Maybe It’s Time We Stop Punishing Ourselves And Start Asking For Help

Content notice: suicidality
I had a family member who, in his old age, used to pull the emergency cord in his apartment – a cord designed for seniors should they fall or become very ill – almost every week.
Over and over, he would pull the cord and be taken by ambulance to the hospital, where the doctors would assure him and our family that there was nothing wrong.
I was a child back then, and I remember asking my parents why he kept pulling the cord if nothing was the matter.
“He’s lonely,” they told me.
When I was that young, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t just tell people that he felt lonely.
But as an adult in the grips of mental illness, ten years later, I understand why he kept pulling the cord.
I understand that sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to admit that you need help or support.
And I’m certain that if there were a way to instantly combat the loneliness I’ve felt – no need to utter a single word or plea for help – I would have pulled that cord hundreds of times these last few weeks alone.
I wish we lived in a world where seeking out emotional support could be taught in healthy ways, encouraged and affirmed as a necessary part of emotional resiliency, and not looked at as a sign of weakness.
That’s not the world we live in.
We live in a world where the thought of being a burden is scarier to us than the immensity of our own pain.
A world in which we choose to silence ourselves and suffer alone because we think it’s noble to do so.
My family member pulled the cord more times than I could count for a year until he passed. The nurses knew, the doctors knew, our family knew – and everyone played along.
That’s the world we live in. Everyone plays along.
We write vague and anguished Facebook statuses. We run away hoping others will follow. We type “I want to die” into Google search bars because we’re too afraid to tell our friends. We push people away because we don’t know what else to do. We fake smiles hoping that someone will see through them.
We’re all pulling cords in our own way because it’s harder to just be honest and say, “Please, I can’t be alone right now.”
We’re all pulling cords because we don’t know how to say that we’re hurting.
And I guess what I’m saying is that, if you’re reading this – maybe, just maybe – we can all start to push back against this fear. This fear that tells us to keep quiet, the one that tells us our pain is too much or too heavy.
Maybe it’s not.
Maybe we can start saying what we really mean.
And I will, too.
Tonight, I am lonely.

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19 thoughts on “Maybe It’s Time We Stop Punishing Ourselves And Start Asking For Help

  1. KK Roberts (@jawofsteel2014) says:

    Sam Dylan Finch, I have wanted to comment on your writing time and time again, but I am a habitual lurker who is positive her words mean little or nothing in the great scheme of things. But I am an ardent fan of your honesty and your wordsmithery and your voice and your transparency. And tonight, you touched me too. I am old as the hills and the polar opposite of you in some ways, a suburban mom (albeit in northern California too) with three kids and a husband and many and sundry life experiences. but I suffer from PTSD and GAD and Panic Disorder and chronic pain and I think disorders that have no names, and sometimes the thought of leaving my home brings me to my knees. I am sorry you are lonely tonight but I am amazed and honored that you can admit that. I am infinitely grateful to read your words. I told my therapist the other day that when I wrote in my twenties (I am still a writer to this day), I was self-indulgently dark and puerile and angsty and oh so pretentious, and I see none of that in your words. You are a beacon. So even though I have a house full of sleeping boys (and a husband in Belfast for three weeks) (and, damn him, a therapist on vacation, how could he) (and my best friend out of town, how selfish, really?), I’m reaching to you and your words, because you reached to me, to my heart with your brilliant words. Every post. Sorry for the over long reply.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. tgirlmichele says:

    Sam, I am sorry you are feeling lonely. Be assured that there are many who love you, who like me have come to ‘know’ you only through your writing. I hope today will be a better day for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. skinnyhobbit says:

    I’m really struggling not to cry on the bus. I am so lonely at work and in my room in my house that I self harm.

    Like

    • Sam Dylan Finch says:

      I know the feeling — that’s been my struggle since I got out of the hospital. Please try to hang in there. And if there’s someone you can reach out to, don’t be afraid to ask for help. 😦 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Loony says:

    Hey Sam. I’ve been reading and admiring your blog for a while, and you should know that everything you say is so truthful and honest and means so much to not just me but everyone who reads.
    I know what you mean about this stigma about feeling like you can’t ask for help – people with mental illness often feel like a burden on others, even that their own problems are false and made up for attention.
    It’s stupid and sad and dangerous but it happens. And I think if everyone were a little more like you – being brave about who we are, brave enough to speak up when you have something to say, brave enough to educate people on the issues of people who underepresented and misunderstood – if everyone were a little more like you, maybe none of us would feel so lonely.
    I’m sorry you feel lonely, but please know you are not alone. Believing that is hard, I know that too, but you’ve made me and so many others feel acknowledged and validated and that means something. It means that you and me and everyone are all alike, at least a little bit, and I hope that is some consolation.
    🙂 Loony

