Last week was Mental Health week, and its theme was kindness. I meant to jump on the bandwagon and write about some kind of shit, but alas, the COVID-19 lockdown rollercoaster had different plans for me. I also feel that one week a year is insufficient to highlight the importance of mental health. The wellbeing of our minds should be on the forefront of our health, 52 weeks a year. Too many people still die and live in shame because of poor mental health.
We need to get some kind of acceptance that our mental wellbeing is as important as our physical wellbeing. My mind is stuck in my body 24/7 for the rest of my life, and sometimes I wish it was not. How nice would it be to just put my brain aside for a bit while my body has a rest from the intrusive thoughts?
Actually, I think I do that some days. When I watch Real Housewives of Dallas, I absolutely turn off my brain. It’s wonderful. Some people meditate, while I watch a shitty real-life TV.
One of the fantastic things that I see happening around me is all the little acts of kindness. Recently, I asked the members of a Facebook group if they knew someone who was still stocking gluten-free flour. One lady responded and gave me a bag for free! People are eager to help others. I actually went to three different supermarkets to try to find my neighbor her favorite cookie. She told me that she has a specific cookie each morning at 11am with her coffee for the last 30 years. Now, I am quite the food addict and I know that if you have something specific and you just cannot find it, it can be quite upsetting. I ended up doing some investigating on the internet and got all the information on this special cookie. No, I did not go and bake them for her; I am not that nice! I actually found an off-brand of them at Lidl and got her three packs, just in case. Who knew that buying off-brand cookies could give me eternal fame in a cul-de-sac in a small town in the UK?
Around two months ago, my mother told me that she was working without protective gear. She works in vulnerable people’s homes and has about ten clients a week. She goes in and out of their homes, so if one of them get sick, my mother will trail the virus to nine other families! It is unheard that a first-world country like the Netherlands is not able to protect its own subjects with protective gear. But I am just a small-town writer, what do I know about politics and bureaucratic bullshit? What I do know is that I have a whole load of contacts in China and I could buy some masks and ship them to my mother with relative ease.
I reached out to my community in China and—lo and behold—at least 15 different friends of mine responded to my call and said they could send masks. My mother was skeptical, but I know the power of China where things get done, and they get done really fast. I worked for an international hospital, so not getting her masks was just not an option.
But help came from a kindness corner, and I had no idea that I was building this corner till a volunteer from 51GIVE a non-profit charity in China contacted me. She told me she would make sure that my mother would be provided with masks free of charge. I have no idea how on earth I deserve this, but some acts of kindness are done out of just that, kindness.
Little did I know that she had read every blog I wrote when I lived in Beijing and my articles had touched her heart. When I reached out for help, she knew how to respond, in kindness. She had the resources to help me all the way from China. She told me that I had helped her, and many others, when I wrote honestly about my mental state and the struggles I faced with my weight and health.
Kindness has a ripple effect. I did not know that my blogs had helped her. My own honesty and my own words had helped another person. My suffering and pain were not for nothing. The words that I put down each day made a small ripple in the world.
Be kind, and kindness will be returned to you tenfold. Your acts of kindness are like ripples—who knows where they will end up?
The Chinese pronunciation of ‘5’ and ‘1’ is: Wǔ yào. It means: I want.
51 = I Want
The Chinese pronunciation of ‘给予’ is: Jǐ yǔ. It means: Give.
51Give = I Want to Give
Find out more about 51GIVE here