I am doing pretty shitty lately. Hopefully it’s okay. Maybe it’s not. But I haven’t blogged in over a month, and I thought maybe I would feel better if I blogged it out.
I feel like if you’re reading my blog you’re trying to be an ally and that’s great. Here are some ways to be more of an ally, if that is what you care to do. This is by no means an exclusive list, and these are just my thoughts. I may be full of shit. You may disagree with me. If you do, please be gentle and use a low voice because I am bad at handling criticism. Also is me using the term “woke bae” appropriating from the black community or is it okay? I’m not sure.
Anyway t0 liven it up I have inter-spliced pictures of goats. Goats are great. Nobody disagrees with a photo of a goat.
Validate their feelings. That’s not the same thing as saying, “You’re right–you’re a piece of shit.” But it does mean that when someone comes to you and they say, “Everything makes me unhappy and I don’t know what to do with my life,” saying “I’m sorry you’re feeling that way. That must be tough,” and not “You have no reason to feel that way. Look at how great your life is,” or “You need to stop feeling that way because it will only bring you down.” Just accepting that they are feeling feelings and those feelings are real is huge.
Don’t try to fix it. “Have you tried x?”, “What’s your plan in case y?” may be helpful to you personally, but if someone is dealing with a mental health crisis, it may be the only thing they’re worried about is how to get out of bed in the morning without crying. The best thing you can do is just listen and try to understand. You can help them work on a plan when they’re feeling more together, but don’t tell them what to do. Chances are if you start listing off ideas they’re going to shoot them all down, not because they’re not good ideas, but because it’s difficult to think about that right now.
Reach out. I work really hard to let people know when I’m having a bad day/week/month because I know those relationships are what keeps me going. But a lot of times, I feel like if I let people peek behind the curtain too much, they’re going to stop talking to me whatsoever. Also sometimes, I feel so awful, the energy it takes to reach out to someone when it’s not okay is too much. If you are feeling like someone is not okay, gently ask them how they’re doing. Don’t be like, “Omg you seem like a fucking trainwreck lately–what’s your damage?” Be like, “Hey, how’s it going? Everything okay?” Knowing people care about me is literally what keeps me going. Nothing means more to me then when people check in.
Jokingly referring to mental illness as slang is not cute. “I made a list because I’m OCD.” “The weather in this city is so schizophrenic.” PLEASE STAHP. That is not even what those disorders mean. Did you make a list because you were counting every crack on the sidewalk to stop your family from dying? Does the weather in your city hear auditory hallucinations? It may feel edgy and hip to use those words as slang, but it painful for those who have been affected by it to hear. So stop. This is my least favorite thing people do.
Disclosing someone else’s mental health issues to another person is a no-no. If I tell you what I’m going through, great, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to share with the class. I try to be really up front and blog about it and let everyone know, so I’m a slightly different case, but still even I don’t want other people I haven’t told knowing about my shit. Assume what was told to you was told in confidence.
Referring to suicide as cowardly and selfish makes the problem worse. I get it! That’s how you see it! Sure! But when someone is thinking about suicide, their self-esteem is already pretty low. Name calling will only make them want to kill themselves more. Also, I challenge you to see this differently. It’s an imbalance in the brain. It’s a sign that the brain isn’t functioning correctly. That is all. Viewing it as cowardly and selfish negates the illness.
You are already doing great. Just by reading this blog post, you are trying to be a woke bae, and therefore an awesome person in my book. You are trying. It is hard. Good for you.