"There is no problem too big to solve"... my take on mental health

Suicide is my greatest fear. Not for myself, but for the ones I hold closest. To feel helpless while they are in pain is a thought that is literally too much to bear. I grew up with my parents telling me, every time I found myself in adversity, that there is no problem too big that we couldn’t solve together – and they have continually proven this to be true.

Almost three years ago, suicide touched my inner circle and for the first time, I watched those closest to me struck with the most unimaginable pain. While I’ve had to deal with death first-hand since primary school when I began to say goodbye to my Grandparents, dealing with the grief that came with suicide was something I could have never anticipated nor prepared myself for.

Death is difficult to deal with in any capacity, however when it is the loss of someone with so much life still to live, it hits you like a heavy blow to the chest and takes your breath away like nothing else. Your outlook is altered forever and you never quite get all your breath back – or at least, I still haven’t. It’s as if you’re on tenterhooks, indefinitely waiting, and praying that it’s not any of your loved ones next.

Life has been different ever since. I have an increased consciousness when it comes to how I communicate with those around me. It’s as if my empathy dial has been turned all the way up, and is now unable to retract. I have asserted myself as the person that those closest to me come to when they need advice or need to talk. I’ve been to-ing and fro-ing over whether this characteristic is as much a fault as it is a strength because perhaps I neglect my own mental health in the process of trying to preserve that of those around me? I have this incessant need to nurture, to take my loved ones under my wing and have them understand what I was taught – that no problem is too big to solve.

It simply isn’t enough when we constantly reiterate the idea that when your mental health is under strain, you have to talk. We need to focus on creating that environment so that when people are ready to take that step and let people in, they know they’re being listened to. I’ve had my own struggles that I’ve never spoken to anyone about and to be honest, I don’t know that I ever will. What got me through though, was knowing that I had all the right people around me to confide in, if I ever felt ready and able to do that.

What happened to Caroline Flack is absolutely devastating and left me speechless when the news first began to circulate on social media. As an onlooker you begin to search for reasons why. Why would someone who appeared so positive and put-together in the public eye ever even contemplate suicide? How could her happy façade be hiding such a crumbling soul? One aspect in particular of the situation has left me at a loss for words - the relationship between celebrity and privacy within the British tabloid press.

Navigating modern life in the era of social media is difficult for the best of us. The four walls of our homes used to protect us from the negativity beyond its parameters, but now, we invite people behind closed doors whether literally, through our obsession with image sharing, or figuratively, by allowing the judgement and opinions of those we don’t know to permeate our minds. Social media has created an online paradox where we are all capable of instantaneously spewing whatever’s on our minds, forgetting our unconscionable social commentary is being delivered to real people with real feelings, operating under the veil of ‘celebrity’.

I find the idea of invasion of privacy being ‘part and parcel’ of celebrity culture defended by the concept of public interest, troubling. Is it in the public interest to berate Meghan Markle for wearing a one shoulder dress? Is it in the public interest to shame Katie Price with unsolicited images of the inside of her home? Is it in the public interest to consistently label Caroline Flack a cougar and publish details about her love life?