Let’s REALLY Talk

Today is #Bell #Mental #Health #Day. @Bell_LetsTalk  http://www.BellLetsTalk.ca

Be kind to everyone, you never know the invisible mental wars being waged on their psyche. #PTSD is what I try to spring back from daily since 2012.

Where once I was considered this strong, as a friend since age 17 said to me when I asked where is my support: “you are our leader you are the one with all the wisdom, the one we always go to for help. We just don’t know what to do when our leader goes down.”

My friend Ricky might be right but as I struggle to get back on my horse, as it were, I wish so many did not lose my number.

A friendly voice can change a dark day when the sun is shining brightly and you want to go out. But you can’t. Because everything overwhelms from traffic sound to children crying, triggers everywhere not to mention you are not safe to begin with because everyone you ever knew has changed. That means every one you ever meet is not who they want you to believe they are. It is called having your trust shattered utterly and trying to rebuild your life when everywhere you look are the barbed wire reminders and remnants of relationship, shadows hinged on sharp tines, the teeth of time waiting to pounce on you again, catch you in the sights again only to trigger you right back to square one.

The sad side effects of having a mental illness, condition or break down are that people change. There is something that happens to others when we change or behave in ways they are not familiar with. Some don’t know how to treat us and actually carry on as if nothing is wrong with us at all. Wrong. Ask, ask, ask.

Did you know that if you ignore a hurting person, you might be the last person to ever do anything to them again because that ignorance might be what drives them over the final edge? If I had a gun, I would already be gone. Truth.

Impulsive by nature, I have been in the depths of dark where someone turning away again, saying: “You’ve changed. You aren’t the fun loving woman I knew years ago. You are distant, sad and you swan around like a princess of entitlement not contributing much at all any more.”

This from a friend of 25 years I had met while we were both working for Social Services funded child care programs. In the first couple of years of freedom after leaving my marriage, I had a lot of fun with friends, family and just enjoyed the time spent with others without the dark cloud of my ex overhead. This was taken from me when he held my arms and a former close female friend who was  having a relationship with my ex despite knowing full well ALL the reasons why I HAD to leave,  kicked me in the crotch. PTSD began then and there but they would not listen to me, ignored my troubled mind and stuck me deeper in the vat of a sharp ice cube world where nothing is friendly, round or soft anymore.

She is no longer a friend, of course. But this is just one example of what happens to you when you endure PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Of course I changed! I have PTSD. Back then, I was much worse, stammered when I spoke, spent weeks in bed at a time and rocked the hours away when awake no matter I don’t own a rocking chair.

She never asked me a single question or she might have known it was all I could do to get myself dressed and to her home for a gathering of friends at Christmas time one year after I was already in the throes of PTSD but did not yet know what was happening to me and why I could not cope.

She never asked a single question or she might have learned that after saying this to me,( I did NOT, as she later said the gathering thought of me: had a better offer – how insulting and abusive is THAT) I drove the mile home in tears, unable to see the road clearly, fleeing the abuse to my home where I sat in my pretty dress and heels, alone at Christmas time crying for four hours straight in the dark. Is it any wonder my eyes are damaged and ache with too much stimulation. I don’t think so, it happened pretty naturally.

Finally, I turned the lights on that night, showered and got into clean pj’s to crawl into bed where I stayed for nearly a week. Thank you, kind friend of the past right where you should be.

Friends of decades. Vanished. Abandoning you. Dumping your friendship when you developed needs you never could have anticipated having. Binned your decades of relationships because the dynamic is altered: now you NEED. Shame on you for needing. no No NO!!! Shame on anyone who turns away from any hurting human. Help don’t hurt!

One thing I learned all too well is abusive people just abuse more when you are down in any way. Weakness or vulnerability are trampled and, in my case, my brain flashed and banged and clanged and hurt so much from all the hurt, I wanted to just die because my head was burning and trying to explode from all the hurt inside it.

Here are some things I have had done to me since getting PTSD so I am sharing things NOT to do with hurting people:

1. Do NOT tell them to just “get over it,” “move on,” etc  Would you say this to someone who just lost a loved one? Then why now, when this could last the rest of their days?

2. Do NOT avoid them as though they are the dredges of society and don’t have any right to feel what they feel. Respect their right to feel what they feel even if you cannot understand.

3. Ask questions. Just keep asking even if they cry or burst into tears and can’t answer. Ask again another day. But asking lets them know you care. Silence and avoidance just feel like more abuse on top of what you may have already endured. I know.

4. Find reasons to drop a little something by if you can’t handle it in person. Set a flower outside their door or a little care package of some sort because they may not be able to go shopping for themselves and any little thing, soup and crackers, some fruit would be so appreciated.

5. If you call and they don’t pick up, ASSUME nothing. Actually NEVER ASSUME anyway. But especially when they don’t call back in their usual pattern. They will when they can.

6. Text or email is good but I personally find the computer screen so overwhelming, I have to look away or keep my eyes closed while typing as I just did here.  Still, it is a way for a hurting person to let you know they are okay. If you ASK.

7. Offer to pick up things for them or run errands for them if they need a bill paid, etc. This one act of kindness could be the little thing that saves a day or a week of fretting and stewing trying to figure out how they will get it done themselves.

8. Do NOT pressure them about anything in any way. Everything feels like pressure so keep the conversation safe and gentle. They will tell you anything deeper or take it there if they feel safe enough to share more with you.

9. Do NOT tell people what to do. They did not totally lose their minds. They merely lost their ability to function as they used to. Allow them the dignity to find their own way back.

10. Assume nothing.  For one thing, you will likely always be very, very WRONG. For another, your assumption is a decision you made without adequate information. How can I be so sure of this? Because that is what assumption IS. A conclusion based on inadequate information. There can be no assumptions where informing others lives.

How can people get healthy if they are shamed, shunned and shocked deeper into themselves.

They cannot.

The physical trauma was evident in the year following the kick from the blood in my urine immediately to the discomfort and constant hurting for a year following that kick – nerves down there are several, it’s such a tiny area of muscle and tissue. Mental and emotional Trauma, which is what I endured, is not visible. Think of it as a bruise inside the head. A bruise a person never asked for. A bruise they are trying to heal as best they can.

#help don’t #hurt.#bellmentalhealthday#january #28th #2014