Make them understand

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Why are the people that advocate for mental health awareness when something tragic happens often the same ones that make you feel pathetic for bailing on your plans again? The same people that get mad at you for not talking to them, the ones that sigh and say 'I give up with you' when they catch you wallowing again? How are you supposed to 'open up' when those closest to you make you feel even worse than you did before?

I would answer the former question(s) by arguing a lack of genuine knowledge and understanding or guidance on how to appropriately and usefully help those they see suffering around them. The answer to the second, then, I think should be quite obvious and yet we fail to act upon it properly. People need to be educated.

We need to teach our friends, family, partners, spouses, colleagues and even strangers exactly what we go through and how they can really help. Too many of us continue in silence when the first loved one reacts badly to our cries for help but we should really be doing the opposite. We shouldn't be angry at them for not understanding; we should help them to understand. We should be calmly explaining why their approach isn't helpful; why it isn't enough for them to tell you they're 'there for you'; why it isn't enough just to post a number of suicide hotlines onto their social media page and hope for the best.

Whilst it is undeniably important that we all appreciate the efforts (and subsequent progress) made, I think it is also important to act now and direct mental health awareness in a better direction. One where we actively explain exactly how we feel, print off information sheets from medical sites, make a list of things they can do that might be genuinely helpful to you. It might be useful to also discuss the ways you have tried to help yourself already, maybe they just didn't know how hard you were trying.

I could continue for hours but my point is this: although some people might never understand mental illness, the majority want to help us. People DO care, we just have to guide them slightly and work together to get better and increase meaningful knowledge and understanding. The best place to start is with those closest to you.

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