10 Ways to ‘Reach Out’ When You’re Struggling With Your Mental Illness

Via: Let’s Queer Things Up!
Author: Sam Dylan

10 Ways to Reach Out When You're Struggling With Your Mental Illness

Via: Let’s Queer Things Up!
Author: Sam Dylan

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.

10 Ways to Reach Out When You're Struggling With Your Mental Illness 2
The last night I spent with them.

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.

Tweet: 10 Ways to Reach Out When You're Struggling With Your Mental Health https://ctt.ec/4Rdb6+ “'Reaching out' is this skill we're somehow expected to know, yet it's never taught and rarely modeled for us.

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).

Tweet: 10 Ways to Reach Out When You're Struggling With Your Mental Health https://ctt.ec/4Rdb6+ “'Reaching out' is this skill we're somehow expected to know, yet it's never taught and rarely modeled for us.

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.

Author Signature

SAMheart 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.

Chris Alvaro And Lastly…

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.

Feature photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash.

©2018-2020 Let’s Queer Things Up!
Republished with permission

#wcw On Perseverance

I often blog about mental health issues because I have lived a life of great strife. Strife I self-inflict and strife cast against me.  It’s not just me that hurts me. I have been tremendously hurt and traumatized throughout my life by others.  My body hurts me: I suffer from chronic migraines, chronic pain, chronic fatigue and to top it off, I am bipolar.  I am an extrovert who often finds herself isolated and alone. Usually I am in self-imposed exile, but it’s not always physical exile.  Many times I feel socially exiled because my life looks and feels so different than those of my family and my friends or perhaps I am with them physically but doing my best to put on a brave face and appear “happy” or “normal.”

I have great friends.  True friends.  They love me and support me in spite of my mood swings, irritability, insecurities, and socio-economic status.  They are there for me if and when I am willing to reach out to them and let them help me.  I have great friends because I am a great friend whenever I am capable.  I am steadfast in my love and loyalty to them. They have earned it and so much more.

Today’s quote honors those friendships and the struggles that I know we all face, whether they are similar to mine or entirely different.  Everyone struggles. Everyone suffers. Everyone hurts sometimes.  And to get through the struggles we must endure it is essential that we never give up in our faith and trust in God — or the life process, karma, insert your belief system here — that things will get better.  Each struggle is independent of the rest. Some people do appear to live harder lives than others, but that is not because we are not all equally deserving. God offers blessings to us each day if we can crawl out of bed, put on our shoes, and live our life with our mind in the moment and our eyes on the lookout for blessings, which are there for us to find.

This quote is also chosen today because it is the holiday season which is commonly a very, very difficult time for people.  For some it is the additional costs associated with the holiday. For others it can be feelings of obligation to others we do not agree with. Even the fast pace of the clock ticking down to Christmas can add great stress to those who are otherwise happy.  The fact that it is Christmas (a typical family-oriented holiday) causes pain to those who are or think they are alone.  Social expectations that this is a happy, merry, time of cheer can cause additional pressure to those who struggle to maintain balance and stability with their moods (anxiety, depression, mania, etc.).

It is also an election year with a highly contentious and divided reflection on the outcome and future.  This is the third spire of why I have chosen wisdom from Winston Churchill.  I hope you will find it helpful in bringing to you strength and courage to persevere through your dark times, whatever the cause, even if only for a day or a moment.

#wcw On Perseverance | Memee's Musings

☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ ☀

If you’d like to play Words Crush Wednesday along with me here are the details:

Cut/paste and follow these 3 simple rules:

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(3) Tag your post #wcw so the Words Crush Wednesday community players can find you.

(4) Optional: When you are ready, create your own badge for those you inspire to play Words Crush Wednesday. If you do not create your own badge then your inspirees MUST use the badge from the blogger who inspired you — it’s on your post — so be sure to make it easy for them to find. (P.S. I create all of my graphics on Canva.)

