It’s been a strange and sad old weekend, and yet somehow it feels a bit longer than that. Then again, that always seems to be the way when a massive loss happens.
Most people reading this post from the UK will already know, but for any international readers among you, the sad news came that Caroline Flack, a much loved British TV personality and presenter, sadly passed away after taking her own life yesterday at the age of 40.
I was a fan of Caroline’s from her time hosting both The X Factor and its sister show The Xtra Factor, in partnership with Olly Murs (or ‘Carolly’ as they were affectionately known in fan circles), but also from her winning stint on the 2014 series of Strictly Come Dancing. I’d never met her but others I’m friends or acquaintances with who met her spoke fondly of her, and I always warmed to her, her infectious laugh and gentle personality. The thought of her being gone at such a young age is too sad beyond words.
Of course, her personal life and her struggles with this in recent years have been well documented, and there is a lot of heightened feeling around at the moment concerning what and indeed who has led her to this desperately sad state of affairs, that someone who was well loved, a sister, a daughter and friend to many, felt they had no other option or way out of their torment.
From my own standpoint, it has led me to thinking even more closely about the values of what I try to represent with my blog, and what I put out into the world. Just under two years ago, EssexLive awarded my little corner of the web a spot in their list of the ten best blogs in the county to follow on social media.
Getting that accolade was a turning point in two ways for me: firstly, making me realise it wasn’t just my dad reading my posts. But secondly, realising that I had a platform which had wider reaching impacts, and it made me realise the responsibility I had and which I still uphold today: to ensure my blog is a positive space on the internet, when so much of it sadly remains the opposite, with wonderful tools for connection and communication still abused beyond all decency.
I choose to make my corner of the web a positive space, not for my own personal gain, but because I feel a duty to ensure that what I’m putting out into the world is making others feel happy and making the world a bit happier to boot, and to highlight others who are doing amazing things, raising a laugh or even praising the people and things I love and admire and respect, or talking about and raising awareness of causes that mean a lot to me, especially through what I do with Walk&Talk4Men, talking about my experiences I’ve had with my own anxiety struggles and trying to support other men who may be struggling, to feel like they are not alone.
Because if the sad events of this weekend have taught us anything, it’s that a line has been crossed regarding the kind of cruelty that Caroline was on the receiving end of that led her to now being no longer with us, and it needs to stop. The world needs more kindness, more mindfulness. And just talking about changing our habits isn’t enough.
We need to show it in our actions, to be better humans, and to show more compassion, and to show more love. Kindness costs absolutely nothing. Small little acts of love – even if it’s just checking in on a loved one or friend, or offering a compliment to someone – can make all the difference to making others feel that they do matter and that they are needed.
And if you are struggling, then please take this as a sign from me that you are loved, you matter, and you are needed, and there are organisations out there who you can turn to for help which I will give details of below. If my words mean anything, I hope it’s that it has stopped someone from becoming another statisitic.
But the main take away that I want everyone reading this blog to take forward, starting today is this. If in doubt: kindness first. Always.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this blog post, please know there is help, and there are organisations you can turn to who can offer help and support with mental health. Below is a list with links to these: