The Mailman's Survival Guide
the Mailman's Blog
Welcome back dear readers, it has been an interesting past couple of weeks for ol' Big D. I want to touch on a couple of things that have occurred recently, and discuss the importance of family and friends in our lives.
As most of my readers and listeners of the podcast know, I am a lifelong sufferer of chronic depression. It is a battle that I fight through medication, therapy, and education. However, everyday is a new battle, and a few weeks ago I almost lost that battle.
A perfect storm of events occurred which spiraled me into a state of depression and absolute hopelessness, and created a longing desire for my lifetime of struggle to come to an end. Fortunately, my family and friends, who make up my support network, were there for me. For you see, no man is an island, and having a supportive network of family and friends can get you through even the toughest of battles.
Having said this, I want to discuss the importance of building and keeping a support network. I know that most of us have either a best friend or spouse who we lean on in tough times, but its important to have more than one person in your network. If you rely too heavily on a single person, you may end up crushing them under the weight of your problems and their own.
So how do we go about creating this circle of support? An important first step is deciding who should be in that network. Don't just go out and make as many friends as possible and think they will all be there for you. This is real life, not Facebook. Choose a handful of family members and close friends who are trustworthy, and will be there for you when times are tough.
Secondly, nurture those relationships. Really get to know the people in your network. If its a family member, don't just assume that you know everything about them. Often times, we may not know that person as well as we think, and if you spend time talking to them, you can build a deep and rewarding relationship.
Third, don't always talk about your problems with those in your network. If you only talk to these people when times are hard, they may start to feel used. Imagine if you had a friend or family member who only wanted to talk to you when they had problems.
Fourth, be willing to listen. Building a support network is a two way street. If these people are willing to be there for you, do the same for them. Also, really listen to them. I know that may seem like an unusual statement, but in this time of cell phones, internet and a million other distractions, its easy to tune out when someone is telling you what's going on in their life. The more apt we are to be there for them, the more likely they are to reciprocate.
Fifth, don't be so quick to burn bridges. In this world of political and socioeconomic divisiveness, I've witnessed relationships destroyed by differing views and opinions. Don't let a difference in ideology destroy your support network. My father, my brother, and I rarely agree on politics or economics. We have been in some arguments that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Sometimes we walk away shaking our heads and wondering what the other is thinking, but we never let it shake our relationship. It's ok for you to have strong opinions. It's ok to stand up for what you believe is right, but be willing to understand that everyone has opinions, and they don't always have to align with our own.
The last thing I want to discuss is the wonderful time I had with my son this last week. While I get to see him every other weekend, having him stay for nine days really did my soul good and it strengthened our bond. As he is 5 years old, he is constantly changing and growing. What he may like today, may not interest him tomorrow and having him here for an extended stay let me enjoy watching these changes.
Another thing I love about having him here is that he often says something unexpected that often makes me laugh. I am so thankful he inherited the "goofy" gene from my side of the family, although I'm sure it drives his mother crazy. Having said this, the other day I saw a different side to him. It was one that astonished me, and let me know that he thinks deeply, and while he can only use the knowledge of a 5 year old, the point he made was pretty wise.
The conversation went like this:
Son: Daddy, what if I had been born a girl?
Me: Well, I would still love you just as much, but I was wishing for a boy.
Son: When I was in my mommy's belly I wished I was a boy, and then I made it happen.
Me: Oh yeah?
Son: Daddy, wishes don't just come true. You have to make them happen.
So, anytime I doubt myself, or what I am trying to achieve, I will hearken back to the wise words that came from a most unlikely source, and maybe you should too.
Big D is a writer and host of The Mailman's Survival Guide Podcast. His goal is to raise awareness for the mental health community through writing, pod casting, and public speaking.