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Reach out: Someone out there might need you

Posted by Didi Gorman on

For a while now I’ve noticed that one of my colleagues had been quite withdrawn recently. At first I thought it was personal: perhaps, for whichever reason, he was just withdrawn with ME (funny how we make it all about ourselves when, in reality, it has nothing to do with us). I soon learned, though, through a mutual friend, that the gentleman in question had been suffering from a chronic disease.

The reason I’m bringing this up today is that there have been several other instances recently where I realized that an acquaintance of mine had been struggling with something (disease, breakup, loneliness, depression, a loss), but their distress was invisible on the outside. They didn’t say much about whatever it was that had been troubling them and, for the most part, endured their pain in silence and by themselves.

In hindsight though, perhaps there HAVE been a few subtle hints, but nothing concrete. Unless one sets about actively looking for distress signs in other people, those subtle hints were too faint to register with me, or for all I know, with any other of their friends.

I now wonder how many other people around us experience difficulties which go unnoticed.

It’s very hard to tell just by the expression on someone’s face how they truly feel on the inside. There is often a discrepancy. A smile or a laugh do not necessarily signal that everything is ok.

Only the other day, during a casual conversation with one of my peers, I realized, halfway through the talk, that this person was suffering from mild seasonal depression.

Let me insist on the notion that a person’s demeanor is not necessarily indicative of what they might be truly experiencing on the inside. At least on the outside, he’s been his normal self. Everything seemed as usual. If he hadn’t eventually brought it up himself, I wouldn’t be able to tell there was anything wrong.

Thinking back though, this might explain his ‘over-chattiness’ recently. I now understand that the reason he’s been talkative is that he was fighting depression, and therefore enjoyed the relief brought by the company of another person. He simply needed someone to talk to; he wasn’t just chattering away.

And so, now that you’re aware of this, I need to ask you an important question:

As you’re reading these lines, is there anyone out there who might need you? Someone wishing for a friendly email, a call, a visit, a text message, a talk, a reassuring smile? Someone who may just need you to check on them that they’re ok?

Reach out. Yours might be the only friendly gesture they’ll have today.

By Didi Gorman