1. without worth; of no use, importance, or value; good-for-nothing: a worthless person…
— From: Dictionary.com
For those of us who have friends and family who struggle with chronic depression, this word just may be the most dangerous one in the dictionary.
It is often the one word they believe to be the most accurate description of themselves. And because they believe it, they believe that others believe it, often without any concrete evidence that this is true.
If they also struggle with chronic pain or other ongoing health conditions, this word is chiseled on their heart. It is indelible, and it gets reinforced on a daily basis.
Frequently, their physical condition limits their ability to be able to be with others, do things for or with others, or plan on anything. Because of this, they tend to live in self-imposed isolation, the loneliness of which only increases their negative sense of self worth. They may even pretend everything is fine.
It can become a vicious spiral they often cannot control and it can make them believe there is only one way to stop the pain of that loneliness.
Unfortunately, in today’s busy world, many “normal” people are too busy to notice the warning signs. We may be uncomfortable being around someone who is constantly feeling down or in pain, and so we avoid them.
We may have other things going on in our own lives that take priority, or we may feel too rushed or stressed to reach out to our depressed loved one.
We forget to call, or drop by. We forget (or choose not) to invite the depressed person out for lunch or to a party.
Even if that person most likely won’t be able to come because of some physical disability, it is important for them to be asked.
Even if they can’t participate for one reason or another, it takes little effort to simply ask, and you might be surprised at what they can do. Or what they will do. They might make the extra effort to join in if they believe their presence is valued, even if it is only for a short time.
And if they can’t, for whatever reason, at least they know you valued them enough to ask. That small gesture can sometimes be just enough to convince them there is a reason for them to continue the battle.
There are a thousand small ways we “normal” humans reach out to each other on a daily basis to let others know we value them, but it is all too easy to get sidetracked, to think that phone call, text or visit can wait for tomorrow. Or next week, next month. Next year.
This is when that word can become lethal. Because some of us find it really hard to keep fighting if we think we really are worth less.
Reach out. Now.
The life you save may be more valuable than you realize.