A fun POEM — I am NOT the author — from 20 years ago about another worldwide virus that all of us survived!
I just found it typed up in a box of papers I had saved and thought it a great time to share. Obviously, I thought it clever and I thought the event was worth memorializing (as did, obviously, someone else). We need to take moments of levity during tragic times. It is a survival mechanism that’s been around for as long as we’ve been self-aware. EVERYONE survived this virus, the one referenced in the poem, but the fears were very real. Do you remember? Can you name it?
I will tell you a little secret, I DID buy heavy-duty plastic and duct-taped my windows and sliding glass door, as so many others did. We survived that one, and most of us will survive this one, bettering our chances if we use Wise Mind, listen to the scientists, and patiently follow the guidelines given to us.
You’ve never heard any fireman say, “Everyone, run as quickly as you can into the flames!” No, they tell you to “walk calmly, single fire towards the exits.” This is a great example of listening to the professionals, following directions, and patiently using Wise Mind to get through those panicked times and into a safe location.
Right now your safe location is your home. Your masks are vital, but they are not a replacement for staying home. Your gloves may make you weak and vulnerable by giving you a false sense of protection. Be aware, think it through, weigh your feelings and your thoughts before making decisions… this is Wise Mind it should be part of your survival plan.
THE NIGHT BEFORE Y2K
‘Twas the night before Y2K, and all through the nation,
We awaited the bug, the millennium sensation.
The chips were replaced in computers with care,
In hopes that old “Bugsy” wouldn’t stop there.
While some folks would think they were snug in their beds,
Others had visions of dread in their heads.
And Ma with her PC and I with my Mac,
Had just logged on the net, and kicked back with a snack.
His image downloaded in no time at all.
He whistled and shouted, “Let all systems fall!
Go Intel, go Gateway, now HP, Big Blue,
Everything Compaq and Pentium too.
All processors big, all processors small,
Crash away, crash away, crash away all.”
All the controls the planes need for their flights,
All microwaves, trains, and all traffic lights.
As I drew in my breath and was turning around,
Out from the modem he came with a bound.
He was covered in fur, and slung on his back
Was a sack full of viruses, set for attack.
His eyes – how they twinkled, his dimples – how merry,
His midnight approach though soon became scary.
He had a broad little face and a round little belly,
And a sack full of viruses that quivered like jelly.
He was chubby and plump, perpetually grinnin’
I laughed when I saw him, though my hard-drive stopped spinnin’.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know, a new feeling of dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work.
He changed all the clocks then turned with a jerk.
With a twitch of his nose, and a quick little wink
All things electronic soon went on the blink.
He zoomed from my system to the next folks online.
He caused such a disruption – could this be a sign?
Then I heard him exclaim with a loud hearty cry,
“Happy Y2K to all, and kiss your PC good-bye!”
— Poet Unknown
I hope you had a little fun with that and that somehow, this little poem written 20 years ago for a virus the world was convinced would end life as we knew it — because all computers’ inner clocks were never programmed for dates beyond the 1900s — helps you to remember the world is not ending.
And, in fact, the world is more alive than ever! Our atmosphere, the waters, it is all healing. Wild animals are making their presence known to us, reminding us that this is their world too. Some are even making a comeback from the brink of extinction. And we, you and I and all of those we have ever known, have woken up from a deep sleep of the mundane, our apathy, our arrogance, and our misdirected energy and now that we are awake we are now re-examining ourselves, revaluing the importance of everything, and reconnecting with our families, our communities, and our gods*.
Do you see them? Do you see the miracles happening all around us? Do you see people connecting with song whether from their windows on the streets of Italy or on the World Wide Web (we haven’t called it that for a very long time, but now it feels that way) singers and musicians from different countries to perform songs of faith together from their own shuttered up living quarters? Do you see neighbors meeting neighbors they’ve never spoken to before? I do. I see all of them and it is wonderful!
