"I wish my parents would find my drafts of my suicide notes under the carpet by my airvent."
- postcard on PostSecret
Coming across this postcard on PostSecret this morning, it made me think of all the little (and not so little) cries for help. Sometimes they are in your face--explicit threats, violence, substance abuse, suicide attempts. But before those, and most of the time, they are the kind that requires paying close attention. Things mentioned in passing. Long sleeves regardless of the weather. Lyrics in an away message. Routines broken. Clues hidden, but just barely. The little things we do when we want someone to notice that we're hurting, but want to make sure that it's because they care enough to notice, that they're actually paying attention.
Two years ago, I was really stressed out at work about a project that involved many factors beyond my control. I felt powerless and overwhelmed and really really stressed out. My boyfriend was the only person who knew just how much of a wreck I was, since I was too busy at work to do anything but work.
And then my manager at the time asked me one morning if I was okay. She was the only person at work who ever asked me once during that awful project if I was okay. And I lost it. There are maybe six people in the world who have ever seen me cry when it wasn't the result of something like getting hit in the head with a softball. And two of them are my parents. I hate crying in front of people, but that day I just couldn't hold it together any longer. That one question was all it took to break the surface tension.
She handed me a box of tissues and closed her office door. And I don't remember what she said, but I do remember that she helped rally some troops for me to make phone calls and try to contact a few more people. And as comforting as it was to realize that I wasn't alone and that there were people who were willing to help, what meant the most to me was simply that she had asked.
A lot of times it doesn't take much. You don't have to know what to say or what to do. We just want someone to care enough to ask, to open that door and say, "I'm here. I'm listening."