What’s Your Bat-Signal?

Hi, hellow, how are you one and all? It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and I have a very particular question for all of you today.

What is your bat-signal, and who knows to look for it?

If you’re suffering with mental health issues (I’ve got a list, myself), you know there are days when you hit a serious pothole emotionally. Mental power down, faculties down, functions at a minimum or even a full halt. Doctors will encourage us to reach out, to call emergency hotlines or help hotlines, but it’s hard to account for our further anxiety about The Fuss™ that comes after.

“I don’t want to cause trouble.”

“They’re busy.”

“It’s late.”

“It’s not that bad.”

We give ourselves an awful lot of reasons not to say “Help me.”

This is where a bat-signal comes in. It’s a little sign you prepare ahead of time to tell your friends, your family, your co-workers, or anyone else that you’re in a pretty bad way. You need help, but it’s hard to ask for it. You need help, but don’t want to “blow things out of proportion.”

You need help, period.

In the 2017-2018 school year, I was working on my second BA. I hadn’t taken a break from school in years. I always took classes through the summer, the few breaks from school I had were usually spent moving apartments. My family life imploded because I made a mistake, my mental and physical health were both in the garbage, my bank account almost never saw double digits. There were still days where I looked cheerful as anyone else.

There were also days where I sat in my doctor’s office in the clinic and made silly Emperor’s New Groove memes at my doctor while smiling and sobbing at the same time.

There were also days where I couldn’t physically speak.

That’s when I established my signal with my mother and roommates. Just the number “0.”

The reason was silly. I liked the anime Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? and in that series, running out of mana was termed mind zero. How appropriate — mental power at total zero. That was exactly how I felt, so “0” became my emergency signal.

I won’t lie and say I’ve been able to use it without hesitation, but I will say I can use it as a measure for myself. “Am I really on zero? Have my reserves been utterly drained?

“Am I sure I can’t keep going?”

Surprisingly, I often find in the asking that I have unaccounted reserves of determination to help me. The signal begins to act not as a crutch, but as a pressure valve. Since you’ve established the signal and how you want or need people to react to that signal, it creates a base of confidence. No one is going to freak out and call the funny farm on you just because you had a bad day. If they’re anything like my roommates, they’ll put the best anime romcom on TV, wrap you in every blanket in the apartment, and then cook dinner for you (because best freaking roommates). You’ll find your optimism again slowly, nurtured by people who know you need them instead of feeling like you have to “declare a code red.”

We know to alert people when we’re hurt. If we break a bone, we go to the hospital. If someone is trying to harm us, we call the police. If we’ve gone through a nasty break-up or falling out, we call people who are our emotional support. These groups are prepared and know what to do in these individual situations. Now it’s time to prepare them for you being you.

So tell me friends, what are you going to do about a bat-signal?

Happy Mental Health Awareness Month. May you spend it well. 💕

Keep on Growing. Keep on Hoping.

~Aviva

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