Togetherness

The ground shook, world collided

People looked to one another for help

Their eyes showing fear and helplessness

Darkness filled the air, strangling the light

The sound of coughing and spluttering could be heard as people gasped for air.

No one knew the way out, what was happening

All they knew is that, they had to survive

They had to help those around them reach safety

In great tragedy can be seen the greatest accomplishment

It’s a day no one can forget,

The world changed after this point

Fear, pain, anguish, anger and revenge followed

However we should take the humility of the world coming together to show solidarity

People held hands to unite against hatred

The world grieved together

Every year we remember

Let’s unite

Banned from speaking about Suicide!!!

Suicide is a very real problem in today’s society, no matter where you live in the world,  we are seeing increased suicide attempts and completions; rising each year. It is seen that men are most vulnerable, finding it difficult to open up and ask for help. This should concern society that something is wrong in our structure and the available services. As mental health is still deemed very much a taboo subject, these individuals are finding it hard to reach out and get help. They are too ashamed to come forward and so try and cope on their own. This is not healthy or enough, and can lead to their death

Suicide is a very permanent decision for a potentially temporary issue. But the question we always ask is ‘Why did the person commit suicide?’, ”I feel guilty as I never spotted the signs!”

Society today is very fast paced and changes rapidly, something which is here one day is not the next. We live in a social media age where people constantly have their heads down looking at a 5x5inch screen, posting their daily lives for others to view and judge them on. Some people are able to cope and navigate their way through this era. Others however struggle, miss face-to-face human interaction, and are unable to keep up with the ever changing environment and world around them. If we take the time to look and observe the world around us, we might see people in pain, anguish, appearing somber and a lot of negativity.

Pause. Take a moment to stop, look up and observe the people around you. Whom are you able to have a deep meaningful conversation with.

For many, they are able to think of one person whom they can have such a discussion with. But for a lot of people, they don’t have even one person they know they can turn to. This can be for several reasons such as lack of family and friends or even mistrust of others etc. These individuals will turn to society and attempt to find an individual to help them, but this is not always possible. There can be a lot of barriers in the way, it’s a lengthy process and the resources aren’t always easily accessible. Therefore we find the individual recluses and withdraws from society. These people are the most vulnerable in society, to have active suicidal ideations and attempts.

Since birth humans have innate instincts which help us survive such as fight or flight, breathing, blinking etc. One such mechanism we have is the need to be supported and cared for. As humans we rely on interactions and the emotional fulfilment these interactions give us. We crave emotional relationships, the feeling of belonging and being cared for, a safety net. If this need is not met, we have to adapt and seek alternative methods to help survive. Here we may see the individual engage in self destructive behaviours such as; alcohol and drug abuse, self neglect, cutting and taking overdoses etc. The individual is able to recognise the destructive nature of the behaviours but can’t find any other alternative, to help with the pain and fill a void. All the behaviours have something in common, they all; numb the pain, mask the feelings and block thoughts. Therefore the individual is able to survive another day in the world, after using such self destructive mechanisms. But for how long??

We see in social media, high-profile celebrity suicides are published. This makes me feel a range of emotion from anger to gratfulness. In reading comments, people state; ‘ how can they commit suicide when their life is perfect, what do they have to be sad about, how could they do that to their family?’ These statements highlight the lack of understanding, empathy and willingness to find a solution. If we assume the person has access to all available resources, shouldn’t we consider; ‘ how did this person get to the stage where they felt so lonely the only solution was suicide?’ People often refer to suicides as selfish acts, where the person hasn’t considered the consequence and feelings of others after their suicide. But this is far from the truth!

Suicide is a private decision, which is often made by individuals whom fear they have no other choice. It is often seen the individual will not voice their suicidal ideations and will attempt to blend into society and wear a mask to cover up. Every second around the world, a person will have committed suicide. They may have felt trapped, lonely, scared and no motivation. We have to look deeper into ourselves in order to help others. The individual may be suffering from a mental health condition, trauma, PTSD, grief etc.. There is never just one reason that we can definitely say is the cause. Humans are complex beings whom are multi-faceted, therefore we cannot isolate one thought, behaviour or feeling at one time.

