Suffering is character building, I talked about that a lot in the Storm Chasers post, we grow as human beings with what we are forced to go through. But sometimes the suffering, whatever the source, is too much to bear. Too much to live through, quite frankly. If you are pushing at the boundaries of what you can bear (or left that line behind long ago) I have three very important things to tell you, so listen up…
1. You’re not alone. Ok, you are probably feeling extraordinarily alone in a very real sense or you wouldn’t be in the state of mind you’re in, but you are not alone in feeling alienated, misunderstood, disconnected. Extraordinary people don’t fit in. You (we) are the deeper thinkers, the more sensitive feelers, the novel perceivers. The world looks different through your eyes and there’s an inherent sense of isolation in that. You may be a bubble of one in your circles, but out there, somewhere, are more beautiful little weirdos, and you will find them, eventually. Maybe not right now, not when you need them most, but keep looking because they need you as much as you need them. If nothing else, there’s a goodly assortment of them that gather on this site, so join in the conversations, old or new.
2. Go ahead and give up …for a while. I’m not gonna blow sunshine up your butt and tell you it’ll get better, there’re things to look forward to yadda yadda yadda. If you were able to hope right now you wouldn’t need me to tell you that. Things will get better, and then there’ll be some shitty stuff again, and then some good stuff. That’s life, it rolls both ways. But it’s totally ok to say enough! when it rolls too hard, but just give up for a while. You don’t have to be gracious or kind or classy in your misery, all I’m asking of you is not to take permanent action on temporary situations. Depression can be an all consuming dark cloud that makes you forget (or even believe) that anything was ever any good, and this may not feel temporary. I don’t care. Sit on it, for as long as it takes. And I’ll tell you why: anybody who hurt you, that you’d like to hit with a vengeful haha in your FACE! with your death probably won’t give a shit about it, but the people who care about you, the ones you’d like to protect from your suffering will be devastated. So just don’t. It will pass, there will be other moments to live, I don’t care if you believe it right now, just trust me on this. Give up for as long as it takes, but don’t give up for good.
3. Reach out. I know this is hard, especially when you are catatonic with gloom, and you may have to lay low in that giving up phase for a while before you’ve got the chuff to even risk this, so take your time. But there are people out there who care, who can help. I’ll be honest with you, you may not get what you want on the first ask, because some people care deeply but panic-freeze when things get intense and may not know what to do; and yes, some of our mental health systems are kinda broken and it sometimes it takes a bit of jigging to get the system to work for you. But as per discussions brewing on my last post, getting your needs met takes practice. Every ask helps you get a little bit clearer about what you need, and every disappointment helps you refine who to ask, and how. So when you can, take a risk and ask for help, you might be surprised with what’s out there for you. And if you’re disappointed, give up again …for a while, regroup and try again when you’re ready. You’ve got the rest of your life to figure this out. I just want that to be a good long time, because the world needs you to get past this, to figure this out, and bring your brilliant insight and compassion and school-of-hard-knocks wisdom to someone else’s suffering down the road.
And the rest of us have got some work to do too! We’ve got to get better at knowing our own needs, allowing some vulnerability. Building a society where this is the norm, so that when someone is really hurting, when the need is really great, the chasm of the ask isn’t too great to cross. ’cause I’ll tell you what I need, I need to stop losing the extraordinary people in my life just because the friction of trying to fit in with the rest of the world has become too great to bear.
- postscript: someone sent me a link to A Very Brief Guide to Self Care. A comic that provides a stellar, practical, honest list of suggestions if you: “feel like crap, think you’re worthless, can’t get out of bed, feel stupid and ugly, don’t know what to do.” It is excellent. Check it out.