Below is a blog that I posted around this time last year. I feel that a lot of it will still resonate with people. Take a read below.
It was world suicide prevention day recently and you may have read a lot of mental health stories in the media. Stories of people who have reached out for help, and have come through the darkness to the other side.
I know from my work as a mental health advocate that it is so important to reach out for help, and to encourage people to do so. But I’m completely torn, because I also know the realities of reaching out for help and it’s so bloody hard.
The fact is that not everyone who reaches out for help has a good experience. In fact many people may need to reach out time and time again before they receive the help that they so badly need. We always hear of the good stories, someone reaches out for help and with a bit of support for a couple of months they feel better and move on their life. But it’s important that we also know about the ‘not so good’ experiences of reaching out for help.
I’m so glad that people get to experience first hand help from the mental health services, and that they get to move on and live their life. But unfortunately, it’s not my personal experience.
Now, I know how important it is to share stories of people having successful attempts at reaching out. It’s encouraging to hear of the success stories where people have reached out and got the help that they so badly need. We need to share those stories. But we also need to be honest and let people know that sometimes they may not get the help that they need. The truth is that the mental health services are far from perfect, and resources are stretched across the services.
Reaching Out For Help
You may reach out for help, and find that you just don’t get the response that you had hoped. It might be to a friend, family member or even a health professional. Now, unfortunately that’s not ideal, but the truth is that it happens. In fact it happens all the time. I’m pointing this out, because every time I reach out for help and am greeted by a response that just isn’t helpful- I feel like a failure. I feel like I can’t even ask for help right. ( It might sound strange, but when you are in a really negative mindset you believe that everything is your fault.)
What I feel would have helped me was knowing that a fairytale experience is not true for everyone, and that’s perfectly NORMAL!
It doesn’t mean that you are undeserving of help, or that you have done something wrong. It just means that you may have to be clearer in asking for what you need, and spelling things out for people. I think it’s important that people know this. I know in the past I have always been reluctant to talk about the realities of asking for help because I was afraid that it would put people off from seeking help for themselves. But I feel that if we don’t at least let people know the realities of the situation out there, we may in fact be doing more harm than good. People need to know that there isn’t always a fairytale ending, and instead of worrying that it might put people off asking for help, we should instead arm them with the knowledge on how to deal with the situation if this is the case.
Reaching Out When In A Crisis
I’ve made it clear of the realities of asking for help, but there are a few other things I want to say.
First of all, If you are in a crisis, it’s important that you let someone know that. I know how hard it is for me to admit to someone else when I’m in crisis. I feel like I’m afraid to tell them how bad things really are. If they ask me the right questions, that I will try to be as honest as I can, but if they don’t ask the right questions, I probably won’t have the courage to admit to them how bad I feel.
From my own experience, I’ve learned that you have to use your words to describe what is going on for you as best as you can. it’s important that you are completely honest with the person you speak to. This is no time for subtleties. Be blunt if you have to be. Just don’t keep suicidal feelings to yourself.
If you are in crisis, let them know that. If you are thinking about suicide, and more importantly on acting on those thoughts- then you need to very openly and bluntly let someone know. You need to let them know exactly what is going on in your head.
Make an emergency appointment with your GP, or go to your local A+E. ( A+E can be extremely stressful so try and go along with someone who can sit with you as you may have a long wait. Contact a help line like Pieta HouseFreecall 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444, or call Samaritans on 116 123.
If you are already a user of the mental health services, make an urgent appointment with your psychiatrist, Community Psychiatric Nurse, or Counsellor. If you have to do this over the phone and are speaking to a receptionist, be clear as to how important it is that you are given an emergency appointment.
You Deserve To Feel Better
There’s something else that I want you to know. No matter how bad you feel about yourself- you deserve to feel better. I know right now that I feel that things will never improve for me. I feel like every glimmer of hope is gone. But somehow, I am managing to hang on. To be honest I don’t know how, but for now the fact that I am is enough.
I’m engaged with the mental health services and have been for a long time now. Sometimes I feel like I’m wasting my time. I get frustrated, I get angry and most of all I get so upset. I know that the mental health professionals are trying to help me, but there are so many times when I wish they would just all back off and leave me alone. It would have helped me to read about other people in the services who feel the same, and to realise that it is perfectly normal. I’m trying to remind myself of that every day.
Don’t Let Previous Experiences Of Asking For Help Put You Off
Whether your past help-seeking efforts have been positive or negative, don’t let a bad experience stop you from finding someone who can help. Asking for help again after a bad experience is extremely brave. One thing you can do to prepare yourself to make sure you have the best chance of success, is to remind yourself that you deserve help. You deserve to feel better, and no matter what you have to keep fighting for the right support.
My doctor recently told me that “Even problems that seem hopeless have solutions”, and no matter how bad I feel I try to remember this. It might not feel like it right now, but things can get better.
Put your hand on your chest and feel your heart beat. You are alive for a reason. Reach out, you can get through this with some support. But doing it alone is almost impossible. There are loads of people who want to help you get through this, start by letting them help you.
Check out www.yourmentalhealth.ie for a directory of metal health services around Ireland.
Pieta House can provide free counselling to people who self harm or who are suicidal . They have 18 centres around Ireland, and provide a free helpline on 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444 www.pieta.ie