Starving For Empathy
We as people are starved, depraved of empathy these days. There is a desperate need for connection in this world. We need casual conversation and deep conversation. It is a desert out there. Honestly, the loneliness epidemic has now become a loneliness pandemic that is rivaling Covid. The loneliness pandemic is leading to drug use and abuse, alcoholism, depression, and thoughts of suicide.
I know—it is hard out there for…
a pimp, a ho, a hustler or an entrepreneur, moms, dads, and children, men and women, girls and boys, the rich and the poor, the young people and the old people, the white people, the black people, the brown people, and all of the other people in between.
2nd Place Winner of the MICDS Magazine’s Empathy Through Art Competition – Hannah Keener, 2019
We are yearning for physical contact,
especially in this new Covid era. Loneliness is pervasive, and touch is as essential as a mask or ventilator. We are emotionally destitute—having been robbed of the human aspect. We are deprived of love, compassion, and empathy. We are starving and we are desolate. (Click the arrow to read more)
We need real, deep, meaningful conversations in our lives, and the kinds of interactions we have been having are just not cutting it. More than ever, we need to be connecting with real people in person. We need to stop using social media as a tool to feel connection.
We need to be reaching out to real people. We need love, affection, community, empathy, and understanding. We need to be reaching out to our real friends, family, and acquaintances. We need to reach out to the estranged or distant friends and relatives. We need to let bygones be bygones, get over our shit, and just start the conversation anew. We need to start forming real connections with the people around us…our friends, family, neighbors, soccer moms, grocery clerks, and Lyft drivers.
Let’s get past the superficial niceties, the mundane chit-chat, and start talking about what is real.
Let’s open up our next conversation with more than just a
“How are you doing?”
And instead say in response:
“No, how are you really doing? How have you been holding up? I know this past year has been rough, I’ve been having ( fill in the blank ) challenges. I haven’t been sleeping well. Have you been able to sleep? What’s keeping you up at night?”
Let’s start fostering real empathy and real connection. We need and deserve true empathy and deep connections in our lives. We just need to start the conversation.
Let’s Talk Depression
How is it that depression is so pervasive, yet we never talk about it? In fact, depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States among people ages 15-44, and sadly two-thirds of people with depression do not actively seek or receive proper treatment. Depression, much like suicide or abortion, still carries so much stigma, but we need to destigmatize it and start talking about it.
For those who personally deal with depression, one of the problems is that they do not care to admit to others that they have succumbed to depression, it makes the depressed person feel like she is admitting defeat. Opening up about being depressed may feel like an admission that you are not as tough as the other people that are also dealing with a lot of challenges in their life. So consequently, people seldom talk about depression. Depressed individuals opt out of sharing their depressive episodes with their friends and family. Depressed individuals often keep the sadness to themselves, because admitting that depression took over in their life is akin admitting that they are weak…and many people are too proud to make that kind of admission. (Click the arrow to read more)
Another thing that keeps people from talking about depression is that most people don’t want to be associated with being the Debbie Downer at the party. There are some people who are depressive types who feel better when they bring other people down with them, but I honestly feel that the majority of people dealing with depression feel like they are burdening others when they reach out. They feel like they don’t have much to contribute to the conversation. Even though one of the best things that a depressed person can do is to reach out to friends and family and talk to them, they often don’t because they don’t want to share that version of themselves to their friends and family.
If a friend or family member finally gets up the courage to reach out to you when she is depressed, please just talk with her, even if you’re doing most of the talking. Listen to her, even when sometimes all you are listening to is silence. Check in on her daily. Call, or even better, visit your depressed friend. Force her to join you for a walk outside, so she will breathe in the fresh air, get moving, feel the sunlight on her face, and talk to another human being in person. Depression often goes hand in hand with isolation and loneliness; so, the best thing you can do is to be there for your friend and provide a listening, sympathetic, non-judgmental ear.
Not all depression looks the same. I have been the type of depressed where I am crying all the time; and I have also been the type of depressed that leaves you listless and lacking in emotion. I have also been the type of depressed that makes your legs go weak and leaves you sleeping all day, incapacitated and unable to do much of anything. Honestly, the listless, non-emotive depression is sometimes worse than the crying all day variation. At least when you’re crying, you’re getting something out of your system. But, when I have that dull, flat affect depression; I actually have difficulty trying to shed a tear. Sometimes wish I could cry because at least I’d be feeling something.
I made a mistake a long time ago, one that I believe is common for many people: I fell in love. Although falling in love is great in concept, when you fall in love, that suggests a dependency on the other person. Your love for that person is so strong that it makes you fall to the ground. You need that person to hold you up and bolster you and provide you support.
People say ignorance is bliss, but I don’t believe that for a second. Ignorance is sticking your head in the sand and pretending like the world isn’t moving around you. Ignorance is fantasy, a denial of truth, and general lack of acknowledgment of that which is real.
Ignorance allows people to be cold, callous, and devoid of feeling.
Moms need to put their oxygen mask on before assisting others. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t possibly serve our children, family, and friends. I have forgotten this important piece of advice countless times and it has left me depressed and unable to carry out my daily functions with any energy. Sometimes it’s hard to be there 100%. It is hard to be the Pinterest perfect mom.
We as people are starved, depraved of empathy these days. There is a desperate need for connection in this world. We need casual and deep conversations. It is a desert out there. Honestly, the loneliness epidemic has become a loneliness pandemic that is rivaling Covid. The loneliness pandemic is leading to drug abuse, alcoholism, depression, and thoughts of suicide.
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