Recently, it has been highlighted that men are at a higher risk of committing suicide, as they are to ashamed to open up and state they can no longer cope and need help. This goes back to males seen as masculine, tough and strong and able to cope with anything, with little support. However, this perception which is embedded into society, causes a lot of stress and pressure, for men today. Asking for help is seen as a sign of weakness, which is only acceptable for women to do. In today’s society we see that this perception is changing, but the notion still remains embedded into society.

This highlights the issue of the cultural impact on mental health. We perceive to live in a very modern society, more liberal, open and accepting than any culture in the past. But we find the deep roots of the past are still very much alive in todays society. In every culture there still seems to be a taboo around mental health and strong opinions around suicide. Here we find, culture and religious ideations about suicide, clash, leading to people being very conflicted about their thoughts and behaviours.

The very notion of suicide is scary and it’s very sporadic, in nature. The after effects of suicide are immense. The family of the individual suffer greatly, they may blame themselves, feel guilty and often feel helplessness. The grief comes in stages such as anger, sadness and resentment etc.

When they are in the anger and resentment stage, they blame the individual for being selfish, not confiding in them and not thinking about the family. This is never the case, the individual would’ve thought a lot about their family and friends. Often they may have attempted to tell someone, but find no voice to speak! We have to understand, suicide is often the option the individual feels they only have.

The next stage is sadness. The more details they learn and gain understanding into suicide, the family and friends feel upset and overwhelmed. At this stage they begin to blame themselves, as they never noticed something was wrong. Here the family and friends are reassured, but the feelings of helplessness can begin.

Often we find after someone commits suicide, a family member or friend may suffer from depression or anxiety. This is generally because they get overwhelmed in emotions surrounding the death. In addition, another suicide may occur, the feelings of guilt and helplessness take over. For anyone whom has lost someone, the feeling of emptiness can occur and it’s hard to find closure.

Many people can become inpatients in a psychiatric hospital, due to their presentation and actions, e.g.. unable to keep themselves safe in the community. They can be admitted informally (voluntary) or under a section of the Mental Health Act. Patients often find being on a section very distressing, as it often means they have to remain in hospital for a certain period of time and given treatment against their will, if necessary. Some patients can deteriorate when put on a section, as the feeling of independence is taken away,, therefore their anxiety can increase. This can lead to increase of self harming behaviours such as lacerations to body or ligatures etc.

It is still unknown how many suicides occur yearly within psychiatric hospitals. The suicides may be accidental or planned. Patients quickly become aware, that attempting suicide on the ward is challenging, as they are constantly observed. So the patient may change tactic and act settled and happy, then they attempt suicide, these are the more risky patients. Also patients may try to self harm to gain attention from staff, as they find it difficult to ask for help, or they don’t know how to cope, but misjudge the support of staff and can lead to death or serious injury.

Most individuals just want attention and someone to speak to, often people confuse someone getting frustrated,  with mental illness. This is the misjudgment which occurs when we misinterpret the behaviour of someone when they call for help. Individuals may act aggressively or rude when they feel they aren’t receiving the help they require. This may be the only emotional response they know to gain another person’s attention. Here its important not to ignore the individual but to sit and listen to their concerns. In doing so, further aggressive outbursts etc., maybe avoided. In addition, potential self harming of oneself may also be avoided, as you have given your time to listen and care, when they need it. It’s important to note, all they want is someone to listen to them, and if this does not occur, we may be potentially reaffirming their own beliefs that no one cares for them. This can lead to increased suicidal ideations and withdrawal from society/people.

Often the approach which should be implemented, is to reassure the individual you are their for them, willing to listen and you are available anytime. Giving someone time is more valuable than anything else. We find many individuals may come from backgrounds or upbringing whereby no one listened or they had no support system. Therefore you might be the first and only support system they have encountered. They may not know how to act or approach someone or even have difficulty communicating their feelings. Here the listener shoud make allowances and understand it’s not easy to open up and talk and especially ask for help when you’ve received none before. Also offer ways to which they can communicate other than verbally, such as written down in a personal diary or poem, or even doing art and expressing it via drawing.

In life being open and relaxed towards others can have more positive outcomes than appearing hostile and judgmental. Whereas this may be an obvious statement, not everyone understand this when crying for another person.

