“Connect, communicate, care” is the theme for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day.
Having a mental illness is difficult for all involved. You can’t see it, but you can eventually see the effects of it and for some, by then it can be too late.
It can be difficult asking for help or even finding someone who understands what you’re going through. Even more so for BME men who have a higher rate of suicide, self-harm and mental illness.
As PoC we’re often raised to just get on with it. Your parents had it hard and your grandparents most likely had it harder, so what are you even complaining about?! Even saying out loud that you suffer from mental health issues can have a stigma attached to it. There is a broader understanding of mental health issues these days, but for a lot of us there remains an undercurrent that we’re thought of as either weak or mad.
There is help out there and there are ways you can help yourself too, but it’s important to seek professional help when you’re feeling desperately low. There may be a point where after speaking with your GP, you may need medication and/or counselling and that’s ok. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Living with anxiety and depression for over 15 years I’m now attuned to my moods, so I’m able to catch myself before I fall. Sometimes I still fall but it’s the coming back from it that counts.
Questions to ask yourself when feeling low- sometimes it can be a simple remedy; sometimes it’s a process. Knowing what is wrong is often half the battle, once you figure out why you’re stressed or feeling low you can start to address the problem.
- Am I “hangry” (hungry and angry), have I had any water today?
- Am I due on my period? That will explain why I just cried during an episode of Pretty Little Liars, when I’m usually cussing at the screen!
- An old issue as I no longer smoke, but have I ran out of weed? I smoked for little over 10 years solid. That would get me super worked up when I’d run out and find myself going into withdrawal. Maybe I didn’t have the funds or worse- I had the funds but there was a drought!
Everyone is different but if you suffer with even a minor mental health issue and you’re self-medicating with any substance, you aren’t doing yourself any favours.
- What’s the weather like? Is it raining, cold or have there been a lot of gloomy days in a row? That can make you feel not your usual self.
- Is work stressing you out? Is it a project that will pass? Can the problem be solved or should you really think about leaving?
- Are you in a mentally or physically abusive relationship?
- Are you in serious debt?
Maintain your base level of happy and keep up your endorphins.
Life isn’t happy and joyful 100% of the time. When living with depression it’s important to do everything within your control to keep yourself “up”. Here are some things that help!
- Meditate – and you don’t have to find time to do it either!
It’s all in the breathing. You can be in in the your bed just before you get up, in the shower in the morning, even on the bus or train into work. Eyes closed or not, just concentrate on your breathing and take that time to center yourself and tell yourself that today will be better than yesterday.
- Work out – try yoga, go for a walk, a bike ride, or a swim!
- Get sleep! If there’s something on your mind and you cant sleep – write it down and let it go. You can deal with it the next day.
- Eat well – Improve your diet. Cut out the ready meals and takeaways. Add fresh fruit, veg, fish and/or meat to your diet.
- Tidy your space; having a clear and tidy home and/or room can really make a difference. Get rid of the clutter.
- Plan and give yourself something to look forward to. I purchased a diary, weekly and year planner back in January -I went in!lol – and it was the best thing I’ve done for myself! You don’t have to do all of that, it’s just helpful to set yourself goals no matter how big or small. Check them off and see where you’re going and what you have to look forward to.
- Treat yourself! It can be anything like a cupcake; a song or a book you’ve heard of, but never forget to give yourself treats. You deserve it!
- Speak to someone.
I know it’s easy to say speak to someone because in reality for some, it can be quite difficult to let people in, especially if you’ve been betrayed and hurt. Sometimes talking to someone you don’t know can help more, as they’re outside of the situation you’re in and are able act without judgement.
Here are some organisations you can contact for help:
- The Samaritans – For immediate help. Available 24 hours a day to provide confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts.
- Recovr – Helping young black adults find black therapists and counsellors who relate to their experiences.
- Mens Advice Line – Offers advice and support for men in abusive relationships, both those experiencing violence and abuse from partners, and concerned about their own violence.
- Dealing with Debt stress – Follow this link to USwitch for eight tips to help cope with large debts.
- Papyrus – Is a confidential support and advice service for young people under the age of 35 who may be having thoughts of suicide. It’s also for anyone concerned a young person may be having thoughts of suicide.
- UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group – A charity that promotes equality and dignity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people who seek asylum in the UK, or who wish to immigrate here to be with their same-sex partner.
- Pink Therapy – Are the UK’s largest independent therapy organisation working with gender and sexual diversity clients. Follow the link to find a list of therapists throughout the UK
- Forced Marriage Unit – Contact the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) if you’re trying to stop a forced marriage or you need help leaving a marriage you’ve been forced into.