I’ve been really impressed lately with the Head Together foundation in general, and their message of #oktosay – I spotted today that they’ve got their own emoji with their hashtag on Twitter, so its clearly going places! Not that a campaign led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry was ever really going to disappear into the tumbleweed…
If you haven’t seen the campaign, take a look at their website. No doubt we will all hear a lot more about it in the next week or so, as they are the official charity partner of the London Marathon, which can only be a good thing for the nation’s mental wellbeing.
Its message is simple – promote mental wellbeing, look after each other, and talk. Hardly rocket science, but sadly just doesn’t happen enough for people. I think its brilliant that not only are they raising awareness of mental illness, but promoting mental wellbeing in the first place. Just as we (attempt) to look after our physical health, we should actively look after our mental health too. We shouldn’t be waiting until we are at the bottom of the pit, before we do something about it.
The videos, stories and messages that they share, and the celebrities and everyday people that they have got involved, just shows how important mental wellbeing is for everyone and anyone. We can all be affected by the things happening in our lives. There is also no competition – there should be no rhetoric of “oh, but he’s had it tougher than me, why am I complaining?” Ultimately, we all lead individual lives, and if we need help, we need help. It doesn’t matter if you think someone is worse off. Somebody else’s pain or struggle, doesn’t invalidate yours, does it?
This past year or so has really proven the importance of talking. Writing (which I would consider talking!) has been my absolute lifeline. I cannot process what our grief journey would have been like, had I not started this blog. It has led to so much, and will continue to lead to more, no doubt. In the early days, it was something I was very unsure of. What would people think? Could I open myself up like that to people I knew? Was I going to worry my family if I was ‘too sad’? Would I look self-involved?
More than a year later, I would recommend writing to anyone going through any level of shit. It doesn’t matter if its one line, or one book. Online, private, hand written, typed, in your phone, on a computer, or a post-it note. Wherever. You can do what you want with it. Destroy it. Publish it. Just write. Something. Its so cathartic. And if it also starts a conversation, then even better.
Sharing our ‘journey’ (I hate that phrase!) so publicly isn’t something I would usually do. But it has led me to talk to some incredible people. It has normalised our experiences, feelings and emotions. It has promoted our honesty with each other, and ourselves. It has identified ways to get help when we have needed it. It has helped us prepare for difficulties that lie ahead in pregnancy and parenting after loss. It has given us the freedom to be fully open and honest with people who will not judge. Especially those who share our pain. Baby Loss really takes you to some unknown places. Its a physical and mental challenge. Talking has fuelled our dark humour and protected our sanity. It has given us the best of friends. People I wish I never knew, but I’m so glad that I do.
It has helped others open up too. It has helped friends, family, even strangers, talk to us about their own feelings, emotions and experiences – as well as talk to us about ours. It has allowed others to know how best to support us. It has generated empathy, compassionate and understanding. It has given others an outlet, and opportunity to share vicariously how they too are feeling. It has encouraged others to share, first hand, their own story, with their own words.
We are not healed. We never really will be. But it really is #oktosay it hurts, that its beyond shit, that you are angry, guilty, broken, tired, exhausted, depressed, anxious, struggling, perhaps even feeling better, hopeful, or just scared. Whatever it is you feel, its #oktosay. Because, someone else out there will also feel those things. And that is a beautiful thing. When you realise that you are not alone in your feelings. For me, thats whats so poignant about Tommy’s recognising us all in the Mum’s Voice Award – to celebrate that openness.
Social media gets a lot of bad press – I’m not always its biggest fan. Yet, it has changed grief for me. Its given me an outlet, a way to process, a safe place, and the absolute best of friends. It allows campaigns like Heads Together to connect with people who need it. It allows people to discover organisations that can help them. It can and will change futures.
PS – Obviously there is no #ad situ going on here. That would just be a bit odd. I just wanted to share something that always stops me mindlessly scrolling, makes me think, and feel empowered.
– J x