By Yohanna Abdullah
Once in a while, a stranger comes into your life and in moments becomes a friend. This was my experience a week ago at The Hut, a hangout place at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).
I had gone there to meet my peer support specialist but she was on medical leave due to a leg injury. There, I met John who was like me, a 50-something divorcee who was grappling with depression two months after losing his job.
He had cycled there from his home in Bishan and just discovered the new chill-out place in IMH where he had met a friend who was also feeling depressed. The Hut is full of creature comforts, plush seats, big screen television, newspapers, snacks and drinks and case managers to talk to those who need a ear. Everyone are welcomed.
John whose name is the equivalent of my name Yohanna like me first experienced depression when his wife left him for reasons revolving around money matters. For him, it takes two months after a trauma for the depression to set in and manifest in his behaviour. He never sought psychiatric treatment and is dealing with his issues as best he can using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as he understands it. He is managing and coping and also relies on his religion – Christianity to keep his spirits up.
We felt comfortable enough to share our religious beliefs and share melodic verses of the Quran and the Bible with each other, really something quite rare for encounters of the first kind. It was a good two hours that we share vignettes of our lives and felt accepted and understood.
Such unexpected meetings, making new friends out of strangers can be a very beautiful and enriching experience. It all begins with a smile, a hello to recognise that here is a person worth greeting and knowing if we only care to spent some moments with them.
You never know how important reaching out to another human being can be. For instance that person that you approach may have already reached the end of the line so to speak and intended to take his or her own life. But when you, a stranger cared enough to inquire about him and talk to him it made him think that life is still worth living and there is hope yet.
Talking to strangers is becoming a lost art as many people go through their daily business plugged into their phones and neither look right or left at the people beside them. Very few make eye contact and give that million-dollar smile, a priceless commodity.
However, I would urge you to take note of the beautiful people that surround you every day, everywhere you go, there is someone worth your time to get to know and share feelings, thoughts and ideas and be a new friend.
You never know when that one person that you smiled at and said hello to is going to be your bosom friend till the end of time. She may be your most beloved of friends who attains Heaven and when she arrives there and does not see you there too, she will beseech God All Loving and All Mighty to bring you to Heaven with her.
Life is not all about working and making money to feed your needs and wants. It is about discovering yourself and other beautiful souls out there who are together with you in this journey of learning about our Creator and his creations.
Take moments to pause, chill and relax. Well, check out The Hut if you happen to be at IMH. As its motto goes – Loving Hearts. Beautiful Minds. This is something to aspire to and live by.