In October, we lost a friend to mental health and it was a wake up call for most of us.
It changed a lot for me with regards to the way I was thinking about school and keeping busy – but it also did something unexpected for me: it woke me up – literally.
This wake up call was so very loud and very unwelcome but it definitely was necessary. So for a while (read a year or so) I was just feeling apathetic or numb towards a lot of things. Even some of the things I know I enjoy. It was almost like I was just going through the motions with a lot of things and I didn’t really mind it but I was worried about if that feeling would ever go away & whether or not I would ever feel vividly about anything ever again. Then this unexpected loss occurred and something shifted.
Losing someone is never easy, be it just an acquaintance, a friend, a family member or a partner. It’s natural to allow yourself to grieve, but this was so different for me. I just suddenly found myself feeling emotional towards anything and everything which was overwhelming and scary. To use the the Vampire Diaries analogy: it was like my humanity switch was flipped back on and it really sucked. For good emotions and experiences and feelings it was welcome but for bad emotions and experiences and feelings it was very uncomfortable – but it made me think.
The world we live in has us all seriously messed up. Things are constantly moving at a rapid rate, change has become the new and only constant and the only way most people seem to deal with their feelings is by pushing them to the side, to be dealt with later – until its too late. It sounds cliche, but do check on your strong friends but also give yourself a break, a real break & a chance to process everything. I hadn’t cried in a while but that loss opened up the floodgates. It wasn’t just losing a friend but it was other things that I also hadn’t been honest with myself about for a while. So if you are a crier & you are going through some things, cry. If you have to exercise through your stress then exercise, don’t put it off because you are too busy or because society has taught you that crying is viewed as a weakness. If you have to bake or cook to relax do it – because this culture of putting yourself last all the time both consciously or even at times unconsciously (like through being busy) can sometimes backfire.
Also its ok to care. Healthy caring should trend again. Mental health issues come in many forms & manifest in different people in different ways so pay attention to detail when it comes to the people around you, don’t ignore the red flags. This however, is easier said than done for the very same reason (that mental health issues manifest differently), but try your best. Try to read up on places that offer the relevant help, try to have a place where you have those phone numbers saved, but also listen to your friends when they say they having problems and try to help with those the best way you can.
Hopefully we can discuss mental health further in 2019.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any mental health symptoms you can contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) on:
Suicide Crisis Line:
0800 567 567
Mental Health Line:
011 234 4837
Share your mental story with me if you feel comfortable.
Also, take care of yourselves.
*Also I wrote very vaguely in this piece from a more generalized point of view, my advice is not professional. But basically boils down to live your best life, and help others live their best lives too because life is short.
*Also I use the term mental health with caution because it covers a wide variety of potential mental health illnesses.