I found myself feeling sad recently. (It comes around from time to time.)
Day after day I was trying to fight it – doing things to make the sadness go away – exercise, fresh air, writing, fruit salad, a bath, trying to be positive. It didn’t go away.
Ringing a friend didn’t seem possible because they all seemed so busy, with families and commitments, and I didn’t want to call them up and bring them down with my misery, so I distanced myself from my friends.
“Come on Ruth, you can deal with this yourself. Just be kind to yourself you fool. Sort it out. Be strong!”
Well, that little chat with myself didn’t help much.
I started getting impatient, because I was TRYING so hard but the sadness was still there. “Ruth you are so NEGATIVE – what’s the matter with you? Why are you so sad?”
I mean, really, I didn’t know WHY the sadness had hit this time, but since I’d asked, I ended up giving myself a big long list of possible reasons for why I was feeling sad. Which just gave the sadness even more fuel to feed on.
So that wasn’t particularly helpful.
I had another bath.
So I texted a friend, saying I kept feeling sad, and could we chat? She didn’t reply for hours, but as soon as I clicked ‘send’, some of the pressure I’d been putting on myself went.
We talked. It helped a little. Then I told another friend. The world didn’t swallow me up, I didn’t lose any ‘strong woman points’ by admitting I was struggling by myself.
Sometimes you just need to let the thoughts out of your head where they’ve been bouncing and echoing around the walls. You just need to open the door and let them out, to give your head a bit of a break.
Talking didn’t change my situation, but being listened to changed how I saw my situation. A little. And ‘a little’ was a start.
Things change all the time – it’s one of the few things I know. Sadness will come and go. So will delight and anger, enthusiasm and tiredness. Everything.
It’s tempting to hide yourself away when things are tough, only to emerge later when everything feels sparkly again. I know that. Sometimes, being alone is exactly what you need. But not always.
My mum says, ‘people like to help’, and for me, as a massage therapist, I am often the one listening, the friend who is there with you while you’re going through emotions or self-discovery or whatever it is you’re going through. I love being there for people. I love giving them that space where they are totally accepted as they are, with whatever they’re going through. It feels good.
It’s annoying when my mum is right, but I think it is true - people do like to help.
Asking for help is a different story. It feels harder, but it has definitely brought me closer to the two friends I reached out to.
Now I’m not saying this is the magic cure – I don’t have clinical depression, I was just feeling sad, and sometimes a walk in the woods does the trick - but this time, for me, being listened to was the start of the turning of the tide, and I wanted to post this because it was a good reminder for me, that sometimes being strong means asking for help.
If you don’t have any friends who are good listeners, who know how to give you space and encouragement to express yourself, then there is always the Samaritans. I was a Samaritan for 5 years and most people who call aren’t suicidal. We always had to ask, but only because suicide is such a taboo subject, and Samaritans is one of the few places where you can talk about those feelings freely. People who aren’t feeling suicidal are also 100% welcome.
Life can feel tricky. Emotions come and go. So do the good times and the bad times. But if it’s all bouncing around your head, and you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere, please reach out and talk. People like to help. We do.
Ruth Nadia x
ps. I'll be honest - I've never been so nervous about posting something before. Hope it is helpful to someone.