If you wanna play #wcw with me, here's your badge!
If you wanna play #wcw with me, grab that panda badge!

* To see the badge I earned, visit my very first #WCW post.
And, here’s my pingback: Rebirth of Lisa

Escalation – Love Dies.

Escalation - Love Dies. | Memee's Musings
Photo by Kumar’s Edit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

 

I wrote before of my friends, we’ll call them Joe and Barb. They were married in May of 2000. He was 30. She was 24. I don’t have to do the math for you. It’s been a long marriage and moderately successful. Long story short, she became very controlling of him, dictatorially so. She grew cold within first five years of marriage and turned their life into a business arrangement. And she cut him off from friends and outside influences.  Then she became verbally abusive.  He finally got fed up and manned-up and told her to get into counselling or he was leaving. If he were a woman we would all be cheering him on for finally taking control of his life, and being proactive for his own happiness. And it is for that reason I must say I am proud of him. A broken marriage that is not fixable, cripples a person. And he is splintered everywhere.

Tonight was hard for me. I cried for him. And I am so very furious with her. Today she went too far and passed the brink of repairing the relationship.

Let me back up. I saw them just a bit over a week ago, 9 days ago, I believe. You see I recently moved myself back to Washington, but needed Joe’s help tightening the belts on my car so I could make it safely and without loud squealing noises following me everywhere. Also, we needed to have our goodbyes. I had a very nice time visiting with her while he repaired my car and added fluids. She had her first glass of wine (I didn’t imbibe that night.) She tried to talk to me about their problems, but I told her that it made me uncomfortable and that I didn’t want to be giving advice. I just wanted them both to be happy (in whatever life had in store). That I was his friend and it just didn’t feel right to me having her try to confide in me. She respected my speaking up and telling her so. She told me of the things she was doing to improve herself. And it sounded like she was finally getting it. It sounded like her counselling was actually making a difference and she was willing to accept and take responsibility for her controlling and verbally abusive behavior.

She was probably on her second glass of wine when dinner was served.  I don’t know; I wasn’t counting.  They have red wine every night. Because I wasn’t drinking I observed them in a way I hadn’t before. Right there at the dinner table things started going south. I’m not sure how or why but the mood changed from fun to uncomfortable to painful. At one point I suggested I go. They both said no, I should stay. And so I stayed. And I watched as their behavior toward one another changed. It was hard. She tries to keep up with him glass for glass. But she doesn’t metabolise the wine like he does. She would say things to him that weren’t necessarily meant to be hurtful, but would come across that way. I would try and keep things from going that way, saying, “I think what she is trying to say is…” I just wanted it to stop escalating. But I couldn’t stop her. I told her that he heard her. That he understands what she is trying to say. But by that point she was too drunk to keep herself in check. And as her words become more critical, more biting, and more hurtful I became increasing uncomfortable.  I felt helpless to the trainwreck I could see coming.  He never raised his voice or lost his calm.  He didn’t snap back at her or return cruel jabs.  He squirmed in his seat with discomfort as he tried to talk her down, reason with her.  Eventually, he excused himself. He gave me a hug goodbye, and I could feel him trembling in my arms as he whispered to me, “That was bad.” All I could do was say, “I know. I’m sorry.” I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment. He went to shower and secure himself in the guest room. She walked me to the car.

At the car she totally lost it emotionally. Weeping and crying and feeling sorry for herself beyond what was necessary. Even throughout her behavior at the table he remained calm and collected, shifting uncomfortably in his seat, trying to speak to her rationally. Asking her to stop. Asking her to respect his experience and expertise.  He played the defender to her aggressor.  And she felt sorry for herself?   I reminded her again, at the car, that I didn’t want to be put in the middle.  Again, she said she respected that and appreciated my honesty about that. She understands that 31 years of friendship with him trumps my one year of friendship with her. She knows I don’t want to choose. She knows I want to remain friends no matter what happens with this marriage. Despite that she couldn’t quit crying and I couldn’t just stand there and let her cry. So I gave in to my compassion and gave her the best advice I could. I spent probably 45 minutes standing out in the cold with her.

