Going home from work, I tend to grab a newspaper or find a reading material to keep me distracted until my stop. Sitting across 3 strangers, I found myself interested to listen in their conversation. I know what you’re going to say, and yes it’s not necessarily something I do often. Besides, I’m sure you’ve unintentionally listened in a conversation or to while commuting before!
Anyway, their conversation started with a little small talk. You know, the usual, “how have you been?” and “so, what are you up to now?” They all responded quite candidly yet a little constrained. Of course, we wouldn’t necessarily spill all of our dirty laundry to an old friend we kinda knew and kinda hung out with in high school. Nonetheless, one of them asked an unexpected question. She asked, “and your mental health? Are you ok?” This was the exact moment that got my attention. I briefly shifted my eyes from the page of the newspaper I was reading and glanced at them. Pretending to not listen to their conversation (because you should even though you are listening), I heard her friend reply that he was okay. She replied by openly saying that she has been seeing a counselor the past few months. She didn’t give a specific reason for going or at least I didn’t hear it. Her friend was very supportive and expressed his own experiences with going to a counselor and maintaining good mental health.
After hearing the positive response that she got from a friend she just randomly ran into on the subway, I bent my head down with a soft smile on my face and continued to read my newspaper. Experiencing anxiety from time to time, it wasn’t something that I openly disclosed to my close group of friends until recently. I feel very lucky to have a supportive group of friends, reminding me to think twice about the negative thoughts I might be having. They have taught me the value of mindfulness and practicing mindful meditations when I’m feeling bogged down.
Show compassion to others and yourself.