Paul* is a big, strong, macho-type 23-year-old. He has a loving family, supportive friends, the choice to eat great food and wear nice clothes. He normally loves socialising, and is often holding the crowd with his quick wit and humorous tales. He has everything to be happy about in life, yet he’s not. In fact he’s so deeply unhappy he’s experiencing dark thoughts and a desperate urge to withdraw and not face the world.
And then there’s Phil*; an introverted and shy 21-year-old. He has a couple of rock-solid, long term friends that he mostly catches up with at his house or theirs. He doesn’t much like going out, it can all feel very overwhelming. His family cares about him deeply and have noticed in recent months Phil is spending more and more time in his darkened room, participating in online gaming all hours of the night. He has slipped into bad eating habits, no exercise and has become very withdrawn from everyone. He now feels hopeless and lost, and gaming has become the only way to escape his current misery.
Lastly there’s 19-year-old Jane*; she wasn’t as lucky as Paul and Phil to have been born into a loving family, instead she suffered abuse and abandonment. Her childhood was filled with uncertainty and broken promises. This lead her to find dysfunctional adult love where she ended up pregnant at 17, and then a single Mum. With little support around her, she found her thoughts dropping to a point where, for one small moment, she convinced herself that everyone would be better off without her…..including her two year old daughter.
These are real stories about real people, my clients, who are all very different, yet at their core, they are the same. So what do they have in common? They all told me, “I wish I had spoken up earlier and told someone that I wasn’t OK”!
I have had many, many people, young and old, say those words to me. Somehow, once we find the actual courage to admit we’re struggling, that is often the most significant turning point and the upward pathway out begins.
The other thing these clients always say is, “I wish I had spoken up sooner and ended my suffering much earlier”. So this is why I’m sharing this blog. To let those of you who are currently suffering – and I know there’s way too many of you out there –despite how flat, dark, down, lost, hopeless, angry or sad you feel, say to someone who cares about you, “I’m not okay”. Those three words could save your life.
Those who muster up the courage and energy to come and see me, and share how they’re really feeling (which can be very hard to say out loud because it makes it real), invariably express how relieved they immediately feel to have got it out of their head. They are shocked at the sudden weight that is lifted and a glimmer of hope can begin to ignite again.
The path away from suffering is easier when you share it – don’t do it alone – you really don’t have to. Paul, Phil and Jane are all enjoying a new liberating feeling of self-worth, and freedom from those constant negative thoughts and voices. They achieved this simply by admitting they were not okay, and using some wonderful Positive Psychology interventions that I shared with them. You can too…..all you need to do is tell someone.
For free professional help, you can contact Life Line, Beyond Blue or the Black Dog Institute. Speak up and start your journey today. Rekindle your hope through a conversation. You may be surprised that people really care…..I know that I do.
*not their real names