Vulnerably for you

I was just reading a post by W. Brett Wilson in the Calgary Herald, We need more than thoughts and prayers for mental health, related to the recent suicide of a business colleague and friend. Someone that no one would have suspected of being depressed or suicidal – someone who looked to have it all together.

In the article, Wilson suggests that we need people, “who will openly share their stories of healing so that others can find hope.”

I’ll share – vulnerably, for you.

Just a few years ago, I was in the home stretch of a master’s degree, with only 1-year remaining. As I started the first week of a new class, I began to realize that I could not retain any of the information I was reading in the course material. I’d go back and try again, but always with the same result. This was happening during a time in my life where business had been drying up, and I had a few bad accounts (contracts that did not pay) which compounded the financial pressure. I was depressed, and depression had turned to despair. I had come to a place of feeling like nothing was ever going to get better, and I couldn’t see myself living with feeling this way for long.

Looking back I can see that I might have been able to dig my way out of the financial hole if my confidence had not become so elusive. The phone wasn’t ringing with new business, and I was not doing the work to develop new clients. I had come to a place of feeling like I had nothing to offer, so what was the point in trying? Unmotivated, I turned my phone off and began to sleep at odd hours of the day. Whenever the depression got too heavy, sleep became one of my ways of escaping.

If friends of mine read this post, they may be completely surprised that I was in this dark place, and that it lasted for nearly a year. They may have noticed that I did not seem to be myself, but they might have dismissed this as a passing mood, if they noticed at all. I am not trying to guilt anyone here, just pointing out that I wasn’t telling many people the truth about where I was at. I pondered suicide, but more from a perspective of wondering where I was in relation to invisible lines that I might cross. I booked a coffee with a pastor-friend, and was relieved to hear, “I don’t think you are suicidal, but it is clear that you want this to end”. Indeed.

To Wilson’s point, “we need more than thoughts and prayers”, I heartily agree. I had a prayer life, and I know that a few were praying. Speaking direct: as we pray for others, are we listening to what God might direct us to do on their behalf? If I was to point to the most significant, practical, positive impact on me in this time, I would point to one friend. He called regularly on his way to or from work at odd times/days through the week to just say “hi” and check in. He didn’t analyze me or prescribe anything for me to do. He just called. His calls made me feel like I mattered. Simple.

I studied resilience theory in my masters degree as part of interdisciplinary studies. I have likely gravitated to the subject of resilience out of personal need (childhood trauma is a bugger) and I have written about some of my findings in posts, such as, Anxiety’s Antidote and Fearless in Grace. I don’t mean to sound prescriptive, I am just trying to communicate what I find in hope that it will have some positive impact for someone when they most need it. I don’t consider myself to be beyond the reach of future depression. I need to be intentional about my thought life, about staying present and connected in community – in grace.

What will you do?

There are not enough counsellors to address the issue. The situation has far exceeded the capacity of professional assistance. Addressing mental health erosion will require that all of us get involved. We must be willing to make time for others.

You may not be a blogger, but you can buy coffee — or maybe make a few phone calls like my friend did.

If you are feeling something like what I describe here, reach out. Send me a direct email, and I’ll make time.