“Just because nobody else can heal or do your inner work for you, doesn’t mean you can, should, or need to do it alone”
Today I want to write something close to my heart a) because I have suffered b) I have loved one’s who have suffered c) there’s still a huge stigma and lack of understanding about mental health and d) it’s a pandemic in itself.
In a small country town in North QLD Australia there has been a spate of 8 suicides in the past 10 weeks. This is far from uncommon globally and we as people, a nation and a world that has far more resources and education than ever before are lagging in an area that should be in the absolute forefront of every decent, caring and genuinely kind person’s mind.
Most of us knew that living in a world with the COVID pandemic was going to have far reaching implications. It was never going to be just about this virus, but what this virus has done by shutting down the world, death, job loss, isolation, people unable to attend funerals of loved ones, in some cases visit loved ones, financial distress, to name but a few, was always going to have an enormous impact on mental health and sadly the evidence is very real.
Late last year I had a loved one who needed to see a therapist, studying in this field, I could support with some tools and of course be there in my capacity as a loved one to support but I could not be their therapist. In Sydney Australia the average wait to get an appointment with a psychologist/ counsellor in these COVID times is 4-6 months. I contacted every single therapist in their area and surrounding areas and the response was the same every time- “I’m sorry but we are not taking any new clients” or “I’m sorry but we have a waiting list of some 200 people”. To say I was concerned is an understatement. I was pissed off that in a first world country, with a huge mental health problem and an increase in suicide, that we cannot get the help needed.
Mental health cannot wait 4-6 months!!!
I wrote a letter to our Prime Minister, after all, him and his Government surely care about us. I realise he’s a busy man with many priorities but the dire state of our declining mental health should be THE priority. This letter was written 6 months ago and it apparently did not even afford the care of a response. Not even some bullshit “we are fixing it” response. I’ll write another and another until they start hearing that people are suffering and people are dying and everyone’s life should be important and valued.
I am an incredibly passionate person about the people I care about and the things I believe in. It’s why I’m studying holistic counselling and coaching. It’s why I write. It’s why I am undergoing the intense course to volunteer for a crisis line. It’s why people come to me. I want to help. I want to give. I want to make a difference.
I am alarmed at the lack of understanding and the lack of empathy and compassion of some people. However, everyone has their darkness and their own demons and unhealed wounds and trauma will always manifest itself in different ways. Be it mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually. I have learnt that in many ways we have a global mental healthcare system that provides a bandaid solution. Ask a few questions, make an assessment and hand out a prescription. It really is geared to increase the profits of the pharmaceutical companies.
To help someone, we need to understand what’s going on inside of them. Things they may not even be aware of themselves. We need to look at people holistically and treat them as a whole being, not treat each symptom. So many physical symptoms people visit the doctor for are purely a manifestation of their mental and emotional health. Mental and emotional health is a complex issue and far too often we neglect their past, their childhood and the beliefs they have formed. What’s happening in their life now may just be the trigger.
How do we make a difference? We make a difference by being compassionate human beings. We make a difference by genuinely listening– not listening to respond-not listening distractedly- not listening to judge but listening to understand. We don’t need to have answers but we need to hear people. We need to allow people to feel safe and let them be vulnerable. We need to sit with them and sometimes that maybe in silence and that is ok, oftentimes just listening and being allows them to gain clarity.
We make a difference by giving back. Offer help without any motive to get something in return. Volunteer within your community. Just add doing something kind for someone every day- it can be as simple as a smile.
We make a difference by making a stand. If that means writing to Governments or Local Members do it. I know many see it as a waste of time or feel it’s not their battle but really it’s ALL OUR battle. Every single one of us will know or come to know someone struggling with their mental health or worse someone who takes their own life. Let’s be truly compassionate.
We make a difference by educating people. By working to remove the stigma. We do this on the level that each person can understand, keeping in mind that we don’t know what people are going through and their behaviour or reaction, is usually caused by their own limiting beliefs, stemming from their own wounds.
We make a difference by not dismissing another’s pain. By not making assumptions. By not comparing. By not making another feel inferior because of their pain or what they are going through. And by not putting timeframes on how long it should take for another to heal. Healing is not linear and by just listening and being there for another we can help immensely.
Lastly, we make a difference by doing our own inner work. By acknowledging our own toxic traits. By addressing what needs to be addressed and having any difficult conversations. We become self aware and brutally honest with ourselves and others. When we are in this space we are a much better support system for others. We cannot give to another what we do not have or understand ourselves. We authentically own our own story.
Each of us has the ability to learn, grow and show kindness. Through compassion we can each do a little to make a difference in a world that very much needs it. Helping just one person is more than worth it.
“To the brave and brokenhearted who have taught us how to rise and fall- your courage is contagious”- Brene Brown.