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Reach out for help when in need of support
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Reach out for help when in need of support

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POWHATAN – Back in March, I had a bad day.

My head hurt, I couldn’t concentrate, and nothing seemed right. Now, I don’t usually put all of my business out on Facebook, but, on this particular day, I felt so alone as I sat at my desk trying to get some work done. So, I posted a simple message asking friends for prayers and some words of encouragement.

I cried (in a good way this time) as I read through the remarks and well wishes left by family and friends. They helped – every single one of them. Even after I had moved past that bad day, friends continued to send me love and encouragement.

In retrospect, and knowing what some of my loved ones are facing right now, it seems like such a trivial problem. But when your emotions are high, even small things can seem huge and overwhelming.

I thought about that moment today (April 28) after a few things happened in the normal course of the day. And it was not because having a bad day was such a momentous problem, but because having that love and support, even it was only through some comments online and a few concerned phone calls, had a huge impact on helping me realize that there were people there for me as I went through that bad day.

First, I visited the Free Clinic of Powhatan that morning to do a Facebook Live tour of the new clinic. We have already highlighted the clinic in a few recent stories, but there is nothing like following executive director Connie Moslow around as she gives you a tour. There is such love and pride in her voice when she talks about the clinic, which is largely made possible because of individual donors, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to let her show off the great new space.

We made a special point of highlighting the clinic’s efforts to help those having mental health issues, especially local students in need. The clinic is working with the public school system to offer children and teens trying to cope with the COVID crisis. Their counselor is currently seeing students at Powhatan High School and is accepting referrals for Powhatan Middle School.

If your child is struggling with depression, academic or social anxiety, anger management, substance abuse or ADHD, the Free Clinic may be able to help. School counselors can provide an immediate referral or call 804-598-5637 for an appointment.

Then, on the way home I had a (hands-free) phone conversation with someone who is very special to me and is going through a rough time because of personal relationships. This person feels constantly attacked and criticized by people who should be offering love and support, and that kind of dejection can build up over time.

The person is one of several friends and family members I know going through rough times right now as they struggle with some truly horrible issues – infidelity, divorce, death of a loved one, children acting out, suicidal thoughts, COVID-related pressures, illness, extreme money problems, and so much more. I try to provide a listening ear when I can, and when I do sometimes I feel so inadequate to be of any use in the face of such pain and grief.

And in some cases, maybe I am not enough. I can be a listening ear and will continue to offer that to people I love, but, sometimes, people need more than that, and it is OK.

When I was looking for resources to refer people to for this column and thinking about May being Mental Health Awareness Month – whose purpose is to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness – I came across the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s focus for the month: “You Are Not Alone.” It makes me so sad to think about how many more people we might have had in our lives longer if we could truly make them believe that they weren’t alone in the problems they faced.

Even if it seems like no one around can help or will understand, there are so many resources out there that are just a click or a phone call away. I am going to list a few, but I urge readers who may be going through a tough time and need someone to talk with to reach out and seek help.

Just a few of the MANY resources available are: National Alliance on Mental Health (1-800-950-NAMI); Anxiety and Depression Association of America (240-485-1001); American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (1-800-273-TALK), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (1-800-662-HELP).

Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.

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