“Reach out to me when you feel like talking. I am here for you.”
In 2020, when a popular actor died by suicide, every single day I woke up to this line or something similar all over the Internet. It made me wonder - was everyone told to do so? Were they a part of some punishment I was not aware of? The last time I was compelled to write a particular line over and over was in school when I did not complete my homework on time.
Reading it as if it was played on loop, I (who is currently not suffering from any medical illness), felt like I am stuck in a maze, with no exit in sight. Personally, I take my own sweet time to feel, process, and share my thoughts with my loved ones. Eventually I do open up, because that is how I am wired. It helps me when I talk.
But I cannot imagine pulling down my walls with someone I only exchange birthday and festival greetings. I must admit, I am impressed by the confidence of those who announced their support publicly. Just think about those who have unexplainable feelings but had a sea of people asking them to express those.
Of course, no one compelled anyone. But from no attention to overwhelming attention, things escalated pretty quickly, right?
See, I am glad people are considering it important enough to be included in their conversations. Let’s keep aside the incident that led to it. There is really no point pestering them with questions like - this is what it took? It did. Accept it. In a country like ours, where there is unreasonable stigma around it, this is what it took. But what disappoints me is, that week if I saw hundred posts on mental health per day, now it must be hundred per week. Only to be replaced with a big fat Indian wedding of a celebrity couple or a riot which led to the death of many people.
Our attention span can be calculated as the time we take to upload another Instagram story right after we share something extremely serious and thought provoking. I find it difficult to switch between these genres so easily. When you trigger a thought and sink me in the pain of those labourers who have to walk barefoot, give me some time before I appreciate your nail art or that cute filter. But well, that’s me, I guess. I probably should not follow them if I can’t follow their pace, right?
Similarly, I cannot keep up with the stories my friends have to share. For the same reason, I did not join the ‘I am here, you can talk to me’ club. Because I cannot be. I am not sure how it is humanly possible. No, this does not mean I am not approachable or a good listener. Over the years, I have realised the importance of listening to and calming my thoughts first. Without that, I know I cannot be of any use to anyone. And when I cannot, I become pretty straightforward and tell them that I understand their situation but cannot be available at the given moment. Because I am not okay. I am okay if people cannot accept the real me, but I am not okay to deliver a fake promise. I realise I need to learn and understand so much before I say - I’ll be there for you. Because when I do, I want to mean it.
My motive here is not to ridicule anyone’s intention. My only motive is to verify it. I hope you know it is not as easy as you think. Not as easy as you swipe from one story to another. In reality, when you are conversing with someone who is struggling with something intangible, which you cannot imagine because you haven’t gone through it, what you say and how you react triggers a lot of emotions. But in my experience, they do not have a problem if you do not have the right words. Most of the time, they want someone familiar to listen to them, and not judge them for how they feel. Moreover, they want someone who they can trust. So, when you say you’ll be there to listen, make sure you mean what you say. Amid everything they go through, the last thing they want is someone close to them breaking their trust.
Does this mean you don’t promise to be there? No. It only means don’t make this as your participation in another trending topic!
You have a mind of your own as well. It will need pampering on some days.
On those days, you might be unavailable.
On those days, guilt is the last thing you want to feel.
On those days, you might have to say - “I want to be there for you, but not today. It won’t do good to both of us.”
On those days, I request you to say this.
Before the broken pieces of peace repel with a force you cannot handle. Written By - Nikitha Warriar
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