On self-isolation, asking for support, kitty snuggles, and mental health in the rough moments

Sometimes I get in my own way. I don’t ask for what I need. I feel that I need to tough out situations on my own. I don’t want to bother anyone. All are my mistakes. Writing my last post about sadness as I heal from injury was really difficult for me and some thing I needed to do for several weeks. I don’t like to inconvenience people. I don’t like to make waves. I’m more comfortable with people offering help than asking for it.

What I realized was that my strategy was one of self isolation which exacerbated the feelings of helplessness, loneliness, sadness, frustration, boredom, and depression I was already feeling.

Kitty snuggles always help!

My thinking went something like. “This is a rough time of year for many people. So much loss. So much pain. Do I really need to add to that for anyone?” Or “This is such a special, happy, joyous time for many people. Do I really need to bring them down with my concerns?” Or “Other people are so much worse off than I am. Do I really have a right to complain?” There are fallacies in all 3 of these views that responses from family and friends after reading my last blog helped my articulate.

The first fallacy is about not wanting to make someone else’s situation harder. The reality is that when we share our sorrows we feel understood and seen. We reaffirm important connections; we allow people to share their moments as well – reciprocal disclosure and all that. When we share the load, it’s much lighter for everyone.

The second fallacy – bringing people down when they’re up is equally misguided. People like to show care. Compassion and helping someone in a time of need helps us feel good about ourselves. Side note: Crying is cathartic. Crying with someone else, even moreso. And after someone has heard our pain, our loss, our sadness, the joy in their lives will be there for them to return to.

In many ways, the third message is the most insidious. It leads both to guilt and to undervaluing our own experiences. Repeat after me: “My troubles are not in competition with anyone else’s. Comparison separates rather then unites us. My feelings, my emotions, and experiences are valid. I am worthy of compassion.”

Perhaps, most importantly, no matter how much they love you, no one can read your mind. If you can’t express your needs, they are less likely to be met. So, reach out. Phone a friend or family member. Ask for the support you need. Ask! You may be surprised who responds, and how much better you feel.

If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to someone you know, call a crisis center near you or call 988. It’s a free call to help you get support with mental health issues. Similar to 911, 988 is dedicated to anyone in need of mental health assistance.

If someone hasn’t told you lately, you are important. You matter. The world is a better place because of the gifts you bring to it. You are precious. You are unique. You are loved. Happy holidays!

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