Friday, 22 October 2010

Reaching out

We are usually rather good at leading our lives. We are happy, or at least content, most of the time. When times are tough we can often find ways to get through, building on our own strengths and the support of those around us.  
But sometimes life gets so difficult that our life hungry stupidity starts to fade. Our ordinary magic and personal medicine aren’t enough. Our coping skills are snowed under.  Our well being recipes are insufficient. We could do with some extra help.
One of the problems with giving advice on self-help (as I’ve done so far in this blog), is that it can seem to imply that we shouldn’t look elsewhere for help. ‘I must deal with this,’ we tell ourselves. ‘If I can’t then it’s a sign of weakness, it just shows what a wimp I am’.  We start shouting at ourselves: ‘Stand on your own two feet’. ‘Just get on with it.’ ‘Don’t trouble the doctor, she’s too busy with people who are really sick.’ 
What rubbish!!
Sometimes we are overwhelmed by troubles. Some times are so tough that we can’t see any way out.  We need to be able to reach out to someone with authority, someone with expertise or skill, and say ‘I can't do this by myself. Please,  lend me a hand’.
And that is OK. In fact it is more than OK. It is fine. As human beings, as persons, as citizens, we are entitled. We deserve help. We have the right to reach out. 
Where to?
That depends on who has the ability to help us solve our particular problems. It could be a doctor, a psychologist, a lawyer, a priest, an Imam, or maybe a trade union official, or a good plumber. Sometimes our choice will be affected by whether we need (and can afford) to pay.

Most important of all, reaching out depends on who we can trust.  
 ‘A lot of my problems go back to childhood’, Sarah told me. ‘I was sexually abused as a child, by a friend of the family. My mother did nothing to protect me. Dad died when I was fifteen.  I became anorexic. I just couldn’t deal with it all.’  She had ECT, drugs, the lot. Nothing worked. Eventually she met Adele, a psychologist who helped her work through a lot of her problems.  ‘I could trust Adele’.
So when things went wrong again, she had to decide who’d be best to help. 
In January I was upset’, said Sarah.  ‘I thought shall I go to the doctors - or shall I go to the health centre to see if Adele’s there?  It's not like it was a physical problem, or a medical emergency, maybe the doctors wouldn’t think they had time to deal with a problem like this.  I felt they wouldn't have taken my distress seriously enough.  It goes back to past experiences there's nothing the matter with you, go home and take a Valium, being fobbed off.  At that time I was feeling very vulnerable, so I plumped for Adele as the one with the better chance of getting my needs met.  Also it meant I could maintain some control over the situation. 
Sarah has it exactly right. When we are reaching out for help, it’s risky. We need somebody competent, but it’s also got to be somebody we can trust. Trust that we’ll be taken seriously, that we’ll get our needs met, and that we can keep some control.
Because we’re worth it.  


  1. Sounds so easy.Very well put.I cant trust anyone 100% and why should l.But then if you say you can't trust anyone what about yourself?.I am sure am not alone on saying l get a gut instinct about situations.Yes people do need people to understand helps to know you as the whole person,family friends whats going on in your has taken many years and people on my journey to find the Right ones.Yes just like someone coming to fix something in your home you never give up on trying to get things done reasonably right.I remember telling my story and then ran home!Which i do understand now l had listened to myself and the pain was too deep.Yet at home l phoned that person asking" do you believe me?" As soon as the answer was "YES" l was safe to lean on them.It is still hard at times to be a survivor,but i am alive!!

  2. I am divided on this
    reaching out...........sounds so simple but is not....what about reaching out but there is none to reach out to?
    Many people cannot take your sorrow nor do they wish too as its far too much imformation for them .This applies across the board from family, friends to proffessionals.
    Based entirley on my own personal experience when my children were diagnosed with severe autism boy did people fall away NO one wanted to help me i was totally ALONE and i mean alone.
    I was avoided like the plague not to be engaged because others did not know what to say to me. Afterall i had been the one for all these years helping others find their way but folk dont like it when the strong need help . So i just sat alone with my grief.
    I wish i could dress it up and say yes i had help alas this was not the case for several years.
    just my experience.