How do I reach out for support without feeling like a burden?

I haven’t been doing well for quite a while now and I feel like people are getting fed up with me. How do I get rid of this feeling that people are impatient with me when I reach out for support?


Many need very little more than to be heard.

06-13-23-28-43 / 06


Dear Diner,

You may have seen the famous, and perhaps slightly over-lauded film, Forrest Gump. There is a highly quoted part of the film in which the protagonist claims, in his Southern drawl, that “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” I’d like to begin my guest fortune by taking issue with this quote. Because, yes, life may be like a box of chocolates, but that means that more often than not, you’re going to land on ones filled with some strange bitter liquor that you’d rather have avoided. Firstly, then, I’m sorry you’ve landed on more than your fair share of less-than-nice chocolates, but please be assured that you’re not alone. I can promise that there’ll be a sweet one eventually. Such is, after all, the nature of random assortments.

Your question, however, is a little more specific than that, and I’m going to attempt to address it systematically and simply. Right now, Diner, you might be regretting sharing your problems and feelings with those around you, and I’m here to reassure you that there is, generally, absolutely nothing wrong with doing so. Indeed, psychologists the whole world over unanimously highlight the key nature of sharing, communicating, and talking about problems during the process of therapeutic recuperation. We all know what they say about a problem shared, and it’s not wrong. Reaching out for support is more than what most people have the courage and determination to do, so you need not feel badly about requiring a listening ear. I think, as long as you know that you would do the same for them in their time of need, you can rest in the knowledge that your true friends will love you, support you, distract you, and, maybe most importantly, tell you when they think it would benefit you to talk about something else.

With that being said, I have an important reminder for you. My allusion to the box of chocolates at the beginning is indicative of the fact that everyone has their own sadnesses. Everyone has one or two or twenty-five really, really bad chocolates in the box. The truth is that the human condition is such that we’re all just fumbling for a way to deal with our own problems before dealing with those of others, and very few of us really know what we’re doing. So, yes, in all honesty, sometimes it’s possible that people might not know how to help you anymore, depending on what’s going on in their lives - but that’s not your fault, and there’s no shortage of ways around it.

Therapy, for one, dearest anonymous diner, does absolute wonders. The impartiality of the therapist is crucial to being able to shed a new and different light on the problems which may be present in your life. It is the safest of spaces, free of biases or personal implications, and I recommend it highly. It is, quite literally, impossible for you to burden your therapist, since the clinician-patient relationship requires them to help and listen to you until you are done talking. And, let me tell you, they are very much willing and interested in doing so. Consider using the therapist’s space to your advantage, in the knowledge that it is there to help and nothing else.

Secondly, I think it’s important to be selective in the information you choose to share with your friends and family, with which of these people you choose to share it, and at what point in time. You might know that you have some friends in whom you can confide with more ease than others, and incidentally, those are likely your closer friends, who I would hope have huge reserves of patience and love when it comes to helping one that they love. Talk to them, share with them, by all means. But, so too, foster a two-way caring, honest and safe relationship with those people, and make sure to cultivate the aspects of your friendship with them that are not connected to what you are going through. A reminder that life goes on despite the horrors going on in your head might just be what the doctor ordered, and it is these friendships which can help to put that all in perspective.

Remember dear diner, that you are loved. As long as you show your love and gratitude to the people who are helping you through this time of need, I am sure they will happily continue to extend their hand to you, and pick you up from the ground. Just know that one day, you’ll likely have to extend your hand too. As long as they know that, then I would think that you can rest easy in the knowledge that they are simply helping you find the sweetest chocolates, as you will do for them one day soon.

All my love,

Vix

The wonderful, talented, and published Vix Jensen once again lends her voice to help answer an Order. You can read her other Fortune about having tough conversations with kids here.