In every day life, asking others if they would like a hand is relatively easy. In every day life, saying "Yes" when someone asks us if we would like a hand can be a little harder. In the not-so-everyday life, when life is getting on top of us, asking for help can be terribly difficult.
Why? In a single word, fear.
I am not talking here about when we are our usual happy selves, because we often ask for help when we need a ride somewhere, or when we need a lift with a heavy object, or perhaps to help recover from an event. I'm talking about when we become so unwell that we are considering drastic action, such as in depression or considering committing suicide.
I hear it said a lot - "If you are struggling, please just ask someone for help". The sentiment is well-meaning and will work if the person is in a lucid period or in the early stages of the mire. However, it will most often fall on deaf ears if the person is deep in the mire or completely overwhelmed with 'life'.
Why deaf ears, because when people are all consumed with life, the only voice they hear is their own and that voice is telling them to ignore the world. That voice, the one that comforted us as a child whenever we were struggling or afraid, has now become our enemy into our teens and adulthood.
So why don't we ask for help, and why does that voice try in vain to comfort us as it did when we were a child, fear is the answer for most of us.
Fear of burdening you with our issues, fear of what you might say to us, fear that you may scold or scorn us, fear that what you suggest may make things worse, fear of the repercussions of our actions, fear that you may view us as a failure, fear that we will never be seen the same way again, fear that we will never recover, fear of what the future holds if any future at all, fear of the unknown, fear of...... The list is endless.
Yes, these fears are irrational, illogical, and often unfounded. But we don't know that, because we aren't thinking rationally or logically like you.
When overwhelmed with life, we are unable to think like you, to rationalise like you, to bring clarity to what you are saying. We aren't like you so we can't work out why you don't you get it, why you can't see what we see, why you aren't listening to us, why you don't understand that we can't simply "snap out of it".
So what should you do to help us when we are overwhelmed? Take us to get some help if we readily want to go, encourage us to get some help if we won't go for help, listen to us without judging us or trying to fix us, ask us what we are thinking and feeling, or just be there for us.
A warm smile, a kind word, a gentle touch, every day is enough to keep us going. Remind us that we are loved, that we won't be scorned or scolded, that you don't care what we've done. Just be there for us when we need you.
Never judge us, because we are not judging you, we are merely trying to overcome our fear without being a burden on you. After all, you have your own 'life' issues without us adding more.