*Disclaimer: In this blog post there will be a mix of present and past tense – just to show that things are quite fluid around here. 🙂
On World Mental Health Day 2022 (October 10), I shared this post on my Instagram and shared a bit about my mental health journey. I received quite a bit of DMs and a friend of mine sent me a message wanting to know if there are specific things my support system did for me/my followers that we find/found helpful:
I posed the above question to my community for them to chime in but before I read their responses, I decided to share first:
Two friends shared playlists with me and I enjoyed that. With 3 months of no work, I had a lot of time to pass and I listened during when I’d go on walks.
Handwritten letters. I love handwritten notes and I really appreciated the effort as it came all the way from a friend in Ghana. The letters also did not mention anything related to mental health.
Prayers from trusted individuals because at some point I wasn’t talking to God anymore because I was SO pissed at Him. I’d say to Him, “Idk why you’re making me go through this but you should know that it’s not fair.” 😂 Really hilarious the kind of convos I have with Him.
Additional things I wish my support system did for me:
Sending me food. I would have appreciated if my friends ordered some of my faves to my house. This is such a big deal for me because everyone always assumes I’m all covered when it comes to food but on most days when I was going through it, I couldn’t be bothered with eating.
For my friends to just spend some time with me and just sit with me. My core friends no longer live around me so I would have appreciated if they came to visit and just sat with me. Nothing fancy. I wasn’t working for 3 solid months and for me, that is a LONGGG time of doing nothing.
After I read through all of the responses I received via IG, WhatsApp (my friends sent me other bits through here), and regular text messages, I felt inclined to compile a list of actions/services, etc. that people shared they find/found helpful when they are/were going through a tough time. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but I am sharing because a lot of times people don’t know what to do or what to say to their loved ones when they are going through different challenges.
Entries sent in from my community:
I hate when people trauma dump without asking where I’m at mentally. If I’m having a rough month mentally, I’ll be even worse after you tell me your problems, because I will be unable to rationally help and beat myself up for not being a better friend. It’s a hell of loop.
I just wanted someone to listen to me and not try to make me a project to be fixed.
People taking the initiative to do things for me instead of asking.
Spending physical time with me and if we went out, covering the bill.
Listen and not feel pressed to advice. And not belittle what I’m going through by comparing.
I think for me what helped was knowing I had people in my corer. Sometimes it’s not what they said but knowing that there’s someone else holding space for me. A lot of people said the wrong things tbh. But the ones who cared asked questions about what I needed instead of assuming and giving advice.
Grace/understanding. My room being messy isn’t because I am lazy/dirty.
Just listen and stop being judgmental sometimes.
Friends that send food/delivery gift cards because they know I forget to eat/cook.
Planning cute hangouts at my place or theirs like a movie night to get me out of my head.
I kept saying it everyday to my husband, because it sometimes doesn’t sound real to them, so I kept saying it out loud, everything I feel like doing, even if my expression is totally different wow. People hate to hear this but I PRAYED & told people I trusted to pray and ask God for strength on my behalf. I literally just said words of prayers throughout the day. And I tried to always be in church, the thoughts were more controlled, teachings & prayers again HELPED me and of course some people that randomly told me encouraging things on these social media streets, when they say be kind as you don’t know what people are dealing with. God bless them again – just thankful it’s now in the past.
Come be with me, [be]cause I can’t pick your calls.
Pray[ing] for me.
Read[ing] to me.
My friends in Accra knew I liked the beach so they took me there one day & just sat with me. I cried, laughed and got hugs from them in between. It was such a nice day. It meant a lot to me then & still do.
People to help me do chores/everyday things for survival. I’ve had people do dishes, clean apartment, send me food, send me money to buy food. Helps when you don’t have the bandwidth. They did this without me asking. It was a “hey I’m coming over to hang out” and that just turns into a day of me being cared for without asking. Sometimes the hardest part about dealing with depression is the asking part so it helps when folks just do stuff. 💕
When people just sit with me in my feelings. Like just sitting and listening without problem solving and saying affirming things that center me rather than trying to fix me goes a long way.
Started seeing a therapist and I wish people had mentioned that earlier and not brushed off my emotions with comments like, “It’s nothing, it’s not a big deal”. “I have actually gone through worse, yours is nothing.” The fact that you or someone has gone through something does not invalidate or trivialize my problem. And sometimes, I wish people could just be listening ear instead of giving advice and recommend even before hearing half of the story. In all, I’m in a better place than I was 6 months ago. From my experience, if you are wondering whether you need therapy, YOU NEED THERAPY. One thing I heard in therapy, “Sometimes, we go to therapy for the sessions our parents didn’t go for.”
Writing positive things about myself… and what I love about myself. We live in a world we constantly see faults about ourself on a daily basis. We forget to see and remind ourselves of the good. Additionally, communicating my thoughts rather than suppressing them and being like « I should have ». Finally, realizing I can’t be there for everyone. It’s ok to be selfish and think of myself first. I’m those people who always try to help people. But I’m setting limits and not killing myself to help others. Lastly choosing your therapist, by finding someone who’s good for you. I’m in [redacted – European country] but my therapist is in Ghana.My health insurance would have paid for a therapist in [redacted – European country] but there would have always been a cultural gab. The person I found is European but has stayed in Ghana for a while. A mix between the two cultures was great for me. And they were the only person who didn’t mention money in the first email.
I had childhood friends (who i barely talk to because busy schedules and distance)who felt in their spirit that something was wrong with me and checked on me randomly.
I had friends stay on the phone with me sometimes when my mind wasn’t at rest
One friend checked on me daily and asked me to describe how I felt in detail if I could
Some friends prayed with me
Some friends came to take me out to just do anything but stay home
My mum was my backbone. She would call everyday. I would cry on the phone to her and she’ll drop everything to talk to me whenever I needed.
My sisters constantly checked on me and made sure I was okay.
It’s possible that your family member, friend, or loved one may not find anything listed here helpful/useful, but again – sharing just so we can have some sort of resource. If there’s something else that you would like to add, I would love to hear from you! Please add in the comments and let’s learn from one another.
Adwoa aka Rich Auntie Sammie ❤️
*This blog post is NOT professional advice. Please seek professional assistance if and when needed.