Is compassion the key to mental health?

Mental Health is finally getting talked about like it needs to – but I don’t see any changes actually happening. If anything, the situation is getting worse
(Please note that this is an old blog post that I’ve brought over from my old website)
I’ve suffered with depression for as long as I can remember, but in recent years, anxiety has developed and is now a daily battle that I really struggle with. It affects so many different aspects of my life, and I’ve come to be a bit of a push over because of it if I’m going to be really honest. I’m too afraid of upsetting anyone to say no and find myself never really happy because I’m constantly doing things that I don’t want to do just to make other people’s lives easier, and knowing damn well that they’d never do the same for me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy helping others, I do, but I run myself in to the ground doing so much for others, putting the fear of not upsetting someone above my own health.
I’m on a waiting list for CBT to help with this, but it went from a 6 month waiting list, to an 8 month list to a 10. Next month is month 10 so fingers crossed! Whilst mental health is being spoken about more and more, it just doesn’t seem like any services are getting better for it. I’ve been on suicide watch 5 times in the last 9 months, and the only option they can offer right now is a check in call every 10 days. Luckily, I’m in a much better place than I was a few months ago. A slipped disc and the agony that it caused was more than I could cope with. That plus a total lack of compassion and understanding from people pushed me to the edge. I have scars from my struggles but I’m still here and that’s what counts.
Everything got worse when Fibromyalgia developed. I went from being able to deal with the struggles of my mental health issues, to panic attacks at the thought of a difficult social situation.
I also struggled a little with social anxiety. Even being left alone with someone whilst my Mum popped to the loo was uncomfortable for me. But now, every second of silence that passes fells like an hour, I’ll hear the blood in my ears and say the first thing that comes to my head just to end the silence. I can tell you now that it’s pretty much always something that’s already been said, something completely inappropriate or something just completely and utterly weird.
I never really felt like anyone ever understood me growing up, but figured that I would grow out of it. Now, as an adult, it’s blindingly obvious to me that I’m different. My mind doesn’t work how other people’s does. But I’m okay with being different, the problem is that other people aren’t. People can be mean. Then that makes me feel like being different isn’t okay and my anxiety goes through the roof which then makes me act weird. Viscous circle really.
The world would be a happier place if people could just have a bit more compassion for each other. I live in Essex and work in London and I couldn’t tell you how many times each day someone walks in to me just getting to my office. People are just numb to it now. Just watch where you’re going, or at the very least say “excuse me”. If someone is taking a little longer to get their stuff together in front of you, don’t stand there and tut, they’re not deliberately trying to hold you up, even offer them a hand if you’re really that bothered. If you see someone upset, just go ask if they’re okay. Is it really going to take that much out of your day? Out of your week? Or your life?
I read this article about a man called Kevin Hines who was severely depressed. Every second of every day just felt like a struggle. He went to the Golden Gate Bridge and stood looking over the edge, clearly looking distraught as his mind told him to jump. Someone approached him, but rather than asking if he was okay, they asked if he would take a picture of them. He thought, even on the edge of ending his life, that no one cared. So he ran, he leapt over the barrier and let go, falling 75 miles per hour at the time of impact, dropping 240 feet in just 4 seconds in to the ice cold waters below. The worst thing? The second he let go he regretted his decision to kill himself. He wanted to live.
Amazingly, the rescue team pulled him out of the water alive with just crushed vertebrae in his spine and a broken ankle. To give you some context as to how incredible that is, since the bridge was built in 1937, over 1,700 have jumped from the bridge and only 25 are thought to have survived.
It was not his time, and the universe will let you know when it’s your. Not the voices in your head. I tell myself this every day. I will not let the voices win, I will not let them push me over the edge.
Just remember that you never know what people are going through. You don’t even have to go out of your way to be nice to people, just be human.
I feel like whilst technology has given us so much, it has also taken away a bit part of people’s humanity. We see people being beaten to a pulp and rather than step in, people stop and record it. People are recorded in the street, just going about their business but they’re not doing something that is considered ‘normal’ and it goes viral online, the world over laughing. I’ve seen videos of hamsters in microwaves, kittens being thrown in to rivers to drown and I’ve even seen a video of young men pissing on a homeless man whilst he tries to sleep. And these are videos that I don’t want to see, but they’re go viral across social media and fill all of my feeds. What kind of adults will the children of today be when they see this as the norm? Do people not wonder if this is part of the issue in mental health today? The content that fills our news and our social media is so poisonous, so depressing, but so real. The world can be a dark place, and we need to do every small gesture that we can to make this world a positive one. We need to share more positive content, speak to more people, just really try to be nice. You never know whether that stranger needed that smile you sent their way that morning.
Whilst I continue waiting for my therapy, just remember that the saddest people usually have the biggest smiles. It’s thought that humans need 3 hugs a day just to stay alive and healthy. Ideal number is 6. Go hug your loved ones. Say hi to that person you always see but never speak to. Smile at the stranger walking towards you. What’s the worst that could happen. I know I’m going to try
Zoë Louise Mason x

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