Parts Unknown – Mental Health – It STARTS With You

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With the passing of another iconic legend, we are faced once again with the words, ‘depression’, ‘life challenges’, ‘darkness’, ‘loneliness’ and ‘mental health’. We are surprised but unfortunately, these stories haunt us all too often. How can someone with such status as Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade take their own life? We wonder how someone with everything and so much to live for, can have such issues. Bourdain’s death hits me personally, even though I never met him. I appreciated the fact that he traveled, was raw in his curiosity, loved conversation, enjoyed food and shared the world. I learned from his presence. Like many, it was an utter shock and surprise.

With curiosity, we ask, does having more means having less? Some might have the notoriety, status or presence, but it surprises us to hear that they were lonely or unhappy. I am left wondering that they took great pain and effort to do what they did to end their life. How does one even contemplate and then take the steps to do it, while all the while, they could have stopped. Something in the mind did not let them stop and they proceeded to take their own life. This is a trigger point to a much bigger piece and about the 99.99% of the people out there who are not the Bourdain’s or Spade’s. Those who are feeling lost, abandoned and feeling alone.

I am not a therapist but this is what I have learned
• There is no quick fix!
• We need a space and place in society to talk about this issue!
• There is a need for real support and help!
• We may not be trained clinical psychologists but we can still play a part in the identification and support area!
• These are very deep issues that are not surface level!
• The people I have encountered who have these dark places don’t want to be there but they are stuck.!

So what can we do? Well, it STARTS with you.
What do I mean by STARTS? Well it is an acronym that helps us to better deal with the situation when someone is going through a difficult time or if we are called upon to be someone that needs to support the individual who has encountered a challenging time and are dealing with mental health issues.

S – Support – there is a need to create a supportive environment. A space where a person can rely and count on another to be there. It is the foundation piece. It is not a simple piece to start with because the first step is that one must initiate the supportive environment and that means opening up.

T – Trust – once a supportive environment is created, we can begin to trust one another and know that no one will judge or make assessments. Trust means believing in each other and that one can say anything they need to.

A – Appreciation – when someone is going through a difficult time, they forget to appreciate what is around them and the people around them. They are so focused on the challenges and obstacles in life that they forget to realize the possibilities.

R – Reflection – one way to realize appreciation is to start channeling to reflect and take the necessary time to think deeper about things that might matter. Focus on other areas and others that might have drifted away in the times of despair.

T – Talk – take the time to have conversations. Talking means genuine and thoughtful conversations that involves someone sharing and the other person listening. Being present and lending a supportive ear is what someone might need. We are losing the art of conversation because our conversations are dealt with on devices and not really face to face. We have busy lives and it is a challenge to sit down and embrace a conversation. We don’t want to be a burden because people are busy! No, talk to me please!

S – Strength – Only when we have taken the time that we focus on START, do we come to the last ‘S’ which is the creation of strength. A place where change might happen. It is about the creation of the ‘space’ that allows strength to emerge. Together we can walk to a place that is better.

Now, STARTS does not mean that it is an instant and simple formula. Each person and situation is different and so are the people. This is only one perspective but one that involves listening, trusting and sharing. It is also about self-care. Make sure you are doing well because if you are not in a good place, you might have challenges supporting someone else.

It can be a dark and lonely place in this world and my words to you are this. I don’t care who you are and even if I don’t know you. You matter! If you just happen upon this blog post and are struggling, understand that you matter and I wrote this for you. What you are going through, you are not alone. I may not be physically present, but know that I will shoulder your burden and help where I can because you matter. We need more compassion, caring and understanding in this world. We also need to be able to share and speak about mental health. It is the hurt that goes undetected until it is too late.

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