Connection

Truth - Relationship above all else is paramount to the human experience. We exist in relation to one another. We persist because of our connections to those who matter to us. We grow, change, and survive because we have interact with others. Isolation, solitude, and loneliness in all its forms is the antithetical of who we are and how we are. In moderation they can give us solace but in excess they present themselves as threats to our humanity. This is connection. 

"Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you." Saint Augustine

Here's my story of dealing with mental health and thoughts of suicide: #LiveForTomorrow
If I had the power to change anything the world it would be that saying how you actually feel all the time could be socially acceptable. The way society's and socialization work truly are mind-boggling. We learn these ways on interacting one another, and yet learn to ignore the subtext into those moments. We ask people how they're doing because we feel obligated to, or it's polite but in reality, all we're doing is trading pleasantries. The sincerity is not there. It's a space filler, and one that has lost all its meaning. We ask but don't wait to hear the reply. We get uncomfortable when people say anything other than great or fine. What if you're actually not well or doing poorly? What then? When we're young we're taught to ask for help, and to tell the truth, almost to the point where our explicit candidness is excessive. When we mature, we learn to figure it out ourselves, and to lie. Not everyone is there to help us. Not everyone is trustworthy. Not everyone will care. How do we know that? Context matters of course, but is there ever a proper time and place to be real? Isn't that everywhere and all the time? What would our world be like if people asked about the well-being of others and gave engaged attentiveness for the response? What if we were encouraged to speak our personal truths instead of pretending we're fine in order to not make others uncomfortable with our issues, emotions, and thoughts? What we miss out on when we disengage is an opportunity for connection. We miss another human being and they miss us. 

A conversation can be enough. It can make the difference. It can chance someone's day for better or worse. When we dialogue we gain invaluable insight into the thoughts and experiences of others. There is truly nothing like. There is no substitute for it. It does the soul good. It starts with a how are you, and it goes from there. Sometimes the conversation can take a somber turn but that doesn't have to be end of it. When emotions are added to a discussion panic fills the hearts of some when rather it means the conversation just gone deeper. It's more significant. It's unrefined and unfiltered. The fronts we put up for not only our own benefit but that of others are broken down. It's an invitation to come in. It's a welcome to the real me. It's a ticket to more profound human connection. It's not one we should shy away from. There's this fear that we don't know the right thing to so, or that we might say the wrong thing when someone mentions something difficult they might be dealing with or going through. It's valid but nonetheless a paltry excuse to disengage. Someone has decided to be vulnerable with you, and you escape immediately. That's hurtful in and of itself. We let our fear take an opportunity to be in relationship with another, heart to heart, soul to soul, person to person. It's okay to make mistakes, to misspeak, and to offend. That's what talking is for. Take ownership of your missteps, or when you feel you don't know what to say. Say something anything, say anything - don't just say nothing. Let the person know you're there, that you care, that they matter to you, etc. Practice giving grace when others might struggle, and extend that same courtesy to yourself. We get better the more we are intentional of remaining in those conversations. We have to maintain connection as much as possible.

Mental health is as important as any other aspects of our health, and the membership identity groups we might belong to. We have to understand that is just as critical to take care of our bodies as it is to take care of our minds. Every deals with mental health issues just to varying degrees. We have to destigmatize all the notions that make it difficult for us to communicate what we need to and get the help we need. There is no shame. There is no weakness. There is no wrongness with asking for help. Sometimes we feel things that we don't understand and that might seem are too much to bear. Sometimes our loneliness can overwhelm us and we hopelessness crashes over us. Sometimes we feel powerless and insignificant. You know what, those are all perfectly normal things to feel from time to time. In our greatest moments of desperation when all seems lost we have to know that feelings are temporary, who we are is not. When those moments come we have to rely on others when we are unable to take care of ourselves. We have to let others in, to be candid, and to be clear about what we're dealing with. If those moments are prolonged, that's even more of a sign to seek help. It's the manic episodes, anxiety, extreme nervousness, compulsive behaviors, thoughts of suicide, and even that self-reprimand that might look like self-harm. We have to acknowledge what we might be dealing with and that only comes when we're aware. We do not have to suffer in silence. I promise there is a community out there of people experiencing similar things. You are not alone. You are never alone. No matter what, help can always be given to those who ask for it. We have to learn to ask, unabashedly, and unapologetically. Pay no attention to what others might think, their thoughts are not important especially when it's concerning your persistence in this world. Stay connected, and never let go. 

Check in. If someone flashes across your mind that you haven't heard from in a while, be the one to see how they're doing. Send a text message, snapchat, facebook message, or you know call them. Ask them how they're doing. Listen not just to respond but to be changed by what they say. Ask follow up questions. Ask them to tell you more, or share more of their experience. It's funny how we limit the human experience into these sweeping generalizations when there is so much intricacy to be shared. Give your full attention to someone else and be amazed. People are just waiting to be validated. You can never know the impact you have on another people. The simple fact that you're thinking about them means so much. Make a list of people you want to reconnect with, it doesn't matter how long ago you heard from them. If you mean well and your intentions are positive people are usually receptive to continuing a connection with you and maintaining a relationship. Express your care however you can. Hug somebody, tell them that you care about them, get them a gift, spend time with them, do something for them. Make someone feel good just because. We could all use a little more connection in our lives. 

Here's some resources for anyone dealing with a tough time, mental health issues, thoughts of suicide, etc. Suicide Prevention Resource CenterActive Minds Mental Health ResourcesCrisis Textline

And in case no one has told you recently explicitly, this is for you. I want you to read this slowly and with emphasis. Let the words was over you and take them to heart. 

Your existence is one of a kind. You are part of so many other people's lives. Your presence is necessary, wanted, and needed. You are seen, heard, and valued. Your actuality is authentic, genuine, and powerful. Your essence is irreplicable, unadulterated, and undeniable. Your impact is immeasurable. Above all else know that you are irreplaceable. You matter, not only to yourself but to so many others - believe that to be true and never let go of it. X

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