As 2017 draws to a close and the Festive Season upon us, we stop to reflect on the mental wellbeing of those who are, and have been, affected by suicide and other issues such as depression, anxiety, anorexia and bipolar.
We know that adverse socio-economic circumstances can send even the strongest of us into the darkest place we’ve ever been in our lives. We also know that many people struggle to escape the darkness, leaving them isolated, frightened and feeling their situation will never end, leaving them without hope for a future that could be very different.
For some, mental wellbeing issues arise from other reasons, such as PTSD from trauma. The Grenfell Tower atrocity in June this year is an example of how trauma can completely debilitate people, leaving them unable to cope and function as they once did.
Other factors – let’s take the child abuse scandals – mean that young children are psychologically damaged, sometimes at an incredibly young age.
Fast forward to the other end of the scale where we are currently working with women who have had their pensions deferred with little or no notification period. Women who have worked all their lives, raised families, looked after elderly relatives, only to be smacked in the face and told just as their retirement is due to work for another 6 years. They psychological impact on this ladies is huge, with reported thoughts of suicide and self harm.
We’ve recently (through personal experience) been following the sad plight of vaginal tape used for incontinence and prolapse in women and for hernia repairs in men. One lady has died through repeated infections which antibiotics could no longer fight. Others have lost their careers and incomes not to mention loving relationships and their own dignity. The psychological impact on these women is immense.
When you’re swallowed by the darkness, it’s like trying to find your way through the densest fog. The effort drains you, leaving you exhausted, concerned only about the ‘burden’ you feel you’ve become to everyone you know and love.
Imagine feeling all of these things continuously. Eventually telling yourself that ending your life is the best option. Think it can’t happen to you or a loved one? Think again.
Everywhere you go at Christmas time, people (outwardly at least) are almost dancing in the streets in anticipation of the big day, the time off work, catching up with friends and family, the giving and receiving of gifts.
The truth is, in amongst that mass of excited faces, there will be other faces too – those with haunted, gaunt and anxious expressions – homeless people propped up in doorways and alleyways,victims of rape, domestic and child abuse, those being bullied, pensioners worrying how they will eat and heat, people on benefits, addicts relying on the false high from their poison of choice, those who’ve lost their jobs and cannot afford their mortgage payments, those suffering from ill health or caring for someone who is poorly and let’s not forget those subjected to intolerable and unacceptable racial discrimination that is sometimes vile beyond belief.
Of course, for millions of people this time of year is everything they want it to be. But for many others, it isn’t.
Please check on your neighbours, friends and relatives and take a few minutes to ask them how they are and if there’s any support you can offer them. The difference you make could be dramatic and you’ll feel glad you bothered.
Finally, remember it’s ok not to be ok. If you don’t feel happy, don’t feel festive and don’t feel sociable, that is perfectly ok.
But do make sure you talk to someone – isolation will only ensure the darkness festers.
The SAMARITANS have free numbers for anyone struggling. You can call them on 116123 in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
To all carers, nurses, doctors, emergency service personnel, volunteers, charity workers and anyone who helps to make a difference, thank you for your tireless dedication.
To all partners, supporters, fundraisers and service users of SOS Silence of Suicide, thank you for sharing your stories and opening your hearts to us. We have learned so much from you all.
Finally, our sincere thanks to Rother House Medical Centre, who today advised us they had held a raffle, the proceeds of which will be split between SOS and the special care baby unit at Warwick Hospital. Thank you all who contributed.
Michael, Yvette, Our Trustees and Ambassadors wish you all a loving and peaceful festive period and look forward to meeting more of you in 2018.
It’s time to stop the silence