In honor of World Mental Health Day, please remember those who are suffering. Let's also celebrate those who are surviving and thriving each day.
When someone's not doing well, still they say, "I'm fine." While they are "fine", they are still giving to others and assuring everyone else is doing well. This makes us believe our friend really is okay. I'm not suggesting you become a psychologist in every relationship or that you psychoanalyze everyone. I am simply suggesting that you might consider MORE of why your friend is "fine" before getting frustrated at this giver not recieving.
When we ask how someone is doing, take the extra, impactful step in asking a second and more specific question:
- "Have you been sleeping well?"
- "How is it going with the hard situation we last talked about?"
- "How was your appointment the other day?"
- "What have you been doing for yourself this week?"
- "What can I do to support you this week? Need help with anything?"
Leaving things at face value has lost its way. When I consider mental health and relationships, I tend to feel disappointment. Mental health has become a very uncomfortable thing for people to discuss. It's seemingly forbidden but that won't last long as many passionate, courageous and vulnerable people are stepping up to discuss. These people are putting more meaning to the hardest thing to talk about for the majority. This emotionally, crippling state unseen and misunderstood; mental health.
Some of this can come from needing to share something with someone, anyone, before they are led to a professional to help further, but feeling casted out or as if what we are saying isn't actually so challenging. How can we normalize transparency?
Stay tuned for TransparenSEE Podcast coming this Winter! I will interview many courageous, vulnerable and transparent people who now know what they needed when things got hard and how to cope when things become difficult again. Hear their stories and be encouraged that you are not alone.
What will you do to assure you "fine" friend is truly going to be ok? Get creative! Dedicate some time to them to do the things that excite them most, igniting their passion again. We do not need to have all the words to say but we can try to find the resources available and love people where they are. We do not need to correct them or speed up a process but we can remember when we felt off-key and what we needed (regardless to if we got that or not) and be the person for our friend.
Let's normalize vulnerability again, let's decrease depression and deaths by suicide by taking that simple, extra step by asking a second and intentional question beyond "How are you?"