God turns everything for good. You’ve just got to be willing to be quiet, open your ears and listen for him, you’ve got to open your eyes and be willing to see them. And then, when you do, open your heart and 2seek Him. You won’t regret it.
(*Trying to be inclusive there.) 2And here is a poem by yours truly entitled, “God’s Child.”
The wonderful photograph was taken by Brantley Neal and acquired through Unsplash. It’s a great source for free photos under the Creative Commons Zero license, so check it out!
CAN YOU FILL THIS OUT WITHOUT LYING? Link back to Sandman’s post with a pingback if you opt to play.
What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
Worst physical pain you’ve suffered?
Favourite place you’ve been?
How late did you stay up last night?
If you could move somewhere else where would it be?
Last holiday you went on?
When was the last time you cried?
What’s your favourite season?
If you could have any career, what would you do?
What was the last book you read?
If you could talk to ANYONE right now who would it be?
Are you a good influence?
Does pineapple belong on a pizza?
You have the remote, what channel do you choose?
Last concert you attended?
First I’d like to say, why would I lie? The questions are not at all intimate, and even if they were I have a certain amount of real like anonymity as well as the option to not even respond. Though I suppose the “without lying” does catch people’s attention and makes them want to read the questions. So I suppose it was a clever way to catch our attention, have us read his blog, and then ping back to him. Well done Jazz Man, well done!
1. The last thing I put into my mouth was my nightly medications washed down the pipe with La Croix Tangerine Water. Maybe not the best combination to put together, but it was handily nearby and did the trick!
2. The worst physical pain I suffered was giving birth without medications, hypnosis, or being surrounded by water. Baby boy came too fast for any of the preparations I’d planned for.
3. My favorite place to have visited was Santorini, Greece. A gorgeous island with amazing blue waters and American breakfasts!
4. Last night I stayed up until 6 AM. I was on a manic cycle and prior to that had not slept since Friday. I’ve come back down and am feeling balanced. Though, it is, as I type this answer, 5 minutes to Thursday, so we’ll see whether or not I am truly ready for a normal sleeping pattern again.
5. I was raised in Northern California and if I were to live anywhere other than here, it would be somewhere down there.
6. The last ‘holiday’ I went on was a trip to Northern California to see a lifelong friend for a week. It was very pleasant and I had a jolly good time.
7. I had my most recent cry in September 2019. It began in the evening around seven or so, shortly after dinner anyway. And the next day when I woke up, I still had tears running down my face. I am pretty sure I had let crying jags for a week or two thereafter and then it just kinda morphed into silent depression.
8. My favorite season is summer, when the sun is shining my spirit feels uplifted!
9. Ah, well this is easy. Before becoming disabled I had a career as a court reporter. Maybe you call us Stenographers over on the other side of the pond? I loved it and have missed it every day since walking away.
10. Well, the last book I physically read was not so good. I am however someone who cannot not finish a book I’ve begun. It was Book 2 in the Magical Kingdom series by Terry Brooks. I disliked the book so much that I will not read the remaining books from that series. Anyway, it was entitled The Black Unicorn.
Since the lockdown, I have moved on to listening to audiobooks that I can check out from my library using the app Libby. I am really enjoying it. The voice actors are tremendously gifted and I find that I am retaining it better than if I were reading it myself! So, when all of this is over and we are able to return to libraries, book stores, and the like, I think I will likely keep on with the audiobooks. It will have become one of the changes to remain with me.
11. It’s hard to choose just one person to talk to. I’d love to talk to my dad and my grandmother, but they have both moved on. I have been talking to my son but the quality isn’t what I’d like it to be. If I could have the conversation at the quality I would like, I would choose him. We are still working through the He is an adult now stage of relationship-morphing.
12. Am I a good influence? Yes. And no. It depends on what I am influencing. Do I have a good work ethic? Yes. Am I a motivated house cleaner? No. Am I kind and loving to people I know and do not know? Yes. Am I kind and loving toward myself? Not really. I am a work in progress and I think everyone who answers this question truthfully would have a similar answer.
