I took some time off from things last week and headed down South for a few days. I needed a break, not realising how much I needed it until I actually arrived in the warm hospitality of my friend’s home.
When I was there I took the opportunity to get some downtime and see some friends, old and new. We caught up with each others lives, talked and swapped stories with each other.
I was especially pleased to meet up with one guy. We’d known each other for a couple of years online from a couple of music groups. Over that time I’ve got to know him pretty well. He’s always inspirational. Where he sees anger and hatred he replies with love and happiness. He also gives killer bear hugs.
Whilst we were chatting he told me about his daughter. Let’s call her River.
Now River is just a young girl, not even in her teens. Already, he said, she suffers from anxiety. She’s been seeing a counsellor through school. He’s also looking at getting her something private. All he wants is the best for his daughter.
He said he also reads the blog to her. He said it helps River, let’s her know there are others out there that go through the same thing. I was really touched. It blows me away to think that I’ve been able to reach out to someone.
I also felt sad. It’s really down heartening to know that this girl, barely starting out, is already feeling the stress of trying to live her life. I said I would write her a message and send it through her dad to pass on.
The following day I spent an hour or so putting together the message. I wanted River to know she wasn’t alone in this.
“You just need to remember that tomorrow is a different day” I wrote. “It might not be a better one than the one you’re having now but it also might not be as bad. Things like this change all the time.”
I sent it and her dad was thankful. It made me feel good, knowing I’d been able to try to make a difference.
Yesterday my friend posted in a private group we’re a part of what River had just done. “River went upstairs yesterday and said ‘Dad I have done this for myself and I know a few of your friends have the same problem will you put it on your Facebook page?'”
She’d written two motivational pieces, one I’ve put at the top of the blog, the other at the bottom. I couldn’t believe how concise and perfect they were. I was incredibly moved to see them and asked for permission to share them.
Why am I doing this? Well, I want to show River that you can reach out to anyone with what you say, make a connection and help someone. Also, that we’re listening to her. That she can say things and realise that people won’t judge, they’ll just want to help.
The final reason is that I’m still stunned that someone of her age is suffering from anxiety to a point that she needs some help, and that there are people out there who are quick to judge people and label them. This really has to stop and the only way we can remove the stigma associated with mental illness is by opening up and talking about it, no matter how old we are.
Inspiration comes from anywhere and River has certainly inspired me. You’re never too young or old to keep fighting this disease. We certainly need more people like River around. With more people like her in the world our fight feels a little bit more easier and our future doesn’t feel as bleak.