As I laid on my hotel bed late one night after a full day of meetings at the National Speakers Association Convention, I was scrolling through Instagram. I came across a post that caught my attention. It was that of a dear sweet family member. The post was a picture with a quote on it. ”You’re going into a season where you’re about to experience breakthrough after breakthrough because what you went through didn’t break you.” This caught my attention. I wondered what was going on, because as far as I knew, things in her life seemed “perfect” from the outside. I preceded to read the text that she posted with the quote. I preceded to read about how several months ago she was tired of dealing with her deep depression. This was something I knew nothing about.
She seemed like one of the happiest girls I knew. She is a young working mom, with a wonderful husband, beautiful home, and everything else you would classify as “perfect.” As I read through her post, the tears streamed down my cheeks. She went on to tell how several months ago she had decided to end her life. The depression was too much to handle. Luckily for her (and all of us who love her dearly), her story had a different ending than most. She didn’t succeed at what she thought was the answer to her struggling.
As I read through her post and all the comments I began to think about the struggles that so many people deal with on a daily basis. I, as well as all those who commented on her post, had no idea she struggled with depression or about this incident. How many people just like her struggle with some sort of paralysis that we know nothing about? I’m not talking about just physical paralysis. How about all of those that suffer from a mental illness of some sort?
I do not claim to be an expert in this field by any means. I do however, claim to be someone who has been there. I’ve been laying in a hospital bed, wondering if it would be easier for me to just die. Easier for my family. I felt like such a burden to them. I know what it’s like to push everyone away who loves me. To doubt myself, my capabilities, my future. Why would my wife want to be with me? She can’t even hold my hand. Things that are important and sacred in a marriage were going to be different now. We wanted more children, how was this going to be possible now? How am I going to play basketball with my boys? These are all thoughts that ran through my head while I was in the hospital shortly after my accident.
1 in 5 adults experiences a mental health condition every year. 1 in 20 lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. This means thousands of you reading this newsletter more than likely suffer from a condition that your loved ones may or may not know about. This world is a harsh place. So much need to be perfect, so much pressure, so much needing to get everything done, on time and perfect. So much judgement. So much comparison. So much keeping up with everyone else.
I am not suggesting that the above mentioned is what leads to mental illness. I am in no way qualified to discuss such topics. I do believe however that the need to look perfect from the outside world is what leads those to hide the mental illness. It is what leads others to suffer in silence for so long. The fear of being judged or being “labeled.” The fear of being looked down upon. I do know what it’s like to be looked at differently. To feel like I am labeled and that I am different than everyone else.
What happened to the simple phrase “Love One Another?” Why is it so hard for people to simply just love one another. Not judge their circumstances as if they are in their shoes. What happened to being compassionate and empathetic to those who are having a bad day, a bad week, a bad decade? Life is far too short to judge, hate, and look down upon others.
My plead for you today, is to take the time to really really truly look someone in the eye and ask how they are doing. Reach out to them, give them a hug, don’t just walk by with the usual “Hi, how are you?” and then walk away, not even awaiting a response. I realize that not everyone is going to open up and tell you everything that is going on. But, if they aren’t given the chance, I can guarantee you they won’t. When is the last time you took a loved one to lunch, called them on the phone, or simply sent a text to see how they are doing? When is the last time, you made someone feel like you truly cared about them and their well-being?
Please take the time to look around at those in your neighborhood, your family, your friends from high school or college. Let them know they are loved. Let them know there is hope, there is help, and that you are there for them! For no other reason than to be that shoulder to cry on when no one else was. To be the one that stayed through all the bad times to make it to the best of times. Those are the friends we all need more of.
I commend and applaud my dear family member for being so open and honest. For wanting to share her story in hopes of helping others. Showing that she is real and she is human. That takes courage.
Please let’s all be a little more loving and accepting toward others. Let’s show them how much we really love and need them. There is a place for every one of us in this world. And if you haven’t found yours yet, keep on searching. Because YOU make a difference and YOU are loved.
Until Next Time… Believe