Last night I got one of those midnight phone calls – you know the ones, the ones you dread! Now most people might go into panic mode – what’s wrong? Or who’s sick? Or who’s died?
Me… to be honest my first thought was: Who’s interrupting my sleep! – especially when it came up as an unknown number. I debated whether to answer it or not, thinking it was probably some person from overseas wanting to sell me something, or it might even be a wrong number. But, I decided to answer it, and, I am glad I did – it was a friend in need! She’d rung on a new phone and so it appeared as unknown number to me.
She was in tears with a situation at home and where she knew she was sinking further and further into depressive thoughts and misery – and the never-ending circle that sometimes comes with that. She was crying and apologising for calling me in the same breath. Without sharing any of her personal details, I thanked her for recognising that she wasn’t coping and said that I knew it took great courage to reach out for help.
How often do we think that if we admit that we are going through a rough time is an admission of failure? And rather than ask for help, we quietly ‘soldier on’ and often our ability to cope becomes more of an issue until finally we collapse – in sickness, in mental health etc. We all know life can be tough at times.
Having a friend to walk beside you makes all the difference.
I remember feeling much the same when I was going through a rough spot when I had cancer some years ago. People would offer to help in different ways, and I’d cheerfully say: ‘Thanks but I’m okay’ – because I felt that if I accepted their help it was an admission that I wasn’t coping, that I wasn’t strong. My dear sister – who lives on the other side of the world spoke wise words to me (as sisters often do!) when she said: “But Sonja, you are being STRONG when you know when to ask for help.’
Gosh that was a message I never will forget!
So, my middle of the night phone call led me to think how we often say to people: ‘Call me if you need me’ – but do they ever?
Who would you ring if you were going through a bad time?
What if they didn’t answer their phone – who else would you try?
I think it’s very important to have an idea of this before you might need it, because in the heat of the moment – in a traumatic situation we aren’t usually thinking clearly to know who to call. I have an easy plan for you……
Grab a sheet of paper and place your hand on it. Now trace around it – just like you did when you were little. Now think about who you would call if you were struggling… a brother, a parent or Aunt, a neighbor, a friend, a colleague – you need 5. On each finger on your paper write their name clearly, and their phone number – make sure you write it large enough so that you can still read it if you are seeing through tears! This paper is now known as your: ‘Handy Friends’ list…. You could even write that at the top. Now, stick it somewhere eg on the fridge – don’t add it to the pile of papers on the kitchen bench where it will get buried soon!
And for your peace of mine – I’m taking my friend to her Dr tomorrow to get the help she might need.
Be there for your friends – and be brave and call one of your ‘Handy Friends’ if you are the one in need!