For example if an individual is acting aggressive, verbally abusive and intimidating than you shouldn’t mirror this behaviour. Humans naturally get into a fight and flight stance and may act defensively. They may shout back at the individual or even ignore them. For me in this situation,  I talk calmly back to them even if they continue to shout throughout the interaction. In addition,  I display body language, which isn’t defensive or intimidating such as give them space and don’t stand in a ‘fight stance’ ( defensively). I find as time goes on if I remain calm in my approach the other individual naturally becomes less aggressive and intimidating. They begin to realise this person is willing to listen and compromise with them.

This is similar to when an individual crying out for help (self harming) but when you offer support they refuse it. Here stay with the person reassuring them, that you’re here when they require support and you care about them enough not to leave when they are distressed. Often this approach works as the individual will realise you are staying to support them and don’t just walk away, so they slowly open up to you and let you in.

Humans tend to ‘test’ others to see how others react, if they care etc. These are ‘tests’ we do to gage another persons interest and level of support they will give us. This is important to help protect ourselves from harm and being let down.

People misjudge individuals and quickly assume they have mental health concerns, when it’s just a human going through emotions. We have to be empathetic to situations and understand the emotion with the situation. For example I worked in oncology and many patients spoke of suicide, feeling no happiness and only negative. This is understandable considering what they are going through. Therapy and support can be very helpful here. A holistic approach often works here as we identify the situation as aa whole, before we make a judgment. This step should be taken when someone decides to end their life. Don’t focus on the obvious events but look at the whole picture, the smaller details and here you will see the full extent to the individuals suffering.

I ensure that in my work life and personal life I make people around me comfortable and express that I am always here to listen and support no matter the problem. I find that by leading with an emphatic and supportive foot, you open up the dialogue and anyone struggling will seek your support.

Please Listen

https://youtu.be/L33djEEMEE8

Be present

Mindfulness is a great tool to help you navigate through life and make sense of the world around you. It has been known to reduce stress, anxiety and stabilise emotions etc. It is mostly used on individuals whom are within the community or acutely ill. It is effective in centring a person.

Try this technique

  • Name 5 things you can see
  • Name 4 things you can hear
  • Name 3 things you can smell
  • Name 2 things you can feel
  • Name 1 things you can taste

This works well when someone is having a panic attack or anxiety attack. It brings the focus back to the room and help focus on the smaller things and not the whole entire picture at once.

Mindfulness has been around for a long time, but only recognised in the last few years, to be effective on those suffering from mental health issues. The technique allows the individual to stop and pay attention to themselves, whilst ignoring any outside stimuli. The technique is similar to meditation and can be practiced anywhere at anytime, in a group or individually.

Mindfulness can be used in any setting e.g. in the park, bedroom or a hospital setting. An example is it is used widely in psycho-oncology for inpatients and outpatients. It gives the patient time to reflect, take a step away from all the chaos and focus on themselves. Unlike many tools, mindfulness is relatively easy to learn and does not require extensive training. A therapist is able to explain and show the technique in one session. In addition, the tool is immediately effective, it does not take a few sessions to work. Mindfulness can often be used instead of mainstream therapies but often it is used in conjunction with therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Mindfulness can be used by anybody, you don’t need a specific mental or physical condition for this to work. It is a great tool to have, to help with daily struggles and cope with any major stressful events, which occur in your life.

A Simple Meditation Practice

1. Sit comfortably. Find a spot that gives you a stable, solid, comfortable seat.

2. Notice what your legs are doing. If on a cushion, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. If on a chair, rest the bottoms of your feet on the floor.

3. Straighten your upper body—but don’t stiffen. Your spine has natural curvature. Let it be there.

4. Notice what your arms are doing. Situate your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs wherever it feels most natural.

5. Soften your gaze. Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward. It’s not necessary to close your eyes. You can simply let what appears before your eyes be there without focusing on it.

6. Feel your breath. Bring your attention to the physical sensation of breathing: the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rising and falling of your belly, or your chest.

7. Notice when your mind wanders from your breath. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. Don’t worry. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking. When you notice your mind wandering gently return your attention to the breath.

8. Be kind about your wandering mind. You may find your mind wandering constantly—that’s normal, too. Instead of wrestling with your thoughts, practice observing them without reacting. Just sit and pay attention. As hard as it is to maintain, that’s all there is. Come back to your breath over and over again, without judgment or expectation.

9. When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.

Sikhism is no different

In many Eastern countries mental health is a taboo and in the Punjab where Sikhism is prevalent, it is no different. As a member of the Sikh community and a psychology graduate, I have found mental health issues are brushed under the carpet and are not openly spoken about within the Sikh community, as well as other religions. However the younger members are becoming more open about mental illness. This begs the question is it a cultural or religious taboo.

