There's a narrative that happens whenever the topic of mental health comes up. Check in on your loved ones. Make sure they know you care. I'm here to drop a truth bomb on you.
I don't fucking need you to check in on me.
I don't need one bit of the lip service that comes with a perfunctory text or FB message saying "I hope you are well." I just don't. Those are actually insulting because mental illness does not arise from a crisis of me not being aware that people care if I'm alive or not. I am actually very well aware that many people care enough to text me when I post something worrisome on Facebook or when they haven't seen me at the gym for a while. I'm grateful-ish for this level of caring in my life.
But here's the truth. When I dig into virtually every bout of depression I have suffered through, it boils down to this...I don't have a community. I don't have a community because the world of adult friend making sucks. I'm pretty convinced that's why moms put their kids in so many sports. Because in the absence of sports and activity, there is just no good way to make friends as a grown up.
I have tried to schedule play dates, only to be given the "we're busy for the next 10 months. How does next July sound." Next July sounds shitty. I suppose I could put my kids in a bunch of stuff. But they truly are not interested. Soccer? Hard no. Cheerleading? Nope. Robotics? You guessed it. And since my husband and my kids are currently my ride or die group, I wish not to offend them (and waste my energy) dragging them to activities they don't like in the hope I'll friend another mom.
I cannot figure out how to break the barrier of moms that stands between me and a group of ride or die friends. I held off on writing this because I thought "maybe you're just alone in this." But I see comments all day every day about how alone moms feel. I see and experience first hand how hard it is to build a community. And let me be honest with you. I have no interest in being part of a community of check ins.
Friends, I don't know the answer. But I know this, mental illness is an epidemic in this country. People are suffering in mass from lack of real connection. People are crying out for ride or die friends. While this is happening, we just keep busying ourselves. We are exhausted from working in jobs we may or may not like and living in places that may or may not suit our needs. We are tired from keeping up super mom masks. Tired from bringing our kids to all their sports and events. All this exhaustion means that we have no mental capacity left for building community. And what American needs to fix what ails us is community. In order to form community, we need time to find our people.
So if you are planning to check in with me and have said no to 10 invitations for real connection? Save your 2 minutes. I don't need a check in. I need a community. We need a community. I share my suffering loudly because so many of us suffer really quietly. I have spent actual decades summoning up all my courage to ask people to make plans with me and I am tired and frustrated. I'm likable so people are usually like "yeah...someday." Someday almost never arrives. And because I always wanted to stay likable, I never say what really goes on in my head.
Not knowing why people say no to me is soul crushing. Asking people to hang out only to have them last minute cancel is heart breaking. Offering to fly my people out to see me and having them refuse over and over again wreaks a havoc on my heart that those people will never know (until they read this, then I guess they'll know). I have been praying for a couple days now. Dear God, what is in me that needs to be spoken. Dear God, why am I so tired no matter how I sleep? This is the answer to my tired. I'm tired of trying to build a community. And I'm tired of pretending I'm not hurt by how poorly it's going.
I want to give voice to people who struggle silently and alone, hoping a community will come through for them. I feel you. I am you. I hurt alongside you.