For the past couple of weeks I’ve been down with a bug. Yesterday it got so bad that I finally went to the clinic with Mr. W. I had severe headaches, joint pains, nausea, diarrhoea, fever, shortness of breath and all sorts of discomfort. During that time, people continues to text me needing something or another and my unread messages skyrocketed to 112.

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How many times have you tried to reach out to people around you when you’re going through something and they didn’t respond in a supportive manner?

Mental health awareness keeps pushing the “Check on your loved ones” mantra but how many of us are really doing that. If all those people that texted me had asked how I was doing, they would have known that I was ill and therefore useless to them. I was just trying to live.

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People are going through their own issues. Before you open up your emotional baggage, ask if the other person is in a space to hear you out. That’s one of the reasons why we think our loved ones don’t care about us. Zimbabweans are pressed from all sides currently. Constantly doing the maths trying to get by in a harsh economic environment. Trying to open up to someone who already has their own stress will benefit neither of you. When it comes to opening up, it’s like visiting someone, call ahead and ask if they are home and if they are open to the idea of you visiting.

The assumption that people are always ready and willing to listen is why we keep hitting brick walls. Because we are texting, we don’t know what the person on the other end is doing when we text.

I’ve heard phones go off during funerals. Humans are selfish by nature, myself pain will always come first before anyone else’s. When my dad passed away, everything felt so trivial. I was unavailable on all levels. I was no good to anyone in that state. Most people that texted me got no response because a part of me had died. Spooks don’t text.

A friend of mine were pregnant at the same time. I miscarried. Things got awkward. This is an example of how you need to pick where you take your pain to. We didn’t speak the duration of her pregnancy until she gave birth. She probably thought sharing her pregnancy stories would hurt me and feel like she is rubbing it in my face. I don’t know. And I was happy for her, the pain I was going through, I don’t wish it on anyone.

So before we call people rude or toxic for not being available to us, we need to think how the person on the other end is. Expecting them to be there for us 100% of the time can only lead to heartbreak and disappointment. Also ask yourself if you are approachable to be available to other people 100% of the time. Communication is crucial when it comes to these things. Not all of us are mindreaders or prophets. If you don’t tell me, I’ll never know.