© 2017 by Anthea Van Der Pluym. Proudly created with Wix.com

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How important is human connection to our mental health?

January 11, 2018

Trauma, divorce, loss or disease can shake our foundations and leave us feeling vulnerable, emotional,  and shaken by our own fragile mortality. Our thoughts and emotions can become pretty messed up.   

 

So what do we do with our vulnerability?  Do we cut it off, toughen up and put up impenetrable barriers to protect ourselves? Do we withdraw from the world and lick our wounds?  Or do we allow our scary vulnerability, and open up our soft underbelly to others?

 

Logic says toughen up. Withdraw and protect yourself. I say don't. Soften, don't harden - vulnerability is our greatest strength.

 

Let me explain what I mean by this in my story.  When the hospital allowed me to go home after my skin grafts,  I had been through more than a month of having my wounds scrubbed clean daily over a third of my body, I had just had 250 staples holding my skin to my body painfully removed, and the hospital was now saying it was time for the next phase of recovery.  I wanted to be home, I craved home, at the same time, leaving the safety of my hospital bed I felt incredibly fearful, and exposed.   I was still severely incapacitated, and home is where I had been attacked by my son.   My thoughts were a mess, my fears and enormous pain very real.

 

At home I was not king of my castle anymore - I needed assistance with meals, with bathing, with dressing. I could not go out of the house as the UV rays damaged the skin grafts and hurt me even more. At home,  I was completely dependent  -  I had to trust others to help me.  I could push them away or I could let them help. Help me stand, help me sit, help me eat, help me sleep. 

 

At home  - nights were frightening as I was in no position to defend myself physically, and every noise woke me with visions of horror.  Sleeplessness added to my vulnerability and insecurity. 

 

But home is where I healed, right there where the fire happened - it all changed for me,  because I chose to allow people to get involved.  I welcomed it - I knew that without love and caring, I was not going to get through this.   I gave up my barriers, opened up my vulnerable self and allowed them to love me and care for me in the best way they knew how. 

 

This was a very big healing step to take. 

 

Over the next few months, neighbours, friends and colleagues arrived, bringing meals, flowers,  and cakes.  We did not cook a meal for six weeks, A nurse volunteered to dress my wounds daily in the privacy of my home. Security people jumped in and burglar proofed the house till it was impenetrable. My hair dresser came to my home and cut my hair until I could go out in public again. My company held my job and supported us.   My psychologist arrived. My art teacher arrived, a wonderful lady who had been married to a prolific painter who had lost both feet in a fire,  she understood my journey.  The universe conspired to honour my vulnerability with care, and I gratefully accepted this.

 

The people who arrived all had this in common - they listened, they cared, and they were there for me.  They gave me their love, their attention and their compassion, even though none of us had answers,  or understood what the future would look like.  Their love was what brought the change...it gave me connection, human connection, emotional involvement that DID NOT HURT ME. It restored my faith in life, in people and in myself. 

 

Human connection is everything!

 

The greatest gift we have as human beings is our ability to care, to love, to get involved.  Healing starts in the head, and it makes its way out to the body.  Without knowing that you have what it takes to get through your challenge and that it will all work out, you can't get out the starting blocks.  But knowing this, you can.   So the key is when you don't believe this for yourself, the love and care of others bring this to you. People's faith  become your strength, your faith until you are able to be strong. 

 

Human connection is how we heal. 

 

My greatest learning and understanding that I have come to out of this event is that with love and friendship we can all heal. 

 

So,  reach out today and genuinely connect with someone.  Trust the connection. 

 

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