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Why People Are Like Buildings

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Before I start, there is something you need to know. In the past few years, I’ve become a little analogy-obsessed. I use them to try to get ideas across and help people relate to depression, anxiety, mental illness and other areas of my life. So here it goes!

I’m not sure if I am the only one who does this, but I am often driving down the road, and I will see buildings and imagine what is going on inside of them. Passing a hospital, I think the outside of the building is so unassuming and static, it’s easy not to consider the lives being saved or struggles being faced by patients, nurses, doctors and family members inside. The same goes for passing a school building, orthodontist office, the list goes on.

In a different way, as you travel down a busy road, you may be driving past a body waxing salon, a porn shop or a variety of other interesting places where people are experiencing many different types of pain, pleasure or both. (I’m not going to go into this further. This is not that kind of blog.) Although these thoughts have hit me here and there, today something clicked.

As I was driving to dinner, with a beautiful blue sky and sunshine filtering through the clouds, I passed by a mental clinic close to my home. It is one I have not visited, but I know many people who have and not a one of them (patients or professionals) have good things to say about it. As I was traveling down the road and caught a glimpse of the sign announcing this hospital, I realized how calm and serene the setting seemed. Yet, I know inside there are people struggling, at the lowest points in their lives and beyond what most people can imagine.

That’s when it all came together. Each of us is a building with walls. Some of us have windows. Most people have doors, and the rest of the world driving by has no idea what is going on inside of us. A tragedy (whether small or large) is like a storm or raincloud over some of us. Yet, when it is beautiful out, it is often hard to believe that sad or trying things are going on inside.

Some people are warm, comfy, welcoming homes. Others are superficial. Think Dollar Tree or Walmart. Some of my favorite people are like Nordstrom. They have quality, substance and high standards. Others are like universities with lots of knowledge and mental strengths. I could go on and on with this line of analogies; however, I’ll spare you all. Then, there are those of us who have struggles from time to time when something happens or someone enters our minds and wreaks havoc.

Walking in my neighborhood, I don’t know in which houses there is abuse, be it emotional, physical or otherwise. They all look the same on the outside. Mental illness, especially when concealed, is a lot like this. When it is dark outside and a light is on, someone might get a glimpse. Close friends, family and professionals are sometimes invited inside to get a closer look and begin to understand or assist.

Why am I sharing this one? Other than exposing my overactive imagination or my “Damn Empathy” (planning to trademark this term with my friend John)? Because my hope is someone who reads this will think twice when “driving past” or meeting/interacting with people in their lives, especially those struggling.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: October 26, 2016
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