Article by Fashion Fix Daily guest writer Fiona Thomas.
At the age of 31, I’m finally able to call myself an adult. I suppose technically I could have done this at the age of 16 when I first had sexual intercourse, or on my eighteenth birthday when I had my first (legal) alcoholic drink but even when I got married at 26 I felt like a child dressed up in a costume, playing at ‘getting married’ whilst I walked down the aisle.
I realised last week that the reason I now feel able to consider myself a ‘responsible adult’ is that I’ve now got the skills to deal with situations which I used to feel ill-equipped for. When it was announced that not one but two well-known celebrities have died in the space of a few days by suicide I felt deeply saddened, but also ready to have difficult conversations with a lot of people. Reading the news that two incredibly successful people who were well-loved and respected in their field had died to suicide gave me a flashback, to a memory I’d rather forget. But it also shone a light on how much I’ve learned about mental health in the last ten years.
When my schoolfriend drunkenly confided in me about his failed suicide attempt at the age of fifteen I was confused and scared. I’m embarrassed to say that I stood by and did nothing. One minute we were two kids sharing a bottle of cider on a park bench and the next, he was describing to me in detail how and when he had tried to take his own life a few weeks before. I didn't know to react. It was like I was having an out of body experience, watching a scene from Eastenders or Home and Away, because nothing this serious had ever happened in my sheltered existence before. I instinctively laughed and asked if he was serious. When I realised that he was and that no one would joke about such a thing, I put my arm around him and muttered “I’m sorry” in some attempt at consoling him. “I love you, we all love you. Please don’t do that again” I said.
We continued to knock back our corner shop booze and I somehow managed to change the subject, and as quickly as the disturbing topic had come up - it disappeared. In my defence, I had never been told what depression was. To me, mental illness meant that you were locked up in an insane asylum or strapped to a bed for your own safety, yet here is was displayed in my friend who absolutely ‘normal' by my standards.
As an adult with depression, I now know that telling someone about your dark thoughts is a big deal. It means that you really want help, but that you need someone else to take control and put you in front of the right people. But back then the main reason I didn't tell anyone about my friend was that I was worried that —wait for it— he would fall out with me. I didn’t tell a teacher, my parents or his parents about his attempt to take his own life because I was afraid he would be annoyed. Although now I can see that his safety should have taken priority, the truth is that’s how teenagers think. They’re selfish. They don’t think about long-term consequences, but instead about the day-to-day impact of their actions on themselves. They are immersed in learning and education, but mental health information is still a problem.
We need to talk about mental health, suicide and how to deal with them to adults but please don't forget our children.
Fiona Thomas is a freelance writer as seen in Metro, Healthline, Happiful and Reader’s Digest. She is currently writing her first book all about mental health which will be out in November 2018.