It’s common knowledge that predators in the animal kingdom prey on the young, old, and the weak. Those three categories are easy prey because they are generally slower and thus separated from the general group.
Don’t get separated.
I’ve been suicidal twice in my life. The second instance was after a period of seemingly endless transition and a longer period of cutting myself off from old friends and community. I’m blessed to have Josh Broekema as a best friend, as he was the only one who was available and willing to find me when I was wrestling with some very dark demons.
I think that it’s pretty sad that mental health is not a topic that is more oft discussed in the academic sphere, the family unit, and at church. Life is hard. Regardless of whether or not it has been hard yet, it will bring you to your knees.
Relatives will pass away, tragedies will happen, relationships will end, friends will betray, etc etc.
Ironically, oftentimes we think that a proper response to avoid this hurt is to just isolate ourselves. After all if we are alone, then no one can hurt us. Right?
I don’t know what the metaphorical predators in our world are, but alas, over the last year and a half I’ve learned that isolation is dangerous.
Yes having time alone to process what we are feeling is important, but we ultimately need human interaction to fully process what is going on in our lives. We need encouragement or sometimes we just need to know that we aren’t alone. Sometimes that awkward pat on the back and the silence is all we need to know that we can make it.
I’ve experienced more encouragement and freedom from sharing about the many vices that I’ve had in the last 2-3 years than I have from keeping them a secret for the previous 20 years. At first, I only shared with my closest friend. I then shared with my family. I expanded out to my inner circle. And then in a twist of fate, I shared with complete strangers.
It is absolutely bizarre how freeing it is to share with people about your struggles. Regardless of whether or not you believe you have an inner dialogue, we all have a narrator in our heads that colors how we view the world. Our greatest enemy is ourself and we are our biggest critic.
My inner dialogue told me that I was a engineering student who couldn’t cut it, that I was a failure, and that I was a fraud.
The last item was the one that haunted me the most.
Yet, my mind couldn’t drive that point home when the people around me already knew about my successes and my failures.
“If people only knew-“
“Sorry to interrupt, but they already do. Shut up”
Engaging with people is no easy task. Building the relationships and friendships that fill our inner circle is a daunting and tiring process, but I think it’s key to our survival.
The lie that our mind likes to tell us is that we are alone.
No one could possibly be in the same life stage as you.
No one could possibly be feeling the same way you are.
I call BS.
I’ll end with a fun random story.
For the last eight months I’ve been temping at American Honda Finance. I’ve been driving a 50 minute commute to a job where seventeen people are competing for basically one opening. OT is voluntary but actually mandatory.
The people I’ve met have been of the best quality but the job itself is pretty terrible.
I’ve been making this drive for eight months thinking that I’m the only one who makes this commute that I know of to a job that I hate.
I discovered this past Thursday that not one, not two, but three of my friends make the same commute and that we all work within about two minutes of each other.
Words don’t do justice to the feeling of solidarity that you feel when you look to your left and right and you see friends that are suffering alongside of you. (Pardon the dramatization of work into suffering. Melodramatic I know)
Don’t fall into the trap of going solo. We are stronger together.
It takes work, but it is well worth it.