Imagine that there is a child who is trapped inside a building in a war zone. You want to get the child out but the child is so afraid that he has locked himself inside. He has locked the doors and put barricades over the windows. You will use any tool necessary to get inside.
I think the same thing about mental-health help. I’ll use any tool to get inside. When we are suffering with grief, anxiety, trauma, and addiction, it is like we are in a war zone. We are so afraid to leave our “houses”, which are all of our familiar habits. We won’t leave, even if it is the familiar habits that are harming us. The devil you know is better than the one you don’t, right?
So when you are afraid you will retreat to the things you know best, even if it is the things you know best that are causing you pain. Often they are only relieving the surface of the pain, and not the source. They aren’t addressing the cause of the pain. So the problem just builds and builds.
People who are suffering from such problems all need help, but sadly we think they need to ask for it to get it. We let them struggle alone in silence. The last thing they are going to do is ask for help, because that kind of thinking is beyond them. In fact, thinking that there is a way out and that they are worthy of help would be very healing. The fact that they think their cause is hopeless is often how they got stuck in that hole to start off with. When people are having heart attacks, we don’t wait for them to ask for help before we take them to the hospital. Why do we wait for people who are having soul-attacks to ask for help?
I envision a place where people can learn how to break themselves out of their own houses. Perhaps we have to slip instructions through the windows. Perhaps we have to play music so they can hear it through the cracks in the walls. Whatever works. If it is a book on child rearing or something from Rumi or Lao Tsu or Buddha or Jesus or AA Twelve Steps, I don’t care. Whatever works to get them out of that house, because that house is killing them. We have to free people and teach them how to be alive.
People often trap themselves inside addiction and bad coping methods out of grief. They feel a sense of loss over a divorce, over moving, over a job loss, for instance. Any loss is a death. Death, and thus grief, comes in many forms. And if not dealt with, it manifests itself in just as many forms. You can’t ignore grief and loss. It has to be processed.
But so many of us get stuck inside our grief and we don’t know how to get it out. In fact, we often don’t know that we should get it out. We think it is normal and it keeps us safe, while meanwhile it chokes us.