Category Archives: Friendship

7 Ways To Support Loved Ones Going Through Separation/ Divorce

Separation/ divorce is a period of great life upheaval and emotional turmoil. It’s heartbreaking to watch loved ones suffer through it, and it can be stressful trying to figure out how you can help, and what you should or should not say or do. But it doesn’t have to be stressful. The best way to help your loved ones is actually pretty simple: it all boils down to empathy.

7 Ways To Support Loved Ones Going Through Separation/ Divorce:

1.) Realize You Don’t  Have To Choose A Side:

It takes two people to make a relationship, and it also takes two people to cause a relationship to end.  Whatever the story may appear to be from the outside looking in, chances are the reality is much different. You truly never know, nor do you need to. The details of everything really aren’t your business. Being a supportive friend is your business though. If you loved both spouses before their split, it’s okay to love them both after. Losing a husband/ wife is painful enough, they really don’t need, or deserve to lose their friends too.

2.) Let It Be All About Them:

When experiencing great life upheaval and loss, what a person needs more than anything else is to be heard. To tell their story to a fully engrossed, empathetic, nonjudgemental listener. A listener who keeps the story focused on their friend, without constant interruption, or interjections of anecdotes of their own relationship troubles. This can be tough to do, but if you are able to do it, you will be giving your loved one a rare gift indeed.

3.) Try Not To Take Their Distance Personally:

If your loved one withdraws during their time of separation and loss, please try not to take it personally. Perhaps seeing you would cause them too many emotions they aren’t ready to face just yet.  Perhaps most of the time spent with you in the past was with their spouse, and the memories are still too raw and painful. Whatever the reason, if your loved one seems to be avoiding you, they probably are doing it to protect themselves during an extremely vulnerable time.  They still love you. They still think of you often. They still need you, and they will come around in time, I promise. Please just be patient and give them that time.

4.) Remember Every Situation Is Unique:

When confiding in someone, nothing is worse than being met with a “been there, done that” sort of attitude. Yes, hearts have been breaking since humans first walked the earth. Yes, separation/divorce has happened millions of times before, maybe even to you. This is the first time it is happening to your loved one though. Every headache, every heartache is very unique to them.  Please be sure to dignify their experience, to honour their feelings, rather than diminish them by reminding them how common their situation is. Your loved one is aware they are not the only person to ever go through this. Reminding them is unnecessary, and sure doesn’t make them hurt any less. Please honour their feelings. Treat their suffering as something as individual as they are, rather than with stereotypes and generalizations.

5.) Remember They Are Mourning A Loss As Real As Death:

Experiencing separation/divorce is very similar to experiencing a death. It’s death of day to day life as you know it. It’s death of a future you had planned and taken comfort in. It’s loss of arms that held you, a partner you thought would be there unconditionally. It’s loss of materials, family members, time with children, family traditions and inside jokes. Years of once pleasant memories become torturous. A social status you took pride and comfort in vanishes, and is replaced with potential judgement and loneliness.  Despite separation / divorce being a choice, it’s still a huge loss that causes very real grief. The fact that it’s a choice can also make it even harder, when feelings of guilt and self doubt creep in.  Help your loved one by acknowledging how huge heir suffering is. What they are going through is a really big deal.  As serious as death is. Remind them of this, and offer your sympathy often.

6.) Offer Advice Only When It’s Requested:

If your loved one is looking for advice during their separation/ divorce, they will ask for it. Even then, it’s very likely they won’t do what you say, unless deep down they have already made the decision to do it on their own anyway. Giving unsolicited advice (unless of course, you feel their safety is at risk) to your loved one during a time of such turmoil is likely to make them feel misunderstood and disrespected. Instead, you can encourage them when you think they are doing the right thing, and be there to offer a hug when they realize they have made (very importantly, their own) mistakes, which will teach them far deeper life lessons than following your advice ever could.

