Wellness Check – Why We Need To Check In On Each Other
“We are not here on earth to see through each other. We are here to see each other through.”
I was in my sunroom this past August, when I heard a woman’s voice call out, “Knock, knock!” at my front door.
I got up from where I was sitting and walked, rather gingerly, to the front door. A friend of mine was standing on my porch, holding an armful of fresh veggies from her garden.
“Wellness check!” she said, cheerfully. “Just wanted to check in and see how you were doing.”
I’d spent the previous two weeks in bed, riding out a nasty batch of cluster migraines ☹ But I laughed out loud at her use of the term, “Wellness Check.”
“I’m okay,” I said. “Still moving pretty slowly…but the worst of it is over.”
“Good!” she said and handed me a small mountain of produce.
I share this story not just because it was a sweet gesture by my friend to check in on me. I share this story because the act of doing a “Wellness Check” could be far more important than we might realize.
Although I laughed when she called her visit a “Wellness Check,” I couldn’t help but think back to an incident many years ago when another friend’s perfectly timed phone call saved my life.
I was thirty-two at the time and my husband John had died suddenly three months before. Thankfully, I had been surrounded by dozens (literally) of concerned and compassionate people during those three months. Hourly wellness checks had gradually become daily wellness checks. And quite frankly, by the time the three-month marker rolled around, I’d had enough of the damn wellness checks. I was sick and tired of being bothered all the time.
But then wouldn’t you know it, I hit a grief speed bump one cold January night and was catapulted headfirst into the pit of despair…the dark night of the soul, as it were. One moment I was reasonably okay; the next moment I was emotionally and mentally circling the bowl…and just like that, taking my own life suddenly seemed like a viable option. A way out of the pain. To hell with the consequences—both on my soul and the hearts & lives of those I would be leaving behind.
For in my experience, when the idea of suicide raised its ugly head—for the first and last time in my life—there was not much in the way of rational thought going on anymore.
And so there I was, sitting in my basement all those years ago, staring at the fire while calmly sorting out the how (John’s painkillers, leftover from an old injury), when the damn phone rang…multiple times.
But I let all the calls go to voicemail. I was past the point of wanting help. I just wanted the hurt to be over.
Then I heard a male friend’s voice leaving a message on my answering machine and just like that, I decided to pick up the phone. Sure enough, it was yet another damn wellness check. It was a short conversation…but enough to break the spell. Enough of a wake-up call to shock me into the reality of what I was actually contemplating.
After our conversation ended, I turned off the fire and went upstairs to bed.When I woke up the next morning, I made a promise to myself that I would NEVER let my thoughts get that out of control again. Click To Tweet
My friend’s wellness check didn’t save my life. I saved my life. But if he hadn’t called when he did, I might not have been around the next morning to start taking the necessary steps to getting my mental health back in order.
A wellness check doesn’t just say “I care.” A wellness check can often be exactly what is needed to break someone’s treacherous train of thought…the kind that is leading the thinker right off the end of the end of the track—often at lightening speed.
As I wrote about in a recent blog, “The Leo Club,” people can, and do, take their own lives when the pain becomes too much and the ability to think rationally has gone out the window. Sometimes a person has made up their mind and there is nothing that can be done – by anyone – to stop the train.
But sometimes the train can be stopped.If you have someone in your life that you are concerned about, please take a moment and reach out. Click To Tweet
You may never know just how much they need to hear from you. Timing is everything. All we have to do is listen to our intuition.
Wellness checks can, and do, save lives.
Maryanne Pope is the author of “A Widow’s Awakening.” She also writes screenplays, playscripts and blogs. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and a Director with the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To receive her blog, “Weekly Words of Wisdom,” please subscribe here.