Note: I’m writing this in finals week. Simply put, it’s been tough. I can hardly sleep. I feel so overwhelmed and the worth I place in grades is really driving me to a dark place. I’ll be done with the semester once this post is published which will surely be a relief, but as always, I’m not here to sugarcoat my ups and downs. I want to show the reality of mental illness, how ugly it can make me feel. My intentions and gratitude, however, are especially raw and always relevant.
Mental illness, in all of its dark control over the minds of those affected, ends up controlling a lot of what’s going on outside of our heads.
On my better days, I don’t realize fully I was having bad ones until I clearly see the aftermath. In the thick of that aftermath is the people I love and care about.
Although I am very goal-oriented and a tad perfectionist when it comes to my work and education, but as I get older, I put increasing priority in my family and friends, the people I choose to keep in my life that enrich it and make it worth living. I place self-worth in the goals I accomplish and the impact I make, but at the end of the day, it’s the people who are there supporting you that matter.
Except when I’m too anxious to fall asleep at night, or I feel beyond empty and lonely, I cannot tell you the resulting guilt of being such a negative energy to my family, or I face an intense fear of leaving my house or answering messages or letting others down.
In the darkest moments, we feel like a burden to our loved ones. We feel like we have to be strong and put on a face to support those people and help them with whatever we need. But then we end up neglecting our own health as we try to pour from an empty cup.
For me and many others, it’s easy to resort to isolation. Nobody to hurt or disappoint, nobody to see us when we’re our weakest, when we have barely any energy to just be a functioning human being.
So when I feel fine enough again, it’s a sea of apologies, for feeling like I was a shell of my true self who innately pushes everyone away. Sometimes it feels like an endless cycle.
Admittedly, when I was younger and didn’t even know I was struggling, it was much harder for me to see the cycle and know what I was doing. And although I was ignorant, it was simpler on myself not knowing. I didn’t address how I was feeling. I figured it was normal constantly yo-yo between craving solitude so I wouldn’t have to deal with others while being stuck in a figurative void, and manically pacing with worry thinking I was all alone and nobody cares about me and I’m failing at life. Which then leads back to sadness. Fun, right?
It has helped tremendously to know what I face on a daily basis and acknowledge it openly with others. But it still doesn’t necessarily help how it affects others. Actually, it makes me feel more guilty knowing what I’m doing and struggling to manage it.
So why am I rambling today? Why the stream of consciousness? Because I want to say thank you. Thank you for still sticking around when I shut down and can no longer find words to explain myself. Thank you for your kind words and gestures when I admit a difficult day. Thank you for understanding when I struggle to simply reply to a text message, or when I cancel plans unexpectedly because I’m too anxious to leave my house. Thank you for your affirmations even when it’s hard even for me to understand why I do what I do.
I still worry often about my place in the world. That I’m forgettable, a small, mediocre being who doesn’t have much to offer. But the people who see my worth when I’m blind to it, who still think of me with thoughtful little gestures, who see strength in me when I’m falling apart.
No matter what the depression or anxiety may try to convince me, I am enough. I have enough. The high quality of friends and family in my life are far beyond I could ever hope to have. And if I can make a difference for just one person, it’s worth it.
Because yes, those with mental illness are so strong, the people who choose to support those who are mentally ill have just as much strength. It’s not easy. It’s easy to walk away and be sick and tired of the emotional absence. The people who look beyond the ugly and still see beauty in others who may be suffering, you are a blessing. The world needs more of you. You don’t have to completely understand the ins and outs of mental health. You just have to be there.
So again, thank you does not begin to cover it all. Thank you a million times over.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie