Recently I spent an entire day with a beautiful individual giving our time and raising money to a great charity organization. No one knew that as he was giving so much to others, he was the one that needed the help. Trevor O’Keefe was a decorated RCMP officer, he lived his life constantly giving to other people in need and pushing his personal needs aside. Corporal O’Keefe is one of countless first responders that are suffering from PTSD quietly. First responders are constantly witnessing horrific things and then expected to “suck it up” and continue with their everyday lives. Now that we are more comfortable with speaking out about mental health issues we need to bring the awareness to absolutely everyone regardless of occupation, race, gender, etc. “When ‘I’ is replaced by ‘we’ illness becomes wellness.” First responders are constantly keeping us safe and making us their first priority but when it comes to their mental health no one is putting them first.
A few years ago my friend came to class with marks on his arms. It was clear these were from self-harm. Since I had met him, he never had such marks. Everyone in my friend group noticed, but none of us asked him about it. Later that day, another one of my friends told me that he had a rough night which involved a lot of tears and blood.
On the following weekend I was texting this friend, just having a normal conversation when he asked if I could call him. I was out running errands with my mom, and asked if I could call him when I got home. He said this was fine.
Many hours later, I got home. I was tired from being out all day and just wanted to go to bed. But, I knew my friend went through a rough patch earlier that week and wanted to talk. So, I called him. Almost immediately into our conversation he began telling me why he had self-harmed that week and that he used to do so regularly. I spoke with him for over an hour. I made it clear to him that I understood that he did what he did because in the moment it seemed like the only option. I advised him to first speak to someone when he’s upset, as this can often make people feel a lot better. I made sure he was alright before hanging up the phone.
After our conversation, I was very thankful he reached out to me. I was happy that I could be there to listen to him and offer a hint of advice. He has not come to me to for help since this incident, but I am still in contact and know he is doing much better today. I hope he knows I am always hear to listen.
My advice to anyone in a similar situation, is to call the individual. Even if you don’t feel like talking in that moment. Someone who reaches out, may desperately need you to listen. A call can save a life.
In this addition of Sing It Out, we will be taking a look at Demi Lovato’s song, Warrior. The song tells the story of a survivor, who is telling their story of struggles as Lovato wrote it about her struggles with her mental health and self-harm.
According to a google search, self harm is the “intentional, direct injury of body tissue most often done without suicidal intentions.” A person who self harms will explain their behaviour as a way of dealing with situations out of their control and feelings toward difficult or painful experiences. Most self harmers attempt to keep it hidden, and it may also become addicting as a release for some.