13. Pineapple on Pizza? Oh hell yeah! Double pineapple, please! Pineapple is always served best warm!
14. When I have the remote I choose Netflix, Chromecast, NBC, and MSNBC. But mostly, it’s Netflix.
15. The last concert I attended was a long, long time ago. A girlfriend had a spare ticket to see Marc Anthony, so I joined her. I knew only 2 of the songs, but they were songs I liked and I had a good time.
16. My favorite food is a bean and cheese burrito with melted cheddar on top and slathered with sour cream and guacamole! Yum, yum!
The wonderful photograph of Santorini and her bright blue waters was taken by Alex Azabache and acquired through Unsplash. It’s a great source for free photos under the Creative Commons Zero license, so check it out!
According to Business Insider, 4 days ago, on April 3, 2020, via statistical analysis of governmental measures to survive COVID-19*, one-third of the World Population is on Lockdown due to the devastating effects of this novel coronavirus.
It is a strange and scary time.
People are suffering for many reasons that are the same and many reasons that are different. We are suffering from the illness, yes. Our friends, neighbors, and acquaintances are dying, yes. We are frightened and anxious. We are feeling stir crazy and bored. We are not experiencing as much of the life-giving air and sunshine that we need to thrive but, more than anything, we are isolated, kept apart from one another.
Our habits are changing. Our thoughts about our actions and those of others are changing. The world will not be the same once a vaccination is found and we feel free to leave the safety of our lodgings, coming and going as we did just a few months ago and for thousands of years before to the beginning on man living in dwellings.
I believe we will see very obvious changes to the functioning of our societies; there will be social changes that we will long for which may never return, longings that our unborn children, our grandchildren, would be shocked or repulsed by or even just curious about while simultaneously being so surprised to learn just how different our childhoods and life experiences were from what theirs is.
Will the future be filled with a world of germaphobes? Will we be wary of people standing too close? Will our children and grandchildren not yet born also be wary or will they be immune to these fears? Will we use Mork’s or Spock’s hand gesture of greeting, or will we organically create our own (and if so will it be a worldwide greeting or different greetings around the world) or, as I hope, will we be stuck with the elbow bump? Will little girls play Patty Cake and Miss Mary Mack? How about Say Say Oh Playmate, Down Down Baby or Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky? Will adolescent boys give high fives for making baskets? Will first loves, young marrieds, or seniors stroll through parks hand in hand? And how will sporting teams greet one another? By standing in a very large circle and bowing in unison?
Time will tell and I think that some of these changes will be fascinating to see. I expect there are enormous changes coming, changes at all levels of our existence. I cannot tell you why I think this. I can only tell you that I feel this.
I suggest that in addition to outward changes in social behavior and thinking, there may well also be hidden changes deep within our subliminal selves, the not-yet understood definitions that make up each one of us, creating infinitely unique individuals from every spermatozoa and egg that unite, even those eggs that later split creating not one but two tiny babies that will grow into integral members of future humanity. There are changes taking place right now, today, in the mechanisms that guide us toward our behavioral choices, actions, beliefs, and feelings… our souls.
And could there even be something within us, as a species, that is changed forever? Will the impact of this cause a chemical change in our DNA that will be visible to science proving that we, as a species, made a sudden adaptational leap in the DNA of today to the DNA of the generation that follows? And, if so, what will that adaptation mean for all of us, the people who are walking our earth now and all of the generations that may come after?
I have written quite a bit about isolation over the years. And I believe firmly that isolation kills. But now, for our mortal survival, individually and perhaps as a species, we must isolate away from one another. And that is an enormous shift in humankind and it is why I suggest that this may, in fact, be the kind of event that changes who and how people are, how they interact with one another, how they think, as well as changes to their physical and sub-physical natures.
Of course, I could be wrong.
The wonderful photograph was taken by Aaron Burden and acquired through Unsplash. It’s a great source for free photos under the Creative Commons Zero license, so check it out!
☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ ☀
*“…statistical analysis of governmental measures to survive COVID-19,” is my laymen’s terminology of what was created and presented.
On Sunday, March 1st, I woke up with a bad headache and a strong, dry cough. I did not go to church. I called my work and told them I was sick and would not be in until better.
On Thursday, March 5th, I still had that bad headache, the strong, dry cough was now accompanied with a sore throat, muscle aches and pains, and by afternoon I was shivering and shaking, teeth chattering, it was so bad I called my county health department asking what I should do. As terrible as I felt, in terms of do you need to go to the hospital my problems were minor. After our discussion, I called a nearby walk-in clinic (my doc is an hour away) I sometimes go to. They wanted me to go to my doctor. Thanks for that.
March 5th was the first day that they announced testing would be available for people. There were locations that were determined to be the providers for those drive-by tests. My private practice doctor was not going to be one of them, and regardless of that, I was not capable of driving anywhere. I did learn where to go and what to expect.
I was so damn cold and exhausted from the struggle to find direction from someone “in the know” I crawled into bed and slept for another 4 hours. My temperature was 101.3.
When I woke up I was no longer “freezing.” It was 5:30 PM and I knew I had to get going. I got dressed, got in the car, and drove to the town 30 minutes north of me where the tents and drive-thru testing was to be.
Nothing. There was nothing there. Well, that’s not quite true, there were tents, abandoned blue tents and no cars lined up or people wandering around looking lost.
There were a few parking spots with cones at the front, I parked in the coned spot closest to the tent hoping they were watching from windows because it was very stormy, heavy, heavy rain and strong winds. My temperature was 103.3, I was sick, and I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.
And nobody really had any answers.
Long story short, I did end up inside after being told I was to wait in my car until they had a room ready for me (I had all the symptoms of Coronavirus and had spent 3 hours with an individual who was in China when the illness broke out, returned home, quarantined in home 14 days w/o symptoms and returned to work; where I met with her.)
An hour and a half later, a nurse in full protective gear came to my car and took me through a side door to my room.
I was tested for strep, tested for flu. I waited. Strep. Yeah, that’s probably it. Both tests were negative. I was taken for x-rays of my lungs. Good news, my lungs were “clear.”
And, the reason the tents were empty, the status change for testing had not been made official. The doctor called the health department and pushed for me to get tested. It was late now, after 8 PM. The individual said I likely would not pass criteria to have the tests read but to go ahead and do it and the next day a decision would be made about whether she could submit them for processing.
So they scraped my throat again and then pierced my brain with their 12″ nasal probes, one per nostril which, once finding its destination was twirled around to get a good sample.
I was told 3 days. I would know in 3 days.
I cannot share with you about the next 3 days as I was flush with fever, delirious at times, sleeping pretty much around the clock. I can tell you I’ve never been as sick in my life as I was on those days. I was in deep pain, had difficulty breathing (thankfully I have a CPAP machine, which helped), and in those moments of lucidity, I was SCARED.
Three days came, three days went.
On March 9th, I called. I knew my test was being processed as I had called and gotten the confirmation that an exception had been made in my case (they had already used the test after all, and we had pushed the fact that I work with seniors).
The wait was now 7 days.
On March 11th, my fever broke. On March 12th I learned the results of my coronavirus test. Negative.
However, I am to remain in quarantine until all of my symptoms have resolved.
Today is March 17th, I am still coughing up my lungs, although now I occasionally get something coming up out of the lungs. Because I was sick so early, I was unable to prepare for this by shopping for food, toiletries, etc.
And yet, I am calm. I feel at peace. The earth is cleansing herself. Isn’t it interesting that the world’s children are not hard hit? I find it fascinating, it feels like a plan. And ultimately, I know that God turns all things for good.
That’s right you heard me. But what is Hooked? Well, it used to be an award-winning book, but now it transitioning into a feature film. The screenplay has already been honored in competitions and is going into pre-production beginning of July and I am part of it!
