So I feel like I need to add to this. These words are all well and good, but it doesn’t prepare you for the fight you’ll have on your hands when you do ‘go to them’. You see, we’re inundated daily, sometimes hourly with all these inspirational quotes, images, platitudes. “Never give up” “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”
Why? Because we admire the strong. And we all want to be strong, because anything less is frowned upon. “you just need to be strong.” Well, what if we can’t ? What if we can’t be strong everybody keeps thinking we are, or should be? Where does that leave us? Unadmired, looked down on, pitied. And none of us want pity.
If you do see your friend sad, overwhelmed, in need, and you do decide to go to them, as the image instructs, be prepared to hear “I’m fine.” “Don’t worry about me.” “You know me I never stay down for long.”
Because we know that’s all you want to hear. You want to feel good that you made the effort. You really aren’t prepared for the down and dirty, nitty gritty, ugly work that may need to be done. To persist, and stare us down and say, “bullshit. I can see you aren’t fine. I’m not leaving until we figure this out.” And then not leave.
Put your hands on their shoulders and tell them, “Look at me!” It’s going to be the battle Royale because you’re fighting shame and the stigma of someone breaking down and being extremely vulnerable, raw, in your presence. It isn’t pretty. It isn’t polite. It’s REAL. It’s them trying to protect you and everyone else around from the awful, ugly truth that “I am not okay.”
I. Am. Not. Okay.
Don’t bother telling them they aren’t alone if you’re 4 states away, or on the phone, in an email. You’re gonna have to force them to face you. Because this isn’t beautiful. We’re not capable of just “picking ourselves up again.” Like this image says. And that means that because WE aren’t doing this, WE aren’t beautiful. We’re the damage. The loss.
This is the time when I can’t “carry on.” So I must not be that beautiful, right???
Yes, the burden is on you, and we hate ourselves for feeling like we’re a burden yet again, to people who seem better able to cope with crippling poverty, depression, anxiety, feeling buried under mountains of bills, clothes, dishes.
My house is a disaster. I can’t just pick one place to start because there’s SO MUCH that isn’t done, I’m panicking just looking at it. It’s exhausting. Putting one foot out of the bed is too much right now.
That doesn’t include the clothes in the dryer, or baskets still waiting.
Put your friend on the couch. Put them in the bed. Don’t TALK them to death about how they “just gotta get out of their own head” for a little bit. Don’t you think we’ve tried that pep talk on ourselves already? A dozen times in the last 12 hours. So put them down and let them be a vegetable. Do the dishes. Fold clothes. Make coffee. DO. SOMETHING that will actually help them. Do ONE THING.
So don’t tell me it’s enough to just “go” see somebody. Fight their fight for ten minutes, half an hour. Give them a fucking break, mentally, physically. Because THAT will help a lot more than you just saying to cheer up, be strong, keep positive, and that THOSE are the beautiful people, who do that. Right now the last thing I need is one more thing making me feel decidedly UNbeautiful.
And then be prepared for the breakdown. Once they see that tiny little bit of relief, the flood gates open, and they might feel safe enough to break in front of you. I guarantee you, they need it. I need it.