Well, it has been nearly two months since my last post.
Whatever it is you’re about to say to yourself (or out loud to your screen like I do), I know, I know. To make it in the blogging world you have to post consistently, Mandy…you have to interact with your readers…you need to create a posting schedule and stick to it even when you don’t feel like it…you need to eat more vegetables.
Wait. That last one is true, but not contextually relevant. (I just ate Tex-Mex, okay? It’s on the brain.)
Speaking of contextually relevant, what was this post supposed to be about again?
It’s one of the reasons why I haven’t posted, dear friend.
Isolation likes to bleed into every part of your life, whether physical or mental or emotional or spiritual, whether face to face or digital. It’s an internal sickness that, if left unchecked, will eventually infect every part of you.
No matter our struggles, there’s only one cure, and it’s something we all need–
(If you’re a major introvert like me, don’t worry. I’m not saying you need a posse. Just one person will do. And I’m guessing that one person is closer to you than most other people could imagine is even possible.)
We all need camaraderie. Talking. Sharing. Fellowship. Opening up. Empathy. Sympathy. Support.
God’s words, not mine. Nothing eats away at the soul and allows satan to isolate you more (and make temptations harder to fight) than loneliness.
The problem is, some struggles are just so overwhelming, so heavy, so time-consuming, so drama-inducing, most people can’t handle bearing those kinds of burdens.
And let’s be honest here–I have to be okay with that. There’s some burdens I can’t handle either because, well, I’m not made to handle them.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel utterly alone sometimes. Don’t get me wrong; I have Jesus–always–and He understands like no other because He enters into my pain. He knows me better than I know myself. And He’s personally been there because as Hebrews 4 says, He’s been tempted and tried in every way I have, and as Isaiah so eloquently and heartbreakingly records in Isaiah 53, Jesus is despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, sorrowful, stricken, afflicted, pierced, crushed, and wounded.
Jesus gets it.
His presence envelops me and comforts me, His words bring me life and peace that passes understanding…
But He also gave us each other to bear each other’s burdens, to be His hands and feet here on this earth.
Because sometimes you just need a hug, you know?
As you may have guessed by now, the burden I’m talking about is mental illness–depression, anxiety, addiction, self-harm, suicidal thoughts. All things I’ve struggled with. All things I’ve failed with. All things that have made me feel more alone than you can imagine. (Or maybe you can imagine, and if that’s you too…my heart breaks for you, dear friend. You’re not alone, even though it feels like it at times.)
Sure, writing about it is a great outlet, and reading some of your incredible comments, which help me know I’m not truly alone, is wonderful.
But it’s still not face to face.
Thankfully, I started seeing a therapist last week. I still have my psychiatrist, but he is mainly there for the meds. I have never seen a therapist, guys. This is new to me. This is the couch, the strategically placed tissue boxes, the low-lit lamps, the serene paintings, the steepled-fingers-under-the-chin-tell-me-how-you’re-doing thing–the whole nine yards. I thought this only existed in movies and TV shows.
When I walked into his office and saw the couch and the decor, well, you can imagine my expression. It was shocked, then confused, then a little dubious, then, oddly…grateful.
Oh, thank You, God, I thought. It’s not just fictional. A place like this actually exists!
(On a side note, I sat in the corner on the high-backed chair with the armrests–I couldn’t bring myself to sit on the couch. Maybe next week. …Oh, who am I kidding? That’s never happening.)
It’s made me realize how important it is to just talk. And to do it face to face. To feel safe. To know there’s zero judgment. To actually look into someone’s eyes and know without a doubt that they’re listening with every fiber of their being. To know what I’m talking about is something he’s studied and worked with for years and he’s actually a physical person sitting in a physical chair only a few feet away.
My therapist may not struggle with mental illness, but he listens, and that is priceless.
On average in the USA alone, 123 people die from suicide every day.
And I guarantee you, isolation is a huge reason why. Whether physical, or internal. (Sometimes internal isolation is the most dangerous.)
Wherever you are, dear friend, whether you struggle as I do or you know someone else who struggles; talk to someone, or be an ear to hear. Let yourself cry, or be that shoulder to be cried on. Be brave and go in for that hug, or be selfless and hold them for as long as they need to be held.
You just might save someone’s life.