I still don’t get it.
This should help:
Hooked is the romantic dramedy of a young man whose autism prevents him from recognizing that the woman of his dreams is, in fact, a prostitute. The film is respectful to those with autism as well as those working the streets. The relationship between the two characters is sweet and heartwarming while shining a light on human trafficking in America.
The hooked film production is being sponsored by the 501(c)3non-profit, From the Heart Productions, so that any contributions, whether cash or non-cash, made toward Hooked are tax-deductible. From the Heart Productions has been dedicated to supporting world-changing films for over 23 years.
And just today an individual has offered to match Seed and Spark contributions made to our indie film up to $2500 between now and July 4 so that’s exciting too! And this is what got me fired up to share this project with all of you! (I guess I have been kinda holding tight to this project and not allowing others in… I wanted it all for me and didn’t want to share.) Not the wisest move.
Seed and Spark is a pretty cool crowdfunding site. It is just for filmmakers and they donate cool stuff to films that gain followers (different levels of award based on how many followers we get. ) We can even get free submissions into the film festivals with 1000 followers on Seed and Spark. Now I think that is totally awesome! And I am hoping some of you will follow our campaign to help us get there!
And just like other crowdfunding sites, you can earn cool stuff by donating too. Have you ever dreamed of being a screenwriter? With a $200 contribution, you can join a screenwriting workshop with award-winning screenwriter Allen Wolf taking place on Saturday, Oct. 27th. And there are, of course, lot’s of other fun, exciting incentives waiting for you. But I think the greatest reward is knowing that you are helping a movie that brings American human trafficking and bond slavery, as well as autism, to the big screen.
I want to know more about modern slavery in America!
“Our hope is that people who experience Hooked will be inspired to take action against trafficking. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally. 81% of them are trapped in forced labor, 25% of them are children, and 75% are women and girls. The map above only reflects cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2016 where the location of the potential trafficking was known. Some cases may involve more than one location.
“2. Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including: Forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography.
“3. According to some estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.
“4. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.
“5. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children.
“6. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
“7. California harbors 3 of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas in the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.
“8. The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than any other state in the US. 15% of those calls are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“9. Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year.
“10. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries.
“11. The International Labour Organization estimates that women and girls represent the largest share of forced labor victims with 11.4 million trafficked victims (55%) compared to 9.5 million (45%) men.”
Please go to our Seed and Spark Campaign and support us through follows, donations, or both! Thank you!
I’m a mental health writer and advocate, and a suicide attempt survivor. I’ve told people on this blog many times, “Keep reaching out.” I’ve written multiple articles preaching the importance of vulnerability, defying stigma, and owning your struggles.
This is my whole thing, okay? This is what I do.
So when one of my closest friends died by suicide a few weeks ago, I wasn’t just shocked — I was completely gutted.
I thought there was never a question of whether or not my loved ones could reach out to me. But the very person who I’d talked to so often about mental health… didn’t call me.
Not even to say goodbye.
In the weeks following their suicide, my grief took me to dark places. I soon began having my own suicidal thoughts. And even then, when it was my turn to “reach out“? Even after losing my friend? I began to withdraw, too.
I watched, with painful awareness, as I did much of what my friend seemed to do leading up to their suicide. I wrote myself off as a burden. I isolated myself. I got lost in my own head. And despite knowing the danger of where I found myself, I said nothing.
After an especially scary night, I realized something: No one ever explained to me how to ask for help. No one told me what “reaching out” even meant.
As my grief began to snowball, I hesitated to tell anyone I was struggling, largely because I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what to ask for, and without knowing what to ask for, it felt too complicated and futile to ask.
“Why didn’t they tell me?” is such a common refrain when we talk about suicide or mental health challenges in general. It’s easy to make this remark, because “tell someone” seems like a simple request. But in truth, it’s vague at best.
