20 February. 2020 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Like a lot of people I was shocked to hear of the sudden passing of Caroline Flack a few days ago. You don’t have to be a fan or even have liked her to be taken aback at what happened, and regardless of the issues she has had in the press, it has to be acknowledged that she was a young woman, with a family who cared about her and a life in front of her. It’s deeply saddening to think for her it was all too much.
Whenever I saw Caroline on TV I often thought she looked a bit fragile. She had a very good exterior, don’t get me wrong, but there was something there that made me feel like she was similar to me. For a long time I was also good at projecting what I thought people wanted to see, and how I wanted to be perceived when I was shaking on the inside. I was a firm believer of the saying, “Fake it until you make it.” I felt that if you could push through it would make it easier to do it next time, and the time after, until eventually it became second nature and you just did it without worrying. I wonder if Caroline was like that? I’m not sure, I don’t know, and it isn’t my place to know, but I do know that there was more there than met the eye. But then there often is with many people.
I think it is frustrating and saddening in the day and age we live in that there isn’t more help for people that need it. Actually it makes me angry that there isn’t. We are all super connected by the internet and social media and yet many of us are actually lonely. It makes no sense. Mental health is discussed and we are told to open up and talk about things, yet who is really there to listen? Our friends and family aren’t qualified and can only do the best they can with the knowledge they have. I for one have asked for professional help over the years several times and been brushed off. Waiting lists are often too long, and if you’re like me, once you’ve been turned away one too many times, you take matters into your own hands and refuse to ask for help anymore. My approach doesn’t help matters, in fact it probably just contributed to the isolation I felt. I just wonder, if I had proper help with my mental health when I had asked for it, if I might have got better sooner, rather than still be dealing with it now after years of self-medicating with alcohol. It takes a lot to ask for help though, and to be turned away knocks you at the very least, possibly making you feel like you’re a time waster. I know I felt like that.
Addiction is not the same thing as suicide, but people aren’t the same either. They each have their own experiences and their own ways of dealing with things. People adapt to their circumstances, and sometimes they stop adapting because they can’t do it anymore. It seems like people are talking more now in the wake of Caroline’s death about being kind, which I admire, and it would be amazing if something good could come from something so sad. I wonder though really, how much will change. It sounds cynical, but what difference will it really make? For real change, we need to educate our children more, to be kind and accepting, but at the very least to tolerate difference. Teenagers can be particularly unkind if someone doesn’t fit in, and often it is just due to a lack of understanding, rather than an innate unkindness or need to be hurtful. Nothing will change overnight, and the problem is, no one thinks it will happen to them, or to their friend, until it does. And then it is often too late.
So I hope that the hashtag of the moment will encourage more kindness, and that everyone will in general #bekind to each other. No one knows what is going on behind closed doors, or behind a carefully constructed mask. Often the most vulnerable people are the ones most likely to put up a convincing act. It doesn’t mean they are strong, it just means they are good at hiding their weakness. But because of this, it is often these people that are missed, because they look okay to the outside world.
Maybe we can just try to remember that when we go about our daily lives. Just to look a bit closer sometimes and not assume. Maybe we can stop for a second and ask if someone is okay, and actually listen to them when they tell us? Maybe I’m hoping for too much? It’s just my thoughts after all.
Thanks for reading!