Today, Monday 10th October 2016, is World Mental Health Day. This is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy.
The theme for this year is psychological and mental health first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress.
The onus is upon the impact of traumatic events on people’s mental health and the steps people can take to support themselves and others.
Please get involved:
- Start a conversation with your friends and family about mental illness.
- Talk to someone you suspect may be struggling and gently persevere with them.
- Reach out to someone you know has a mental illness.
- Support the carers of those with mental illness. It is tough for them.
- Get involved in campaigns to break the stigma: Rethink Mental Illness, Time to Change and Mind Campaigns, to name but a few (British).
- Give to or fundraise for charities that provide the extra support the mental health services cannot: The Samaritans, CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) and SANE – just a selection and British.
- Find out more about mental illness because I can promise you, you will encounter it around you, or possibly within you, at some point in your life.
Be it a small or grand gesture, please do it.
They need it.
I need it.
We need to know there is aid for our distress.
We don’t want it to get as far as a person, wrenched with pain, and so tortured by mental illness, that they wrote a suicide letter…
Dear Loved Ones,
I’m sorry that this is the way it had to be. You have always been the reason why I have held on as I have felt so guilty at the thought of putting you through pain.
I just can’t hold on anymore and I guess that may make me selfish but it’s too painful.
I haven’t been living. I am a highly-medicated, drugged, drowsy, empty shell. I have no pleasure in life and no future to look forward to. That’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just the way life turned out.
I know you will feel guilt and try to blame yourselves and you’ll forget my words here, but I truly mean them. It is not your fault and nothing you could have done would have stopped me. You’re not a failure. What I did was inevitable.
I’m so tired of having to go through my whole mental history with a different health professional nearly every time or ticking boxes to say how I feel. I haven’t had anyone to really talk to. To get to the root of the problem and work it through.
I know you’re thinking that I should have talked to you. But you have to be honest and know that there’s only so much you can do and hear. I would never have told you my darkest thoughts. You didn’t ever need to hear that. Even if I had told them to you, they wouldn’t have gone away.
I love you so much. I never told you and that’s what I really regret now. But I do have one last chance here.
Don’t be angry. We can all blame people for what has happened. I have to believe that those who deserted me, those who said they were my friends but were never there, those who said they would help me and didn’t, will learn from their mistakes.
I have to let it go as I leave and you should too.
You will one day find some strength to go on. I know what grief does and believe me I wish I didn’t have to put you through it, but there really is no other alternative. I can’t keep ‘living’ like this.
It isn’t living, it’s existing. I have no pleasures in life. I have nothing to look forward to.
I love you so very, very much. Don’t ever forget that. Even in those times when you will be angry with me for leaving you.
I now go with a very heavy heart at the sorrow I know I am about to cause you. Please forgive me for that and please don’t stop loving me as I will always love you.
This letter is not a work of fiction. I wrote this in 2008.
I never sent it to anyone. Apologies to my loved ones who may be upset by me sharing this letter now. I chose to share it to beat the shame and stigma; mine and the one that exists on a worldwide scale.
My story is too long to tell right now about what happened before and after this letter. All I will say is, of course I am still here. I got the help even if it came at a high price. Although the price is never too high if you’re still alive.
Mental illness distress is torture. It’s present but cannot be fully seen. That makes it hidden. It is hard for the distressed to articulate.
Please try to spot the signs and read between the lines. Do the best you can. The willingness to try is enough. You are not expected to be an expert, just a compassionate human being.
Let’s stop the writing of these letters happening. Let’s be grateful when they’re not delivered because they are no longer relevant.
Please reach out and show you care on this day when the world unites for World Mental Health Day.