Is it lack of care, or understanding?

A friend came to visit me last weekend, and she told me the unfortunate news that her grandma had died.

It got me thinking. It got me thinking about mental health. I was thinking about her mental health and how this death may have affected her. The day before, I’d also written to a friend who has just been released from an eating disorder clinic. All this thinking got me down, and a little worked up. I got home, my flat mate text me, and I told her that I was taking a little time out to be in my room.

She continued to text me. I told her about my four friends. I told her about the eating disorders, the depression, the self harm, the attempted suicide, and the rape. I mentioned no names, and I wasn’t specific about who and what. The talking didn’t help. I got emotional, and I got worked up. She just didn’t get it.

I’m slowly realising that sometimes, it’s not that people don’t care, they simply don’t understand. ‘Why would anyone self harm?’ she said. ‘It’s just so selfish.’ I wasn’t in the mood to explain, but I tried. Explaining by text isn’t easy, and still, she didn’t get it. Unless you’ve lived through it, I’m not sure you ever can get it. Even I, as someone supporting people going through it, cannot ‘get it’ completely.

It made me realise though, perhaps those people who don’t do anything do care, they just don’t understand. They don’t understand that this isn’t chosen, and that it’s not something that will cure itself.

I told her about leavers and I told her that I’d tried to tell adults and I told her how worried I was. Still, I said no names. I told my flat mate about the mother who denied her child’s eating disorder. The people that didn’t believe me when I nearly messed up my friendship by making a desperate cry for someone to help her.

My flat mate couldn’t understand why the adults wouldn’t listen. But I think that my flat mate has helped me to understand. These people are just not sure what they can do. It can be tricky to help someone when you know that in all honesty, they don’t really want to be helped. It can be tricky to try and help, because in helping, you take some responsibility. Taking responsibility for something that is so destructive and you know that you’re going to struggle to change can be hard. I know. Because I’ve been trying to help for months.

Five minutes later, after drying my eyes and breathing deeply, I walked out of my room. It just so happened that my flat mate walked out at the same time. She smiled. ‘Ready to make dinner?’ ‘Yeah,’ I said.

We have an unspoken rule, I thought. We only have deep conversations by text.

And this could be very dangerous.

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One thought on “Is it lack of care, or understanding?

  1. I think it’s true that a lot of people honestly don’t understand mental health issues, as much as they’d like to help or as much as they do care. People have said so many thoughtless things to me about my eating disorder, and I have to remind myself that they don’t mean them in a bad way, they just don’t understand what’s going on.

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