I told her that she needed to not drink as much as he does, and why. I told her that he needs her to be soft and gentle, a woman. That she needs to allow him to be a man. She needs to trust in him to know how best to do things that are in his expertise and wheelhouse. She needs to not police him. (Yes, she’s in law enforcement and he feels like a prisoner.) She says, “But I have to protect him.” She doesn’t understand that he is a 46-year-old, 6’2″ intelligent man with a black belt in jiu jitsu (could be some other martial art, I don’t recall. Point is, he’s a master). She needs to understand that her behavior and words strike at his manhood. She is being disrespectful to a man who is kind and helpful and tries to please her despite all the garbage she throws his way. But apparently she didn’t take my words to heart or perhaps she was too wasted to remember them because today she crossed the line.

Mind you, the evidence is all circumstantial but with things I know about her, I’d say she is totally capable of being the bitch that would do this. And I know her accomplice, and she is just plain evil.

1. 11:00 a.m. Barb sends Joe a text while he’s at work. “What will you do if you lose your job?” He doesn’t respond. She texts again ten minutes later, “You won’t be able to depend on me, once you leave, will you?”

2. 1:00 p.m. Joe gets a call to meet with his boss. He is fired on the spot. The reason given, “They received accusations against him by a woman.” No name given. No further information provided.

3. 3:00 p.m. Barb’s best friend posts a meme on a private Facebook group, that I happen to be a member of, tagging only Barb. I see it. Find it suspicious and curious. But then forget about it because I don’t know what has happened.

The meme was of Morticia Adams with a glass of celebratory blood and it reads, “That moment when you witness karma in its full, glorious splendor.”

He comes home and she goes out to dinner with another girlfriend. He is devastated that she’d be so cruel. To ruin this job which (yes, gave him the confidence and financial means to leave her) and sully his reputation in the process. He feels lost and confused, sick to his stomach with agony. He doesn’t understand her need to control him or the idea of a human being as a possession. He is a good man. She was blessed to have such a man. Me, I cried. I cried as he told me all about his day. And then, when we were done talking, I cried some more. I felt his pain.

As I said, I have the misfortune of knowing this new “best friend” and she is pure evil. She’s known Barb for less time than I have known her and I warned him, as did others, that she would be a bad influence on her. I think she was the woman who made the accusation. I think it was a plan dreamt up over cocktails and Barb may have even agreed to it thinking it was a joke. Unfortunately, she did “like” the meme, so maybe she knew it all along. The coincidence and timing of everything is just way too suspicious.

I begged Joe to go to a hotel or a friend’s house for tonight at least. I fear for both of their safety. When she was hysterical by my car the idea got stuck in my head that she could, if drunk and pushed beyond hope, kill him and then herself, Brynn Hartman style. When we had finished up our conversation he was going to shower and meditate and if he couldn’t reground himself he’d leave for the night. I think perhaps he thinks I am more worried about what he might do to her. But really, it’s either of them. He’s not violent. He is a very gentle person. But she is controlling and when drunk, she cannot control her behavior. I don’t trust her now. Not at all. Not after today.

By the time this posts, it will be tomorrow. He has promised to check in with me. I will likely sleep poorly tonight. My prayers are that God is in that house tonight. And that he will hear if God tells him to go. That she will hear if He whispers for her to stop. That tonight Barb will leave Joe alone and give him space, and that things do not escalate further.

(Update: both are still living and breathing and no one is in jail.)  Whew!  My domestic violence history takes me there as an option, always.  Feeling grateful, Lord, for your watching over them at this time of crisis.

