TO TELL OR NOT TO TELL
I am blessed to speak with people who are currently or who have in the past dealt with the issues of mental health. Repeatedly the conversation goes like this:
“No one knows. Should I tell others? “
“How should I tell people what I have?”
“Were you embarrassed – were you afraid?”
“What if people think differently of me?”
“What if I lose my best friends?”
“What if I lose my partner?”
“What if my family members will disconnect?”
“What if they don’t support me during my journey of healing?
There is no one right answer. I can only speak from my own experience. Personally, I was completely open from the beginning of my diagnosis.
Trying to grapple with the onerous load of depression and anxiety I felt that I was drowning and needed help. How could I get help without letting people know I was in need? My level of functioning was almost nil to begin with and someone needed to step in and fill the roles I was no longer managing.
Not everyone will be as lucky as I was. My husband was and is supportive, loving, understanding and there for me. Carpool, meals, shopping, homework, he did it or got someone else to do it. And then he listened to me. My fears, my worries, my demons. He listened to it all and reassured me. Not many are able to do that.
My friends and family also listened when my husband was being both father and mother to my children. There was one friend in particular who didn’t just step up to the plate, she arranged the game, was coach and player. When I was taking refuge from the world that seemed too scary and intimidating Mimi was there to listen and support me. Daily check ins to monitor my mood would alert her if I was in a downward spiral. She would show up, sometimes with a milkshake, coaxing me from one sip to the next to get emotional and physical nourishment.
It is easy to just wallow in the fear. Mimi championed me to take mini steps away from it to a world that looked possible to rejoin. She proved over and over that she was with me and cheered me on with each milestone. Eating a sandwich. Taking a shower. Leaving the bedroom. Going outside. Making a phone call. Through it all Mimi was my staunch supporter. When I would want to ease back into netherland Mimi chided, laughed and challenged me to keep going. Never judging, always reinforcing.
What is interesting is that Mimi had not been my best friend. Not even a close friend. More of an acquaintance. But when she heard that I was down for the count she showed up. Today we are like sisters.
Not everyone has a Mimi in their life. But one can find someone who can do some of what Mimi did. Reaching out and saying I need you to help me is the important first step. Friends and family may be close and yet still feel awkward to show up without your okay.
Not every person is built to be a support. It doesn’t mean that they are evil. It just means that they don’t have what it takes. If the person you reach out to fails your expectations, try again with someone else. Getting out of the swamp of depression by yourself is almost an impossible feat. Reaching out to someone standing on firm ground helps lift you upward.
At times you will receive a chilly or non response from a request for help. Don’t let it hamper your quest for help. Find the person who is equipped and ready to be with you emotionally. Life is on a different level when you can share it with someone. And that someone may not turn out to be your spouse or your significant other. That’s okay. Just keep searching until you hit gold.
Please share with us who is the Mimi in your life.