I’ve been MIA again. I’ve been working to support an atheist in danger in another country for several months and it’s been long, arduous and stressful. But just when it seemed that we reached a point where real progress could be made – he was safe – something really terrible happened.
Instead of using the money I sent him to secure his new apartment, he used it all to purchase a ticket back to his own country from which we’d spent months trying to safely extricate him. To make matters worse, he apparently intends to kill himself.
There’s nothing I can do to help. Angry. Infuriated. Devastated. Sad. Done. (The image I chose for this post fairly accurately portrays how I feel when I allow myself to think about the situation.)
I don’t regret my attempts to assist. I don’t regret getting to know him. But I’m sad. I’m tired. And I hope he uses whatever remains of the money to try to live. No one asks to be suicidal, and it is a pit of despair.
I’ve learned a lot recently, about what refugees and asylum-seekers (not just for religious reasons) face in terms of mental health challenges. Sometimes we think it’s just a matter of money and options. But the truth is that it’s more complicated than that.
Sometimes people can’t accept, or even see, the options in front of them, even when they are plain as day to outsiders. That is the insidious nature of depression. It takes away your choices – makes them unrecognizable.
There is no threshold level of pain or “bad enough” you must meet in order to ask for help in improving your mental health. (I finally learned that about six years ago.) But in many places there is no way to get help, even for people who might be willing.
My friend Yasmine started an organization for this very reason. The need for this hit home today when I realized what was happening with my friend – because he has become a friend over the past few months.
Free Hearts Free Minds caters to Ex-Muslim atheists who are isolated in their own countries. The organization provides a series of six FREE life coaching sessions. please check it out and if it’s something that seems worthwhile to you, they never have enough money to cover the requests so they happily accept one time donations and monthly support.
This was a discouraging and painful experience and it may become much more painful as I wait to see if he lives or not. It hurts to have trust broken when you’ve poured your heart and soul into helping. But it isn’t going to stop me. I’ll just be a bit more guarded, a bit more cynical. But I think it’s always worth trying to help, even when we can’t control the outcome. Compassion is what makes us human.
P.S. The organization I listed is just one way you could consider helping. (Please take a moment to click through and read about it though. Here it is again.)
P.P.S. Giving money was a calculated risk. I say calculated because I’d spoken with him almost daily for months I have developed a good level of trust, for good reason. But desperation changes the equation.