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ivy Willow says:

    Sam, you’re writing always amazes me. You have this fantastic ability to so clearly put things. I’ve travelled a similar path to yours in terms of being trans and dealing with mental illness. I feel so deeply for the things you go through, and am always amazed by your resilience. It’s hard as hell to deal with, and it’s amazing that you are reaching out, and talking about ways to stop the stigma about asking for help or even just having mental illness in the first place. Thank you for keeping this blog and being such a powerful voice out here ^.^
    Have a beautiful day sunshine, and please take gentle care of yourself

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ivy Willow says:

    Reblogged this on Through Ivy's Eyes and commented:
    Sam Finch is an absolutely amazing writer. In this particular post he talks about the stigma of reaching out for help when you need it, especially when dealing with mental illness.
    This is an incredibly important issue, and one close to my heart, as I deal with bipolar and anxiety myself.
    Have a beautiful day sunshines!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. bobcabkings says:

    Sam, you dive straight into the heart of one of he great paradoxes of how we live. There is one song more than any other that comes to mind whenever the subject of loneliness and our difficulty telling of it comes along. It is “I’ll Plan The Blues For You” by Albert King. Here’s just a bit of the lyrics:

    If you’re down an’ out, an’ you feel real hurt
    Come on over, to the place where I work
    An’ all your loneliness, I’ll try to soothe
    I’ll play the blues for you

    Don’t be afraid, come on in
    You might run across, yeah, some of your old friends
    All your loneliness, I’ve got to soothe
    I’ll play the blues for you

    Read more: Albert King – I’ll Play The Blues For You Lyrics | MetroLyrics

    So often, when I was working the crisis line I wished I had that man’s talent and could just sing so to those people pulling the cord. I did, of course often have to say the part about coming over to the place where I worked, but too often for a 5150 or its equivalent in another state, not for the music. Thanks you Sam. reblogging

    Liked by 2 people

  8. vjknutson says:

    Is it fear of rejection that keeps us from reaching out? Or the expectations that we impose upon ourselves? I could really resonate with what you have written here, Sam, and at the same time, in the back of my mind, I was thinking people are scared of the lonely or needy. It’s why I hold back, for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. embodiedinlanguage says:

    I definitely have a great fear of being “too much,” especially when I’m in the grip of strong emotions. For a long time my GAD kept me from sharing too much about my feelings with anyone. I’m doing much better on that front now, but it’s still hard, and I have a tendency to shut down or minimize my own feelings for everyone else’s comfort. I recently went through a breakup with my queerplatonic datemate, and I’ve been struggling with how to feel and how to talk about it. Often I wind up just trying to ignore it until I can’t anymore. It’s definitely a lonely feeling. And bound up with this whole issue of being trans and ace & aro-spec and wondering if I’ll ever find a partner, but then judging myself for being melodramatic about my problems… Anyway. I’m trying to reach out to people as best I can, and hoping to heal from this and move on. Thanks for all your openness and honesty; your writing has helped me a great deal.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Alyssia says:

    Hi Sam,
    Just want to send support! Its late here, so I have nothing clever to say but do know that your writing means a lot to me and helps me feel less lonely on my journey to care for my mental health. I hope this message helps you feel better in any way it can.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Marci says:

    This was a really strong, good read. I wished we lived in that world too, and it’s really hard to navigate self care in this world. Your words are a good reminder, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. BipolarOnFire says:

    You are so precious!! I just love your words and I love your passion for telling the truth!! What is the shame in being lonely?? For me that is one of the hardest ones to just “come out with”. I get lonely too. Lonely and lost. Thank you for your wonderful blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Mental Myrtle (@mentalmyrtle) says:

    Lovely post, as always. I am sorry you are feeling lonely and I commend your courage in communicating it. I would be interested to know what your thoughts are on how we make it OK for others to communicate this to us. You are obviously a popular guy both on and off-line and it makes me wonder if any of my own friends are in the same situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam Dylan Finch says:

      I am very available to the folks in my life and I think they know it for two reasons: (1) I try to make sure I post now and then about being open to folks reaching out. (2) I’ve stopped asking “how are you” and I’ve started asking “is everything okay?” or “how have you been feeling lately?” I think sometimes the little gestures are important, and they’re a great place to start.

      Like

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