This book could save your life - Summary

Suicide is when people harm themselves with the intention of ending their own life, and they die as a result, while a `suicide attempt' is when someone harms themselves with the intention of ending their life, and they do not die.

There are many reasons a person may choose to end their life :

  • Severe depression and/or mental illness
  • Substance-abuse-influenced impulsivity
  • Traumatic stress (such as abuse or being the victim of a violent crime)
  • Loss or fear of loss (such as academic failure, the end of a relationship, loss of a job)
  • Hopelessness (a symptom of depression, but also a stand-alone response to a one-off situation that a person cannot see a way out of)

Learn to listen - People won't talk if there's no one willing to hear them. And, while everyone acknowledges how important it is to open up, far fewer people understand the power of giving their time to simply listen.

How to do CPR

  • Shake and shout help
  • Call emergency services
  • cover mouth and nose with a close
  • give chest compressions
  • keep going until professional help arrives

Guilt: a sense that you have done something wrong.
Shame: a sense that you yourself are wrong - that you are flawed as a person.

'Healthy' guilt is when the feeling's entirely justified (i.e. when you have actually done something wrong) and it prompts you to try to make amends or change your behavior. The reason you feel guilty is because you recognise that what you did or what you're doing ( or uncomfortable. However, guilt can also be 'unhealthy': when you haven't actually done anything wrong. Unhealthy guilt can be caused by misunderstandings, self-doubt, low self-esteem, or societal and cultural expectations.

Grief is an emotional reaction to the loss of someone or something that's important to you. Every single one of us will be exposed to death during our lifetime and so will experience grief. People mainly associate it with sadness, but there's an abundance of feelings you may or may not experience during bereavement.

Common stages of grief are:

  • Denial - It's common to initially react to loo with sensations of numbness and shock.
  • Anger - You may feel frustrated and helpless and those feelings can turn to anger.
  • Bargaining - This is the 'what if...', when you question why it happened and what you or someone else could have done differently.
  • Depression - a feeling of intense sadness and loss.
  • Acceptance - when you accept the reality of what has happened and start processing what it means.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition specifically an anxiety disorder, brought about by highly stressful, frightening, and distressing events. Treatment for PTSD is available in the form of talking therapies and medication.

Message to send to someone experiencing a loss - "Hey mate, I heard about what happened. I'm so sorry, that must be awful for you. Genuinely, if you ever need someone to go for a walk with, to talk to, or to make you tea then I would absolutely love to and all you need to do is let me know. We're all here for you. Sending lots of love"

Expressing emotions means feeling what your brain is telling you to feel. Allowing your body to feel what it needs to at the time. They're not your enemy, they're not trying to trip you up or make you into something you're not. They are simply necessary messages from your brain enabling you to process a specific event: this happened and you feel like that about it. If you feel sad, you're sad. If you're angry, you're angry. Emotions are your body's way of processing what happens to you. You're meant to feel the feeling, acknowledge it, and let it run its course. Avoiding it or pretending it doesn't exist will only delay the inevitable crash and burn, adding anxiety about the avoidance on top.

Listening. The single best thing you can do to help is listen when worried about someone. Ask open-ended questions like, 'How does that make you feel?' and let them say whatever they need to say. A good way to make someone feel comfortable talking about their own emotions is to talk about yours. Set the tone and make them feel safe, by telling them about what's going on with you, which gives them permission to open up too.

Mental health is what makes you "you", everything you've ever thought, everything you've ever done, your personality, memories, values, and your dreams for the future, all of it is dependent on, influenced by, how you feel about yourself and your environment. Mental health dictates the decisions you make and how you interact with the world.

"If we don't have the tools to do the job, we are destined to fail."

How to calm your body down - regain control of your breathing :

  • Find a place that is quiet, safe, and away from distractions.
  • Sit comfortably or lie down on the floor.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply over a count of eight seconds and feel your stomach expanding outwards.
  • Hold the breath for a count of eight seconds before slowly releasing it, again for another eight-second count.
  • Repeat this for a minute or until you start to feel calmer.

Takeaways

  • Depression is an illness, not a weakness, and not the result of anything anyone has done 'wrong'. Recognizing this is immensely important as a step towards greater understanding and compassion.
  • Remember: we all wear masks and neither suffering from depression nor loving someone who does is easy - but pretending that nothing is happening will make things harder. Learning, talking, and listening are good first steps.
  • If you're feeling down and it's starting to affect your day-to-day life then talking to someone is really important. Please reach out to a friend, family member, GP, or helpline.
  • Trauma affects everyone in different ways. There's no 'correct' way to behave during a traumatic event, so don't judge yourself or others for acting out of character, for going into shock, for freezing, or for behaving in ways that may seem strange (i.e. by laughing).
  • Learning CPR and basic first aid is a brilliant way of ensuring you'll be in the best possible position to help someone should the need ever arise. It won't only possibly save a life, but will also help you to feel better about having done all you could.
  • If someone you know is grieving, do reach out to them with a message of support or a picture of a cute dog. They may not answer, but they'll appreciate it.
  • Guilt and shame are normal reactions to trauma. Working out whether your guilt is healthy or unhealthy and whether it's contributing to a sense of shame can help in getting perspective on the situation.
  • Grief is a natural emotional response to loss. It can be confusing and difficult to navigate, but just knowing that can make the journey a bit easier. You are not weird for feeling like you're losing it.
  • Create your own mini walk to talk by asking someone to join you on a stroll, whether you're the one looking to unload or suspect they might be. Walking limits the pressure and intensity of a face-to-face chat and removes conversational filters.
  • Remember: giving people the opportunity to talk about mental health is far more useful than simply telling them how important it is to talk. Create safe spaces however you can, and tell someone that you want to help rather than that you are available to do so.
  • If you are nervous about starting a conversation about your own mental health, you can practice it first to build confidence. Visualization is a powerful tool.
  • Everyone can make a difference. You have a voice. Signing petitions, promoting causes you care about, and pushing for things that matter really can trigger meaningful change.
  • Your health is more important than grades, work, socializing, social media, and keeping other people happy. Look after it and don't feel bad about prioritizing yourself.
  • Burnout is a very real risk for everybody. Check-in with how you feel physically, as the physical manifestations of stress are often the most obvious.
  • Managing your commitments and learning how to say no is a key part of keeping a healthy balance in your life. If you're overwhelmed, start putting in place boundaries that will help you work out what is essential, what's not, and what makes you feel both good and bad.

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