“REACHING OUT” IS THIS SKILL WE’RE SOMEHOW EXPECTED TO KNOW, YET IT’S NEVER TAUGHT AND RARELY MODELED FOR US.
It’s this vague, hopeful sentiment that people throw around, without ever really defining it. What are we asking people to do or say? It’s not exactly clear.
So I want to get more specific. We need to be more specific.
I don’t know if an article like this could’ve saved my friend. But what I do know is that we need to normalize asking for help and talk about what that might look like, rather than pretending it’s a simple and intuitive thing to do.
Maybe then, we can reach people sooner. We can meet them more compassionately. And we can find better ways to support them.
So if you’re struggling but you don’t know what to say? I get it.
Let’s talk about it.
1. “I’M (DEPRESSED/ANXIOUS/SUICIDAL). I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO ASK FOR, BUT I DON’T WANT TO BE ALONE RIGHT NOW.”
Sometimes we don’t know exactly what we need, or we’re unsure of what someone can offer. That’s okay; that shouldn’t discourage us from reaching out. It’s perfectly fine if you have no idea what you need or want — especially when all you can think about is how much you’re hurting.
Let someone know how you’re feeling. You might be surprised by the ways they offer to support you. And if they aren’t helpful? Keep asking until you find someone who is, or seek out a hotline (I know it can be weird to talk to a stranger, but there are some awesome hotlines out there).
2. “I’M STRUGGLING WITH MY MENTAL HEALTH AND WHAT I’VE BEEN TRYING ISN’T WORKING. CAN WE (MEET UP/SKYPE/ETC) ON (DATE) AND COME UP WITH A BETTER PLAN?”
Feeling helpless or exhausted is part and parcel for dealing with a broken mental health system. But a team approach can make it a little more manageable. Sometimes we need a cheerleader/researcher that helps us explore our options, especially when we’re having trouble believing that we have any.
One thing you’ll also notice is that, for almost everything on this list, I suggest setting a time.
This is important for a couple reasons. The first being that it helps the person you’re talking to understand the urgency behind your ask. It can also be helpful to know that there’s an event in the near future when you can expect to receive some support. This can help us hang in there when things get bleak.
3. “I DON’T FEEL SAFE BY MYSELF RIGHT NOW. CAN YOU STAY ON THE PHONE WITH ME/COME OVER UNTIL I CALM DOWN?”
I know this is a hard one to say. Because we often fear telling someone just how much we’re struggling, and admitting that we don’t feel safe? That’s a biggie. Obviously you can replace the word “safe” if it’s not working for you, but I always encourage people to be direct, because it’s the surest route to getting exactly what we need.
Asking someone to be present might feel especially vulnerable. It might not even feel like, in the moment, it’ll make that much of a difference. But you’re more likely to feel better with support than without any.
And remember, from everything we know about mental illness, depression is more likely to be a liar than a truth-teller (I talk about that a bunch in this blog post).
4. “I’M IN A BAD PLACE, BUT I’M NOT READY TO TALK ABOUT IT. CAN YOU HELP ME DISTRACT MYSELF?”
You do not have to talk about what’s bothering you if you’re not ready.
Opening up a whole can of worms might not be the safest or best thing for you in that particular moment. And guess what? You can still reach out for help.
Sometimes we just need someone to shoot the shit with, so we aren’t stuck in our heads, making ourselves a little crazy. This is a valid and healthy thing to ask for! And it’s a subtle way of making folks aware that you’re having a rough time, without needing to go into detail.
The sooner the folks around you are aware that you’re having a hard time, the quicker they can show up to help you through it.
Early interventions are so critical for our mental health. In other words: Don’t wait for your whole basement to flood before you fix a leaky pipe — fix the pipe when you notice the problem has started.
5. “CAN YOU CHECK IN WITH ME (ON DATE/EVERY DAY), JUST TO MAKE SURE I’M ALRIGHT?”
