I’m writing today’s blog entry through tears. This week has been full of shock factor moments – earlier in the week we learnt that Robin Williams, the guy who made us all laugh, committed suicide, then a few days later a friend let me know he’s struggling with depression, and just this morning I received a phone call telling me that one of my friends hung herself last night.
All of this makes me think of ‘Are you okay?’ day which was held earlier in the year to bring awareness to depression and the need for checking in on our family and friends to see that they’re coping with life, and to support them if they are not. At the time that this day was held, I thought it was a little bit tokenistic – we shouldn’t have just one day on our calendar each year when we care about the welfare of those we love. Our ‘radars’ for this should always be switched on.
And also, it made me wonder, how many people would actually say, ‘I’m not okay’, if we asked them. I find that all too often we live in a world where we wear our masks to hide the truth about how we’re really going. I know myself, I’ve answered the, ‘How are you?’ question with, ‘Well, thanks’, on many occasions when I’ve been anything but.
Fortunately for me, I have a couple of friends who pick me like a dirty nose (their words ha ha). I’m so grateful that when I tell them I’m fine/okay, when I’m really not, they know better and they make me talk. They are the people that I can burst into tears with and share the pain of whatever I’m struggling with at that moment, and they will show me love and give me fresh perspective, and help me know that better days are yet to come. They don’t pretend that everything is rosy when it isn’t, but nor do they let me wallow. They just let me express how I’m feeling, before they encourage me to take steps to walk through the pain and the difficult circumstance, and into the good future that is ahead. I love that about them.
On the other hand, I hate that my friend took her own life last night – that she didn’t cry out for help when she was overwhelmed with life. I hate that our world’s mask wearing ways leave people silently hurting, fearing judgement, feeling like they are out of options. I hate that I am going to miss my friend and all the beautiful things about her that I loved so much. And I hate that I can’t change what she’s done.
Which is why I decided to write this blog entry – I realised that I could lay on my couch crying, or I could do something positive with my pain by talking about an issue that we all know about, but maybe should give a little more thought to.
I want to be the girl that people can come to with all their rawness, knowing that when they say, “I’m not okay”, I’ll tell them that that’s okay, and that I’m there for them and that I love them. That I’ll walk with them through their struggles and onto the other side. That I’ll acknowledge that life is incredibly hard sometimes. That we all have those times when life seems like one big, black storm cloud and we wonder how we’ll ever get through it. And, most of all, I want to be the one that helps them to discover the rainbow on the other side of the storm.
I want to tell them that I know and understand because I’ve been there myself. My Dad often tells me that God only gives us as much as we can handle – I hate hearing those words – yet they are about the truest words I’ve ever heard. As I look back on my life, I know that there have been many crazy-beyond-belief storms that I really didn’t know how I’d survive. Yet, I have. And we all can – not on our own, but with God’s help and His strength, and some good family and friends around us who we can be real with, knowing that they’ll love and support us.
So, today I want you to think, whose nose are you picking? That is, do people know they can be real with you? And, how are you offering hope and support to those in your world who are doing it tough?
Also, when you are facing life’s greatest challenges, what do you do about it? Do you have people that you can go to? If you do, that’s amazing, and if you don’t then you need to find some. For you are so incredibly valuable and precious. You are loved more than you might ever imagine – even if you don’t always feel it. And your life has incredible meaning – God created you with great purpose and if your life was to be cut short the world would be so much worse off for it.
What I’ve written today is raw and unpolished – and I’m leaving it that way on purpose – because my life is better today for having exposed my rawest and most unpolished state/ways to those that ‘pick my nose’ – because in these vulnerable moments, I’ve gained renewed hope, had my batteries re-charged and gained strength to continue to fight my battles and conquer them.
If today, you’re saying, “I’m not okay”, then I want you to know that admitting that makes you strong and not weak. I want you to know you are not alone. And I want to encourage you to get help – talk to a trusted family member or friend, someone at a local church, a counsellor, or another professional. While you might not be okay today, with some help you can be.
Here’s some resources that may be helpful if you or someone you know is in a hard place …