Why didn’t you reach out?

One of the largest parts of breaking a stigma is education. The more we know about something the less we fear it. Some things are really hard to understand though. When it comes to the thought process of a mental health issue understanding is often complicated because the person experiencing it can struggle to understand it well themselves at times. People have expressed this to me before and I know this has certainly been true in my own experience.  So I want to share one of the aspects I have struggled with. Reaching out for help. So if you struggle with it as well you can know you are not alone. And if you know someone who struggles with this then maybe this will help you to connect.


I got a message today from a friend. It was a meme that said, “Being mentally ill is weird, I can go through traumatic stuff and maintain a poker face but then have a mental breakdown over losing a pen.”

My response: “True story.”

This is one of the things that I have found to be difficult to express effectively to people who do not struggle with their mental health. I have been in some very tense situations in my life, situations that have impacted me directly, where I have been able to stay calm and think clearly. To the point that people comment on it saying things like, “I don’t know how you do it.”, or “I am so glad you where the one who handled that, I don’t think I could have done it.”  Yet at the same time, I have started panicking because I was already at the grocery store and I couldn’t decide what to make for dinner. The pressure of choosing from all of the possibilities available to me on the store shelves was too much for me to handle.

I have had people say, “Why didn’t you talk to someone?”

It is hard to tell someone I am really struggling and then have to say why. It is embarrassing to tell someone what is going on in my brain at times. And if I think about calling out every time I have negative thoughts!?!? I would never stop calling out. And I don’t want to burn you out. I don’t want you to think of me and associate that with “So much drama.”

So I feel stuck. I know I should reach out. I have been told to reach out. I tell other people to reach out. But when it comes down to it, when I have to actually pick up the phone, it is so hard to do. I wonder what you are going to think. I wonder if you are going to roll your eyes at me. My paranoia makes me wonder what you tell your friends about me.

I just want you to understand that. I know that part of the reason I so often feel alone is because of my choosing not to reach out when I need to. I know that there are people who love me and want to help and would never roll their eyes at my number coming up on their caller ID. I know this. Yet there is a part of my brain that asks, “How much more will they put up with?”  What if I go from just feeling alone to actually being alone? I want you to take care of yourself and set up boundaries. I also want to not take it personally when you do.

I want you to know that I am trying. I want you to know that this is hard for me; harder than it may seem. I want you to be patient with me. I also don’t want you to take it personally when I don’t get it right. I really want you to know that I am trying. Sometimes I will need you to remind me to try. Let me know you care. Let me know that the thoughts in my head saying “Don’t talk” are not voices I should listen too.

I want you to know that this is just as confusing for me as this probably sounds to you. My life is a series of paradox. So I don’t often get it either. That is ok. We don’t have to solve the problems. Just help me figure out how to phrase them. Or maybe just let me ramble on while I try to figure out how to phrase them. Then one day I am going to call you up and say, “I filled out a form by myself, and I didn’t freak out at all!” And you will be happy for me. And I will know that you genuinely are happy for me, because you will know how much it mattered to me. We will get to enjoy hope, because we were able to first share in the struggle.

Thank you for that.


Nate Stewart

National Director of Mental Health for Celebrate Recovery

5 thoughts on “Why didn’t you reach out?

  1. People have asked me this question too and I’m the past, it’s because there are too many layers to peel before you can understand why I’m distraught over losing my keys verses a major crisis. That’s one reason, it’s just too complex. Based on my experience, I can handle a crisis easier than a lesser event because tuning out my feelings and going numb has always been my self-defense mechanism. Specifically during a traumatic event. So, it’s behavior established at a young age and carried over. It can be a good or bad mechanism. It’s subjective. Thanks!


  2. I signed look forward to this Blog each week. This is one that spoke directly to my heart. Thank you for putting into words how I feel at times. Celebrate Recovery is such a blessing in our lives and Nate, you sir have a gift.


  3. Thank you for explaining what goes on in my mind and what my heart feels. I hope my story will help others like you have helped me by sharing your story. God bless


  4. I am blogging about my Celebrate Recovery journey as well. Completed one step study already and highly involved. Consider following me to spread the Celebrate Recovery word. Thanks!


  5. Why didn’t I reach out? Because when I mention a problem at C R I hear God will take care of it.


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