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This post talks about mental health and messages of shame and feeling alone. Reader discretion is advised.
Please reach out to someone if you need help.
Hi there, how is your week going? I hope you did something this week that was just for you. Something that put a smile on your face. ❤
I read a book instead of getting some work done. And I’m not cooking tonight. Nothing puts a smile on my face like takeout.
Today, I wanted to touch on some messages that have weaseled their way into my mind time and time again over the years.
-Everything is my fault, because I’m neurodivergent.
-If I didn’t have depression, we would be happy.
-If I didn’t have anxiety, we wouldn’t fight.
-If I was just normal, my relationships would be good.
These thoughts don’t just come from me.
They have come from parents, doctors, counselors, friends, family.
Sometimes explicitly: “That’s probably just the depression talking. It’s all in your head.”
Sometimes more implied: “Are you sure that’s what happened?” Then they go into how I might be looking at things in a negative light.
WHICH TOTALLY HAPPENS
But that doesn’t mean I’m making up my feelings…
My feelings are valid. The way that I feel comes from somewhere.
For my neurotypical readers, I’d like to put this into perspective.
Saying it’s probably just my depression, that it’s not really like that, is like saying “Oh, you’re just on your period.”
First of all, I’m triggered as heck just thinking about this statement.
Second, my period may influence my mood, but that doesn’t mean I’m not feeling those feelings. They may not seem all that important to you, but they feel very big to me.
If that doesn’t resonate with you, it could be like when you’re at work and you suggest something, but get dismissed because “You should leave it to the higher-ups.” Your position at work doesn’t make your opinion any less valid. People who dismiss you for that reason are disrespecting you.
Everyone deserves to be heard.
I have a hard time with this in my interpersonal relationships. Family and friends may do something or say something, and I’m left reeling.
But they just say I shouldn’t feel that way.
“If you weren’t depressed you wouldn’t think that.”
But it doesn’t matter.
Because I am feeling it. This is very real to me. And as someone who claims to care for me, that should matter to you.
The worst part about this scenario?
I have heard these messages for so long, the words don’t even have to be spoken. I can hear them in my head. I see it in your eyes, your body language. The way you laugh and shake your head when I finish speaking. The way you turn away and leave me to deal with these feelings on my own.
Sometimes it’s not even other people…
The messages spiral out of control in my brain and I find myself shaming my brain chemistry, something I don’t have much control over.
There are drugs. Therapy. Doctors. Essential oil crazy ladies coming out of the woodwork.
But the thing about brain chemistry is that it’s unique to everyone.
Some people benefit so much from drugs. They find balance in life and finally get to feel healthy again.
That’s not what happened for me.
But I found that out by trying, not by simply saying they wouldn’t work. So if you’re struggling, please talk to a doctor. There are so many avenues you can take. Find what works for you.
The ugly self-depreciating messages became so ingrained in my mind that, even when people were listening to me, I would assume they were going to disregard me.
I would interpret body language and facial expressions for what they had sometimes meant in the past, instead of learning what they mean now.
After a while, I stopped reaching out.
Why would I, when no one will validate me anyway? When my feelings will be dismissed?
Why would I reach out when I don’t know if you’ll catch me?
When I retreated inward, I started to blame myself.
Maybe if I wasn’t like this, my relationships would be better. Easier.
Maybe if I wasn’t depressed, my relationships would be happy.
Maybe if I didn’t have anxiety, we would fight less.
Maybe all the problems, with my friends, my family, etc… Maybe it’s because of me.
After all, what’s the common denominator here?
That’s what I would tell myself. And the funny thing about the human brain is, the more you say something, the more you’ll start to believe it.
This is something I’ve had to work on.
It took a lot of self-reflection. A lot of comparing facts and feelings, finding the truth that lies beneath. A lot of talk therapy. A lot of my DBT Skills book.
A lot of forcing myself to be vulnerable and reach out, even though that’s the scariest thing in the world to me.
And if they don’t… you’re strong enough to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and say next time will be better.
Because, eventually, it will be.
That’s just math, folks. Statistically, if you reach out out to people, someone will eventually reach back.
If you keep letting the cycle of ugly messages get you down, you are letting them win. You are shrinking inwards when you could be growing.
I won’t lie to you, it’s not always easy.
I’ve really struggled with it.
I still struggle with it.
But when you find someone who meets you where you are, who takes your hand and walks with you through the dark, there’s nothing like that feeling.
It’s ok to lean on someone.
It’s ok to ask for help.
It’s ok not to be ok.
You are learning to live with your unique brain chemistry.
I am too.
We’re not experts. Sometimes we mess up.
But we will never have the chance to grow, to get better, if we’re not willing to take the risk of putting ourselves out there.
That’s what life is all about.
Testing your limits.
Getting out of your comfort zone.
So what if your comfort zone is a bit smaller than the average bear?
You’re doing the best you can, and in that, we are the same.
I understand you.
And I’m really freakin’ proud of how far you’ve come, and how far you will go.