#WCW on Opportunity

When things happen in our lives, bringing disappointment into our hearts we lean on our friends for support and compassion. And more likely than not we have heard or even offered this adage (or a bastardized version thereof) with the desire it will help the person find hope. I know I say it to myself to kickstart my brain into positive thinking: “When one door closes, another door opens.”

But did you know that is not the entire quote? In fact, the point, nay, the meaning of the quote as originally stated has been dropped. I discovered this while working on the post about this month’s poetry party and wanted to get the wording correct as I’ve heard many bastardized versions and wanted to get it right. I was surprised first by who said it. And then, of course, that there was more to it. And I like the entire quote. I like it a lot because it is powerful and true.

I am a person who rarely lives in the present. I spend a lot of time thinking about the past and a lot of time pondering about the future… which is actually quite ridiculous because we can never imagine what the future truly holds. I like the quote because it reminds me that we must remember where to focus our lives and spend our time.

#WCW on opportunity | Memee's Musings

I hope you enjoyed the relevant quote for this week’s Words Crush Wednesday. If you’d like to play along with me here are the details:

Cut/paste and follow these simple rules:

(1) Always pingback to the site you discovered #wcw on with every Words Crush Wednesday post. In this case, that’s me: memeesmusings.com!

(2) In your post, use the badge they’ve created just for you – In this case, you’d use the Panda badge (size doesn’t matter), just grab it below.

(3) Tag your post #wcw so the Words Crush Wednesday community players can find you.

(4) Optional: When you are ready, create your own badge for those you inspire to play Words Crush Wednesday. If you do not create your own badge then your inspirees MUST use the badge from the blogger who inspired you — it’s on your post — so be sure to make it easy for them to find.

 

If you wanna play #wcw with me, here's your badge!
If you wanna play #wcw with me, grab that panda badge!

* To see the badge I earned, visit my very first #WCW post. And, here’s my pingback: Rebirth of Lisa

Mad Scientist is Winner of Friendship Poetry Challenge!

Mad Scientist is Winner of Friendship Poetry Contest! | Memee's Musings

Mad Scientist (by Carlos Lewis)

I have had often the habit,
Of digging too deep,
Into the private lives and minds
Of those friends that I keep.
You see, I never found it wrong
Or intrusive if I strikingly asked
Those questions that are to answer
Difficult; leave them masked.
If I waited until we were alone
I might ensnare you with emotion
And then deliver that unwanted gift
Of a beckoning favor, of commotion.
Then my friends would, somber,
Try to evade my words, my voice.
I simply would return with a stone
Expression; I leave little to choice.
So in this way I could draw out
The answer that I craved so badly;
Be they underwhelming or shocking,
I desired them, I obsess madly.

Now you probably would look at me
And wonder how inhuman I act,
But I detest this view of my practice.
I am an indulger of mental fact.
What makes the mind tick?
What causes these humans to take
A form that creates their personality,
And in time, a tortured soul to make?
These are the burning questions
That I desperately wish to address;
Therefore, my actions are an act
Of science that evidently impress.
Only a mad scientist would delve
So deep that they risk losing it all;
Then I am mad! madly observant,
And I keep down the rabbit hole, I fall.

Each mind is so unique,
With all its experience and abilities.
They all open up worlds unknown,
And create endless possibilities.
For I myself am but one man
But in the equation I add a universe;
Now multiply that exponentially
And boundaries become reversed.
Now all of the planes of existence
Have opened themselves to humanity
And I am taking one small step;
Maybe for the sake of my sanity.
But I could endlessly keep falling,
Simply chasing, never ceasing;
However, I could never stop and see
All the beauty I would be releasing.

