posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 07:12 AM
This is how people with issues sometimes sink on glassy seas and crystal clear days, leaving those around them filled with pain and guilt. Leaving
others to say "If I'd only known... If they'd only said something..."
The painful truth is that they probably did say something. They probably said a lot of somethings. It's just that what they said was not recognized as
a cry for help because others could not empathize or understand on the level the cry for help was made from.
The point I am trying to get to is that we all can make a world of difference is we simply get into the habit of helping others bail out some of their
bilge just because. We should not really wait until they are screaming in the open water, flailing in a fight not to drown. By the time that happens
they are at severe risk and their ship is sunk. A LOT of effort will be required to raise and salvage that ship. A ship that will still have the
inherent defect it has always had. Defects that are, now, almost surely more profound from having hit bottom. It is so much more economical and safe
to keep the ships from sinking in the first place.
Now to put the metaphor aside...
Standing in the shower earlier my specific thoughts were about social anxiety - something I personally wage a war against every single day. It is an
insidious illness. Where I, once, was a habitually and addictively social person - a very popular person... Now there are days when I cannot bring
myself to even reply to Facebook posts. Thankfully days to that extreme are uncommon, but they do happen. Some days are better than others, some are
worse. There is no rhyme or reason to it. There is no predictable pattern. While there are known triggers, those triggers are by no means definitive.
That which can cause anxiety does not always do so. And that which does not cause it sometimes can. Anything can set it off. Sometimes nothing at all
On the other side of the coin, however, there are things that always seem to help. No matter how big the leak in my ship, there are things that can
almost instantly plug the flow and stop the incoming water.
One of those things is simply attention. Just somebody else making the slight effort to ignore my anxiety for a few minutes can work wonders.
If another person can get past the first few awkward minutes? The awkwardness quickly begins to pass and the anxiety disappears.
How simple is that?
What's more - if that person makes a point of doing the same thing on a regular basis... the patchwork on the leak just gets stronger and stronger
over time. Given enough attention the leak can and sometimes does totally stop.
Depression works the same way. Yes, it sucks to have to be around a mopey person and it's a total drag at first. Depressed people tend to be
standoffish, unreceptive, nihilistic, negative and just a huge drain on the psyche and mood. But if you can find a single kink in the walls of their
depression, just get them to grin? It is truly magical and you can literally watch their depression lift. It might take some effort... But not too
Just reaching out and helping to bail some of the bilge can work miracles. Coming back regularly to help that person keep the bilge bailed? Can change
lives! It's so much more effective to do this than to try and fix things once that person has fallen into crisis... than waiting for their ship to
start sinking before acting. An ounce of prevention and all.
It occurs to me that this post could read as a thinly veiled cry for help on my part. It's not. Yes, my ship is leaky and defective. It always has
been. It always will be. But, for now, my leaks are not bad enough for me to need help. And thank you to anyone who felt a twinge of compassion along
those lines! Maybe you could offer than compassion to somebody in your real life who could benefit from a bit of moral support? I promise you, the
slightest and most minimal effort could well make a world of difference to that person. An unexpected kindness, no matter how small, can be the sort
of thing that a person in crisis will remember and value for the rest of their lives. It can have that level of impact.
If you are reading this and you happen to have a relative, friend, co-worker, in-law, neighbor... whatever... who struggles, please let me offer you
some food for thought.
You probably have a hobby. Right? At least one. And that hobby / those hobbies probably take up a pretty good chunk of your spare time. Again, right?
If we look at gaming as an example, how rare is it for a gamer to invest 60 hours or more into completing a single game? Anyone who has ever gotten
into games like Fallout or The Elder Scrolls will likely quickly qualify that with something like "Only 60 hours? Must not know about mods...." But
even if you don't game. Think about how much time you spend reading, watching TV, gardening, working on your car, sewing... whatever it is that rocks
your world and makes you happy.
Now imagine what kind of difference you could make to that relative/friend/co-worker/in-law/neighbor if you changed up your behavior patterns and just
devoted 10% of your hobby time to doing nothing more than showing them a bit of positive attention? Just offered to do something simple for them. A
simple call. Saying "Hey, I'm going to the store. Do you need anything? I'd be happy to let you tag along or pick something up for you if you need it.
You can pay me when I get back." Even just "Hey, just wanted to touch base with you and see how your world is doing."
It can mean so much.
I began this post by mentioning that it's fall and I feel melancholy. I am not the only one. We are entering the time of year when people who do
suffer from mental illness tend to fight their most difficult battles... the stormy season when their ships leak the most. This is the time when the
slightest of efforts and most simple of gestures can make a profound difference. I would ask that you please keep that thought in the back of your
mind going forward. A momentary and simple acknowledgement or gesture could truly keep another human being from sinking... and that is, in my humble
opinion, a call to action that everyone should be happy to accept.
Thank you for reading.