Sikhism is a faith of One God, Ten Sikh Guru’s and the Holy Guru Granth Sahib Ji (GGSJ). Sikhs believe in Karma, and hence believe any tragedies or ill health is seen to be a result of bad karma in either this lifetime or a previous one. Seva (services to others) is also a key component of Sikhism as well as living a moral and ethical life is a key belief in Sikhism.

Culturally Sikhism is just like Hinduism and Islam, mental health is a taboo and there is a very evident discrimination against mental health.  Families will conceal any one in their family with a mental illness or neurological defect (if possible). This idea of ‘family honour’ is a major issue amongst South Asians. The opinions of others is cast with very high importance, and it seems having a mental illness brings embarrassment to the family name, taints it and can leave the individual unlikely to marry due to its social impact.

Mental illness is not seen as an issue the GP can fix, it’s more of supernatural/spiritual issue. ‘Nazar’ (evil eye) is another major issue found amongst the south Asian community. The notion is someone has cast the ‘evil eye’ on you and your family. This belief of people casting an ‘evil eye’ as being the cause of an individual’s ill fate in life, is a phenomena which health care professional should take into consideration. Taking on board the cultural belief of the patient, and incorporating it in treatment plans, can help patients understand their diagnosis and be more acceptance to treatment.

Sikh’s believe in equality amongst human beings;

‘’ No one is Hindu or Muslim, all are children of God, so are equal’

(Guru Nanak Dev. Ji [8])

Here Guru Nanak Dev. Ji lays out the fundamental foundation of ‘’human rights for all of humanity’’ [8]. However, we do see hidden discrimination toward the ‘different’ and hence the individuals are cast out of the Sikh community.

However, Guru Nanak Dev. Ji, taught us to give up: pride and Haumai (ego) and to become humble. Guru Nanak Dev. Ji outlined Haumai is the greatest disease of humanity and that most of the global conflicts and the mental health epidemic is due to Haumai and pride. Guru Nanak Dev. Ji stated if we control our pride and Haumai, we can directly improve the mental health of the both the individual and the community [8].

It is this pride (self and family) being driven by egos, which is causing this taboo in mental health. If we let go of our ego’s and dismiss our own/family pride, we would be more acceptance of issues such as mental health. This removal of pride and ego, will not only benefit the individual but also the community for the long term. Also a global cultural change in attitudes towards mental health can occur, without the presence of negativity, judgement and discrimination.

From personal experience, working in the mental health sector, I have come to realise, there is an unspoken community of Sikhs suffering from mental illnesses such as; Depression, Anxiety, and Panic Attacks etc. Many of the individuals fail to recognise they have a mental health problem, and others put it down to a bi-product of their other medical illness; or medication. This was worrying for me, as a large population in the UK of Sikh individuals are dealing with an un-diagnosed/treated mental health issue.

This got me thinking:

‘’ How best can we support the mentally ill in a Sikh community who deny any problem’’?

•        Using a culturally based model of counselling

•        Respecting the daily routine of the individual

•        Respecting the 5 K’s

•        Support the family

Using a culturally based model of counselling

An abstract from the article written by Dr. Kala Singh (Singh, 2007):

‘’With the continuing migration of a large number of South Asians, especially the Sikhs, to Western countries, mental health professionals should be aware of their clients’ world-view and cultural/religious specific models of counselling. Use of Sikh spirituality can reduce stress; help in treating psychosomatic disorders; and improve mental health of the individual and of the community. [6]

Figure 1 Sikh Spiritual Model of Counselling [3]

Mental Health professionals should aim to use cultural specific models of counselling, to better support the individual. Understanding the Sikh religion/culture, will assist in implementing treatment plans more effectively. Also the individual is more likely to accept the diagnosis, treatment and speak about it more openly, as it’s within their religious understanding.

Dr Singh outlined mental health professionals should be self-aware of their own beliefs and values, to understand the perspective of all human beings based on different cultures. Then form this information plan and implement an appropriate intervention tailored for the individual [6].

This model is not just aimed at Sikhs, it is universal and can be used by other religions such as Hinduism and Christianity.The model is adaptable to people, situations and beliefs, which means the model can be used in conjunction with western beliefs as well as eastern beliefs, supporting those with conflicted views [1].

