I grew up on the coast of South Texas. I lived in a small town and my mom and dad were public school teachers. I loved watching sports, I loved playing sports, and I really loved the Houston Oilers. So why am I about to tell you about Steve Young, former quarterback of the San Francisco 49’ers? These details are more than just fun facts about my childhood. You see, as I look back on my growing up years, I remember things that I did or things that other people did that didn’t help my mental health. I experienced intrusive thoughts that I couldn’t control. I would isolate myself from time to time. I wasn’t always honest about how much I was struggling. I often had sleepless nights.
But I didn’t tell anyone.
And that is one of the worst things a person whose mental health is suffering can do.
It wasn’t until I was married and had teenage kids that my panic and anxiety disorder was diagnosed. And during that time, I watched Steve Young play football like the rest of the country.
He didn’t tell many people what he was going through either.
One very dangerous skill people with mental illness can become incredibly adept at is hiding or covering the truth about how they are doing. We can get so good at it. We can become masterful at the way we disguise or hide the truth about our struggles. Even the people that love us most can be deceived. And when this unhealthy practice goes on too long, we can find ourselves on the edge of devastating decisions.
Steve shares his story so well in the article I have linked here. I connected with his journey on several levels. As Young recounts his childhood and years in the NFL, I believe there is wisdom that can be gleaned from his experiences, and I think his story is important to share. Here are three things to do if you are struggling or if have a kid, a spouse, or a friend that is struggling.
Bring It to Light
If you are struggling with your mental health, tell someone. Send a text or call-reach out to a friend. If you don’t have someone you can reach out to, reach out to a pastor at your church. If you don’t have a church, find one that is close to you and start there. Mental illness is not something to battle alone. Helping one another along the way is a critical piece to the mission of our Goby community. You can reach out to us on our social sites, email us, and let’s connect in the comments. We have resources for you to use and for you to share. This community will remind you over and over that you are not alone, and that God is always with you. The power to overcome is accessible to you because of Jesus. Dig deep if you have to and bring the truth of how you are doing to the light.
Check On The Strong Ones
From the outside looking in, your strong kid or your strong friends may look like their lives are light and easy. Check on them anyway. Ask them how they are really doing. Try to keep from jumping to solutions and try not to offer ways to “fix” them. Give them time to share how they are doing and if they answer, “I’m just fine…”, press in just a bit more. Ask about their sleep, ask about their joy, ask about their eating. Be sincere and approach your conversation with care and concern – not badgering questions. The strong ones can sometimes be the hardest to read, check on them anyway.
It’s true that you can’t be there for EVERYONE, but you can be there for someone. So be there. Set your phone down. Move away from your computer. Really listen to what your friend or what your kid is saying. Having someone to talk to -someone that doesn’t judge, or critique is something we can all do for someone else. You may feel uncomfortable. That’s ok. You may not have all the answers, but that’s ok. Your presence at just the right time for just the right person could be one of the most important things you do in your day. Have your eyes and heart open to the possibility of being there for someone when they need it most and then be present.
Think about someone you know that is struggling. Reach out to them by sharing the Goby Media page from our website. It’s an easy way to share the free resources we offer through our blogs and podcasts! I have also included a few online resources for you to add to your toolbelt. These are a few easy ways we can do a little something to help someone along the way!
Better Help: www.betterhelp.com
Child Mind Institute www.childmind.org
National Institute of Mental Health: Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms—https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/panic-disorder-when-fear-overwhelms/index.shtml
American Psychological Association: Answers to Your Questions About Panic Disorder—https://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety/panic-disorder
Center for Clinical Interventions: Panic Stations: Coping with Panic Attacks—https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/looking-after-yourself/panic