I felt compelled today to share a thing, which is why I share what I share. I’ve had a few people recently give me funny looks or outright question why I openly discuss mental health things, particularly my own. First let me assure you I don’t discuss all the things. As always my life is securely sectioned off into things for: just me, me and God, me and my therapist, me and my therapist and God, and things for general consumption. Sometimes things move from own category to the next but it takes some doing to move them.
Life is tough sometimes. Like everyone, I’ve been dealt some rough hands, and like a lot of people I learned to cope with those bad things in the ways I knew how and the ways I was comfortable with. For me, I thought if I didn’t talk about the pain it would go away. I thought if I ignored it, I wouldn’t feel it. Unfortunately, that logic was flawed, and I wasn’t aware that ignore the thing was actually feeding the thing and making it larger. Eventually it would be too large to ignore what it was actually doing to me.
Therapy has been suggested to me in the past. In fact when I was 5 I saw a therapist briefly. Basically I was sent because I wouldn’t talk about it. As I’ve said before I wouldn’t talk to him either and I developed a very unhealthy disdain for the game of connect four. Maybe therapy would have been beneficial, or maybe not because maybe I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have the words to talk about the things.
By the time I might have, I was so used to not talking about it that I wasn’t willing to change my ways. I also equated therapy and anything to do with mental health as a sign that I would be saying I was “crazy” and I was in fact very much not crazy. I didn’t think any of those things were ok and I angrily rejected any notion that they would be beneficial. (This was, probably, a sign that I needed some therapy.)
Maybe the reason I was open to it this time is an anxiety attack actually made me feel crazy so I thought I might as well embrace the crazy. The truth was too that I am used to being in control, especially of myself, and was very much uncomfortable losing that control. So I was open to anything that would help me get it back.
But the other thing was I saw people I respected taking about therapy. I was friends with a therapist who had a therapist. I mean if you are a therapist who recognizes the importance of therapy then that’s a pretty high vote. Also she is very much not crazy. People I knew and respected had therapists and were very much not crazy. People I didn’t know but respected wrote and talked openly about therapy. Also not crazy. Somehow that normalized it for me. I had been thinking therapy might not be a bad idea when I got hit with anxiety and realized it might be essential. But those people made it feel ok and very much necessary. I asked for it. I made the calls. I embraced what felt like the crazy and said help me deal with it.
What I am discovering is I’m actually not crazy. (Good to know, right?). I lack some coping mechanisms because I like to do things my way and my way isn’t very effective. I have some bad habits also due to this tendency. And it’s absolutely necessary to talk about the things in order to take their power away. Ignoring them does not work. Resources exist to help me and the only reason I would be crazy is if I didn’t accept that help.
Am I 100% comfortable talking about the things? Not at all. Not in writing, not in therapy and not even to my friends but I’m learning that you don’t always get to be comfortable. Do I want to run? Oh ya. I told you that’s my MO when things get uncomfortable, but I’m trying to learn to sit in the uncomfortable and sit with emotions I don’t love. It’s here that I will find healing.
Admitting that I needed help does not make me weak. It actually makes me stronger for going after that help and continuing to fight the monsters. I’m stronger for admitting my weaknesses and fighting every day for inner peace.
Will I always need to fight so hard? I don’t know. I hope not. But for now I’m grateful for the resources. I’m grateful for my people who support me even when I don’t talk about it. I’m grateful that it’s not an elephant in any room. It’s just the invisible friend we acknowledge and put a name tag on. He has no power here but he’s still here. Yup this happened. And there’s no shame in it. But we’re not excusing it away. We’re fixing the problem.
If talking about the thing. If opening sharing about mental health helps just one person say, ok maybe therapy is a good thing and maybe admitting you don’t have it together is normal, then I’ll keep talking about it. I’ve fought hard to get here and I continue to fight to keep going, especially when I want to throw down the sword and run away.
So keep loving me in spite of the thing. If you’re in my life, your support means the world. If you love someone who is navigating their own mental health, keep loving them. Even when they push you away, the still need you. In fact, when we push you away we probably need you more. Find your people and love them well. That’s all we can do in this world.