It goes without saying that I should write something about World Suicide Prevention Day. I had spent several years of my 20s working in adult mental health services, seeing human emotion at its rawest, after all.
I had been privy to some of life's most challenging situations. I am sometimes still bewildered at the sheer barbarity and trauma that some people have endured, and, how, as helping professions, we have had to listen and guide people through this journey. Should humanity ever have to witness such things?
People struggle. End of. Sometimes their trauma far exceeds and outweighs the coping mechanisms they have. Sometimes these coping mechanisms are not faulty, and naturally these people are not flawed, it's just the enormous, overwhelming and heartfelt sadness that they have experienced that shakes them to their core. And that's normal.
Feeling low and having thoughts of death are normal in times of extreme tragedy. We need to normalise the rawness of human emotion and we need to accept that, at times, it's OK to not be OK.
We need to be that friend that will listen. We need to be that friend that will hug. And we need to love unconditionally, suspend all judgement, and realise that person could be you.
No one is discriminated against when it comes to mental ill health. It can happen to anyone. A big blow or a huge loss can challenge even the most robust of individuals. Our judgement never helps recovery. Love does. Hope does.
When I came to the end of working in psychological services (I had worked in acute trauma), I was overcome with darkness. The colour and sunshine around my own life had dissipated. I had simply heard too much. I had seen way more than many. And, it started my own spiral of destruction, because, while I believe I am a somewhat very resilient person, the darkness and despair that I had witnessed simply crippled me. I would lie in bed sobbing for hours. And that took years of my own personal healing to overcome.
We should never judge a person unless we have walked 1000 miles in their moccasins. We don't know the struggles the person is facing below the facade. We don't know the tears that are held behind the smile. But, what we do know, is that we are all but human and we all have a heart.