I cannot say it enough — do not underestimate the value of asking for a check-in. I am such a huge fan of this as a coping skill, especially because it can be super helpful for everyone involved.
If you take nothing else away from this article, it should be this: Please ask people to check in with you. It’s such a small thing to ask for in the age of texting, but it can help us stay connected, which is freaking critical for our mental health.
(If you’ve played The Sims before, remember the social bar? That’s you. You need to fill it. Humans need to connect with other humans. It’s not just about wanting to, it’s that we actually require it to survive.)
And this can happen in so many smart ways. A few of my favorites:
“I haven’t been doing well. Can you text me every morning to make sure I’m okay? It would really help me.”
“Hey friend. I’ve been kind of sad lately — do you maybe want to Snapchat/send selfies to each other before bed every night, just to check in? It’d be nice to see your face.”
“I’m in a funk right now. Do you want to be self-care buddies? Like text each other once a day something that we did to care for ourselves?”
“I’ve been isolating myself a little lately. Can you check in with me every so often, just to make sure I didn’t fall off the face of the earth?”
Add emojis wherever fitting if you want it to feel more casual (but really, you don’t need to, there’s nothing wrong with asking for what you need!).
Asking for people to check in with you when you’re struggling is just like buckling your seatbelt when you get in a car. It’s just one extra safety measure in case things get rough.
Both can actually save lives, too. Consider this a PSA.
6. “I’M HAVING A HARD TIME TAKING CARE OF MYSELF. I NEED EXTRA SUPPORT RIGHT NOW AROUND (TASK). CAN YOU HELP?”
Maybe you need help getting to an appointment or the grocery store. Maybe you need a cheerleader to make sure you took your meds, or someone to send a selfie to to prove you got out of bed that morning. Are your dishes piling up in the sink? Do you need a study buddy? It doesn’t hurt to ask for support around tasks like these.
Sometimes these things add up when we’re struggling with our mental health. But we forget that it’s okay to ask for a hand, especially at those times when it could really make a difference.
Being an adult is already challenging. If you’re going through a rough time? It’s even harder. We all hit a point when we need some extra support. Don’t be afraid to let folks know directly how they could support you.
7. “I’VE BEEN FEELING SO LOW. CAN YOU REMIND ME ABOUT WHAT I MEAN TO YOU OR SHARE A FAVORITE MEMORY? IT WOULD REALLY HELP ME.”
I used to think that asking for something like this meant I was “fishing for compliments.” And what a lousy way of looking at it…
Sometimes we need reminders that we matter! Sometimes we can’t recall the good times, and need someone to help us remember them. This is true of every single human being on the planet.
It’s such a simple request, too. If you’re the kind of person that feels nervous about making a big ask (again, I’d encourage you to challenge that assumption — it’s okay to ask for help!), this can be a small step in the right direction.
8. “I’M STRUGGLING RIGHT NOW AND I’M AFRAID I’M REACHING MY LIMIT. CAN I GIVE YOU A CALL TONIGHT?”
To be honest, it wasn’t until my friend died that I finally found these words in particular.
Up until that point, I’d never been sure exactly how to raise the alarm. You know, that moment when you’re not at the end of your rope, but you’re getting there? It’s a crucial moment.
Yes, you can and you absolutely should reach out then, even if you aren’t sure if it might make a difference (spoiler alert, people might actually surprise you). I think about how much pain I could’ve avoided if I’d saw that moment for the opportunity it really was.
Listen to that little voice in the back of your mind, the one that’s trying to tell you that you’re a little too close to the edge for comfort. Listen to that nagging feeling that tells you you’re in over your head. That’s your survival instinct — and it’s an instinct you should trust.
9. “I KNOW WE DON’T TALK MUCH, BUT I’M GOING THROUGH A TOUGH TIME AND I FEEL LIKE YOU’RE SOMEONE I CAN TRUST. ARE YOU FREE TO TALK (DAY/TIME)?”
I wanted to include this because I realize that not all of us have people we’re close to that we confide in.
