I was overwhelmed by the love and empathy that many of you expressed for “Just Existing,” the man who was hoping to fade away from life. Even if you don’t think people care, they do! Here are two of my favorite letters offering advice and encouragement.
Dear Annie: I am responding to today’s column signed by “Just Existing.” My heart goes out to this gentleman.
I want you to know that love is out there. You are never too old to find love — or for it to find you. Sounds like you need to add new “life” to your life. Some new activities should be on your agenda in areas in which you have an interest. Consider helping out at your library. They need all kinds of volunteers, and you’ll have an opportunity to meet people.
Or join a church. Finding a good church can be the key to all kinds of things — getting to know God, learning how to pray and linking up with a church family, which is all-powerful. Local theatre groups always need ticket takers, backstage help or ushers. Lastly, your local hospital couldn’t operate without its volunteers.
You are not alone. There are thousands, probably millions, of people who share your pain of loneliness and isolation. In fact, there’s probably a support group in your area for depression.
Please know this: You are enough. You have the ability to be a good friend because you know what it is to suffer depression and anxiety. Be the kind of friend you want to have.
I don’t know who you are or where you are. But please know that I am wishing you only the best in life.
— Praying for You
Dear Annie: This is in reply to “Just Existing.” Sometimes life is heartbreaking, like a country-western song. But remember, country-western songs also tell stories about people who overcome hard times, people who become successes.
You can take more control in your life. I second Annie’s suggestion that you find the right therapist and the right fit in an AA group. I also think you might find a social group by using the web to search for your ZIP code and the words “meet up.” There are a variety of meet-up groups, and one could be just right for you.
Being active outdoors in good weather helped me very much. You might find that all the walking you do will help you feel better, too. Find things to enjoy as you walk, such as spring and summer flowers, children playing outside or the displays in shop windows.
I suggest you see your doctor, or find a doctor if you don’t have one. Get a checkup, and ask to have your vitamin B-12 level checked. You say you’re older, and older folks can sometimes have lower B-12 levels. Treating that made a huge difference for me.
Also, see your dentist and have your teeth cared for. And while you’re at the doctor’s and the dentist’s offices, practice making pleasant, good-humored small talk with the staff. I get email jokes daily, and those help break the ice in many situations. These pleasantries don’t always become conversations, but they often do. And the more often they do, the better your social skills will become.
I was rejected as a child by most people, including my own family. I didn’t get the chance to develop social skills, either, but I began to work on them after age 40, when I decided to change my life. That was decades ago!
My point is that this is no time for you to give up. The healthier and more active you are, the better life will look, and the more you will want to stay around. Keep reminding yourself of your successes, and expect to make more of them. You wrote to Annie, so some part of you must want to live and be happy. I wish you all the very best.
— You Can Do It!
Annie Lane, a graduate of New York Law School and New York University, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Email questions to email@example.com.