Walking in the Valley
I am not sure when I learned to actually ask for help. It wasn’t really always in my nature. I know in high school I went through a serious trauma all by myself in my junior year. I never told a soul, not a friend or adult what I was dealing for quite a while. In truth, the entire experience left me alone without one friend or adult I felt I could turn to. It wasn’t until months later my history teacher, seeing my grades slip, and my head fall knew that something was wrong with me. He reached out and got me into Teens Involved, a Christian outreach group. I have looked back and wondered why I didn’t reach out for someone to help me through it sooner? Why did I wait for my History Teacher, whom I barely knew, to reach out to me? I am still thankful that he did.
Years later as I was given the diagnosis of adult ADHD, I remember feeling stupid pulling out my accommodation paperwork on the first day of nursing school. Thankfully the girl next to me pulled out hers and that began a pretty awesome friendship. I was in my mid 30’s and I was just learning to ask for help. If I didn’t understand something I would force myself to go into the teacher’s office hours and ask for help. I remember being made fun of for not knowing how to work an oxygen tank by one instructor, he told me in clinical, “even a monkey could do it.” If I hadn’t asked for help I wouldn’t have made it through school.
I have contemplated depression and when people find themselves in such a dark place they cannot get out. I wish I could teach people feeling that way to wait through the pain, the darkest hours, to ask for help and reach out and if you do not get what you need to keep asking. Keep reaching! The deep pit is only tempory, though it feels like an eternity.
I have a friend that has been unemployed for a while. We have been walking together and today when we walked I took a look at the valley we were walking in and I thought about how she has willingly walked in the valley with me and I have with her. She is one of the most loved people in my community. She knows everyone and is involved with everything around town. Her Facebook friend list is impressive. She was unemployed for a very long time. She was in the pit, even with all her friends and contacts. Depression started to creep in. She continually prayed and asked her friends for help. She had two job interviews recently and asked everyone she knew this time to pray. Not only did she get the job, but somehow all these weird pieces that were nothing shy of a miracle happened for her to become hired. So many pieces that you cannot deny her prayers being answered. But she had to ask
During the last 23 months of the hell of losing my daughter, I was blessed by the people around me. Unfortunately, we had other things come up even after the loss of my daughter that left me almost crippled with worry, one being the loss a few months ago to my potential son-in-law. Taking my own advice, I reached out to a friend from work inquiring about me. She asked if there was anything she could do during one of these moments of being “in the pit” as I like to call it. I said yes, “is there any way you would be up for grabbing my grocery list and I can PayPal you the total I had asked?” She brought dinner that night, she and another co-worker split my grocery bill and wouldn’t let me pay for it. It was a little thing and a huge thing and it helped me focus on other things. Many times as we go through loss, tragedy and difficult times we don’t know how to ask. People will say, “let me know if you need anything?” Honestly, it would be nice if in those times your support people just knew how to help you, but they don’t.
They don’t know you could use someone to pick your kids up from school, that you cannot eat for months but that your family still needs to eat so freezer meals are better. (One of the best gifts, when Mikenna passed, was two huge bags of frozen breakfast burritos.) That having someone clean your house before everyone arrives to give you condolences is an awesome help, or even someone doing your grey roots before the funeral.
I recently have felt overwhelmed with housekeeping. With three daughters and my exchange student and now four pets, I find it hard to even know where to start. I make sure nothing is gross and unhygienic, but I am not sure how to keep up with the deep cleaning or honestly how to even get started. The dusting, the windows, the curtains. None of it ever seems very important so I have let it go. I decided to reach out to my friend who runs a cleaning service as well as her full-time job. I just need direction and advice on how to get started. I let go of the embarrassment of asking for help. I realized a long time ago that I wasn’t Martha Stewart.
If I could get anything into my surviving children’s heads or anyone else for that matter, it would be to Ask for help. Ask for help and keep asking. You don’t have to be alone. Even when you feel like no one understands and you have been hurt beyond taking anymore, someone will listen. Believing that no one cares and no one can help is a lie. In American history, for instance, some of our darkest and saddest times, the darkest hour so to speak, have directly preceded some of our biggest progressions. In grief we isolate. In depression we isolate. We just do not have the energy for conversation. It is ok to say, “I just need someone to sort three bags of unmatched socks with me.” like me, you might be surprised at who shows up just waiting for the opportunity to do something.