Have you seen a post like this on Facebook?
My door is always open. Any of my family and friends who need to chat are welcome. It’s no good suffering in silence. I have wine in the fridge, coffee or tea and I will always be here. You are never not welcome! Could at least one friend please copy and repost (not share)? I’m trying to demonstrate that someone is always listening.
or this one?
Could at least one friend, please copy and repost? (not share) I’m trying to demonstrate that someone is always listening.
They’ve been doing the rounds for the past few months and while I can see that the people who post them have their heart in the right place, these annoy the crap out of me, because the people who post these have not once been there for me when I’ve cried out for help online.
Either they’re not on Facebook a lot, or simply ignore my so called “negative” posts, when life feels like shit and all I want to do is to cease being.
I won’t say that no-one ever responds to my frustrated cries for help – a very small handful of online friends do respond. Some with a ♥ emoticon, others with a comment, or a private message. The people that email or message me make the biggest difference and an even bigger one when that message is an invitation to coffee or lunch.
Let me tell you something about people who are considering suicide – they do not have the emotional energy needed to reach out personally to someone – to call, or to go to someone’s house. They are consumed by their suicide ideation and believe everything their lying bitch of a depression tells them. Why would someone who believes they are despicable and loathsome want to reach out to a friend? They really don’t feel they are worth the time or effort required to respond.
Personally, I am far more likely to call Lifeline, than a friend or family member, mainly, because I don’t want to be a burden, but also because I don’t believe they will know what to say.
The same was pointed out to me recently by a friend – people don’t respond to cries for help (on social media) because they don’t know what to do or say. Well, let me help you with that.
What to do when your friends with depression ask for help
1. Firstly, know your friends well enough to know if they are dealing with mental health issues. Not everyone is as open about their mental health as I am, but if they are, take note. Pay attention to them on and off-line, because these are the people that might need you one day. Ironically, for me, it is the people who have had their own mental health issues that are the most likely to respond when I’m struggling. We understand each other and know exactly what is needed. Make an effort to catch up with them – in person, by phone or via email. You are not responsible for the wellbeing of all your friends, but if you care enough to post a status update about suicide awareness, you should care enough to keep in touch with your friends who are at risk.
2. Don’t dismiss social media as a form of communication – for a lot of us, especially if we’re also introverted and/or autistic, social media may be the main form of connecting with others, so that’s where we are likely to speak out, rather than by direct contact. Take these cries for help seriously and respond. When non-one responds to us, this gives our depression further evidence that we are worthless.
3. Reach out to them. Don’t wait for them to come to you, because they probably won’t. Keep in touch with your most vulnerable friends, so they really do know that they can count on you.
4. Listen to them. Ask a very simple question – “What’s up?”. I can’t speak for everyone, but when someone asks me that, I feel heard and I do answer. Just telling someone about the low spot I’m in eases the burden. I don’t need solutions from you, I just need you to listen.
5. Offer to meet them. This gives us something nice to look forward to which can be immensely helpful when we are barely hanging on to existence.
6. Refer them to Lifeline. If you have talked to them and you are still worried, tell them to call Lifeline, or their psychiatrist or psychologist. A list of useful numbers is below this post.
7. Request a welfare check. If you are very worried about a friend and you can’t reach them, you can ring the police and request a welfare check on them, if you know where they live.
Don’t get me wrong. My mental health is my responsibility, not yours, and I do all I can to stay out of the black pit of despair. But sometimes I fall in. Sometimes I am aware enough to know that I need help. I just don’t ask for help in the way that you would like me to. I just can’t.
If you want to be helpful, be aware, stay in touch and reach out. Don’t wait for me to fall.
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Beyondblue – 1300 22 4636