Respecting the daily routine of the individual

Individuals whom suffer from mental health issues, their family feel excluded from daily prayers and family occasions. However using the Sikh Spiritual Model of Counselling, prayer and medication adherence is encouraged, to help provide both spiritual, physical and medical support [1].

Respecting the 5 K’s

Baptised Sikhs and/or un-baptised Sikhs, whom are suffering from a mental illness, should maintain belief in the 5 K’s. This involves Kesh (refrain from cutting your hair), wearing the Kirpan (holy dagger), Kara (silver bangle), Keshara (shorts) and kanga (comb). The UK Sikh Healthcare chaplaincy group have special circumstances regarding the Kirpan, considering the situation. Ensuring all the 5 k’s beliefs are maintained can ensure the sanctity of a Sikh is not broken during this time [1].

Support for the family

Sikhs live and have very close families. Even though one individual is suffering from the mental illness, the reality is this is seen to have detrimental effects on the parents, partners, and siblings. It is imperative that immediate family are fully supported as well, so they are able to provide a strong network to help recovery of the individual and providing them with all the knowledge surrounding the condition [1].

More and more individuals from the South Asian communities are speaking up and raising awareness of mental health. Individuals across the globe have stood up against the discrimination and hush-hush nature of mental health and voiced their experiences. Many people are using their social platforms to dis-courage this stigma and encourage people talk about it and deal with the issue together, educating the next generation of Sikhs

So, living as a British Sikh, born I have a conflict between my western upbringing and the Sikh culture. For me I do not let my religious or cultural views impact my thought about mental health. But this doesn’t mean I escape the prejudice and discrimination in my family life.

Be it cultural or religious the future of South Asian Mental Health doesn’t look bleak. Through focussing on the individual’s religion and using this as the driving mechanism for treatment, mental health will be recognised and treated more effectively in these communities.

’if the human race is free from caste, creed, colour, religion and gender, there is equality amongst all human beings. If ego, pride and Haumai is removed, may mental health problems may be prevented’

(Dr Kala Singh {Guru Nanak Dev. Ji teachings] [7])

References

[1]Chaplaincy), S. S. (2016). Guidance note on dealing with mental health issues and Sikh patients Dealing with mental health issues: Perspectives in Sikhism. Retrieved from UK Sikh Healthcare Chaplaincy Group: http://www.sikhchaplaincy.org.uk/~sikhchap/images/publications/guidance_note_on_dealing_with_mental_health_issues_and_sikh_patients.pdf

[2]Guide, S. (2007-2015). Sikhism Guide. Retrieved from Basic beliefs of Sikhism: Introduction to Sikhism

[3]Jodha. (2009). Sikh Spiritual Model of Counselling. Retrieved from Sikhnet: http://www.sikhnet.com/news/sikh-spiritual-model-counseling

[4]SikhNet. (2009). Introduction to Sikhism. Retrieved from SikkNet Sharing the Sikh Experience: http://www.sikhchaplaincy.org.uk/~sikhchap/images/publications/guidance_note_on_dealing_with_mental_health_issues_and_sikh_patients.pdf

[5]Singh, D. (2005). Sikh Religion and its values in Mental Health.

[6]Singh, D. (2007). The Sikh Spiritual model of counselling. Spirituality and Health International, 9(1), 32-43.

[7]Singh, D. (2015). Mental Health Teachings of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Asian Journal.

[8]Singh, D. (2015). Teachings of Guru Nanak Dev. Ji and Mental Health. Asian Journal.

[9]Singh, D. (2016). Mental Health and Waisakhi. Asian Journal.

I don’t want to go home

“I can’t believe it I finally have overnight leave!! Gosh!! Oh my days!! This is a closer step towards discharge, because next will be two overnight leaves, than discharge……

I need to speak to the consultant I don’t want my overnight leave to be at my parents house any more, I want to go back to my supported living my own flat… last time I went home my dad picked me up with my mum and I cried all the way in the car journey……my dad was shouting at me saying this wouldn’t have happened if I would have stayed at home with them……my dad doesn’t understand that I moved out to get better, not party, smoke, drink and have sex…….

My dad emotionally abuses my mum who also isn’t mentally well herself…. she tries but she can’t stand up for me as my dad puts her down…

I don’t want to go back home…………..’’

