Raise Your Hand • Not Waving, Drowning

by Katie Paul on August 13, 2014

not waving, drowning button
Yesterday I read an article about Robin William’s suicide that asked everyone who was struggling with depression or thinking about taking their own life to ‘start a conversation.’ I totally agree with this. The more we talk about our darkness, the easier it is to hold on to hope that the light is coming.

But as I said in my one and only comment on all the posts about Mr William’s death, it’s not always that easy. I wrote:

Sometimes I think that even ‘starting a conversation’ might be too hard.

At the school where I work, when the teacher wants quiet, she raises her hand. As the kids notice, they raise their own hands and stop talking until it catches on all over the room and everyone is silent.

Those of you who are suffering just need to raise your hand, and the rest of us who notice will raise our hands as well and wait quietly until you’re ready to speak. And even if it takes an entire lifetime for you to choose your words and find your voice, we’ll keep our hands in the air for you.

My own words have haunted me ever since. What did I actually mean by asking someone to raise their hand? Was there a real life, physical way someone could signal that they were needing help, the way a drowning man raises his hand in the ocean when he needs another person to guide him back to the shore?

I came up with the idea of creating an online community where a person could simply write ‘I’m raising my hand’. People who email me about their suicidal thoughts almost always tell me that knowing someone is listening brings comfort.

Not Waving, Drowning, is a place where you can raise your hand while you search for the right words. It is the first baby step, the smallest of impulses, the inhale before you decide what to do next.

Not Waving, Drowning, is a place where I will raise my hand and wait quietly until you’re ready to speak, without asking questions, without offering advice.  And I hope others will join me too.

{Note: this group is private (which means asking to join) to keep what you write hidden from your Facebook friends. My apologies if it takes time to accept your request because of different time zones. I’ll do my best.}


→ To share with your friends, copy and paste this to your timeline.

They say we should ‘start a conversation’ about depression but sometimes it’s impossible to find the words. At https://www.facebook.com/groups/notwavingdrowning/ all you need to do is raise your hand and others will give you their time, their love and their support without you having to explain anything.

→ To share the button on your webpage, use this code.

<a href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/notwavingdrowning/" target="_blank"><img src="http://head-heart-health.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/not-waving-drowning-button.jpg" alt="" title="" class="banner-image" width="100%"></a>

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Rena McDaniel-The Diary of an Alzheimer's Caregiver August 13, 2014 at 10:52 pm

What a wonderful way to start something beautiful! I write at The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver and statistics show that 60% of all caregivers suffer from depression including myself. I would love to put a permanent link up on my site so if one of my caregivers were struggling they would have a private place to join. My email is rm29303@gmail.com contact me when you get some time. We can work out some details and I would love to join this myself.


Katie Paul August 14, 2014 at 10:06 am

Thanks Rena. I’ve sent you an email x


donna August 13, 2014 at 11:45 pm

I wish everyone would read your post, 10 things you should know before you kill yourself.
That is real….and it is true.
My mother made this choice and regardless of how sorry we feel about those who chose suicide, our thoughts need to turn to those who did not choose suicide but are deeply and sometimes permanently effected by it. I ask for peace for his children. They may never find it.


Katie Paul August 14, 2014 at 10:07 am

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience, Donna. I’m sending you love and light x


Carol Cassara August 14, 2014 at 12:04 am

I’ll share this far and wide. Thank you.


Katie Paul August 14, 2014 at 10:07 am

Thanks Carol ♥


Carol Cassara August 14, 2014 at 12:48 am

If you do a link for home pages, I’ll take one.


Katie Paul August 14, 2014 at 10:03 am

Eek … I need to figure it out.

I added the code to the bottom of the original post as the comments section didn’t like it.
I hope this is what you mean.

Thank you for your help xx


Mandy Fish August 14, 2014 at 2:15 am

What a great way to offer support to others.


Katie Paul August 14, 2014 at 10:07 am

Thank you Mandy x


Anne Louise Bannon August 14, 2014 at 11:50 am

I’ve been pretty sad about Williams’ suicide, but I’m really glad you found a way to do make something positive happen. My positive action will be to share this post.


Katie Paul August 15, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Thank you for sharing, Anne x


Joy August 15, 2014 at 2:44 am

Katie, this is an amazing initiative. I’m definitely sharing. If indeed even just one person is heard, one waving hand pulled out from the darkness, then this would be a success. Thank you for starting this!


Katie Paul August 15, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Thank you for spreading the word, Joy x


Bethany @ Journey to Ithaca August 17, 2014 at 12:40 pm

What a great idea!

I think most people do share their struggles with their online friends first. It’s a slower conversation, where we have time to think about what we’re going to say!

I like this, a practical idea, rather than more philosophical discussions and the like.


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