My Jamaican Dad’s Advice for Mental Health

“If the house is on fire, the house is on fire.”

He would add a very animated “Get out!” at the end.

This is the quote my father would tell me in my times of despair. He didn’t always mention it in regards to my mental illnesses, more so the things that would bring me to that depressed state. I’m not exactly sure when he started to say it, perhaps I was a little older…maybe in University. Honestly, it could have started when I was a teen, a much worse time to be throwing profound quotes at your depressed daughter. What I do know is, it used. To. Piss. Me. Off.

When you’re dealing with a personal trauma, life, two mental illnesses and bawling your eyes out on a regular basis, with no sense of control…the last thing you want to hear is some stupid quote about a damn house being on fire. And the fact that he’d repeat it…like Dad this quote is not helping me.

It took nearly 20 years before I started to get it to be honest and it…well, kind of makes sense.

The guy you like doesn’t like you, he doesn’t like you, move on.

You failed the exam, you failed the exam, what are you going to do next?

You didn’t get the job, you didn’t get the job, what other jobs can you look at?

It is about accepting that the house is on fire and that you must get out, let go of the house and move on. Don’t discuss the fire! Get out of the damn house. Don’t ruminate! It has helped me accept certain realities. My illnesses. My breakup. My career path. Comparing myself to others. And it can be about owning your life. These things you can’t control are happening (you can’t control that house fire), you have to look beyond them and look at what you can do, what you can control.

He hasn’t said it much to me lately, perhaps because I haven’t been in hysterics in years (pat on the back)…and he actually never said it to me after my break up, perhaps he knew it would be a bit insensitive.

Sidenote: I won’t end this blog post without saying this analogy does not take into account well, everything else! Pain, regret, sorrow, time to process, grief, a broken heart, broken promises, the list goes on forever. It’s a practical person’s advice and can only really be processed I believe, once you’ve dealt with your emotions.

Has your parent, therapist, teacher etc. ever used seemingly inane quotes, analogies or metaphors to comfort you in your time of need? Did you get them at the time?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s