Anonymous

Mental health is in its infancy in today’s society, perception and understanding towards it is still cautious. However treatment is available in abundance but access to resources fails the right people gaining the most out of the treatment. South Asian communities feel, not following parents rules, rituals and beliefs can lead to an ill-fated mental health diagnosis. Seeking help for this unknown territory is hard, often ignored and cases of abuse; emotional, physical, financial or neglect, occur due to lack of understanding

Many individuals up and down the country are in a similar situation to this person’s. For so long they have waited for the moment they receive positive news from the hospital, knowing that this is a step closer to discharge. However this positive step towards getting better comes at a great cost for some. Once out the hospital and back in the care of loved ones, they feel isolated and trapped. Loved ones fail to understand and recognise their mental health and blame the individual for the way they are.

Advice for anyone who can relate the above situation is stay positive, allow yourself to be happy that you are recovering. It’s not always easy to ignore what your loved ones saying but try and realise they may not understand. Help them understand sit down and speak to them, show them literature which can explain the mental illness, show them how you have recovered. Most of all like the individual in the statement above, recognise yourself that the situation your in is not the best for you, that it could set you back, realise you need to have distance to recover.

Everyone needs to stand up and speak up. Individuals like the one above need to be positive feel overjoyed and elated that they are doing well, but reality shows the opposite.

Let’s work together to help not only mental health sufferers but their families too.

Sing away the pain

There is a vast variety of coping strategies and relaxation techniques, which are all equally as effective. One such strategy is music therapy.

When we are stressed, we have a build of tension and emotion. Therefore there needs to be a release of this tension, to help cope with the stressor. Music is a great outlet, as singing along with your favourite song, pouring all your emotion into the song and singing at the top of your lungs. By doing this you are reliving your stress, especially when you feel overwhelmed, it’s an effective way to be mindful of yourself. An individual is able to loose themselves in the music and let go for a few moments.

I am a big advocate of music therapy as no matter who you are and what you’re going through, music is often a great distraction and outlet for emotion. Not many think of listening to music as an effective therapy tool, as they can’t make the link between emotion to music. Let’s put it into another perspective for example an individual feels alone, isolated and has no hope that anything good will occur. They may turn to physical self harm, alcohol, drugs or even attempt suicide. Now these are very valid coping mechanisms which people learn and implement. But they are very temporary and the after effect is always negative. However if the person decides to turn on some music and sing and pour the emotion out, there will be little need to reach for the bottle of whisky or packets of pills. As they have released their emotion, they may not have dealt with the situation but the emotion attached has been dealt with.

In life it’s not often the stressor that causes us stress but our perception of it, what it means to us, how it affects us etc. How we perceive something will then drive our emotions towards it. This build up of emotion than causes us to feel stressed, anxious etc. Consequently we than engage in any behaviour to help cope with the emotion. This is key! We forget about dealing with the emotion, how we are feeling, we often don’t have an effective outlet for it. For example deliberately lacerating your forearm will not help relieve the emotion but will help the person have a physical outlet to what they are feeling such as pain. They feel pain but can’t express it, lacerating can help place understanding to the pain they feel. But the critical point is the feeling of pain is not fully dealt with.

Therapy is an effective way of confronting the emotion, understanding our feelings and relieving the emotion attached.

Some may argue they don’t listen to music, which is a fair argument. Music therapy is just one method in hundreds, so if music is not for you maybe drawing or doing art being more expressive, may be more ideal for example.

Music therapy and such therapies are effective and work long term because you are releasing positive endorphins in your brain, you start to think less negatively and you feel you are more able to tackle the problem as you’ve released a lot of the emotion attached to it. This is an important aspect which a lot of people forget or don’t realise, we have a lot of emotional baggage attached to any given situation . If we are able to let go of the emotion; anger, sadness, pain etc we are only left with the problem. Our judgment and decision making is not clouded or blurred by emotion. We are more able to make rational and logical decisions and perceive the situation differently.

Pause. You might be reading this thinking this is wishful thinking and naive to think every situation can be solved so easily. Incorrect. Here I’m not saying every situation can be solved with this method of understanding emotion . Not at all. Here I mean to say, try using music in times of difficulty, try another coping mechanism which you haven’t tried. My message here is to offer another alternative strategy which is very effective. Just try it.

