Harsh truth or gentle reminder. Small talk or deep meaningful conversation. Words have become humans main form of communicating the minor to the most important messages.
But words are not as powerful as we would like to believe. During a deep depression some feel a good talk and words of advice can snap a person back to reality. A good story of struggle with a happy ending will soon have person back to themselves.
Humans are not the only animal that suffers from mental health problems. Apes, bears, cats, dogs and even lemurs have been seen to have the mental struggles we like to think are unique to us. The lemur does not go and have a good conversion with another lemur who provides words of advice.
So if words are not the key to helping a fellow animal what is? I’m going to use our cousins to answer this. Apes will try and get the depressed individual to join their normal activities. This could be grooming or finding delicious bugs. The key is support. Not words or advice just simple, ‘hay, I’m here’.
The most powerful phrase in my opinion is ‘I’m fine’. This will turn anyone away from pressing an issue or prying any further. Fine is also the go to word for when you want to say the opposite of what you mean without saying what you mean. Fellow humans say I’m fine and the human knows this means your not fine but takes that as your fine despite knowing fine often means the opposite. Unless it’s a parking fine, this is always a parking fine. Do not think the fine is dismissing you, you need to pay it.
The truth is our actions, reactions and body language tell us more about how someone is doing than words. Staring for to long into nothing. Avoiding social situations. Avoiding eye contact.
Being able to find away in to a persons walls to help them is not always words. But more often than not, it’s just being there. To hug, to chill. Or to groom and hunt for delicious bugs. The key is time, looking for warning signs and being willing to see beyond the power of ‘ I’m fine’.