Death Threat or cry for help?
The words; "Rape" and "Murder" spat out from the email attachment. Did the author of the "hate-mail" mean she wanted me raped and murdered? I wasn't sure, it looked like it. It felt like it!
Shaking and trying not to spiral into panic, I showed my husband, Wayne the screen of my tablet.
"What the f***! Who's this?"
The thing is, it wasn't the first time, messages of hate and intention have landed in my inbox.
Wayne tried to reassure me by saying "Oprah Winfrey must have these all the time. Don't let it bother you Al"
It didn't work. My feathers were definitely ruffled. Pacing the room, I questioned all my recent blogs and social media posts and wondered if any of them may have pressed buttons.
Upon further exploration, I saw that 'she' - "Debbie" had added herself to my database in July through one of my newsletters.
I quickly found my most recent newsletter. Her email was in response to that one.
I hadn't sent an email out to my community for a while so was nudged to sit down and write informing every one of the latest updates and news. It's been an exciting few months, my son Sam was working in Rio with Samsung for the Olympics and Paralympics and I had finally launched my dream that I've held for twenty- two years; The Butterfly Haven - that's another blog in itself!
I really couldn't see anything offensive in the newsletter so decided to leave it until the morning when I would report it to the Police.
"Mrs Ward, we've looked at the email but we feel the sender has a mental health issue".
Those words rippled into my heart and it burst open with compassion for "Debbie". I then wondered if it was a call for help. How must she have felt when she wrote it? Was anyone with her? Was she safe? Alive even? Come on Debbie. there is help out there.
All my previous worries were removed as the compassion moved its focus to Debbie.
I was encouraged and soothed by my response, it felt much more loving, powerful and thankfully without fear compared to the initial email reaction.
The Police have it 'on record' should anything further occur.
Why am I sharing this with you?
Well it's certainly not to encourage any more hate-mail that's for sure!
I've written about it here to show how mental health issues can present themselves. Mental illness is not pretty, it has no manners and consistency and affects us all in one form or another at least once in our lives.
This week has shown the world that we care about Mental Health. We joined our hearts without shame and embarrassment together on Monday 10th October on World Mental Health Day.
As The Life Guidance Mentor, I have had lots of experience of working with people with mental illness over the years. I too have suffered mental illness and work hard at keeping anxiety at bay. I'm not perfect by any means and am known to embrace my imperfections and differences.
As I write this blog, I can't help but wonder how many people are sitting in dark rooms creating malicious messages to their unknown victims. I don't know what is running through their head while they tap put their spite but I do know if they were feeling well, happy and in flow with life they wouldn't type those words.
What can we do as a society to draw open their curtains and show them the light?
How can we tell them that we understand that mental illness makes us do things that really aren't right, kind and pleasant to others?
I'm not happy to have received that email, it interrupted my Saturday evening chill with my loved ones BUT the feeling of fear didn't last long, not even twenty- four hours!
I wonder how Debbie is now. Is she reading this, sketching out another message of hate and isolation.
All I can say in response is "Debbie I hear you."
* Please note Debbie is not the real name of the email sender.
Alison Ward @ 2016. All rights reserved.
The Life Guidance Mentor.