There is something to be said about the resilience of people.
I’m not talking about the resilience of us, those who suffer from depression, schizophrenia, mental health issues. Those of us who fly with the eagles by night and wallow with the pigs during the day. The people like you and I who can spend a day either conducting ourselves with a swagger and a meaning or burying ourselves in the hopeless and endless darkness. We know we have resilience which is why we are here. Which is why we are still alive, reading these very words as I type them.
If you are here reading this then you are the resilient type all ready because you are here.
The resilience I am talking about is the other people around us. The people that care about us. The people that call us to make sure we are OK. The people that worry and call you when you are down.
The reason I bring this up is because I had conversation with my aunt today about how I was doing. Both my parents have died and I feel a little unmoored from people but I called my auntie to let her know how I was doing. I had never, until recently (by recently I mean in the last year or so), discussed with her about the severe depression and anxiety that I suffer. It was all news to her when I finally let that little secret go and dropped my normal guard. And when I spoke to her today, or any day, she cared.
For the last 8 or so months I have been through the lowest time I have ever been through. Constant suicidal ideation, hopelessness and severe guilt about the terrible realities of my situation. No one knew how bad it was. No one knew how bad it always was because…well, I am me. I am the life of the party, the funniest guy in the room, looking like a cross between James Dean and Johnny Knoxville with an intellect to turn your lights out. But that is all social camouflage. The reality is much worse. The reality is despite all my blessings in life I can’t control the felling that it is all a waste on me, I am no good. I am terrible.
But those people around you – the people, like my aunt, that you don’t want to bother with your problems, the people that call you and want to know how you are doing. They are strong even if you aren’t. I had to learnt this lesson and when I did I couldn’t believe who came out of the woodwork.
For years I kept the whole nasty business under wraps. The chronic anxiety, the deep bottomless depression while spending my time looking after others when they felt down. Gladly being someone’s, anyone’s, shoulder to cry on whenever they needed it. But I never thought that people would be there for me too and never even considered actually laying my troubles on someone because I didn’t think I really deserved it. I didn’t need help but I would be there for anyone that did.
Then it recently changed after I had a massive breakdown. In quick succession I lost nearly everything which started with my anxiety and depression suddenly rolling on me in a manner like I had never experienced it before. I lost everything in quick succession – a job, a place to live, my girlfriend, my father died suddenly, I got into trouble with the law, my young daughter didn’t want to speak to me and my physical health began to suffer as I wasn’t eating and self-medicating with alcohol. It was then I needed to reach out because I couldn’t handle it anymore on my own – I was terrified that I was going to hurt myself and while that seemed easy, I just couldn’t bring myself to that point so I reached out and told someone. It was then I realised just how important was to people.
Suddenly everyone rallied around me. A friend drove up to the Bay of Plenty from Wellington to sit with me over a weekend so I wasn’t alone. A 14 hour round trip just to spend some 52 hours with me. My older brother called me every day, my sister every second day and my younger brother at least once a week. My cousin engineered a business meeting in my area and also drove up from Wellington to spend a night at my house. My aunt said I was welcome to come live with her in Wellington If I needed to. Friends were in constant contact and assured me that if I needed to talk I could always pick up the phone. After years of dodging my need for help and thinking that I couldn’t burden myself on people I finally reached the point where I needed to reach out for help. And everyone was there for me. I’m now feeling much more in control and far more adept at calling for help if I need it. In my near 38 years on the planet I had always feared asking for help from a place of stubborn masculinity, fear of being seen as weak and fear I would push people away. But when I did I realised just how strong everyone else could be and how much people wanted to help.
I’ll never forget it, I always appreciate it and I will always remember there are people out there who will drop everything for me.
And that is something we all need to realise. We are never alone no matter how dark it feels.
Just pick up the phone.