“Don’t Forget You’re Remembered”
It’s an amazing thing, isn’t it, what happens when you have a mental breakdown and suddenly disappear off the face of the earth. For a short while, it’s as though nothing’s happened. You lock yourself away, avoiding anything and everything that could possibly make your excruciating mental state worse and you go radio silent, preventing anything from getting to you. Then, people suddenly seem to notice that you’ve gone. That’s when the messages start. Messages reminding you that “you’re remembered in thoughts and prayers”, “best wishes to you” and the like.
Isn’t that nice? In my mind, it sounds remarkably like I’m already dead, but that might just be me and the state of mind that I’ve been in recently. Anyway, it has a sense of finality to it. Perhaps they think you’re never coming back. Or maybe they’ve just given up on you already. After all, the world can be very fickle.
Have you ever felt that? That the words people choose for their messages push your mind in certain directions? “I’m thinking of you”, having that ongoing concern but “you’re remembered in thoughts and prayers” feeling like you’re a part of the past? It’s something I’ve dwelt on for a long time, wondering.
You see, there are so many things that I believe people get wrong when dealing with mental health. One of those big things, as I’ve written about before, is putting the onus of communication onto the sufferer. I feel there is no need for it, as people who care – and truly care – about the person suffering shouldn’t take the attitude that says “well I never hear from you, so why should I message?” Though that’s a subject from a previous post.
But even when they’re not talking…don’t worry, because you’re remembered…
A Lame Excuse
Perhaps a little of my anger will show through in this particular section, but I’m sure as we progress you will understand where I’m coming from. You see, the lines of “you’re remembered in our thoughts and prayers” just smacks of an excuse to me. Not just any excuse, but a pretty poor excuse. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it really really sounds like they’re saying “I want to care but I’m far too busy, so I’ll give you this lovely sentiment of being remembered so that you’ll feel better.”
Am I wrong?
It feels lazy. As though they’re either too busy to bother arranging something or they simply cannot be bothered. At least, that’s what it seems like to me.
Now, a lot of people reading this who have used that line will argue with it. They’ll say that they’ve tried to arrange things, that they’ve attempted to make more of an effort to see you. They’ll say that they’ve been met with a brick wall of radio silence, that they’ve not had any answers or that there has been no effort made on the part of the sufferer. In other words, they’ll say it’s not their fault.
And maybe it isn’t. Maybe they are simply doing the best they can with the situation that they have. After all, if we won’t reply then what exactly can they do, eh?
What people don’t realise is that first impression, that initial moment is the key.
In interviews, they say, it takes only 7 seconds to make that first impression. 7 seconds. That’s it. If we fail…then we fail, that’s it. No more chances to make that good impression.
So let’s travel back together to that XXX. How did it begin? As I’ve already mentioned, it began with me putting up those walls, dropping out of things, initiating that radio silence. Getting to grips with my condition left me with little room for anything else.
It was hell.
The radio silence, for the record, might as well not have happened. After all, with no messages coming in to find out how things were, there was no point in maintaining that radio silence because there was nothing to respond to. Not that I would have been able to respond if there had been messages. With depression haunting my every waking moment, I didn’t want to talk to people. I didn’t have the energy. Because that’s one of the big problems with depression and other mental health struggles: the lack of energy. Responding to people, trying to find the words to explain how I was feeling…that took energy that I didn’t have.
That brings us back to first impressions. No one had noticed I wasn’t there, no one had thought to drop me a message to find out how things were going. That cemented itself into my mind and, when the messages finally started coming, it was too late.
I’d given up.
They were meaningless.
The Blame Culture
You see, we live in a culture that seems to emphasise blaming others for whatever is going on in our lives. Whether it’s a person, an object or something else, we will blame anyone or anything so long as we can avoid shouldering that responsibility. It’s far too common, isn’t it? I mean…have you ever heard someone use the excuse of “the dog ate my homework”? I’m sure that’s one you’ve heard of. Check these out (from the Reader’s Digest):
You see what I mean? We are so intent on escaping any kind of culpability that we will blame everything and anything else. And that’s what happens in these situations. People will give us those short, “heartfelt” reminders that we are “remembered” but then do nothing else. When we raise it as an issue, we are then told that we’re being ungrateful or that we never give them a chance or that we simply don’t message or don’t respond so why should they?
Likewise, we are quick to blame others when we lose contact with people or they don’t get in touch. Who is really to blame, though? After all, both parties could do more. We, as mental health sufferers, could try and message a bit more and see if we can keep in touch. Similarly, we as friends and family members supporting loved ones could make more effort to be understanding, compassionate, and realise that sometimes it might not be possible for the sufferer to message first.
At the end of the day, having that reminder that we are “remembered in thoughts and prayers” is a cop out. Why not replace it with actual direct questions? Granted, a lot of people think “Hi, how are you doing?” is a bit of a lame message, so why not take it the next level deeper? “Hi, how are things going? Been thinking of you lately. I’ve been doing X, Y or Z recently.” Make that little bit more effort.
Who knows? It might actually get you somewhere.
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Disclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified. This blog is based on my personal experiences only. Always seek medical advice in the first instance.