How to Build Your Personal Support Team and Why It's Important
One of the most important things I’ve found for getting through a difficult season is being surrounded by community. We weren't built to live life in solitude, but so often that’s what depression convinces us is best: to hide away, keep our problems to ourselves and pretend like everything's alright. We become expert deceivers, but at a high cost to ourselves.
This fear of burdening others is absurd. In fact, God tells us in the Bible to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV). It’s actually a commandment to be with each other in the pain. But this can’t happen if we aren’t willing to be vulnerable and let others into our struggle.
“But I always feel like I’m too much for people.”
“But they’ve already heard my problems. I should be over this by now.”
“They’re already so busy. I don’t want to bother them.”
Have you heard yourself giving any of these excuses lately? Have you been trying to convince yourself that you can figure it out on your own?
I know I did way too many times because I was afraid. I was afraid of people seeing that I didn’t really have it all together. But think about it. If your best friend needed help and was in your same circumstance, wouldn’t you want them to reach out to you?
You are not responsible for what others take upon themselves. It is their responsibility to set their own boundaries and know how much they can handle in their own lives. But even if they can’t be a support in that moment, they might be able to refer you to someone who can. By not reaching out, you are ignoring the fact that they probably want to help and shutting the door on an opportunity for them to show God’s love and compassion. Worst of all, you are left feeling isolated and alone.
So I’m challenging you to do one of the bravest acts a person can do. Let down your wall and be vulnerable.
One step is to build a personal support team. Having a team usually means I always have somebody to talk to. Even if one person cannot answer the phone or is busy at that moment, it doesn’t send me into a crisis because I have someone else I can call to get the support I need.
Here are my recommendations:
Therapist/Counselor - This person is a licensed professional. If you are in a depressive episode I recommend looking through your local Psychology Today page and finding someone to see, even if it’s just temporary. This is an awesome resource because everything you say is completely confidential and you never have to worry about something being “too heavy” for them to handle. Nothing you share with them is going to startle them or catch them off guard.
Christian Mentor - Faith can be a very tough thing to navigate during a depressive episode, and it’s important to have someone that you trust to talk to and remind you of God’s truths in the midst of all the darkness. I recommend trying to find at least one person who has had some experience with depression or mental health as they will better know how to help you or who to refer you to if the scope of the situation is beyond their experience.
Close Friends/Family members - I personally have several friends that are my go-to girls when I’m struggling. Some of them have experienced depression and anxiety themselves and some have simply been a huge support to me through those times. Nevertheless, these are people that have proven themselves to be loyal and trustworthy and who I know will see my vulnerability as a gift to be honored and held with care. (I recommend having at least 3)
Crisis Line - These are the people that you do not know but are there to support you in a crisis. They are a great resource if nobody on your team is available or you can’t bring yourself to explain what’s really going on to someone who knows you. They can help talk you through a scary situation and be a calming presence until your emotions are back to manageable.
These are your people. I recommend writing their numbers on a note card and putting it somewhere that’s easily accessible. Next to your nightstand, or pinned up on your wall are a few good places. That way, if you are trying to convince yourself that you can handle the stress on your own, you will be reminded of the team of support you have waiting for you just at the other end of the receiver.
Note: You should have several crisis lines written down at the end of this card including your local Emergency Room number. I recommend writing down the Crisis Text Line (741741) and choosing one other that you would be most comfortable calling. Click here to go to our resource page for more examples.
As important as it is to have people in our corner to support us through the difficult days and seasons, it’s also vitally important to know how to care for ourselves. I will be writing a future blog about how to make a personalized self care box that can be extremely useful in the midst of a crisis. Subscribe to When Grace Whispers to receive a notification of my next blog and any future postings or events.
As always, thank you so much for reading and keep looking for His whispers of grace, especially in the difficult times. I promise, He is there.