What are your thoughts on the cliche – “The universe is trying to talk to you?”
Humans run a wide range in the coincidence through divine intervention spectrum. The Universe talking to you falls somewhere closer to the divine intervention side. Living the majority of my life as a Christian who relies on research to guide my decision making, I have been trained to respectfully listen to this entire spectrum of perspectives without rolling my eyes. So I appreciate the Biblical call to pray without ceasing, but I also appreciate the cause and effect nature of reality.
I find that isolation is one of the many effects and causes of mental health struggles. I think part of that isolation is a desire to pause life, figure out how to stop having symptoms, and then play again once the struggle is over.
During physical sickness, that pause for me is often grabbing a 2 liter of sprite, a few cans of chicken noodle soup, crackers, and some Tylenol, and hanging on the couch for a couple days to recover. After the temperature is normal and the fatigue lifts, I press play and am ready to get back to work.
Society allows the time out and generally accepts that getting back to normal is a routine part of getting sick. We are expected to isolate and get well. There’s even a growing use of the term “presenteeism” – which relates to the issues caused by working while sick and the negative impacts it can have on getting others sick. Since the pandemic, presenteeism is being addressed by encouraging more self care before getting back to work.
Mental health struggles don’t often work the same way. Symptoms don’t reliably go away in 48 hours – sometimes they may hang round for 48 days or 48 months.
During a recent struggle with feelings of isolation, I went to a mental health support group called Faithful Friends. We ate together and decided to play a game called Mad Gab. The game focuses on trying to unscramble three lines of words that sound like nonsense, but can be phonetically aligned into a common saying. For example, try to figure this one out:
I will say again, a little faster:
The answer is:
Keep your eyes on it.
At the Faithful Friends meeting, this was one of the Mad Gabs:
Hawk Howl Own
Did you figure it out? Here it is again:
Hawk Howl Own
The answer to this one is:
You’ll never walk alone.
The 8 of us in the room played the game for a joyous 2 hours. One of my friends in attendance said he couldn’t remember the last time he smiled that much.
He is a music aficionado. He related the “You’ll Never Walk Alone” gab to a song by the same name from the 1940s. As he talked, it occurred to me that lyrics from the song are passionately chanted at Liverpool’s Premier League Soccer matches. We listened to the Liverpool crowd singalong that is included in the Pink Floyd song called “Fearless.” We then read the lyrics from the original Rodgers and Hammerstein 1945 musical Carousel. The chorus is:
Walk on, Walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
The conversations that percolated around this song were very fortifying..
The next evening, I began reading The Antropocene Reviewed, a book by John Green. The first chapter is titled “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Ha! I instantly sent a message to my music aficionado friend. He and I may share mental health diagnoses that bring feelings of isolation at times, but we also know the joy of rediscovering how connected we really are.
Physical recovery and mental health recovery are very different. In one, we are expected to isolate. In the other, we need to be encouraged to join a community of acceptance. We may not think that the universe ever talks to us, but we need to know that there are plenty of others who will.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone” song
Appears twice this week