Every day, six Australians will take their own lives—and another 30 will attempt to. But what if someone could be there for them? What if someone could have looked after them? What if we could have saved them? Mental illness is a serious—and terrifying—thing to experience or see. But even the smallest things can make a massive difference. Here’s how you can look after the ones you love:
Clean for them
I feel paralysed when I’m depressed. I can’t move. I sit, and stare off into nothingness, stuck in a black hole of desolation. I peer around my little apartment, and see unwashed dishes, an overflowing bin, crumbs and clothes on the floor. But there’s not a single thing I can do to fix it. Even getting out of bed is a mammoth task when you’re depressed, and cleaning is almost unthinkable. But at the same time, a messy house is distressing. It’s cluttered—just like your mind.
Having someone to help with this would be glorious—and if you don’t have to worry about small things like cleaning, you can start focussing on the real task at hand: fixing yourself.
Cook for them
It’s the same as the above scenario. When you’re feeling down, it’s really, really hard to look after yourself. When you’re sad, you don’t feel hungry—and you don’t exactly feel like cooking a nutritious meal loaded with veggies. I think eating a good meal is the first step to feeling better. It will help your body function better, and make you feel better. Who doesn’t love a food coma from comfort food? Cook your loved one their favourite meals: fill our hearts and our stomachs with love.
Tell them you’re there for them—and mean it
These small words can mean a lot—but if you say them, you have to really mean them. Check up on your loved ones. Make them smile. Help them do everyday chores, and encourage them to begin the healing process. Be there for them when they break down. Hang out with them, even if it’s something as banal as watching movies or having coffee. Trust me, the company will do them good. At the very least, it will stop them from doing something they’ll regret later—or something they may never come back from.
We all crave human contact, whether it be through a loving embrace, or a shoulder to cry on. This love is exceptionally important for someone caught in a spiral of self-hatred, trapped inside the insanity of their own mind. Love tem endlessly and unconditionally. Bet the rock that’s always there for them when their world is spiralling out of control.
I’m not telling you to go out and spend heaps of money—it’s the little things that matter the most. Pick them a flower, draw them a picture, write them a loving letter. Do something—anything—to make them smile, and remind them the world isn’t always a terrible place.
Talk to them
Sometimes you just need somebody to lean on. Let them vent, no matter how repetitive they are, or how illogical their worries may seem. Encourage them to feel their emotions, to process them, to validate them, and let it set them free. All we want sometimes is someone to listen to us, and to understand.
Remember the little things—the beautiful things. The sun licking your closed eyelids. A cool breaze. The smell of flowers. The sweet tweeting of birds. The feel of the ocean on bare feet. The taste of chocolate. The taste and vibrancy of life. Try new things, reintroduce them to old things they love. Send funny memes or cat videos: laughter isn’t the best medicine for nothing.
Love your friends. Love yourself. Life can be beautiful. You are strong, and you can get through this. I love you, and there is always hope. Keep fighting.
Do you need help? Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or chat online here.
She’s only a year older than me, and already, she’s been through and done so much.
Caitlin Bush is a 21-year-old from Unanderra, and this Christmas, she’s doing something beautiful—she’s writing heart-felt and meaningful cards, and sending them to those who are struggling; particularly with their own mental health. To the average person, this may not seem like much. But to someone who is suffering and alone, it can mean the world.
“I know first-hand how lonely and hard Christmas can be, especially if you are alone or have a broken family,” Ms Bush said.
“It really hits home at Christmas, so I thought I could try and help in any way. I wanted to make others know they’re not the only ones, and people do care.”
While this is her first Christmas card run, Ms Bush knows it most definitely won’t be her last. The response to her campaign has been “amazing”, with over 200 hand-written cards already sent out—and this is all coming from Ms Bush’s back pocket.
“It’s great to know someone is thinking of you. Getting even just a simple thing like that [card] can make your day, week or even the whole Christmas month worth it,” one card receiver said.
Ms Bush said she has been called a “Christmas Angel” by some, a title she modestly turns down.
“[I’m] just a girl trying to make a difference,” she said.
