Okay my loves, let’s start a movement. I have high hopes for this one, for two reasons: One, I think it’s timely. And two, I think the world needs it. I think I need it and you need it. So here we go!
The #YellowLight movement: we are in a time of mental health awareness (thank goodness, #amiright?). I am inspired to know that mental health acceptance is on the rise. Resources for those of us who struggle with mental health diagnosis are becoming more common. Our families and friends can get help in supporting us too. This is all very good news. But I have noticed, that while there are great emergency services, and great routine services, there doesn’t seem to be enough in the middle. What do I mean, in the middle?
In the middle: I call it yellow light status. These are the times that most of us have, where we feel on the edge, unable to cope, struggling and yet still functioning (maybe just barely). We are not to red light status, in which Crisis Response should be involved or we need to go straight to a hospital. But we are not okay either.
I have thought a lot about this in-between state, and the yellow light idea came from helping a few friends through this type of period in their lives. After talking with a few people, it occurred to me that we don’t always need professional intervention, or someone with a degree, to help us in this time. (Don’t get me wrong, asking for help from professionals is often a good idea, and they should definitely be included when necessary.) But often times, we just need to talk to someone. We might need someone to listen while we talk through a problem. We might need someone to give us advice or new ideas around a situations we are in. We may just need someone to give us a hug while we cry it out. This type of support can come from community!
I have been blessed with tremendous community in my life. Unfortunately, not everyone in the world has the support they need. In an ever-increasing global community, I totally think we can become #yellowlight friends no matter where we are.
So, what do you do, as a #yellowlight friend? First, tell people that you are in, and that they can count on you. Second, when someone tells you they feel a bit like a #yellowlight, reach out to them. Be there for them in their time of need (this can be so meaningful for them and for you). Finally, get some resources. I suggest having the Crisis Intervention and Resource information handy (save it on your phone!) so that in the event you feel in over your head, you can help your friend get some red light resources. Research and share ways to help people in tough times. You may even learn some skills for yourself!
And for those of us who feel that we are in need of a #yellowlight friend, what can we do? I personally have a really hard time asking for help. And I know many of you do too. So much so, that at times I let myself hurt or feel alone just because I can’t utter the phrase “I need help.” That is a tough thing to admit. In an era of individualism, we celebrate all that we can accomplish on our own. But we must balance that with leaning on each other. No one was meant to do it all alone. And so, if you are feeling the feels and needing help, even if you don’t know what that help would look like, you can post #yellowlight. Or text a friend #yellowlight. Or tell someone: I’m having a #yellowlight kind of day. And those yellow light friends will respond.
We are making leaps and bounds as a community who accepts our limitations and where mental health disparities aren’t looked at with shame. And so when we find ourselves in that middle zone where things aren’t okay (but not so bad that we should head straight to the hospital), we need each other. We need to know who those #yellowlight friends are, and we need to have a simple way to reach out. You can be a #yellowlight friend and you can ask for a #yellowlight friend. Go spread the word, you yellows!
And know that I will be your #yellowlight friend, if you ever need…