By Alexander Taylor
Be More Jean
I went for a run in June.
I try to do this often. It helps with my depression.
It started with a thought. A small pervasive one in the back of my head. The hard part about thoughts, as we all well know, is that you can’t unthink something. It’s almost impossible to tell your brain to not think about a pink elephant. My pink elephant in the room was a break up.
It had happened recently, but the reality only set in on the run. Putting one foot before the other is often a time for reflection. I was having difficulty running, so stopped, sat down on the pavement, and had a little cry.
Here’s a cheeky venn to explain the story so far:
In the half hour I was sat, maybe 20 people passed me. 15 of those avoided eye contact as much as possible, or became fascinated with the pavement. 4, or 2 white vans of 2 white van men, jeered. 1 was Jean.
I didn’t know Jean before she came over. But she did.
She took a seat next to me and asked if I was okay. She offered me a cup of tea at her house. It wouldn’t be too much trouble, she said. And yes, it would be possible to get a tissue.
Jean had a living room full of pictures and potted plants. There was a box of tissues ready to go. She sat on a chair that didn’t quite face me and asked me questions. Was the break up recent? Did mental health play a part in the sadness? Did I take milk?
Jean didn’t have any answers for me. She didn’t have any advice to give. But she was there. And that was really important. I needed to just… release on someone. Let it all out.
I have a very typical, very male, response to the world of emotions. If I feel anything other than “good”, I’ll lock that away. I won’t tell other people. I do it instinctively. I have to actively work out when I’m doing it, and put an end to the behaviour.
It’s really important that we listen to people who are going through something difficult. It might be an issue we have no familiarity with.
That means we can ask questions. Hear them out. Let them feel understood. It can be a big, scary world. It’s reassuring at least to know there are people out there, with real emotions and real arms that give things called “hugs”. So that being said…
Listen to people.
Or find someone to listen to you.
Lots of love,
Alex (a.k.a. Your potential Jean) x