I have recently attended a refocus on mental health recovery conference in Nottingham, which was, to say the least, inspiring, thought provoking, sometimes challenging and always positive. Many of the speakers spoke about recovery being an individual journey whereby a person has, against all adversity, despite prevalence of symptoms and societal prejudices and stigma, succeeded in their own recovery to lead a life that is meaningful, purposeful and rewarding. In spite of everything, people are able to move forward, show great resilience and determination and, often with help and support from others, are able to feel a sense of belonging and citizenship within their own community.
There we go…lots of long words that mean good things that we can all aspire to….its a bit like looking on Facebook and thinking that everyone else has ‘got it right’ that they ’know what to do’ and, of course…..that everyone else is much much happier than I am!!! Its even harder when we’re struggling to cope the most simple of things in life…things like maybe getting out of bed, going to the shops, catching a bus, talking to someone…the list is endless because we know that it can be anything and everything that can cause us to feel anxious, to shy away from asking, to feel ‘stupid’
The thing is, that really…..we all feel like that at some time in our lives. At the conference, the audience was asked ‘what would you want around you if you were going to go mad?’ I said I wanted the people I love to be with me to support me, to be in a place where I would feel safe, like home, to be understood with maybe not too many questions directed at me and time…..yes, I think I would want time, no pressure, to try and make sense of what was happening. Not surprisingly I wanted exactly the same as the person sat next to me and sat behind me and sat in front of me…..in fact, the whole lecture theatre wanted pretty much the same things! Now I know you’re probably reading this thinking ‘ well, no surprises there,’ but the biggest surprise and realisation is that if most folk want the same as what I want, then why do I find it so difficult to talk to someone in distress? Why do I think they have just turned into an alien, someone I don’t know and don’t understand? Why do I think to myself ‘I don’t know what to say to them!’
The truth is we do, we all do! Because we’re all pretty much the same! Yes, the cause might be something different, something we’ve not experienced, but the feelings and thougths that we have are usually very similar. You see, we’re all human, with human emotions and we all want the same very basic needs at times of distress…the need to feel love, feel supported and to feel safe.
So, the next time your daughter, your friend, your husband, whoever is in distress and asks you for help please don’t think ’I don’t know what to say’ or ‘I can’t help’ or ‘what difference can I make ?’ Please think ‘what would I be feeling? What would I want to help me, to make me feel better, to make me think differently ?’
So, you see, we all very much of a muchness. Please don’t ever think that you can’t help …because all you have to do is look at yourself, what would you want at times of distress and I can bet its probably the same as the next person.