As we close the chapter on this year’s Mental Health Awareness month, I wanted to share a reflection that hopefully can serve anyone – those experiencing mental health challenges and those who aren’t.
If there’s one thing I would tell myself 14 years ago when I first ran up against clinical level depression it would be: lean on others.
Back then, and even now, I feel uncertain about the future.
Then, the first order of business was getting out of the bleak rut I was in.
Now, the world has felt like it’s in non-stop turmoil.
When focusing on aspects of life that are out of our control like geopolitics, mass violence, covid, and natural disasters, our locus of our control begins to feel smaller and smaller. Who am I up against all that?
I’m not advocating a Pollyanna perspective that denies our current zeitgeist. I do encourage us to remember that at any point, massive forces bigger than any individual are always at play, from gravity to human created.
Instead of looking out, look in. Look community level. When seeing ourselves in relation with those we have true relationship with, agency and richness begins to come back to life.
I’ve had some of my most profound shifts from re-framing how I look at relationship.
I used to live in a 1-bedroom apartment. Although I had total freedom and no one made noise at strange hours, the pandemic began to wear on me. Now, I live with family, and my nephews are some of the brightest sources of joy who I get to see every day (although a surprise good morning or jump attack could occur anytime).
I used to almost never ask for help. When my depression was at its most intense, this unwillingness or inability to reach out was how I ended up needing a lot more help than if I had leaned on friends or managed symptoms with a therapist. These days, I ask for help routinely. From customer service representatives, colleagues, friends, family, neighbors, mentors, coaches, and therapists. People’s generosity continually surprises me, and the kicker is this: having someone receive is half the joy of giving. This means that by receiving a gift or a favor, we’re actually doing the giver a favor just by accepting their offering, whether it’s a neighbor’s carton of oat milk when you’ve run out, or a half hour of guidance on a project.
I used to keep my feelings to myself. This got me nowhere fast. In fact it slowed me down tremendously. I suffered communication and relationship breakdowns almost across the board – personally, professionally, you name it. Leading with vulnerability now allows me to enjoy more fulfilling interactions, tighter alignment, and build trust.
We are social creatures. The past few years have forced us into divides, sometimes physical, sometimes psychological. It’s not always easy to reach out. That challenge can occur whether we need support or if we’re in a place to give it. Regardless, I encourage each of us to bias a little bit towards connection.
Reach out. Share the load. The world is asking a lot of us and we don’t need to do it alone. 💙
A final note: if you are struggling with mental health, please please please reach out to someone for support. If a person you know doesn’t feel accessible, emergency resources below:
Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741. A 24/7 service where you will be connected with a crisis counselor via text message. This can be especially helpful if you don’t feel up to verbalizing how you feel or you need help but are in an environment where you can’t talk. I volunteered briefly as a counselor for CTL and can vouch for the quality of training their counselors go through.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – They provide confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 800-273-8255
Fireside Project – A hotline specifically for those who need help minimizing the risk of a psychedelic experience. I’ve personally used Fireside Project for support and walked away from the call with clarity on how to shift my experience for the better.
American Psychological Association has a compiled a list of hotlines, some that specialize in particular topics/populations.
Written By FitPro, Wei-Ming Lam, https://themiddlewei.com/
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