I think most people with any form of mental illness, will be able to relate to the fact that their mental illness makes them feel lonely and isolated. I know for sure it makes me feel this way. It's for sure one of the worst parts of coping with a mental illness. I've talked about my battle with loneliness on my blog before, which you can read HERE.
In that post, I talked a lot about mental illness being a significant cause of my loneliness. This is for various different reasons, one of the main ones being that it's really hard to talk about it with other people. Especially friends who don't experience mental health issues themselves or teachers who you are worried won't understand and will tell you just to snap out of it.
There's a lot of stigmas that surrounds mental illnesses like depression and OCD. When you say, you have depression people jump to the conclusion that your this bedbound being, self-harming and hasn't washed in a week. Or if you have OCD your just a neat freak or concerned about cleanliness and organisation. This stigma is why I find it hard to talk about my mental illness with others.
I find it hard to tell people that I'm not okay or I'm going through a depressive episode. When someone asks if you are okay, your automatic reaction is to say yes! Yes, I'm fine. And no questions are asked. From my personal experience, people don't like to talk about the tough stuff. Hell, I don't like to talk about the tough stuff. But we need to talk about the tough stuff because if we don't, we're just going to be a broken, heartless community. Where preventable pain continues, and we remain in silence.
When you see someone who is quiet, distant and withdrawn, it's easier to assume that they are shy or just having a bad day than it is to think they may be suicidal or suffering from a mental illness.You forget about it and take no notice. In my opinion, this is what some teachers are fantastic at doing and most of the modern society in general, to be frank.
We all lead very busy lives. We're all very busy people, with never ending piles of things to do. We are selfish. We rush around with our heads buried in the sand, doing as much as we can do in a day. We ignore everyone around us because we all have own problems and issues, and the thought of dealing with other people's issues as well can push us to the breaking point. We have schedules that need to be kept to, we have things that need to be ticked off our to-do lists, and well we just don't have enough hours in a day anymore.
We're a 24/7 society, which never sleeps. There's always something new happening, we need to be up to date with the latest tweets, statuses, snaps, videos and Instagram stories. Technology is advancing faster than it has ever done before. It's hard to keep up. We can't keep up. We have more friendships and relationships than we did before. I have friends literally across the globe thanks to the internet. I can remain in contact with thousands of people with just a couple of clicks on my smartphone.
But there's one thing we constantly forget to do.
Ask people " How are you today?" "How you feeling today?"
This doesn't just apply to people with a mental illness, it applies to everyone in society. Young, old, female, male, disabled or able-bodied. When you appear sad, quiet or distant it's easier for people just to ignore you and assume they will get over it soon. But the world doesn't work like that...
You don't know what the person is going through. You can just assume they are having a bad day and they will get over it soon. I know when I have appeared very obviously sad and depressed, and everyone ignores me like I'm some kind of freak, it makes me feel even worse. Sometimes people just want someone to talk to about their issues or just about anything really. You shouldn't feel worried that if you ask someone if they are okay, they are going to spill all your worries on to you, they probably won't. But just that act of asking someone if they are okay is a truly heart warming and beautiful gift, that is likely to brighten anyone's day.
Even if you can't help. Even if you don't understand what that person is going through. It's okay. Because you asked them, is enough. You care. Sometimes that is all we need. In this busy, non-stop, media obsessed world we live in. All we need is someone to care about us. We want to know that someone can support us or is concerned about us.
So next time you see someone looking down or upset, whether you know them well or not, if it's your job to look out for them or not, just ask if they are okay. Because I guarantee they will be very thankful for that little selfless act and the more you do it, the more other people are likely to follow suit.
Thanks for reading, as always X