‘It takes so much courage to admit that you need help. It takes so much courage to voice that’ ~ Meghan Markle to Oprah

I ask every new client if they’ve ever thought about suicide.

It’s a way for me to get a sense as to how they feel about it and also, a way to normalise suicidal thoughts and let them know that our sessions offer a safe space for them to talk about anything, shine a light on however they’re feeling. That ALL of them is welcome.

I wish I could do more to help people but, working purely online and in private practice, I need to know my limitations in terms of referring people on if they need more support than I can offer.

Even before this pandemic, there was a mental health crisis. And it’s absolutely heartbreaking to think of the courage it takes to open up and then to not be heard, not be supported.

I’ve heard stories of people going to their GP, desperate for support, and being turned away without the help they needed. I’ve heard stories of the same happening when they go to hospital.

Are you a safe person for your loved ones to talk to when they need help?

Whatever you’ve been saying about Meghan’s honesty about her feelings in the Oprah interview (God/dess, I miss Oprah), you’re telling people how safe a person you are (or not) if they’re struggling.

It’s all very well to #BeKind but if you’re denying someone talking about their own experience, you’re telling the people in your life, desperately trying to figure out who they can reach out to perhaps, that you won’t believe them.

That you’re not trustworthy or safe.

A few weeks ago, I said the same thing about people denying Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s account of her lived experience of trauma

People you LOVE are listening and learning from everything you say and do.

I had lots of good times as a child, teenager and in my 20s. I also wanted to be dead. A lot. It was a default thought, imagining different methods. Even though I was almost instantly grateful that 14 year old me failed (and that experience meant that no matter how awful I felt again, I had that lived experience of knowing that things DO get better. All feelings are temporary), I feel so sad for Younger Me thinking of HOW much time and energy I lost simply attempting to stay alive all those years.

This experience means that I can also say, with a fair bit of confidence, that things CAN be so much better.

I’ve done a LOT of work (most of the therapies and coaching I trained in were initially to help me and save my own life).

Personally speaking, I didn’t have the courage to reach out. If I had, I (like to think I) wouldn’t have wasted SO many years feeling so fragile.

‘There are so many people who are afraid to voice that they need help and I know personally how hard it is to not just voice it but, when you voice it, to be told “no”‘ ~ Meghan

It horrifies me to have heard that when Meghan asked for her, while the money issue that so many struggle with wasn’t a problem, the stigma of mental health and fear of embarrassment got in the way.

Luckily, in spite of feeling out of his depth and overwhelmed himself, Harry was able to help her get through that and, crucially, supported her (and himself) in setting healthy boundaries even though it all sounds incredibly painful for all involved.

Which ‘Institution’ is standing between you and the help you need?

I find it hard to imagine living in a palace etc etc but we ALL know how balancing what we need against what our families, workplaces and the institutions in our own lives demand can be really challenging.

When I went to my last boss (before becoming my own boss in 2004) to say I thought I needed to see my GP because the tears I’d been crying at my desk each day were now leaking out as I walked through the open plan office, she said ‘GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.’ When I was signed off work for a few weeks, she supported me but I remember how fearful I’d been about voicing it.

How can you be an advocate for someone who might be struggling in your family, community or workplace?

How might you make it OK for them to speak up about what’s going on for them?

Quick note to my white feminist readers and friends, I don’t know what the race equivalent of mansplaining is (whitesplaining?) but we KNOW how annoying it is when we say something – make ourselves vulnerable – about our own lived experience and have it denied by someone who simply has no idea. Someone who benefits from patriarchal systems built on inequality.

How can we be more intersectional?

How can we listen more instead of getting instantly defensive?

We have to do better.

‘You have no idea what’s going on for someone behind closed doors. You have no idea. Even the people who smile the biggest smiles and shine the biggest lights~ Meghan

Remember what the words Be Kind MEAN.

Apply them to yourself, too.

Allow yourself to feel all the feelings and set whatever boundaries are necessary as you access whatever support you need. If the person you’re brave enough to reach out to can’t help you, know that it’s not you, it’s (and you can have compassion for them, too – we don’t know what’s going on for them) them.

This doesn’t mean that you’re wrong to want and need support.

There are a lot of free self care resources throughout this site.

The following organisations offer free 24/7 helplines:

Pieta House

The Samaritans, Ireland

UK – Samaritans

US – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

It WILL get better.

With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

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