7.) Give An Abundance Of Encouragement and Praise:

It’s very easy for those going through separation/ divorce to feel like they have failed somehow. Remind your loved one that the real failure would have been to continue on living life feeling miserable, resentful and hopeless. To admit something just can’t work any more, and resolve to make extremely difficult changes in the hope of long term happiness is very brave. To face the emotional and financial consequences of separation, and dive all alone  into a new life that is completely unknown takes guts. Never stop reminding your loved one of this. They have not failed. They have taken control of the one life they get to live on this earth. They are carving a new path. Praise and encourage your loved one every step of the way. Be their greatest fan. Most importantly, be you. Their life has completely transformed. That doesn’t mean your relationship with them has to.

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Thank you for reading.

Be Brave, and Talk

You’d Feel No Envy

She looks immaculate. Her white teeth literally glint in the sunlight. You aren’t sure which sparkles more, her gorgeous sapphire eyes, or the rippling waves of her hair. She wears $300 shoes, and a $700 dress. She walks gracefully and confidently.

You pass her by awkwardly, in your flip flops and $10 t-shirt. She stares straight ahead, as if you don’t even exist. You feel self conscious, wishing you could look more like her, be more like her. You envy her, in all her beautiful, perfect, confident glory. You feel pathetic and small, compared to her.

But you would feel no envy if you could see the rare skin disorder she hides beneath her designer outfit. You would feel no envy if you realized the reason she stares straight ahead is that she is trying with all her might to hold back tears, because last night she caught her husband cheating on her. You would feel no envy if you knew that she will never have the strength to leave him. Her Facebook photos will tell a story of a gorgeous couple, madly in love. Her reality will be far different.

Your heart sinks. You try not to watch the family enjoy their picnic at the park, as you sit like a lonely loser feeding the birds.  As the children giggle and gleefully chase each other about, you become acutely aware that your window of opportunity to have children of your own is quickly closing. You don’t even have a girlfriend, let alone a potential mother of your future children. You feel more than envy. You feel resentment at how unfair life is. You feel anger toward the family, in all their loving, laughing, hugging, picture perfect glory.

But you would feel no envy if you knew the couple is only together for the sake of the children. You’d feel no envy if you saw the father soak his pillow with tears every night, because the youngest child was just diagnosed with cancer. You’d feel no envy if you saw the mother soak hers because she is in love with a man she will never be able to have. The family photos on Facebook tell a story of a loving family that always has fun together. Their reality is far different.

Next time you sit beside a perfect looking couple in a restaurant, browse an old friend’s photos on social media, or pass a beautiful body on the beach, try to stop yourself from feeling that envy.  Reality is usually far different than appearance.

Give a warm smile, or type a sincere compliment. Because chances are, these people who seem to have it all are checking YOU out, and envying YOU.

(Oh, if only they could live a week in your life! They would feel no envy.)

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Thank you for reading.

Be Brave, and Talk

 

The Seed of Doubt

The seed of doubt has been planted, and you seem unable to dig it out. The roots have started to grow, have wrapped themselves around your heart. They tighten every time you take a step backward. Every time you think of moving forward, your breath gets a little easier, the grip on your heart gets a little looser.

Maybe you could starve the seed, plunge yourself into darkness until it’s dead. But what would become of you in that darkness?

Maybe you need to accept this seed of doubt, and listen to what it’s trying to tell you. But will its grip on you ever ease completely?

You had a vision of your life, of how it would all turn out. You see that path ahead. On the surface, it looks very easy to travel. It looks familiar. It looks safe.

But that path feels full of thorny stems, and gnarly roots. You would have to drag them along with you as you travel. You are not sure how long you would last.

There has to be another path, but it’s a path you can’t even see.

You can feel it though. It feels like jumping off a cliff. It feels terrifying, thrilling and completely foreign. It feels free. You would need an enormous amount of confidence to travel this path.

You can’t travel it blindly though. At least you don’t want to. Maybe you have to?

The seed of doubt doesn’t seem to want to leave you alone. It has grown and wrapped its roots around your heart for a reason.

You just can’t let it grow within you, because it will tear you apart in time.

