Updated: Apr 1
I started this podcast with an open mind, not trying to define it. Though I'm often asked, "What is it about?" But how do you confine life into a sentence? Because at the end of the day, "Lost in Living" is about getting lost in the journey, learning and growing, and living every day to its fullest. Getting lost in loving life.
I wanted to share experiences and lessons from my own journey, To use my voice in an attempt to give others a voice, courage, and confidence, in a world that's almost designed to do the opposite. With social media and society's ideology of what we're meant to do and be, there's pressure at every turn. Even with mental health becoming more and more vocalized, there are still topics considered too much or not enough of a concern. Why?
Take this episode for example. A few people close to me were told early on what I would be talking about, and it was questioned whether I really wanted to talk about something so heavy so early. I was warned to tread lightly and asked why. I think my "why" is simply the fact that it was being questioned. It's still hard to talk about what I'm going to discuss today and even I have tiptoe around it, it may even bring a tear to two. But I want to stop that, even if it's only for one person. My aim is to shed light on these topics and normalize talking about them, whether you're directly impacted, indirectly impacted, or completely removed.
I often tell people who come to me with any challenge, seeking advice, or just wanting an ear, that how they are feeling is valid. Regardless of what is going on in the world, you have every right to feel how you need to feel about anything. This notion that there is always someone else worse off does zero to help us deal with our problems but instead creates guilt. Which most likely is only going to worsen how you feel. I hate that. I have experienced it before, and it only buried me more. If you feel like your situation is the worst ever, that is completely fine! Because that is the worst situation you have been in, in your world. It does not mean you are not empathetic. It only a reflection of your life and your situation, no one else's, why must we always compare? So it is okay! Don’t feel guilty, but instead, figure out why you feel like this. Dig deep and find the why. Explore if things went another way if you would be happier. Reflect, and plan forward. What has to be done to move in your right direction, not someone else’s direction, but yours? Do you need to talk to someone, a therapist, a life coach? Do you need a new job or relationship, etc.? In this process, we can head back to episode 1 and start again, move on to episode 2 confidence, and so on. Repeat the process infinitely until you get to where you need to be! There is no limit to how often you can do this. It is truly never too late.
The notion that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes seems to come with strings, like it’s okay, but is it really that bad? Especially for men, by no means only for men, but more often than not, for us, mental health is considered a weakness. We are told to harden up, suck it up, straighten up, don’t be weak, don’t be a sook, it’s unattractive, and so on. What’s weak about allowing yourself to feel, learn and grown? It’s the only way to heal; you gotta feel to heal. Growth sucks. I guess that’s why they call them growing pains. How do you expect to help anyone, be strong, or be someone's rock if you're not able to deal with your own stuff? So let’s break through this notion that it’s okay to not be okay, but. Let’s remove the but and start helping each other. Let's give each other courage to talk; that’s where the real strength comes, thats how we learn and grow! So, I am going to talk to you about one of my hardest challenges, a topic often avoided.
One of the darkest areas of mental health, a virtually untouchable topic, the real-world Voldemort, he who shall not be named - the black dog - suicide. It's an issue that has impacted more people than I ever realized before it touched my life. I find myself meeting people frequently who have experienced it in some way or another. For me, it was my best friend who took his own life, and it took me a long time to process the loss. There are no guidelines to grief, and the process was brutal. But it was this process that brought me here today, wanting to help people more than ever. Not being satisfied with simply making people smile for a moment. But wanting to help peoples hearts smile regularly and navigate through some of the worst parts of life so we can all enjoy the best parts more.
Suicide is still a challenging topic to talk about openly, and it still brings tears to my eyes. But I hope that one day, it won't be as avoided. The mental health movement is still relatively new, but I hope that it progresses from being an avoided topic to one that is safe to discuss openly.
I'm not judging people for not wanting to talk about it or be direct. It's a confronting topic, and it's tough, no matter who you are. But just as it's okay to not be okay, it's okay to express how not okay you might be and ask the hard questions if you think someone else is really struggling.
