Written by Nick, our Library Manager
Over 11 million people in this country tuned in to watch Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry this week, and a lot of us will have been watching entirely different things. For some viewers, this was a vicarious slice of juicy high society gossip, a bonus watch until the next season of ‘The Crown’. For others, it was an opportunity to confirm (or possibly challenge) their pre-existing feelings and opinions about the Sussexes. For many, though, the interview may have resonated on other levels, and raised issues far beyond any special interest in the Royal Family or details about these specific individuals.
One of the main thoughts I took away was how much courage it takes to ask for help. To admit to being in pain. To be finding life difficult. We don’t have to be public figures to feel exposed to hostility, criticism and judgment, or unsupported, or out of our depth. We can be damaged by racism, disablism and bullying. I was talking to a friend just yesterday about how we can all so easily be overwhelmed both by huge factors that we feel we can have no direct influence on (such as climate change, COVID and global politics) and the weight of responsibility for getting right what we do have power over.
I was speaking to somebody else today who had little sympathy for Meghan and Harry, because of their position, but for each of us, our pain is our pain. Of course, our circumstances differ, and there will always be somebody, – many millions of people, frankly -, who are undergoing far more trying circumstances than I ever will, every second of every day, maybe even you, reading this, but that doesn’t mean that my own insecurities, fears, wild thoughts, emotional cliff-drops and physical aches and irks aren’t real. We all carry around a universe inside our skins, inside our head and our bodies, and those universes can be full of wonder and full of terror, of warm radiant suns and dead moons and empty Space and… You get the idea!
During the interview, Meghan and Harry talked about finally speaking to those around them, admitting that they needed help and asking for that support. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to have a network where they were that could provide this, though thankfully they had friends who could and did offer sanctuary. I may spend some time thinking about who I would talk to, or where I would go, if what I’m mostly able to manage became unmanageable. Meanwhile, here are a few places and services that I know do offer good support:
If your life is at risk right now
If you feel like you might attempt suicide, or may have seriously harmed yourself, you need urgent medical help. Please:
- call 999 for an ambulance
- go straight to A&E, if you can
- call the Barnet crisis team on 0800 151 0023
All these services are open 24/7
If you can’t do this by yourself, ask someone to help you. Mental health emergencies are serious. You’re not wasting anyone’s time.
If you need someone to talk to
- Contact Samaritans on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The phone line is open 24/7, and Samaritans aims to respond to emails within 24 hours. Find out more at https://www.samaritans.org/
- Text SHOUT to 85258
The Crisis Text line is open 24/7, and aims to respond to messages within five minutes. Find out more at https://www.crisistextline.uk/
If you are worried about domestic abuse
- Contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247, or find other ways to contact them at https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/How-can-we-support-you
The Helpline is open 24/7. The availability of other contact methods varies; please visit the above link for further information
If you don’t have enough food
- Contact the Trussell Trust on 0808 208 2138, or go to https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/ to find your nearest food bank
Nick joined Inclusion Barnet in April 2017 when they went into partnership with Barnet Libraries to run both South Friern and New Barnet public libraries.
Prior to this, he worked for many years at Barnet & Southgate College, delivering beginners IT classes in several Barnet library branches.
Nick is a fervent supporter of public libraries and was excited to join Inclusion Barnet in their venture to maintain and extend the inclusive, life enriching services they offer.