When I was a teenager, everything changed for me when I reached out to a teacher at my high school that I barely knew. She had always been incredibly kind to me, and I had a gut feeling that she would “get it.” And she did!
To this day, I still believe that she saved my life at a time when I had no one else to turn to. She connected me with a social worker, who was then able to help me access the resources I needed to recover.
While it’s important to be respectful of people’s capacities and boundaries (and be prepared, of course, if someone can’t be there for you or isn’t helpful — it’s not personal!), you might be surprised by the responses that you get.
10. “I’M SUICIDAL. I NEED HELP RIGHT NOW.”
Raise the alarm.
Raise the damn alarm, friends, and be as direct as you need to be. An emergency is an emergency, whether it’s a heart attack or a self-harm risk. Harm to you in any form is reason enough to ask for help.
I promise you, there’s someone in this world — an old friend or a future one, a family member, a therapist, even a volunteer on a hotline — who wants you to stay.
Find that person (or people), even if it takes time. Even if you have to keep asking.
Give people the chance to help you. It’s a chance that my friend deserved, and it’s a chance that you deserve.
(And if all else fails, I have this resource about going to the emergency room when you’re suicidal. I’ve personally been hospitalized twice, and while it’s not a ritzy vacation, it’s the reason I’m here today.)
PICK SOMETHING FROM THIS LIST. WRITE IT DOWN, EVEN IF IT’S ON YOUR HAND OR A STICKY NOTE. REACH OUT — BECAUSE NOW YOU KNOW HOW.
Hell, bookmark this article while you’re at it. I know I’m going to, because there are times when I need this advice, too.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, let me remind you that it’s never too soon or too late to let someone know.
And it’s never, ever too heavy, too messy, or too much to ask — even if you asked fifty times the day before.
I’d have rather had my friend “bother me” every day for the rest of my life than have to lose them forever. Their life was that precious.
And yes, so is yours.
Hey there, friend. Before you go, I want to share some resources with you.
If you’re suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386, or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
You can also go to the emergency room. If you’re not sure if you should or how to prepare for something like that, I’ve got an article for that, too.
This isn’t just a generic “here are some numbers” plug, this is a “I want you to stay, we need you here, please don’t go just yet” plea.
There’s a memorial fundraiser in honor of my dear friend, Chris Alvaro.
The funds raised will go to organizations that support trans mental health and racial justice.
This article is, of course, dedicated to them.
Topher, you’re still the brightest star in my galaxy. We couldn’t keep you safe. But I will never stop fighting for a world that could have.
A year ago I wrote a piece on the Out of the Darkness community walks put on by the American Foundation to prevent suicide. Well, today we participated once again in our community walk. It’s been a year since we lost our last loved one to suicide (rather than a month) so attending the walk was much easier, no more tears only a touch of sadness — nothing more than we feel on any given day. We were able to enjoy everyone coming together in community to remember those we have loved and lost.
AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states and is “the leader in the fight against suicide. Fund[ing] research, creat[ing] educational programs, advocat[ing] for public policy, and support[ing] survivors of suicide loss.
“The Out of the Darkness Walks are proof that when people work together they can make big changes in the world. They are AFSP’s largest fundraiser – they produce millions for suicide prevention programs, unite those who have been affected by suicide, and create communities that are smart about mental health.”
You can read about my previous Out of the Darkness experience. Or you can read previous posts I have written about how suicide has impacted my life in these posts listed below:
You can also read two powerful posts about personal struggles that I hosted here on my site written by guest bloggers Chris, and Sarah. The post written by Chris does have a trigger warning attached to it so if you are thinking of suicide do not read it. Instead, please telephone or text the resources below. It is confidential and will help alleviate your pain.
Crisis Text Line 24/7: Text “Go” to 741-741 to get started National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Veterans they understand your experiences are different. Press 1 for a line dedicated just to you. LGBTQ National Youth Talk (afternoons & evenings M-S only): 1-800-246-7743