Ms Bush also began a Facebook page, the Silent Sufferers, a few months ago in order to let people know they’re not alone. Ms Bush says she was sick of the judgement, alienation and the lack of understanding of what people with mental health issues go through. She intends to raise awareness, as well as provide support to those who are suffering.
“Honestly, I just help people know they’re not alone, no matter how bad it seems,” she said.
Ms Bush has posted her own struggles on the Facebook page, with one particular video gaining over 80,000 views. She said the video’s intent was to urge people to consider their actions, and support those around them.
“If mental health wasn’t swept under the rug so much, people might be able to understand it instead of running from it.”
“If you see someone who looks like they need help, ask! Say hello to the random that sits at the back of the class or the bus, hiding themselves.”
“If people just took the time to dig a little deeper and look around, [they’d see] everyone is fighting a battle.”
If you wish to request a card, please private message the Silent Sufferers Facebook Page.
This post originally appeared on the Tertangala (written by me) , and has been republished with full permission.
It’s been two days since Amnesty International launched its petition to save two young Indian women from the punishment of rape for their brother’s alleged “crimes”, and already, it has received over 220,000 signatures.
On July 30, 23-year-olrd Meenakshi Kumari and her 15-year-old sister were given the sentence by an unelected, all-male local council in Baghpat, India, which included being paraded with blackened faces through their village for their brother’s “crime”—he eloped with a married woman of a higher caste.
Since then, the Kumari sisters—of the underprivileged Dalit caste, have fled with their family to a secret location in New Delhi. They are in the process of appealing their case to India’s Supreme Court.
“Nothing could justify this abhorrent punishment. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s against the law.”
These women now live in constant fear for their safety.
“How will we ever return home or to our village? If we ever return, they will harm us or rape us. If not today, then in the future,” one of the sister’s told reporters.
The petition has been circulated widely on social media, and is only 30,000 signatures away from its 250,000 goal.
I still believe there is kindness in this world. Even though we are engulfed with war, disease, suffering, death, hate and torture, I still believe there is hope.
A few days ago, I somehow popped my tyre while driving. Don’t ask me how. I just heard a massive BANG and there it was. A flat tyre. Now, normally I would have called family friends to come and help me. The only problem was: I now lived three hours away from them.
Oh, dear! I thought. How is it possible that I can write thousands upon thousands of words and analyse philosophical ideas, but I can’t change a damn tyre?
I was freaking out—and kicking myself for not learning to change a tyre sooner. That was when a random guy asked me if I was okay—and he helped me, with no thought of himself, not even accepting my offers of money as thanks. I was bewildered—and grateful.
Similarly, a few years ago I was at a petrol station, and my cards declined—one of which was supposed to contain child support payments from my father. I tried $20 on each. Declined. $15. Declined. $10. Declined. Even $5—once again, declined. I was humiliated to the point of trying even $2, while counting up ten cent pieces from my wallet. And that was when a man stepped out from behind me and paid the rest of what I owed.
“Don’t worry about it, mate,” he said. “We’ve all been there.”
And then he left without another word.
A tyre and some money; for them, it may not have meant much. But for me, it meant the world. Could it be that there are genuinely good people out there? People who are willing to help others with no thought of themselves?
My mum once told me a story about how she saved a woman from a rather dire car crash accident. She crawled into the overturned car to pull the woman out of the wreckage. At any moment, the car could have burst into flames: but she did it anyway.
I can’t say if I’ve saved a life—I’d like to hope someone else would have intervened if I hadn’t. Two years ago I was holidaying in Vanuatu at a place known as the Blue Lagoon—essentially, a very deep, very blue swimming hole. A mother was there, waiting to catch her two girls who were jumping off the wharf into the lagoon—only, it was much deeper than she anticipated. She began to struggle. She began to call for help—scream for help. I had no idea what I was doing, I just knew I had to do something. Grabbing the girl—who couldn’t have been older than five—I slowly made my way to where I could touch the ground, banking on the idea that I could hold my breath for longer than she could. The mother cried, thanking me. Did I save her? I don’t know. But I did something, and that’s my point.
Something is all it takes, no matter how small, to change someone’s world. Small acts of kindness, small acts of bravery—that’s all it takes to change the world. So, what will you do? All it takes is one tiny step. Will you take it?