Raise your voice for depression

Last night I dreamt that I was supposed to go on holiday, but forgot my passport and suitcase. This was all due to the fact that I had a burn out. Talk about mind in overdrive. Now I have to say having a burn out is way more common in The Netherlands than in the UK. This made me wonder why. Are we Brits so stiff upper lip, that we don’t want to admit it? Are we more scared of how others will react? Scared to take the time off work sick? Are the Dutch more open to the conversation of mental health?  Or is it that they are more willing, able and less conscious about calling in sick?

I remember when I started working here, I was amazed at the amount of coffee breaks we had (and I don’t drink coffee). I was also amazed by the fact there was an actual lunch break and people didn’t just eat at their desks. Ok some did, but it definitely wasn’t the norm. Instead people gathered around a table and actually ate together, some sandwiches with a knife and fork! Which I found weird, but each to their own.  I guess my background had been working 70-90 hour weeks and living on Red Bull and fresh air.

So I was also surprised how many people had sick leave due to burn outs and how many people I knew had them, or knew someone who had had one, or still had one. I wondered if they were just lazier. Then something really caught my attention, men AND women had burn outs. Now being from the North East of England I was always around men who wouldn’t cry, couldn’t cry. I still panic if a man cries in my presence. Men that think to be a real man you shouldn’t “do” emotion. My dad is the same kind of man, I am not saying he (or they) aren’t loving, in fact this is something they are, but kind of in a different way, maybe.

Then I looked at the fact that the mental health taboo is only now being broken. My grandad was a hard man and by this I mean hard emotionally, not that he was a fighter. It hurts me to say it but, he was a difficult person to love and sometimes even to like. He was a closed book. What makes me even sadder about this is that it took him to die and me to grow up to understand why.

You see my grandad was a stretcher carrier in the second world war. He had seen things that no one should see. He was young and impressionable. Those things stayed with him forever. If there was thunder he could be found under the stairs, or the table. He once got drunk and was trying to get people into the trenches, “ Get in, everybody in. The bombs are coming!“ . You see in those days you just got on with it, they were the generation of “Keep calm and carry on” (which speaks volumes alone). He never talked about the war, it was a no go area. They had never heard of, or acknowledged post-traumatic stress syndrome and certainly didn’t treat it, or talk about it. There were whole generations that were failed, to be honest.

I feel for those in more recent conflicts, as for all the conversation has started, it is not one most people affected want to be part of.  You hear about those who saw their friends die in front of them in the most horrific ways. How do you recover from that? Especially if you don’t want to admit you are struggling. If you have started to sink down the dark hole and can’t see any way back out. Who is going to be able to see someone’s internal pain, if they never show it and they have to cope with it alone, even internally.

For all this is a tough subject to talk about and one that governments seem to under budget the world over, it is so important. Let's not forget this is a huge killer worldwide. People need to realise they have a voice and it needs to be heard. Getting help can save a person’s life, it can save the heartache of a person’s family and friends.  Those who blame themselves, because they missed the signs, even though a lot of the time there are no signs. We have to make this subject “the norm”, so that people feel no shame.

Mostly I feel for the people, especially men, suffering with mental health in silence. No more stiff upper lip. Balls to that, in fact it takes more balls to reach out and tell someone that you are having issues, than suffering alone and in silence. People want to listen, want to help.

So come one people let’s keep the conversation going, let’s support each other. If you can see someone is struggling, reach out and most importantly listen, without judging. For all you sufferers people want to help you, so speak out, let your voice be heard, don’t suffer alone.

In memory of those for whom it was too late, to those I know included. Far too many, gone too soon.


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