Reach OutJul 01, 2020
It is scary…but reach out!
I have been sharing my story now for the past 6 months with friends, patients, acquaintances and strangers. Sometimes it is the full story, other times it is just snippets, like I had suffered from depression. Just saying those 4 words, “I suffered from depression”, opened so many doors of connection and conversation.
And they have been great conversations and connections. I have found that I have got closer and have built more trust with those I am already close to. By opening up it gives other people permission to do the same. And that can be a game changer for them.
Recently I spoke at a small pre-symposium conference. There was approximately 250 people attending and there were a variety of speakers throughout the afternoon. There was a men’s panel and each of us gave a 10minute talk. At the end there was a quick Q&A session. During that I briefly mentioned I had suffered from depression. That was all I said.
Two days later the symposium was in full swing. A 1000 people were attending. There was a break and people were wandering in and out of the display area and the function room which were adjacent to each other…so there was a bit of traffic around.
A gentleman stopped me and said he saw me speak at the other event and mentioned that he also had suffered from depression. We chatted and we both opened up to the point where he started to cry. He spoke a about his journey and that of his brother and the tears just started to flow. He wasn’t embarrassed and he was able to release a bit of what he was carrying.
I didn’t feel awkward. I didn’t look away. I just put my hand on his shoulder to let him know I was there and wasn’t going anywhere. After a short time he composed himself. Said thank you and was really appreciative of our conversation. Over the weekend as we passed each other there was a smile of knowing and a gentle hello. We had walked in each others shoes to a point and that connection was important.
Approximately 2 weeks later I had to approach a very close friend about some concerns I had for him. This was a little scary for me because even though we were good mates, we had never really talked about too much in depth. But I knew this conversation had to be had for him. Not for me.
I wasn’t sure how he was going to react and if this may drive a bit of an awkward wedge between us. I confronted him about a couple of things, asked questions and probed a little. I then challenged him to make changes as what was happening wasn’t best for him or his family.
As it turns out he was very receptive and open to what I had to say. He took what I said on the chin and processed it in due course. Within 5 days he booked into a 3 and a half day intensive course to help him start to sore out his issues. And you have no idea how proud I am of him for taking that first step.
Sometimes it is scary opening up and sharing your story. It is moreso when you have to confront someone that you thinks may need help. But what I have found is people want to share. That want to connect. They want to be out of pain and want to help. And by sharing your story it gives them permission to do the same and hopefully take another step forward on the healing process.
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