You must listen.

You must learn.

You must be strong.

 

Seeds of doubt get planted when you stop being truthful.

Be truthful. In the end, the truthful path, however rocky and twisty and turny it may be, is the only one you should choose.

 

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Thank you for reading!

Be Brave and Talk

10 Depression Symptom Analogies For Those Who Have Trouble Understanding

If others don’t believe you when you are certain you speak the truth, if you get blamed for something you know is not your fault, if no matter how many times you try explaining something the person just doesn’t get it, how does it make you feel?

Pretty frustrated, I’m sure.

Sadly, this is the case for many who suffer mental illness, like depression. Imagine being accused of creating your own illness with your negative attitude, laziness, or self pity. It’s pretty awful. Those with depression long to be believed, long to be understood. Depression is NOT a feeling. It’s a very real disease, and I’m going to attempt to describe it to you with some analogies below.

10 Depression Symptom Analogies To Help You Understand:

1.) Irritability (The Sandpaper Bed)

You stand beside your bed. It looks cozy and inviting. You climb in and are startled by the feel of the sheets on your skin. They are rough, like sandpaper. Your pillow is hard as a rock. You roll over, nothing changes. The sandpaper sheets hurt your skin, the rock pillow makes your head hurt. This is what irritability is like. You know you should not be bothered, but everything annoys you, angers you, makes you very uncomfortable. You wish with all of your might you could relax and feel peaceful, but it just won’t happen. You want to explode at everyone around you, but you hold it in as best you can. You press on, try to appear normal. Like a night spent in the sandpaper bed would be, it’s totally exhausting.

2.) Empty/Numb (The Worst Comedy Show Ever)

Depression frequently makes you feel…absolutely nothing at all. Imagine you’re at a comedy show, but you’re the only one who finds nothing funny about it. Everyone else cracks up laughing at jokes that evoke no response in you at all. You wish you could enjoy yourself as they are, but your heart and mind are void of all feeling, You throw back a few drinks, to try to ignite a spark of life within you, to no avail. You just want to go home so you can stop pretending you actually feel something other than numbness. Depression often makes you feel as though someone has reached in and ripped your soul out of your body. It’s not fun.

3.) Extreme Fatigue (the 500 lb lead weight suit)

Picture yourself wearing full body armour made of lead. You try to go about your daily activities, but every movement requires tremendous effort. You want to move. You try your best to move. It’s just completely exhausting. No matter how hard you try, you seem unable to take off your lead body armour. It only removes itself when it feels like it.

4.) Self Loathing (tied with a rope to someone you really dislike)

What if that person you can’t stand being around, that person you have a hard time finding good qualities in, that person you just can’t seem to like was tied to you with a 3 foot long rope for an entire day? “No way in hell,” you are probably thinking. Well, if you suffer depression, that person is tied to you permanently. That person is yourself. It is a very sad, but very true reality of depression. The majority of the time during a depressive episode the sufferer thinks very negatively about themselves, and they might even have feelings of self hatred.

5.) Guilt (A body covered in long whiskers that bug everyone around you.)

Imagine you walk through the mall, or attend a family function, and all of a sudden your body grows huge, prickly whiskers that poke at everyone around you. You’d feel the need to apologize an awful lot. You’d probably feel pretty bad. Guilty. Guilty for being your prickly, whiskery self. Depression doesn’t make a person grow whiskers of course, but it certainly brings on constant, tremendous feelings of guilt. It makes you feel as though you are letting everyone down, that everyone is annoyed at, or disappointed by you.

6.) Physical Discomfort (The Constant Hangover)

Headache. Body Aches. Joint Pain. Nausea. Dizziness. If it gets bad enough, depression makes you feel like you have a constant hangover. If you haven’t experienced a hangover, think of how you feel when you are coming down with the flu. Many cases of depression/anxiety are diagnosed only after the patient has sought medical help for physical symptoms.( I myself was one of those cases.) Those “Depression Hurts” commercials do not lie.

