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Many young people who are grappling with anxiety and depression have been doing it alone. File Photo: PEXELS

We are better together


The other day I heard the timeless song by Simon and Garfunkel I am a Rock. My dad used to absolutely love listening to them and the likes of Pink Floyd.
I think we often forget that music has power and that the lyrics we are singing can run deeper within us than we care to realise. As I pondered the lyrics, the song brought a sadness within me.
“I am alone. Gazing from my window to the streets below. On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow. I am a rock, I am an island.”
From time to time, or more often than I care to admit, I meet young people who are grappling with anxiety and depression, and they have been doing it alone.
They feel a sense of shame that they cannot deal with this stuff themselves. They are the ones who have worked hard to mask it, to pretend everything is okay.
The ones who catch us off guard and suddenly have gone from seemingly successful to falling apart overnight.
In part they are people who have believed the fairy tale of the self-made person. The rags to riches story. The lie that we can be an island.
Not one of us is self-made. We all stand here today because someone cared for us when we were young. They may have caused us some trauma, but we are still here because of them.
And today I remember a lady named Lynne Chaffey. In part the youth work I do started because I shared a dream and she said “let’s do it”.
She was a main catalyst that moved me into the hard grind of turning dreams to reality. We all need each other.
In our work with young people, we understand that research shows we are hardwired for connection. And so we try to include parents and teachers in the journey as best we can with our resources.
Today as I ponder the struggle of many I meet along the way, as I ponder the people who have helped me get to where I am; my hope is that we can all lay down a bit of pride and consider who are the people in my life that I can reach out to for support. Because regardless of whether we are experiencing success or sorrow right now, the reality is that we are better together, stronger together, and all the more richer for it.
– Michael Wilkes is a Living Well Trust Youth Worker