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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 or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

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