In light of the hectic Easter Bank Holiday weekend kicking off after the day is done, I’m sure people everywhere are setting up for a weekend filled with alcohol and night’s out. Which is how it should be done and we all deserve to let our hair down and enjoy a long weekend with our friends and family.
HOWEVER, although we are all excited for a fun-filled four days in whatever way we wish to spend them, bank holiday weekends ring major alarm bells for myself and others who struggle with mental health. When the world takes a holiday from work, so does 99% of the mental health support available and as friends are intoxicated most of the four days, those in a dark place can hit new lows which are likely to go unnoticed, especially when alcohol is involved. Throughout the bank holiday weekend, mental health services take a break too, making reaching out even harder so during these times, we need to step up and offer support where we can.
Christmas time, festivities and bank holiday celebrations can be the darkest times for those in a low place – seeing everyone so happy and in love with life can only set in reminders that we don’t feel that way and no matter how hard we try to be positive and enjoy ourselves, there will always be a dark demon on our back telling us that we can’t.
I’m not saying that anyone should feel guilty for having a good time, no way. I just feel like I need to stress how important it is to look out for your friends on bank holiday weekends when mental health support is on a pause, alcohol consumption is at an all time high and those struggling feel like a burden or a kill-joy in happy situations.
Look out for the friends who carry on drinking when everyone stops, who act strange and show cries for help when intoxicated or who seem to be doing everything they can to shut out reality for a while. Masking mental health problems is even easier when everyone is in an alcohol fuelled environment, so just look out for your friends a little more and take the time to just check in before the night, during the night and especially when the night is over.
If you know of a friend in a dark place, please don’t let them ever feel alone especially on a long weekend known for spending time with friends. You may never understand what goes on after the night is done and everyone goes home. Shutting themselves away when the world is outside seemingly having a blast can seriously manipulate their thoughts and cause an overpowering sadness and a check in, conversation or a friend by your side seriously goes a long way.
Even when you’re all together, having fun and celebrating the long weekend with smiles on your faces, people can be hurting – it will forever amaze me how well mental struggles can be hidden with a 2 second smile and a laugh. I know they’re difficult to spot, I’m not saying everyone should be aware of their friend’s struggles because some hide them so well – just be cautious, be wary and be in the know that struggling people use alcohol to escape reality for a reason and problems with substance abuse definitely reveal themselves at times like these.
When the party is over and we all go home, I can’t stress how important it is to check in on your friends. There is no darker time for a struggling person than the end of an evening filled with alcohol, being completely alone – a toxic situation for anyone and even more so for those in a dark place.
It is so easy to ignore mental illness and just convince yourself that your friends are fine and will reach out if they need help, but we can’t really rely on that as a valid support. Just check in on people and look out for the warning signs or cries for help that people are using alcohol or substances as a barrier from reality.