In order to express how we feel and ask someone directly, we need to be direct ourselves when asking too. However, more understanding is needed to achieve this, so here is my attempt to being normalising the conversation. First we need to understand the difference between suicide and self-harm, because they are often separate in most cases. Therefore, asking someone if they have tried or thought of self-harming might not be as direct as you might think. So, this is where we start turning on the lights.
Why is self-harm different? Often painted with the same brush, though it's not the same, its difference is the intent. Usually, someone self-harming has no intention to take their life, but usually trying to feel a different kind of pain from the one they are feeling. It's an escape from whatever mental battles they think they can not confront, or to actualise the pain they feel mentally and making it physical.
Whereas suicide, well, it’s clear what that is. For whatever reason, they just no longer want to continue this journey and are ready for the next chapter.
Eaqually hard to talk about but both deserve way more light, which is why I decided to dive into them. In an attempt to let people feel unjudged and give more strength or confidence, knowing its truly okay, and it's okay to talk about it, no matter what. Who knows how many people might benefit from a chat like this? But there's still way too much judgment and blaming going on with both these topics.
You often hear people say it's an attention grab. So what if it's an attention grab? That person clearly needs someone to talk to! Be the ear. Don't judge, communicate, and let them know it’s okay to talk about anything they need to talk about because they clearly don't feel like they can. ALLOW PEOPLE TO TALK ABOUT HOW THEY REALLY FEEL. I can’t stress it enough; let people unconditionally feel. You also hear the term selfish thrown around, which is I hate. There's nothing selfish about it. It's often selfless; they feel like a burden or alone. I truly believe that by opening the dialogue, this might change.
These are all my opinions, based on stuff I've witnessed on my journey. Hopefully, from my experiences and lessons, we can shed more light on the topics, normalize being truly open and direct. Easier said than done, I know, but hopefully, one day, it won't be.
I mentioned Jimmy, my best mate, basically a brother. He had multiple suicide attempts before he left. He battled, and although I was always there for him, made sure he felt safe, and never guilty about it, hoped he knew he always had someone to lean on. I still didn't directly ask or talk about it. It was more of a "how are you doing?" and "you know I've got your back" kind of thing, which is probably why I blamed myself so much. I didn't know how to directly ask. Something I have learnt, as I've had conversations like this since, specifically during Covid with people in a bad way or lost. The ability to ask "Have you thought about ending your life?", gave the individuals confidence to answer freely, knowing I wasn't judging, and it helped that person in the moment a lot. See by not avoiding it myself, gave people the strength to not avoid it also.
By openly asking and allowing honest dialogue, we do give more freedom, courage, and confidence to confront this issue instead of hiding or avoiding it, and we can remove the shame and guilt.
But how do we ask without coming across as confrontational or demanding? Well, it's the same as any other question. It's about tone and body language. How do you ask someone you care about if they are okay? With your chest out and a deep, demanding tone, towering over them? Or would you be softer, more relaxed, sitting or standing at the same level? It has to be the same as any other question we may ask with concern and care, not treated differently
One thing, I find myself often doing these days, to spark reflection, Is asking WHY? Why are we too scared to ask direct questions when it comes to suicide? Why is there so much shame, guilt, and judgment surrounding mental health when it's starting to take center stage? Maybe its simply we are afraid, I don't know, but what I do know based on both experience and conversation, is that it impacts so many more lives than we realize. So, I guess to lead by example, I’ll be the first to say that thoughts of suicide have crossed my mind many, many years ago and I could write a book with names alone of people I know who have battled with it, left to sit alone with their thoughts, too scared to talk about it. Yes I did get through it, though many others don't. So, let's try change that with a new approach. Let's start talking, asking, and being there without holding back, tip toeing or being scared. Lets normalise the hard stuff, evolve from its okay to not be okay to expressing how not okay we are so we can truly help each other.
It's not weak to talk. It's not weak if the thought has crossed your mind. But the strength we can gain from talking about it can help countless people on both sides of the fence. With these conversations comes understanding, and with understanding comes the ability to converse more effectively, and through effective conversation we can genuinely help each other.