It’s Mental Health Awareness Week here in NZ- and something needs to be spoken about.
Your strong friend.
We all have one- and we’ve all likely seen it go round about just how important it is to check on them.
The newest campaign surrounding MHAW 2018 talks about reaching out- asking- and listening. But we do that right? To people we know need it. To the friend who’s in the corner acting strange, to a colleague who has had one too many ‘sick days’ or to a sibling who seems like they’re struggling at school. We’re decent human beings- we ask and we listen.
But what about your friend who broke up with her boyfriend and bounced back faster than expected? The guy who didn’t make the class he wanted but changed degrees instead? The social bunny who hasn’t posted in a while but claims she’s ‘taking a screen break’?
We’re quick to jump on and praise people for being resilient. We are kiwi’s, and that ‘move up and on’ attitude is something embedded in our blood. It’s seen as needy to want to just talk about something, and seen as a ‘big deal’ to most.
News flash- we’ve all got shit going on. We all lose a few minutes (hours, days) of sleep wondering. And while it mightn’t seem like a big deal at the time- it has potential to become one.
It’s time to stop praising people for being the strong one, and it’s time to start encouraging people to talk about what’s on their mind. BOYS- in particular. I’m blessed and lucky to have a bunch of ‘lads’ that I love, and it breaks me to find out something’s wrong and I haven’t noticed. But they haven’t said anything, right? Nope- I haven’t asked.
So what should we do? My commitment for the remainder of the year (and my life) is to ask. But not only ask (because an ‘are you okay’ text every day might come across as mildly stalkerish to some haha) but to do more.
– to notice signs. withdrawing from events, social media cues, dramatic lifestyle changes or patterns or unusual behaviour.
– to work out when I’m needed. even if it’s not necessarily wanted. there’s always one that demands they’re okay, but sometimes you’re going to have to be the one to make the call. whether it be to someone close to them, or to someone so far removed that they will feel comfortable talking about it. sometimes trust is worth breaking.
– to JUST listen. to not offer advice, ask too many questions, but to just listen. to be the friend I should. talking about it can be awkward, but do it anyway.
– to admit when it’s me. this happened this year- and I was the strong friend. not so much out of embarrassment or strength, but because I didn’t really know how I was meant to deal with the problem I faced. it put me out of my ‘regular programming’ for almost 3 months, and took so long to recover from. it’s hard to admit, and hard to reflect on, but now that I’m out of it, I know just how easy it could have been had I just ASKED.
– and most importantly, to think of the consequences. because shit, life is getting real. and it’s about time we stop letting it.
check on your strong friend x