Connection = Community
Years ago a very good friend of mine was excellent at reaching out to people when they were hurting. She wouldn’t allow you to hide. She would show up with a card or a gift just to let you know you were thought of. She taught me as humans we need to reach out, and we need to let people in, especially when we are hurting.
When someone is going through a tough time it does no good to say “Call me if you need anything, really, don’t hesitate to call.” Have you ever noticed, they don’t call! EVER. If a friend is going through a crisis, I recommend you do 3 things;
1) Think about what can be done to help or encourage your friend. Sometimes what is needed is physical, help with a move, help to get somewhere, or a hug. Sometimes it’s emotional support. Determine what is needed first.
2) Think about what you are willing or able to do. Don’t do what you think would be expected or what the general public thinks you should do, do what you can do.
I weigh what is going on in my life and how I am feeling. If I am feeling overwhelmed with my own life, a simple phone call or text message is a small thing that translates into a big gesture because I reached out, I took a minute of my time to let someone in pain know I am present, for them. If I am feeling pretty good, then I will do more, without waiting to be asked.
3) Do it again. When someone is in crisis sometimes the situation takes time to get through. Connect with your friend again. Send a card, pick up the phone, write an email saying what they mean to you or drop by with a little gift to let them know they mean something to you.
In the end it’s the connection that is important. Without it we lose community. Without the feeling of belonging, depression and isolation increase. Let’s be mindful of how little it takes to keep connected and continue to practice reaching out to those we care about. Over time we just may witness a decrease in mental illness.