It’s ok not to be ok

Featured image by Monika Traikov, taken from www.for-example.org

 

This week I celebrated the birthday of a good friend. Someone I met through bake-a-boo and was always my go-to person for both DIY jobs I needed in the shop and giggles on a rainy day.

He became my brother on Mill Lane.

Until 2013.

….When he took his own life.

I’ll never forget the day I found out, and I’ll never forget how experiencing this has changed many of my pathways in life and has influenced many of my decisions. I’m no stranger to suicide and this was the 3rd person I know to leave the world this way.

What has remained in my head ever since that fateful day has always been the question of why? not only why did he do this? but also, why did I not see this coming? It wasn’t just me – no one saw this coming. Not at all. I visited his grave with his brother on his birthday and it pulled on every heart string within me to hear his mother say “people fight with everything they have to stay alive, that’s why I will never understand this” and she is right… and she is angry, and she will never get over this.

If there’s one key lesson that I have learnt through this experience it is that everyone is fighting their own battle, and that battle is often one you know nothing about.

But the statistics are frightening and suicide and according to the Samaritans, suicide remains the leading cause of death for men between 20 and 34 in England and Wales. It’s highest in men because men are afraid to talk and there is so much stigma attached to depression and mental illness. I could talk about this subject for days – it’s one I am passionate about making a change to and one that has personally touched my life, but I came across this short film by London based film maker Mollie Mills and it resonated with me so much, and in my opinion is brilliantly narrated with raw words that echo the fundamental issue that

“men should be men, but in reality what is a man? What do you need as a man, to be the best possible version of yourself not just in society but for yourself – to feel good about yourself. Men are walking around with all these emotions and society is telling them not to talk about it and they just come out in really destructive ways.” And this applies to so many other issues other than suicide.

In my opinion the key message in this film is that “it is OK not to be OK”

and we need to be OK with that, as humans.

Losing my friend has made me a better person and a more self aware person but it could have had the opposite impact, and part of me feels bad for finding some kind of positive in his death. I wanted to share this film just to provoke the thought in you that it did in me. As a student nurse mental health issues will become a part of daily life for me and I also currently volunteer at a residential care home for men, where many of them have mental health issues and all have issues with alcoholism. I’ve seen the damage our own minds can do to us first hand and I’ve seen how much some of these ‘men’ need to be their own stigmatised definition of ‘men’ and how destructive that can be to their lives and also their deaths.

It’s ok not to be ok. There is happy, angry and strong, but let’s remember how much there is in between. Let’s talk, and let’s get these figures down, together, men and women, without judgement or avoidance, as human beings.

 

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