Lately I’ve been jealous of the Black Bear. Why? Because they can just crawl in a cave and hibernate through the dismal days of winter! During these Covid-19 lockdowns, wouldn’t that be nice?!? Okay, not a great solution.
January 28th is Bell’s annual “Let’s Talk” initiative to address mental health. So, let me ask you, have you had someone to talk to about your dark days, negative thoughts, or other feelings related to your personal challenges? Or, has it been difficult to find the kind of friend you’ve needed to help you deal with difficult days?
Here is some personal transparency: Just one year before Covid hit I moved 3000km away from my closest friends and had not yet established new friendships before those first lockdowns. If you have been missing spending time with your friends, I get it! I think this year is teaching us just how important connecting with friends is to mental health. Truthfully, this past summer I felt forgotten by some friends I considered to be close. Not hearing from them led me to a lonely, depressed, and dark place. It can be easy to make conclusions about who our closest friends are, by who is there when you need them and who is not. For a while, I got stuck in the darkness. Do you relate? So, what did I do? I had to be honest and talk about it, but just talking about it wasn’t enough. I needed to gain perspective by talking it through. This included considering that maybe some of my friends simply don’t have the strength to reach out and are waiting for me to be there for them.
I have learned something critically important to help me get through dark days in life - to apply the Golden Rule to every painful experience. The Golden Rule says: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you” (Jesus, Matthew 7:12). This principle helps me get out of the darkness of my cave. It helps me to look outward instead of being trapped inward. It helps me see that my life has worth and purpose because everyone needs a friend and I am determined to be a good one! Yes, we definitely need good friends who give back to us, but the truth is that it is often through giving that we also receive.
One of my all-time favourite books was written by a man who endured the horrors of a Nazi Concentration camp, Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning). Here are a few quotes from this wise man who understood how to gain perspective during dark days:
“I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”
The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life. Frankl saw three possible sources for meaning: in work (doing something significant), in love (caring for another person), and in courage during difficult times...we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it.
Let me conclude by saying that in this life you can be sure:
Your life always has something valuable to offer - your friendship, kindness, and unique combination of abilities.
There is always someone who genuinely cares and is willing to listen and help you regain perspective when life is clouded by circumstances. Don’t shut out the ones closest, and don’t be afraid to reach out to those who do this as their life’s purpose (e.g. Counsellors, Pastors, Psychologists, etc.).
The courage you display in the midst of any difficult situation is worth celebrating, and you will find meaning on the other side of each challenge.
Places to Talk:
Kids Help Phone is always there for you. No matter what you want to talk about, they are there to listen. No judgement, totally private, 24/7 1-888-668-6868
Or Text: 686868
Your local faith community / Youth Pastor
Local Mental Health Supports in Waterloo region: https://apps.kidshelpphone.ca/resourcesaroundme/search.html?q=&category=&location=cambridge_ontario