This book review has been in the planning for the past few weeks purely because of the subjects of these books. One explores the effects of a first love and it’s impact on two young individuals, the other is more of a biography of self concerning the younger sister of the author in a more recent mirror image of Romeo and Juliet but slightly differently.
I won’t give you a blurb, I just think it’s more important to carry on the conversation. There are plenty of books out there on mental health but there are those who refuse to talk or write about the subject because it’s just too taboo. Nowhere is that more apparent, until very recently, than in Britain, although funding is becoming more available through the National Health Service (the name of the healthcare system in Britain) and the National Lottery.
Shakespeare gave us one part and the very start of the conversation when he wrote Romeo and Juliet. Some critics believe that it’s a naive portrayal of teenage love but if you look at it backwards with the end in mind, it becomes something more serious like mental health on top of the already complex adolescent life. The majority of us experience adolescence but each person experiences this part of life slightly differently. Life for someone who has mental health problems is just as extremely overwhelming, exhausting and frightening as tackling the teenage life. It’s imperative that if you’re the outsider, just be kind to whoever is suffering.
It’s easy to say that it is harder to see someone suffering from mental health problems than someone suffering with a physical health problem. But there are different parts which contribute to someone’s mental health problems and they are all different depending on the person in question. Some are easily overlooked so just keep a trained eye on things. Sometimes you can see some elements appear in a physical way like self-medicating through drugs or alcohol or irratic sleeping pattern or loss of appetite or anything else that looks out of the ordinary.
But the way to deal with it involves the most basic of skills: listening, and an unjudgemental, compassionate, empathetic attitude. The last thing someone who has mental health issues wants is pity, they just want to be appreciated and loved like everyone else. A line of communication is vital if the said person wants to stop it from getting worse, and it’s key to gaining their trust. Be careful not to break their trust. But then again they might not even realise that the situation is getting bad, so you might be the only one to recognise and thus be able to stop it.
There is no quick nor easy fix for mental health problems but it’s still a sensitive issue. It cannot be solved by taking someone out for the day and putting a smile on their face and thus “make them feel better”. For most who suffer from mental health it is unbearably hard to have the energy to just get out of bed. If someone knows they have mental health problems or has problems they are unable or feel unqualified to solve by themselves, then it has to be the person suffering who takes the steering wheel and not you. They have to feel safe in order to ask for help. It’s nothing personal but interfering will really set them back in terms of progress. Whatever they decide to go along with, for example, when they stay in bed even though you might have woken them up repeatedly, just accept it because the alternative adds to the burden they are already carrying.
The mental health conversation has already begun and because everyone experiences it differently it’s not actually that taboo. It’s only taboo because there is a lack of knowledge and most people are fearful of knowing the unknown like the extremes people experience. Whilst there are already websites and groups that help with providing medical help and support, talking about experiences and carrying the conversation on will open up avenues for more acceptance and further research so everything can progress and improve.
Talk about mental health with everyone and pass it on.