they work through their darkest times when they have struggled with mental health their entire life. Making yourself that vulnerable and talking to the world on such a public platform like this is a massive thing.
In that regard, it’s something we should all strive to do. Not on that same level, but there is nothing stopping us from talking to the stranger we sit next to on the bus. Or the work colleague we see every day, but never really talk to them. The change starts with us. It’s starts with the decisions we make tomorrow. With the conversations we choose to have and the way we receive those conversations. So let’s start having them, because at the end of the day nothing is more important than our mental health.
For confidential support here are the numbers helpline agencies around the world
Australia: Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14
United States: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1 800 273 TALK (8255)
United Kingdom: Samaritans – 116 123
India: AASRA – 91 22 2754 6669