7.) Confusion (partially soundproof, translucent glass box.)

If you spent an hour surrounded by glass that was hard to see through, hard to hear through and tried to go about life as usual, things would get pretty darn confusing. Depression often feels exactly like this. Focusing on anything becomes very hard. You find yourself holding your head in your hands all the time. Your vision literally blurs, and you have a hard time understanding what anyone is talking to you about. This confusion just increases other symptoms, like irritability and fatigue.

8.) Strong Desire to Hide (avoiding a telemarketer who is always callng)

You know that feeling you have when you see a telemarketer’s number on the call display? Someone with depression feels this way pretty much all of the time. They don’t want to answer the phone, or the door. They don’t want to go get groceries, they don’t want to go to your party. All they really want to do is hide under the covers and stop pretending everything is alright. They want to hide away so they can be depressed without fear of judgement, or feelings of guilt.

9.) Dread (a colonoscopy is looming, every minute of every day)

I think it’s safe to say nobody out there looks forward to the day they need a colonoscopy. When you suffer depression, you always feel like something unpleasant lies in the near future. Dread. Dread for reasons you can’t explain. In fact, knowing the dread was caused by an approaching colonoscopy would probably be an improvement over the nonspecific, sinking, scared feeling you often wake with, eat lunch with, go to bed with when you suffer from depression.

10.) Hopeless/Trapped (drowning)

Imagine you are trapped in a tank of deep water. You tread water for a long time. You start getting tired. You aren’t sure how much longer you’ll be able to keep your head above water. You try to stay afloat, try to conserve your energy and pray someone will come along and help you. Time ticks on. You are so tired. You sink below the surface, hold your breath for as long as you can. Nobody is coming to save you because nobody notices you need help. Desperately, you pull to the surface, gasp for air, sink back down again. You aren’t going to make it. You have lost all hope.

Depression is a very lonely, often desperate battle to feel alive.

But it doesn’t have to be lonely.

It doesn’t have to be hopeless.

There is plenty of help available for those suffering depression. They just need to feel comfortable enough to seek it out. All of the stigma, the fear, the lack of empathy and understanding toward mental illness in our society needs to end.

The best thing you can do for someone with depression is let them know you believe them, and you are not afraid to talk with them about it openly and honestly.

You can be that arm that pulls them out of that tank of deep water with a few powerful words.

“I am here for you.”

“I am listening.”

” I believe you.”

 

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Thanks so much for reading.

Be Brave, and Talk.

7 Ways Someone With Anxiety/Depression Shows Love

Follow up post to “7 Ways to Show Love to Someone with Anxiety/Depression”

http://www.bebraveandtalk.com/2015/02/12/7-ways-to-show…ietydepression/

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You lean back against the door you just slammed. You slide down to the floor, rest your head in your hands.

You are so tired of this. You give, and give, and give, but it feels like you get nothing in return. You don’t know how much longer you can cope. Does he have any idea just how much you do for him? Does he even really love you at all? Does his anxiety/depression render him incapable of love?

He knows.

He loves you.

He is capable.

Loving someone with anxiety/depression can be stressful, frustrating, exhausting.  It can also be heartbreaking. You might feel alone, helpless, and taken for granted much of the time.

I’m here to tell you that you are loved, more than you know. You are loved, and so, so important. Your loved one is extremely lucky to have you. And they know it.

7 Ways Someone With Anxiety/Depression Shows Love

1.) They talk to you about what they are feeling:

When someone admits they are struggling, they become vulnerable. It requires courage on their part, and it also means they have an awful lot of trust in you. It may not be a daily occurrence, but if they attempt to communicate with you openly and honestly, it means they want your relationship (friendship or romantic) to work. It means they need you. It means you are someone special.

2.) They thank you:

Your loved one may be irritable. They may be unreliable, break plans, or reject invitations often.  They may go long periods of time without calling you. But do they thank you when you text or call? Do they thank you for extending invitations? That “thank you” means more than they have good manners. It means “please don’t stop calling.” It means they want you in their life, and they hope one day soon they will have the energy, motivation, courage to take you up on your offers. It means “please don’t give up on me.”

3.) They participate in social events with you, even if it’s only sometimes:

Merely leaving the house can be a huge achievement for someone with anxiety/depression. Social events are often the last thing they have the energy or desire for.  Meeting new people, or being around ones they are uncomfortable with can be quite distressing. But they do it, for you. They do it because they love you and want to make you happy. Please try to remember this.

4.) They apologize often:

Anxiety/depression usually comes with an abundance of guilt. You probably hear your loved one say they are sorry an awful lot. They mean this from the bottom of their heart. They don’t want to be causing you pain. They don’t want to be making things hard. They want to be there for you just as you are there for them. They are sorry because they love you. They are trying their very best.

5.) They try to appear happy and “normal”:

When someone has anxiety/depression, the smile on their face, the joke on their lips, the clean clothes on their back are often an act, a costume. You may visit their home and see it is spotless. This is likely not the norm, and they probably spent a great deal of energy getting it that way to impress you. They want to look good in your eyes, because you are important. They pretend everything is okay, for you. This act is absolutely exhausting, but they do it. They do it because they care about you.

6.) They say the words:

Actions speak louder than words, but sometimes the internal battle someone with anxiety/depression is fighting leaves them with little energy to spare for actions. If they tell you they love you, please believe them.  When a better day comes, they will show it. Please trust them, be patient, give them a chance.

7.) They seek treatment for themselves (and stick to it) :

Asking for help with mental illness takes guts. Sticking with therapy, practising learned techniques for coping, and being open to trying new strategies requires determination and perseverance. There is no easy way to overcome anxiety/depression. With hard work though, symptoms can be greatly reduced. Is your loved one with anxiety/depression trying to get better? I bet a huge part of their motivation comes from their love for you.

Love is always there. It may often be buried beneath layers of struggle, confusion, exhaustion, but it is always there.

Love is more powerful than any mental illness.

You just need to believe in it.

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Thank you for reading!

Be Brave, and Talk

Long Lost Friends

Maybe you both work too much.
Or it’s distance.
Busy family lives.
Maybe you grew apart.
Maybe you can’t really find a reason at all.

She vanishes from your life without warning. Your phone calls are unanswered, unreturned. Birthdays pass, holidays pass, time ticks on. Sometimes a song comes on the radio that reminds you of her. You wonder how she’s doing, and if she ever thinks of you. You miss her. You wonder why you weren’t good enough for her to keep you in her life. You shake your head, shrug off the sadness. Oh well. It’s her loss.

Her loss.
Her nagging guilt.
Her deep regret.

You came into her life at a time she desperately needed a friend. Heartbroken and alone, she leaned on you without you even knowing it. You confided in her, invited her to follow along in your life. Your friends and you even called her “Little Sister.” You helped her feel like she belonged when her life was falling apart.
She trusted you.
She admired you.
She loved you.
She loves you still.

She cried the day you said goodbye. She moved to another city. New responsibilities, new relationships. She was absorbed, and overwhelmed. She listened to the messages you left, told herself she’d call you soon. Time moved on, and the thought of phoning you got harder and harder. Cold with anxiety, unsettled in her stomach, she held the phone and took deep breaths.

What if you were mad at her for taking so long to call back?

What if she sounded awkward, had nothing interesting to say?

What if you didn’t really like her anymore, and were annoyed by her call?

What If……so many What Ifs…

What if she called you at home when she knew you’d be at work?

She left you a message, so she’d stay safe, and you would know she still cared. She promised herself she’d answer if you called back, pushed the guilt aside. A few days later your call came, she stood frozen with fear. She realized her lack of action was not the norm. She hated herself for being such a coward. She hated herself almost all the time. Her self loathing made her believe somewhere deep inside that she was unworthy. She truly thought she didn’t deserve you.

If only you could have known.

Her anxiety was too much for her to cope with. The consequence was losing a dear friend.