I’d rather explore the universes
That cross paths with mine,
For they shift my orbit and gravity
Much more than a distant shine.
For if I understand the connections
Between myself and a friend,
Then I also share in that link
A bigger world made by our blend.
This is why I ponder over their minds
And why I ask a burning question;
After all, it’s how I keep alive
My somewhat unhealthy obsession.
And in my craziness maybe you too
Have become excited to explore;
I say friends are meant to be known,
It’s what we keep them around for.

by Carlos Lewis

You can get to know Carlos and his writings over at his blog, Thoughts of a Trainwrecked Pineapple. He is absolutely one of my very favorite people whom I’ve met during this blogging journey. Please be sure and let him know how much you enjoyed his poem by visiting him and leaving comments.

☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ ☀

Submitted to Memee’s Poetry Parties by Carlos Lewis 2-22-2016.
Original Poem: Mad Scientist © Carlos Lewis 2016-2018. All rights reserved.
Mad Scientist is Winner of Friendship Poetry Challenge!© Memee’s Musings, 2016-2018. All rights reserved.

The wonderful photograph was taken by Elijah Henderson and acquired through Unsplash. It’s a great source for free photos under the Creative Commons Zero license, so check it out!

Placed in the Middle

Placed in the Middle | Memee's Musings

So it is 2:00 a.m. and finally I am compelled to write something. This is not a post about me and the struggles I’ve been going through for the past month. This is about someone else’s struggles, two people’s actually. My oldest, dearest friend and his wife.

Around eleven a.m. I got on Facebook and found that she had made a post which was very out of character for her. It wasn’t up for long so I cannot quote it, however it said something like, I am totally heartbroken. Sometimes there’s just nothing more you can do.

The women who responded all interpreted it the same way as I did, uh-oh big time marital problems. I didn’t know what to say and I certainly didn’t want to be having a discussion on Facebook. So I said nothing in the hopes that I could get away with “not having seen it.” The fact that she later removed the post certainly helps me with that little pretend.

Tonight however she private messaged me. We don’t text or call each other so this was unusual as well. When we get together we eat, drink wine, and share like sisters… though honestly, I am much more upfront and revealing about my world than she is with hers. We click. We click like we’ve known each other our entire lives although we’ve only known each other in person for just under a year. Her husband on the other hand I’ve been friends with for 32 years. We click too. And in the same way, like we’ve known each other our entire lives. No, actually, that’s not true. it’s like we’ve known each other for a millennium of lifetimes. It’s always been that way. Even when we were fifteen.

We would come together and click. And then, as life does, we’d turn and go our separate ways, but life would inevitable put us back in each other’s paths unexpectedly and without intention on our parts. It has happened four times so far. Needless to say I love them both and want them to be happy.

And so I found myself having this online chat about the marriage problems of two very close friends who I love. I don’t want to be involved or put in the middle of it. And I was confused about her deciding I was the person she wanted to make her confidante, after all I have much lengthier history with her husband. I listened. I’m good at it. People open up to me. Even strangers will tell me their woes, especially on days when I really don’t want to talk to anyone (lol,it’s something I’m trying to learn to accept and embrace as the gift God meant for it to be.) I listened because I didn’t want to turn a friend in crisis away when a friend was needed more than ever.

I listened. I encouraged her to continue trying, and to not beat herself up for the mistakes she has played in the collapse of her marriage, and I reminded her that no matter what happens she is a strong woman and will indeed survive. I believe I did right by her in the conversation as a friend and as a “sister.” When she seemed to begin wallowing in the “I can’t live without him. He’s my life. He’s my soulmate.” I put her in check with that. Meaning, I told her I felt she was throwing salt on her wounds (but I was much, much gentler than that).

And now we come to the reason for this post. I told her the truth as I see it: This is a learning lesson and an opportunity for growth for both of them. They will either come out the other side of it stronger individuals or stronger as a couple… whatever is God’s will. Here’s the thing though. I’ve been witness to the workings of the marriage during this past year, and privy to the problems for several years. She is mentally abusive to her husband and she does not recognize it or take responsibility for it. In my book that there tells me they are not soulmates. If someone is your soulmate hurting them would hurt you just as much, if not more. You just couldn’t be abusive to a soulmate, no matter who you are or how fucked up you are mentally. Of course that’s just my opinion. I’m wondering do you agree with that idea? But then on the other side of the coin perhaps the three of us are soulmates to each other, manifesting relationships with one another in different life bodies and roles.

