Take 5

Recent hardships in the lives of people close to me have made me remember a blog post I wrote in college for a digital journalism class.

Among the weekly homework assignments we had for the class was writing blog posts dedicated to a topic of interest to us. For my blog, I chose to write about mental health news and awareness.

At one point that semester, however, I wrote a short blog post about the Red Hot Chili Peppers song, “My Friends,” from their 1995 album, “One Hot Minute.”

The song is a slow, melancholy ballad in which lead singer Anthony Kiedis reflects on problems several of his friends were going through that caused them to feel depressed.

In the song, Kiedis doesn’t try to mitigate their suffering or cheer them up. He also doesn’t make any attempts to understand what his friends are going through or tell them he has felt the way they are feeling. Instead, he recognizes the validity of their emotions, with lyrics like:

“My friends are so distressed.

And standing on the brink of emptiness.

No words I know of to express this emptiness.”

Then in the chorus, he reaffirms his love for his friends, singing:

“I love all of you.

Hurt by the cold.

So hard and lonely, too.

When you don't know yourself.”

I chose that song to write about for my blog post because I had noticed several of my own friends around that time had been hurting for various reasons. Some had recently lost a loved one, some were battling mental health issues and others were becoming overwhelmed with stress from daily life.

That brings me back to this week, when close friends and family members of mine in central Iowa have likewise been struggling with issues in their lives that have caused them to feel pain, grief and loneliness.

I haven’t personally gone through what any of them are facing, so the best way I’ve found to show my support is letting them know I love them and am someone they can lean on.

Living more than three hours away, unfortunately, means I can’t always be there in person for them. Talking on the phone isn’t a perfect substitute, but I’ve found it’s the next best option for listening to them and doing what I can to comfort them.