In a recent conversation with a young adult, she shared that she had been avoiding me. Well, being in the line of work I’m in, that doesn’t offend me. Usually I get a little excited because that means there’s hope on the horizon. It’s the start to a new process of change. I’ve been part of others’ villages for quite some time; part of it is my desire to insert myself in students’ lives and part of it is being invited in after earning that right. Over the years, I have observed and experienced ways that others respond when life gets hard and overwhelming. Some of these ways look like avoidance, “not enough” feelings, isolation, and/or procrastination.
Take my recent conversation. Here’s some of the back story: I had nestled my way into her life through meals together talking about the hard things in life. Some of the things included broken relationships, insecurities, the feeling that she was never enough for those around her, and more. Over time in developing this relationship with her, I found that when she getting ready to hit a hard part of her life, she would slowly start to avoid responding to me. It would start with getting back to a text message over a couple days, to not picking up my phone call and/or returning voicemails for weeks on end, and then inevitably starting to stand me up for commitments for meals, coffee, walks, etc. And then, weeks later after me reminding her how much she is loved, a message would show up on my phone, “Hey! Sorry I’ve been ghosting you. I’ve been in a funk lately and I can’t pull myself out of it. Can we do lunch? I need to talk.”
I don’t think that this young adult is much different than a lot of us. In all reality, I can look back over the last ten years and see where my life was pretty similar and continues to be in some situations. I don’t think this young adult is alone in feeling this way; I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way; and I definitely don’t think you are alone in feeling this way. These funks in whatever capacity they might look like in your life don’t have to hold you back from entering into community, into your village.
The best piece of advice that my therapist gave me (and yes, I have a therapist and I love her with my whole heart because of how much I’ve grown thanks to her listening ears and wise advice over the last year), was that when I notice that this funk is coming on or that I’m sitting in a funk, to do one small thing and then to celebrate that while being compassionate to myself to do the next small step. It’s the small step that reminds you that you can do the hard things because sometimes sometimes showing up is the hard thing; washing the dishes is the hard thing; and sometimes getting dressed is the hard thing. But you can do it.
It’s the small step that reminds you that you can do the hard things because sometimes washing the dishes is the hard thing; sometimes showing up is the hard thing; and sometimes getting dressed is the hard thing. But you can do it.Lindsay Bridges, Building Bridges
Here are some of my small steps that I’ve learned can help me “restart” in the midst of a funk:
- shower (intentionally wash off all that is not of you and allow the fresh of what is you to pour over you)
- put on clean clothes (even if it is clean sweats — no shame!)
- go for a walk (get some fresh air and get those endorphins pumping a little)
- drink some water and get hydrated
- clean up a little something (the sink full of dishes to the dishwasher, trash to the garbage, a load of laundry, towel on the towel rack, and probably the most important, make your bed)
- put on upbeat music that you love (and maybe have a kitchen dance party!)
- cuddle with your pets
- eat something nutritious to get your body back on track
- call/text/meet with someone from your village (because they love you!)
- just show up!
Your village needs, wants, and loves you! And sometimes, we can become our own worst enemy in avoiding a much needed community during a much needed time. My encouragement is to take the first small thing and then do the next small thing. What’s your small thing to restart? I would love to hear from you!
P.S. I am obviously not a doctor. If you or someone you know needs help, contact SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline, 1-877-SAMHSA7 (1-877-726-4727) and/or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Let’s make mental health normal and not a stigma; let’s help you get the help you or someone you know might need.