The Way I Want My Loved Ones to 'Ask' If I'm Struggling With My Mental Health
As I am going to be seeing many people over the next week who I don’t see all that often, I am going to ask a favor. (The favor is not quite as big as getting my house in order, and yes I did ask for that recently — and yes that was extremely difficult). When you see me, please don’t ask, “How are you?” or anything remotely meaning the same thing.
I have written about this before, and it’s because I hate to lie and I equally hate to tell the truth when I am not in a good place, which is unfortunately a lot of the time. But I have a new idea, which will only work for friends and family (if I don’t know you or you are just a random acquaintance it would be quite creepy), but others might be able to use with a loved one who has a mental illness.
Please give me a hug.
You will be able to tell how I am doing by my body language. If I am doing well, I will give you a squeeze and let go like a “normal” person. If I grab on for dear life and don’t want to let go, you will have the answer and I will have gotten a good hug which really helps, especially on hard days. If it gets to be too long to be comfortable for you, please feel free to peel me off (although I am pretty aware of social norms and will try my best not to cramp your style)!
This new technique will spare me the split second decision which I will then regret either way of answering “I’m fine/good/OK” or “uggghhh/it sucks/I’m not in a good place/I’m still in this deep dark hole/etc., etc.”
And what’s in it for you? By doing this, you don’t have to say anything at all. I will know and feel your love and support. And then we can keep going. For now.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo via Natalia-flurno