I know it seems odd that I claim to be a Christian and then I talk about past lives. I just don’t think we living humans have it all figured out yet. I think we agree to a contract before we are born of the lessons we will endure because with each life manifestation we become closer and closer to our god-like selves we are meant to be. I don’t know. I also believe in Heaven. I also believe that when we die our souls sleep and sometimes our souls dream too.

Life is complicated and while living it we never truly figure it out. My views expressed in the preceding paragraph are very dialectical. But you know what, so is life. I both believe I am unworthy of friendships and loving relationships while at the same time believe in equal measure that I am a great catch and wonderful friend. And so I say if I can hold two equal beliefs at the same time in life so too can I for “religion or faith.” God knows me, loves me and accepts me even if I happen to be wrong and even if I am a sinner. And you know what, He loves and accepts you too!

Sorry, I got off track there. I am a stream-of-consciousness writer so it happens frequently. Anyway, I’d like to conclude by saying that I definitely do not want to be counselor to either of them. I tried to make it clear to her, but she kept on and I was patient and kind. Please pray for me that this does not become a pattern for her to come to me. It really puts me in an awkward place. Likewise, I don’t intend to counsel him. I doubt he’ll come to me anyway… this is so much more complicated than past conversations. However, if he does I will tell him what I told her… “Shouldn’t you be telling [her] these things?” Marriage is tough enough and when people begin to drown inside of it, adding an untrained person to the mix is the worst idea ever! Thankfully, at his request, she will begin counselling soon. I honestly hope she learns to see and accept some of her behavior for what it is. There are things he has done as well. No one is blameless and no one is perfect and if they both want to fix it, then I believe it can be fixed by taking one step at a time and having patience and not relying on a non-professional’s advice aka interference to dictate your behaviors.

I pray that the outcome, whatever it may be, is ultimately in the best interest of both of them.

p.s. It is interesting that my entire life seems to be coming full circle. This blog began with my own heartbreak and crisis. If I can survive, she can too (she’s actually much stronger than I.) I have another longtime friend who says his life is coming full circle. Is yours also? If so, let me know… I’m curious to see if this is a universal pattern.

This wonderful photograph was taken by Josh Pepper and acquired through Unsplash. It’s a great source for free photos under the Creative Commons Zero license, so check it out!

What, you don’t have friends?

no friends

Every month here at Memee’s Musings I host a link up for poets. I supply the poetry theme keeping everyone’s poetry along a similiar vain. I get great poetry submitted. This month however, crickets!   I think everyone must be reading Carlos’ fabulous submission and are conceding to him for the win.

Today is the last day to submit (up until 3 minutes to midnight PST). So please, join Carlos and I in expressing our appreciation for friends… or tell us about the friends who are untrue. Write your poem however you like and then submit it at the link up, today, Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Submit now!

Voting opens at 00:05 PST on February 25th and ends on Monday, February 29th at 23:55 PST.*

*(If you don’t know PST just Google “What time is it now in PST?” and calculate against your time zone)

This party’s unique hashtag is #CircleofFriends, use it. Link back to me and, of course, if you tweet me, I’ll tweet you… tweet, tweet! (Even if you don’t have a twitter account please use the hashtag as a blog tag.)

Let your followers know that you’re partying at Memee’s Musings and they’re invited to drop in and join the party! Just give them this link: https://memeesmusings.com/category/current-party/ It’s also the perfect excuse to show off your participation badge!  Because I do not vote it is important that you participate in promoting the event. The more word of mouth the more activity and the greater the impact on your website.  So challenge your fellow poets to party with us and solicit your followers to read all of the poems and vote their favorite (while the voting window is open).

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Quick, go write!