Support Systems


Who do you turn to in times of need? Friends, relatives, help hotlines?

We all need a support system. No matter how strong we may think we are, it is so valuable to have someone we can turn to and say "I'm not okay". 

I had a panic attack again recently. I was tired and sick, and when I started crying I completely lost control of my breathing. Having a panic attack is one of the scariest experiences: I can't move, I can barely speak, and I feel completely lost and alone. Yet my darling friend, seeing how upset I was, sat with me throughout it all. She called a trusted staff member of my university who, in her free time, sat on the phone with me for 20 minutes just breathing in and out with me, trying to help me breathe. These are my support systems in Abu Dhabi, the people I trust when I can't manage by myself. And because I had met with that person the very same day she knew why I was so upset, and knew how to help. I'm lucky to have support systems in both my homes, family and friends who are only a phone call away.

I've said it before and I will continue to say it: vulnerability helps us to get the help we need. I was so vulnerable in that moment but there were people there to hold my hand, and it made the world of difference. Without them I would have been lost and alone.

So why am I writing this post?
Well I think it's beneficial to identify your support systems before you need them. Think about who you trust, and who is best likely to help you in a variety of situations. Knowing in advance who to call when it feels like the world is falling apart makes it oh so easier when the time comes. Before, when I've known that my usual heroes are away, I've actually spoken to other close friends and said "Hey, since x and y is going on and Z isn't here I might be a little extra emotionally needy this week - hope that's okay!" and you know what the response has been? Varieties of "of course" or "I'm here when you need me" followed by many love hearts. You can make it sound slightly humorous but they'll understand what you're trying to say.

And think about it from the other end too: who's support are you? Are they finding things particularly hard at the moment? Why not check in with them to see how they're doing. I can't tell you how much I appreciate friends who follow up when I've confided worries in them.

 Essentially what I'm trying to tell you is don't hesitate to ask for help or to offer it, you're not a burden nor intruding. We are all so much stronger when we are supporting, and being supported by, those around us.