[17:15, 08/07/2021] Claire [audio]: So, I think Yasmin needs to be curtailed a bit, if I'm honest. Some of the shit that she comes out with is a little bit over the top and definitely triggering to some individuals. In the past, I received quite a lot of messages from her, and then I shut it down really rapidly, and again she started messaging me the other day, like... And, I've pretty much made it clear that I don't want to talk to her... So I think it's a sort of pattern of behaviour from her... You know, and threatening to commit suicide because someone's hanging out with someone else is, you know, is actually just horrendously coercive, controlling behaviour... I think, I think Yasmin really has some issues going on right now and clearly needs a lot of professional help and obviously we need to be sympathetic towards her but we can't also let her damage any other members of the group or upset other people, basically. And I know she causes a lot of drama, so... My opinion is maybe a temporary ban. Or, you know, offline chat with an admin or something, but, you know, that is my two cents.
I was on the fence about whether to reply, as it is a delicate situation and I did not feel comfortable replying in the WhatsApp group. I was also aware that I had not been personally asked for an opinion and did not know whether or not I should be involved.
But I felt that I ought to say something.
As I hinted on Saturday, my concern was less about Yasmin and more about the way in which Claire responded. It was not nice.
Having been through similar before (2 years ago) in which I was suspended from Mind's community message board "EleFriends", I felt upset and unsettled by the way in which Claire seemed to be judging, downplaying and invalidating Yasmin's experience. It might have taken a lot of bravery and courage for Yasmin to come forward about her depression. I think that the "shutting down" / "blocking" approach (as Claire suggested) is the worst possible action that one can take to alienate someone who is walking out of their life, especially when it is hard to know who to turn to. If anything, it might make someone even more inclined to go through with it.
I have not seen Yasmin's messages or any messages between her and Claire. Maybe I am not the best person to give an opinion? But this is not necessarily about Yasmin in particular. It is about the handling of these situations in general. My main reason for saying something is that I would be afraid if the "disengagement" approach became a default.
I know we might not be trained counsellors / therapists (to my knowledge). I can empathise with someone who finds suicidal talk difficult to deal with and might feel inclined to "shut down". But that makes it all the more important to talk about it and provide additional channels / outlets for the person experiencing it, rather than restricting their options. I am glad that Sam L has raised awareness of it and I think that setting up a support network like he has done is perfect. 💜
Sam L would not go as far as saying that he has set up a support network! But he definitely did not want to leave it unaddressed. Maybe not 😊 but it is a good thing that he has arranged the cinema trip.
But I think that invalidating Yasmin (or anyone's) actions as "shit she comes out with", "over the top", "coercive", "controlling", "damaging", "upsetting other people" or "drama" is damaging in itself.
And that is why I wanted to say something because I found it unsettling hearing it described in this way and I was concerned about this language becoming "normalised".
If it looks like things are going in that direction again and (as organisers) we were not showing enough empathy to those that are struggling, Sam L will be happy to back me up / speak up in that regard.
I did not want to say anything in the group in case it caused tension. But I know that we spoke briefly about it on Saturday evening. And I had the impression that maybe Sam L felt similar. Yes, he has been through periods before when he has had high levels of depression / anxiety (though not at the level of wanting to go through with suicide), he has had to take friends to the hospital after overdosing, he knows others who have committed suicide etc... So, it is relatively close to home.
I think that he understands. I cannot speak on behalf of what anyone is thinking or feeling. But from my own experience, I know that it is extremely difficult when under considerable psychological stress and uncertainty to know who to trust and why it is so important to raise a cry for help when you are in that dark place and do not know who else to turn to (someone might not have the time, energy or capacity to help another person despite their best intentions). Which makes it all the more important to have as many options available as possible.
It is bad enough "shutting down" on a person. But criminalising / victim blaming someone for reaching out and describing her behaviour in such Draconian terms or making such accusations is taking it a step too far.
There is a cycle that needs to be broken and a communication barrier that needs to be overcome.
As far as Yasmin goes, it would probably be best to not mention that we have been discussing her. When Sam L spoke to her the other day, she felt upset that someone told him what she was saying to them in confidence and said she that she did not want him discussing it with anyone else (after he had already posted in the organisers chat). If I want to offer a sympathetic ear, it will probably be best received if I do it from a point of what I know from her posts in the general channels?
I think that is sensible. I have not met her yet and I have not seen any of the messages. There is no reason for me to know what is going on. It was more about the way in which it was being spoken about and how it might be spoken about in future. I mean, depression and suicidal ideation in general. And something that I needed to get off my chest.
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I have been recommended to acknowledge and process all that I have been though, where it all started from how it has affected me.