Thursday, October 27, 2016

Reaching out is hard.

Reaching out to people is hard for a lot of people to do. It's scary just to think of being that vulnerable with another person. It's scary to open up and let another person see raw emotions, especially when those raw emotions are pain and sadness or anything that's generally seen negatively. It's even harder to reach out when you're struggling with mental illness.

When suffering from anxiety and/or depression, I have no idea how many times I've typed out a text message when I needed someone around or needed someone to talk to only to end up never sending it.

Messages just like these.

I'd type them out and then I'd re-read them checking for spelling errors or autocorrect mistakes. Then that voice in the back of my mind would chime in.

"Why are you bothering them with your nonsense? They have enough going on without you adding more to it, you know."

"You know how stressed they are right now, why do you want to make it worse?"

"You know sitting there watching TV with someone won't fix anything so why pretend?"

"You know they have better things to do than come sit with you."

"You're just being dramatic."

"Why make them worry about you like that over nothing?"

"Do you really want them to see you like this?"

"Of course they're going to say they're not busy and can talk, they'd feel guilty otherwise."

"They have their own problems, what makes you think they have time to deal with yours, too?"

"What if they say no? Won't you just feel worse then? Why do that to yourself?"

"They're probably busy and don't have time to deal with you right now."

I could go on and on with 100 other ways I've talked myself out of reaching out to someone when I was struggling and needed help. That little voice was all too happy to always come up with a long list of reasons not to press send or to put the phone down and not make that call.

Then I always felt worse than I already did because now I'd convinced myself that I couldn't reach out to the people that care about me for whatever various reasons that little nagging voice decided to throw out. Which usually brought on feelings of hopelessness, loneliness and isolation.

I couldn't stand to be struggling through things alone but I couldn't bring myself to ask anyone to help me either. It was a painful cycle to go through and never failed to make things worse. I'd type out a message and then I'd talk myself out of sending it. I'd go to a person on my contacts list and stare at the little green phone that would make the call and then I'd talk myself out of it. Not because I didn't want to but I felt guilty for putting myself and my needs over the feelings and needs of the people in my life. I'd think about how they were doing and I'd decide I could wait, that I didn't need to put this, me, on their plate of concerns, too. Other times I'd look at how well things were going for them and couldn't be the one to bring their spirits down. I always worry about myself second. This is great for depression and/or anxiety because it makes it easy for the illness to convince you to keep things to yourself. 

I'd gather my courage up and prepare myself to reach out, to be vulnerable and then that nagging voice that tells you all those lies when you're struggling through depression or anxiety would beat me back down. I'd end up either feeling numb, like an empty shell and feeling so unbelievably broken. I'd sit there just staring off and wondering how I could be so dumb. Or I'd end up feeling too much, getting overwhelmed, and I'd wind up sobbing on the floor because even sitting up felt like it required too much energy. I'd cry until my eyes hurt, until I was shaking and sick at my stomach. Then regardless of either response, I'd be angry with myself for being so weak. I was weak for not being able to ignore the nagging little voice, for letting it talk me out of anything. I was weak for having no response, for feeling broken. I was weak for having such an emotional response, for curling up and crying until I couldn't cry anymore. I was weak for letting my mind get the best of me. I was weak for not being able to send a text or make a phone call. I was so angry at myself for not being able to do more and do better that I ended up feeling a lot of resentment and self-loathing.

None of that is reality. I am not weak now and I wasn't weak any time I was struggling with these things. It takes a great deal of strength to battle with mental illness every single day and keep doing it every single day. It beats you down, day after day. I wasn't weak and no one else is, either. It's hard battling an illness every day. It's hard battling an illness every other day or once a week or however often it happens. I was stronger than I ever realized or gave myself credit for and if you're struggling right now, so are you.

The people that care about you are never too busy to be there for you when you need them. Depression and/or anxiety will try to tell you they are but they're not. They're not too busy. You are not bothering them. Yes, they might be dealing with some stuff too but that doesn't invalidate what you're struggling with. Their good day won't be ruined because you needed someone to talk to or to be there for you. There is no "perfect" moment. There is no "better time." You are not a burden. You are not a hassle. You are not "another problem" or "more stress" for them to "deal with." You don't need to feel weak or guilty for needing help. You don't need to feel angry or loathsome because you can't do it on your own. You are not hopeless, broken or beyond helping. Don't listen to that nagging little voice in the back of your mind telling you how broken you are or how much you're a burden to those that care about you because that voice is lying and so unbelievably wrong.

You don't have to struggle alone. Even if you don't have anyone or don't feel comfortable reaching out to someone in your real life, there are so many online resources available for you to connect with someone. Therapy chats, apps like 7CupsofTea, groups, message boards, text message help/support and helplines you can call. Once you get passed the fear and uncertainty the first time, it's easier to ask for help and reach out when you need it. 

Please just know that you're not your illness, it doesn't define who you are. No matter what that little voice tries to tell you and no matter how loudly it tries to tell you it's lies, you are worthy, you are strong, you are capable and you are brave. 


Kristen said...

I havent cried so hard over something I have read in a while but this did it. Too real. I've felt all of this. And it sucks. Like a lot.. I'd never be able to put something so candid out into the world. But I am glad that you did. Because reading these words so familar helps makes me feel less alone. Thank you for sharing as always. I am glad you are doing better. Blessed be. <3

Sweeten Dirty said...

Thank you for this post. I can very much relate, especially recently. I had never heard of 7cupsoftea until this post. I downloaded the app tonight and already feel like a tiny weight has lifted. So thank you. *hugs*

lindy thomas said...

Thank you for sharing and putting this into words. I can't reach out when I need to, if asked my usual response is I'm alright. Yet in reality I'm in a deep rabbit hole. Maybe we could all help each other when going through stressful times.
Good to see you are on the right track now.
Hugs Lindy