Every once in a while – writers and artists especially – hear all these questions about our lives, our likes, dislikes, the things we need and don’t need, what we want etc. I’ve never been good at answering these questions on the fly, so I’m writing a list of questions here (again) so that I can really think about what matters most to me.
This time’s topic is the future of mental health.
What Do Our Communities Need To Know About Mental Health Issues On The Fly?
The first thing that everyone needs to know is that mental health issues are incredibly complex and varied, and what works for one person, is not going to work for another person, no matter how much you want it to. For some people sobriety and fellowship from NA, AA, and other support groups can change a life for the better, for others, it’s just too much pressure.
We tend to look at and judge others by what they’re wearing. If they wear too much makeup we wonder what they’re hiding if their clothes are dirty we wonder if they are safe or tired, or on and on, but we rarely take the time to say “hey, what’s going on, and can I help?” because we don’t want to intrude.
Everyone’s stuff is so complicated and it can take years for the full weight of all of the things that people have gone through to settle, so sometimes when you see someone in the midst of trauma the best thing you can do is sit quietly and wait until they are ready to speak. I remember taking a houseless man out for a meal from the mall because the security at the mall was actually making things worse by being aggressive.
In reality, he was just hungry, lonely, and wanted someone to sit with him for a while. It was super easy to de-escalate a situation that could have ended violently because the security team had no concept of dealing with folk with mental health issues, but luckily I did.
Not everyone knows right away how to recognize a mental health breakdown, and not every situation is going to end with a meal and a nice conversation. Use your best judgement, and if you or anyone around you might be in danger, yes, obviously, call the police, BUT ask for a psych team. The Police around the world have specialized officers who know how to work with those who are having mental health breakdowns, MAKE SURE you ask for the psych team if they are available!
What are “Anti Triggers” or De-escalation Techniques that Work in Emergency Mental Health Situations
- Singing softly
- Going for a walk
- Taking several deep breaths
- Creating anything basically
- Consensual Self-Sensory Depervation (lights out sound off etc)
- Working out
- Smoking a joint or eating an edible for those of us who are able to do so
These are just some of the ways those of us who have mental health issues create anti-triggers to help us calm down after we’ve been overwhelmed and feel like we’ve been pushed into a corner.
Spending time away from the thing that is triggering you is absolutely key to calming yourself down, understanding this isn’t always possible, is the responsibility of those who you are surrounded by when dealing with mental health issues.
What Do You Do When Someone Says They Have Mental Health Issues?
First and foremost listen, and do not – ever – ask why. They have mental health issues because they’ve been through some shit, whether it’s something they are born with or something that happens and compounds over time, they’ve been through some shit. Accept that.
Ask what that means – and make it clear that they don’t have to tell you, but that you are willing to listen, but before that, and I cannot stress this enough, BE SURE YOU ARE READY TO HEAR THE ANSWER.
Not everyone is going to be as comfortable sharing their entire story and feeling their own shame as well as your judgements. “Why didn’t you leave?” “Why didn’t you say something?” are all valid questions but they aren’t valid questions that need to be asked when someone is coming to you with their issues.
We already know why: Fear, loss of power and or control, are the main reasons that people either don’t leave violent situations or don’t speak out.
Listen, offer hugs, respect the “no“, listen to the “yes,” understand that NO STILL MEANS NO, AND YES MEANS YES, but yes often for those of us who are victims of domestic violence and sexual trauma, need to have a conversation about the “yes,” because yes, consent can be revoked at any time at all. So when you’re ready to ask for the “yes,” make sure that you’re equally willing to talk about how the “no” might work as well.
Sex And Mental Health
Sex when it comes to mental health issues is a very diverse and scary topic. ESPECIALLY for those dealing with PTSD – it doesn’t matter what kind of PTSD or what triggered this particular part of your brain, all that matters is that if you have PTSD sex is complicated.
Especially because you’re having sex fully aware that there are triggers you might not be able to control at the moment, your brain goes to a million different places during sex, and yeah we’d all love to believe that our partner(s) is/are completely focused on us, but that’s not how the brain works.
Seratonin sends all the buttons in our brains going off in a billion different directions, that chemical alone can cause an overload of dopamine, which can cause a rise in adrenaline, and on and on, and it’s like a nuclear explosion in your head, not to mention what’s happening downstairs.
So all of that can be overwhelming, especially when your partner(s) is or are people who don’t understand that you have mental health issues – especially, especially when YOU don’t even know you have mental health issues. And yeah that happens more than most of us like to admit, hence the random breakdowns when we realize all the things.
So first and foremost, a conversation about what you like and what you don’t like is imperative, before during and after.
I personally don’t like to date because I’m not overly interested in an emotional connection for obvious reasons. As Alicia Keys once famously said: “That Situation is Handled.”
But for those of you who do, have the convo, take your time, experiment, and have fun. Sex is about connection, spiritual physical blah blah, but more importantly, it’s supposed to be fun, if it’s not fun, then it needs to stop immediately.
And I cannot say this enough: DO NOT EVER ASK YOUR PARTNER(S) IF THEY WANT CHILDREN IN THE MIDDLE OF SEX. You fucking moron. Yes, that happened. Ugh, men. I swear.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall