If you are in search of help, support, or just some good genuine directions you found the right place. At least that would be my hope.
Because…I’ve been there. Right where you are now.
Starting in middle school (a strange American term for HELL) and all the way through college, I spent countless days trying to figure out how to survive the roller coaster ride of life. It never seemed to slow down and I couldn’t get the hang of it.
But I didn’t want to let on. I may have hated the person I saw in the mirror, suffered heartbreaks, nights of crying myself to sleep, but did I tell anyone? No. Instead, I convinced everyone I was OK and I had things under control. Did I want to disappoint all these important people with the truth? No thanks! Like I needed to add “disappointed parents, friends, and teachers” to my list of problems.
These were the people constantly asking, “How are you?” Americans love asking that! “How are ya, how ya doin’??”
My brain would scream, “I want to crawl out of my skin!” right as my mouth said, “I’m good,” “Fine,” “Great”…for the 100th time.
What I didn’t see at the time was how I building my own personal island, every day. Islands are lonely places where there’s no one to challenge your ideas about “Things won’t change” “This will never get better” “I wish I wasn’t alive.” Eventually I would say I became stranded on this personal island of mine.
I needed a little help from my friends.
My friends were the ones who finally saw through my poker face, façade, and fine-tuned skills of pretending things were OK. They refused to sit on the sand with me and believe I was doomed forever. They insisted I tell my parents the truth of how much pain I was really in. They wouldn’t accept my excuses.
I’m lucky I had friends who cared about me so much they were willing to risk losing me as a friend.
So, I wrote a long letter to my parents telling them everything. Yes, EVERYTHING. It was my message in a bottle: send help.
And yes, I got help. My parents helped me get the help I needed to get off the island.
The strange thing is….that island is still a place that exists for me. But I choose not to go there, because I don’t need its protection anymore.
Now let’s talk about YOU!
If you’re stuck on the island, it’s OK. Like me, you can leave. It helps to have friends, parents, and teachers who want to lend you their strength to make a change.
In reality your friends can’t do all of it for you. Truth is, no one can. It is up to you entirely. Nobody can rescue you unless you are willing to get off that island already.
It sounds scary. It’s not. Here’s how to get started. You create your own message in a bottle.
- SAY IT. Skip the writing. As Nike says, “Just DO IT”. The hard part only lasts a few seconds when you tell someone you care about and trust that you are in pain. Many of us think we won’t be understood or worse, that we’ll be judged. Instead we’re surprised when people understand, and even more surprised that they’d known all along something wasn’t right. Just do it.
- WRITE IT. Maybe the idea of “Just DO IT” has you thinking “Just shove it” Maier! Haha. I dont blame you for thinking that. Easier said than done. Writing a letter is another way to get your message out that you need help. Just make sure to throw your bottle in the right direction, toward an adult you know and trust and has the ability to act in a responsible way. That adult doesn’t have to be your parents. It could be a teacher, a relative, or even school staff.
- CONSIDER BACK-UP HELP. If you feel like you need some guidance in following through on those choices, you can always give me a ring. Sometimes it’s easier to tell a “stranger” something, because you never have to see them again if you don’t want to. Maybe a better comparison is the cab driver who hears our confession in three minutes on the road, because we know when we get out of the cab we won’t see him again. Give me a ring and I can be that “cab driver.” It could be just the thing you need.
READ THIS if you’re worried about a friend
First of all, your friend is lucky to have you in their life. When I worked at a school, I was approached all the time by students wanting to help their friends. I was always so impressed that they’d take such steps. Based on my own story I know how important friends are for getting support. You play an important role!
No pressure! Right? Actually that’s not a joking matter. The students I talked to felt responsible for solving their friend’s problems. That’s what being a good friend meant. Right?
Many of us think that’s what being a “good friend” means. Let’s look at reality:
- The good news is that there are choices you can make and strategies you can use that will help.
- The bad news is you can’t control your friend, or solve their problems.
A good friend is loyal and protective. A good friend is someone you can share secrets with, who listens to you, and is there for you through thick and thin.
Q: Are you a bad person if need to break trust to help your friend?
This is a tough decision to make, and a scary one. Nobody likes to rat out a friend.
But if your friend’s health and wellbeing is in jeopardy, there’s only one choice you can make. And that’s to tell an adult who can intervene.
My friends told me in a loving and supportive way, “either talk to your parents, or we will.” They gave me one week. They were caring, but I knew they meant business. I knew they’d rather have an angry pissed off Andrew than a dead Andrew. I’m grateful for their bravery.
Back to those students I counselled. Many of them felt so helpless, and they threw out their rescue line to me.
I helped the friends see that they didn’t have to be trapped too. Guilt and the belief that they were not being a “good friend” often kept them stuck a bit longer. But eventually many friends begin to see that they must get moving if they are going to help their friend get moving too.
- Some friends chose to do what my friends did.
- Some friends brought their friend to see me and we all talked together.
- Some even decided to speak with their friends family.
Were their friends angry and disappointed? Yes! Most were. But…..after they began to get some good help they too realized like I did that it was a blessing to have friends who were willing to risk a pissed off you rather than a dead or very hurt you!