Music encompasses all the emotion we may feel at any given time. Not one song has only emotion attached to it, they vary in emotion throughout; they are mini journeys. This is what makes them effective, as the song successfully aids you through all the emotions and removes any extra feelings. For example when I feel angry I tend to reach for grime or hip hop music, as they reflect my mood more. But I find after a few songs or so, I maybe listen to some RnB and maybe ending up at pop music. By this time I don’t feel angry anymore but more calm and ready to think of a solution to the problem. At this point I’m not acting in anger or rage but a rational place. Yes in most circumstances this approach doesn’t work as we may need the emotion to help drive us to confront the problem.

Individuals with mental health conditions, use music a lot to escape reality, express their current thoughts/ feelings or to deal with their problems. The individual may have issues surrounding controlling or understanding their emotions and feelings. They are unable to identify them and express them to others. This is seen to be very effective in those suffering with depression.

Music is a great way of allowing others an indirect insight into your current mental state without communication. The listener will often understand what your feeling from the song which you play.

Music can also be used to be mindful and bring yourself, back to yourself. It can centre you and reign in your thoughts and feelings, focus them on one aspect, allowing you control again.

So next time you or someone you know is going to something, provide different options for coping and ask them to try methods which they haven’t yet explored. As you never know singing may be the one strategy which works ( they may even have a good voice).

No one understands

This is a phrase which is all too often used. This statement is true and no one truly understands what another person is going through. It’s impossible. But we each have gone through the same or similar experience, this will therefore give us insight the thoughts, feelings and behaviours surroundings it.

Humans tend to be natural curious beings whom seek answers and will assume answers where there is none. This use of assuming is what we do all to often, everyday, to one another. We assume what a person is thinking, doing, saying, believing etc etc. For we tend assume when we don’t understand or have no answer. For example when we see someone running down a road, instantly we think of the scenario of why they are running. But why do we do that? The reason is we need to feel we understand the world around us and once we can do this than we can navigate through life.

But in doing so we never truly understand the world which is actually around us. Our current perception of the world is made up of our assumptions and perceptions of reality. But the reality is not being perceived as reality. In fact we cannot truly say we understand our reality.

So we can use and extend it to, we don’t really understand each other as human beings.

If you suffer from a physical condition or mental health condition, we assume the world doesn’t understand but the person in hospital with a similar diagnosis, understands me well. This is because you are going through the same battles and facing the world in a similar view. This is not 100% correct. Nobody can really understand what another is fully going through or feeling. But a person may be able to relate to your situation or feelings.

Life is a constant game which we all play but no one knows the rules. We make up our own moves, rules and players. So again why do we think we understand each other?

Humanity is a collective race, we have the need to feel part of a whole. Because there are many mysteries we face, and we cannot gain answers for them all. So we assume the individual sitting opposite me in school knows how boring the class is and how no one is listening to the teacher. But in actual fact the student might be activitively listening and enjoying the class. They may be thinking that you are also enjoying the class.

This highlights that everyone perceives the world from different realities at all times. We are continuously creating these false realities, in order to survive in our own reality. In doing so we are not living our true self as we have built our perception from assumptions and false thoughts.

So when an individual is cutting themselves, crying through the pain and feeling alone, they partially are correct. They are independent in their thoughts and ways of coping. But what we also fail to realise is the person who is trying to help them and support the through their tough times, is dependent on them. This means that we can’t assume no one understands. As overtime we have greater insight into others, therefore able to support and guide them. We spend our lives learning so we can understand. In times of distress and low points, we forget our human instinct.

I’m not stating we understand everything about each other, but we are able to be empathetic to someone or relate to some extent.

Let’s take the subjective nature of hearing voices. This is a phenomenon which can’t be proved or disproved. So on that basis the understanding we can have is vicariously through another’s explanation. Speaking from my experience of working in mental health, I can’t say I do understand hearing voices and the effect it has. But through working with individuals with voices and supporting them, I have built up a working knowledge that allows me to have some insight. Also to help implement coping strategies and distraction techniques.

When we begin to support others, we learn things about ourselves. We tend understand our emotions, how we react, our thoughts and our perception. It’s important to have this knowledge and to progress as a person.

The actual notion ‘no one understands’ is a statement said out of anger, fear and resentment. It’s a cry for help and the same time as closing up to the world. We need to support, guide and be patient with one another. This will lead to people understanding another and discovering themselves in the process.