This past week, an acquaintance of mine committed suicide. It wasn’t someone I knew very well, but, as is often the case, I felt an impact by his loss. I felt the familiar dread in my stomach and the scars on my arm seemed to be much more prevalent in my eyes than normal. I couldn’t imagine what he was feeling at the end, or the sense of loss and confusion that his family was facing. On social media, I saw individuals posting about how anyone who needed someone could reach out to them. At that, I felt like my stomach had dropped off of a building or that I was a deer in the headlights.
At times, there is nothing more terrifying than reaching out.
That might seem a little ridiculous to some, how can reaching out be an issue? Don’t you want someone to talk to? Well, yes. But the idea that our fears and disease are irrational – that we are overreacting, that they won’t understand, that they will hate us or view us as pathetic for how we feel, all become front and center. You feel like it is insignificant and that you are only bothering them. Even writing about how it makes me feel makes me uncomfortable. Often, probably too often, I keep my thoughts to myself. Too many times I have reached out to a friend and received a negative reaction that, essentially, I should get over it or I was being ridiculous in some way. Hell, I don’t even like talk therapy and that is paying someone not to judge you, and there’s still times I wish I could spill out everything I’m feeling.
I don’t doubt that most people have good intentions. Most people want to help others. Most people would do anything to help someone make a different choice. However, I know I have been hurt too many times by reaching out that it makes it hard for me to reach out again, and it makes me afraid of how being rejected like that will be again. I have two friends in particular who have stressed more than one that they are there for me no matter and that I can always reach out for them. One has very much iterated that they are there no matter what, and I don’t doubt it. I believe them both that I could, but that doesn’t stop me from being afraid. And I don’t go to them when I need to, even though I know that they can help. And I know that I’m not the only one who feel like this.
Right now, you might be wondering what the hell my point is. It is simple, really. Don’t be offended or surprised when people don’t reach out. I have wanted nothing more to talk to someone, but not really known how to. It’s like talking to a wall. Here’s something I think might be a little bit more effective instead. Reach out to someone. Even something as simple as a hey, how’s it going? Maybe it’s a friend you haven’t talked to someone, just say that it has been awhile and you want to catch up. That can help make a crack in that wall. Maybe it’ll let a little light in. It can be really tough to know what the right decision is. But reaching out a helping hand can’t hurt. Even if someone says they don’t want to talk about their issue, more likely than not, it means the world to them that someone reached out. Mental illness is a very confusing thing. And there are no two cases alike. That makes it even harder to try and help someone. It’s not just hard or confusing for the person suffering, but also for their loved ones. Anything we feel – it doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate your help. We just might not be able to communicate it or feel it right. But sometimes, it’s the smallest things that mean the most.
Peace and Love,