If only you could have known.
You could have told her she was more than worthy.
You could have told her she had no reason to feel afraid.
You could have told her she deserves friendship.
You could have told her she deserves love.

She tells herself even still, that one day she’ll contact you. Maybe she’ll send a letter, maybe a birthday card.

She says she will do it tomorrow.
But tomorrow never seems to come.

I hope one day you long lost friends bump into each other by accident. I hope you give each other a big hug. I hope you become friends again.

This may not happen of course, but one thing will always remain true. You shared laughs, tears, a special kind of love. You affected each other’s lives for the better. You were great friends.

“Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened. ”

It happened. And that’s never going to change.

Thank you for reading.
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Be Brave, and Talk

**Quote by Dr. Seuss.

Power

Your head rests on the steering wheel as you listen to your favourite morning radio announcers banter back and forth. You wish you could be one of them. Their lives seem so carefree, their job seems so easy.

Your car is one of two in the parking lot. You always make sure you are early. It helps you feel a little less panicked, and you can avoid the scary, self conscious feeling you get when others see you walk in later than them.

You let yourself sit listening to one more song, focus on taking deep breaths. You tell yourself it is going to be okay. The day will fly by, and before you know it you’ll be breathing in the comforting scent of your daughter’s soft hair as you hug her hello.

“TGIF,” you mutter to yourself as you grab your bag and head for the door.

You take comfort in the quiet hallways and make a mental list of what you need to prepare for the work day ahead.

You log into your computer and hear a few coworkers laughing together down the hall. You need to do some photocopying, but decide to wait until they have headed to their end of the building. You just aren’t ready to see anyone yet.

You take a disappointing sip of your coffee, it’s cold. Your biggest comfort of the morning needs to be enjoyed the right way. You head to the staff room to warm it up.

Your heart beats faster as you see a colleague walking toward you. Turning around and ducking into the stock room would look a little odd, so you press on toward him.

You put on your best smile and say a warm hello as you pass each other. He stares straight ahead, nods slightly.
“How are you?” His voice is cool, and he doesn’t wait for your response. He doesn’t slow down at all.

You feel foolish because you had started to answer, your voice trails off in a whisper. He has rounded the corner and has no idea you were talking.

You rush into the staff room. You wait for your coffee to heat and hug yourself tightly. Your coworker thinks you’re an idiot. You wish you could go home, you just don’t seem to belong here. You close your eyes, try to shake off the squirmy urge to curl up into a ball, and scurry back down the hall to your room.

Your guts rumble. You vigorously rub your hands together to try to warm them, to try to calm your anxiety. You try to focus on your work. Then you remember you need to make photocopies. Damn it.

Out into the big, bad hallway you venture, praying you’ll finish the task without another coworker encounter. Just when you think you’re home free, someone pops out right in front of you. You apologize profusely and try to rush away, but she stops you.

“I just have to say, I really love your style. You always look so nice. ” she beams at you and gives you a friendly tap on the arm. You thank her and take deep breaths to avoid blushing.

“How are you doing?” She continues, “it isn’t easy, adjusting to work with a little one, is it?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty tough sometimes. We’re both getting used to it though.” You blink back tears and smile appreciatively.

“Well, let me know if you need anything. Anything at all. Really.”

You thank her again, and as you walk away, feel a tremendous sense of relief. That was such a nice thing for her to say. For some reason it makes you want to cry.

In the restroom, you wipe your tears and gaze at your reflection. You take note of your stylish outfit. You do look pretty good, it’s Friday, and perhaps your friendly coworker and you will one day be friends. Today, you are going to be just fine.

Power.

Your words, lack of words, facial expressions, small gestures have so much power.

You just never know what a person is going through.

What someone shows on the outside often has very little to do with the life they live inside.

We all have the power to touch that life.

We can choose to chip another piece off a crumbling self esteem.
Or we can choose to soothe an unsettled soul, even if only for a precious moment.

Every single one of us really does hold tremendous power.

How will you choose to use yours?

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