With the recent tragic news about the deaths of Kate Spade, designer whose name was synonymous with style and fun, and Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef and TV host, it’s time that we really talk about mental health. Combined with data from the WHO (https://www.befrienders.org/suicide-statistics) showing that in the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 (male and female).
Emotional troubles don’t pay attention to income, and people who seem to “have it all” can also have the mental health difficulties that cause people to kill themselves.
“Whether you’re at church or at school or in an office, some portion of the room is having thoughts of suicide, now or recently,” said Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). “The fact is that if you think your life has not been touched by suicide ever, it probably means that it’s just not being talked about.” How can we be more open about mental health in the same way that we are open about physical health issues?
Those of us who work and live in busy and competitive urban areas, know too well the treadmill of daily routine, out of balance work-life harmony and the constant draw to our screens.
Adding to the stress of being trying to over up our anxiety and depression, there is the social stigma especially in Asia that surrounds talking about topics like depression, anxiety, therapy and suicide. We dare not talk about these things or even hint that we suffer from them for fear of being looked down upon or being weak and unprofessional. This fear creates a vacuum of isolation for us and sucks us into a deep vortex of dark thoughts. I’ve been there and done that and you can contact me to get a copy of my testimony of how I found my way out of depression and suicidal temptations.
How can we better handle and take care of our emotional health by infusing joy, meaning and connectedness to others?
Here are 4 suggestions you can take now to care for yourself emotionally:
1. Have Meaningful Conversations to Really Connect
Does anyone really have it all together? That friend who you see on social media and looks like she has a great job and fulfilling social life may seem all put together, but in reality could she be fighting her inner demons, struggling emotionally and crying herself to sleep when she’s alone?
You will never know if you only talk about small talk or gossip when you meet her for coffee or brunch. Those of us who know what it’s like to have been brushed aside or judged when we mention depression are wary of sharing our struggles with just anyone. So, it’s important to find safe people who we can truly connect with.
Truly connecting with friends and family now can offer the deep connections that give life meaning and give you a safe person to go to when you are at your wit’s end in your emotional struggle and you feel like you need to escape.
Identify safe people whom you can trust. Someone you can talk to and pray with when you are in a state of emotional crisis. You will know who these people are. Reach out to them and have a meaningful talk about how you are doing with emotional balance and let them know why you appreciate having them in your life.
If you have trouble opening up to friends and family, a mental health professional can be an independent, confidential person in whom to confide.
“There is effective treatment available and there is hope,” said Dr. Selena Snow, founder of the Snow Psychology Group.
2. Know Yourself and What Brings You Joy
Knowing yourself and listing down activities that bring you joy can be a lifesaving list. When you write down the things that give you a simple joy such as, painting, journaling, dancing, working out, praying, reading, watching a movie, you have an immediate go-to list you can use when you are feeling down. Keep it as a note on your phone so you can easily refer to it. Share this list with a safe person so that can help you refer to it when you need help.
3. Change the venue
When you are feeling down and locking yourself out of the world, ask for strength to get up and out and do an errand even if it’s just to go out for a coffee. Commit to getting up, wash your face, and freshening up before you leave the house.
4. Working Out Works
It’s evident that when you work out, your cortisol or stress hormones are greatly reduced and endorphins the feel-good hormones are released. I get that it can be hard to make yourself workout when you’re feeling down and don’t really want to pull a pair of leggings or sports bra on but rather lay down on your bed, so text a friend and invite them to workout with you and you’d be more likely to commit.
Another good idea is to invest in a few workout tools you can keep near your bed like resistance bands and dumbbells where you can just pick them up and start working out even in your bedroom.
Anyone who feels depressed, lonely or suicidal can call the following service numbers:
The Samaritans of Thailand 02-713-6793 (Thai), 02-713-6791 (English) or 02-713-6790 (for those interested in volunteering).
The Department of Mental Health can be reached on 1323 (Thai).
Samaritans of Thailand
(02) 713 6793 (Thai)
12:00 noon to 22:00 hours/day., 7 days a week
(02) 713-6791(English call back service within 24 hours)
24 hours/day, 7 days/week
(053) 225-977/8 (Thai)
19:00 – 22:00 hrs
(Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat)