love is what got me here
No matter how many times I talk about my mental health, every time I share my story it is emotional and often it is difficult. That isn’t to say it isn’t worth it – just that those moments aren’t without a thought. I am happy to share my story – anyone can ask. But I think for a while I thought there would be a magic number. That maybe once my pedal fast articles hit a certain number of views then I wouldn’t get so emotional. Or once I told a certain number of people then it wouldn’t be so hard to start the conversation with someone new. That once a certain amount of time had passed then it would all just be easier.
And I think that along with the “it will get easier” mindset came a sense of “maybe if it gets easier, it will just go away”. For a long time, I harbored the idea that if I could just hit a certain benchmark, a certain amount of time since the last self-harm or the last feelings of anxiety, then I would be in the clear – that it would never happen again. I would finally know the perfect solution.
Instead, what I have been realizing for a while now and what I am finally coming to terms with, is that I will never have all the answers. Telling my story will always be emotional because it is deeply personal. And recovery is a windy road with bumps along the way but just because you hit a bump doesn’t mean you’re lost. I’m learning that it is okay that a lot of this is still really hard for me.
And so as I think about how healing isn’t linear and how it never really ends, it becomes obvious that I, and really that we, will always need to lean on other people. Leaning on other people and into a community and asking for help is what got me to today and I will never not need that support. We will all always need other people. And we will need to be that person for other people as well.
Something I worry a lot about is saying the right thing. I worry a lot about finding the perfect thing, the right thing, to say when someone comes to me for advice and for help. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. And I don’t necessarily think it’s always a bad thing – because how could it be a bad thing to want to offer the best advice to someone. Where I think we fall into a trap is thinking that there is only one right thing, or one helpful thing, or one comforting thing to say and that if we don’t find those specific words then we have failed.
As I have moved through the past couple of years, opening up about my own story and being lucky enough to be invited into the stories of so many others, what I have come to decide is that there is not one perfect thing to say to someone. What has stood out and stuck with me throughout everything is not necessarily words but moments. Moments of love and of comfort and of understanding. What has really made a difference is just simply knowing that there are people around me that are rooting for me.
A lot of people come to me asking how to help a friend and my advice to them is always the same: just make sure they know you are there. You don’t need to ask questions. Or force them to get help. You just need to be there. Leaning on other people is what makes it possible for me to share my story and what makes it possible for me to believe in healing. We need to lean on other people. And we need to let other people lean on us. We just need to be there.
I don’t think any of us have the perfect words or answers for any of this. I don’t think they exist. There wasn’t a single answer or solution or something someone said that one time that got me here. It was people willing to sit with me through it all that got me here. Friendship got me here. Love got me here.