My earliest mental health battle came when I was only 7 years old. It was the bone-rattling feeling of being a social outcast; a feeling that has barely left my consciousness in the 30-plus years since. A few days ago (probably a few weeks now), I acted in a way that challenged and altered my negative thinking towards my own battles. Afforded this new, clearer vision, I had a slightly better understanding of how deep and profoundly my own mental health battles have affected me, and the best bit? Mental health battles are not all bad!
Time. 3 minutes. It took me no more than three minutes to see something, recognise it, head to my friends DM’s and type out a message. On the other side of the world, a friend posted or shared a few things that to me, mostly due to my mental-health-induced-creep-level-attention-paying, didn’t seem quite right. So, I sent a quick few words of encouragement and thought nothing more of it.
"my words had arrived and made a difference"
Shortly thereafter however, I received a response that made my day. He had felt heard. Felt comfort and some level of peace after receiving my simple string of words. My friend had been fighting a mental health battle of his own and at the right time, after weeks of a tough internal conflict, my words had arrived and made a difference. A quick message of encouragement, acceptance and of being seen was exactly what he needed at exactly that moment.
I was proud of myself. Stoked that in some twisted way my own troubles helped me tune in and recognise a similar battle halfway round the globe. So yeah, this post is giving myself a pat on the back but that’s not the reason I’m writing today.
"I just want to be thought of."
Being the mostly hidden eccentric weirdo all my life, I have always been told, “Don’t worry about what people think of you!” And yeah, that’s cool advice and later on in life now, I’m certainly leaning into my, let’s call them, quirks, shall we. But that hasn’t been my life’s battle. No. I don’t particularly care what people think of me… I just want to be thought of.
Our time is most valuable. You don’t need to give much time to someone to greatly impact and improve their mental health. More than anything, I think, that is what we all want; time. Two minutes of your day, week or month to hear that you are thinking of them. To feel heard. To feel seen. I’m introverted as f&%k. One day I will live in the forest only accessible by the windiest roads where no-one ever goes and it will be magical. But I’m also a frequent hugger and needer of connection. A lot of introverts I know are similar in that they want to be left alone while simultaneously wanting to be seen, heard and held.
This post is a solid call to action. Think of your friends. Take notice of what they’re sharing, if they’re sharing and how. Pay attention. Maybe not to my creep-level, but pay attention. And message your friends. Tell them you think they’re rad. It’ll take two minutes and could totally improve, if not save their life.