It’s safe to say I haven’t kept up with the Pretending blog series very well. The idea started after I had some conversations with some pretty kick ass women who were doubting their kick-assery. Unacceptable. I made the commitment to be brave and face off against some insecurities to help them see how amazing they truly are. To be frank, I’ve really let them down in his effort. Not only because I haven’t been writing about it, but more because I haven’t been living it. So here I am, ready to be as vulnerable as I can imagine, and hope you will be kind.
We all have some crazy. We’re human. Made up of character rich flaws with unique coping mechanisms. My demons always rise from self-doubt and worrying about ruining things I love. The anxiety from it can engulf all my thoughts for days on end by over analyzing meaningless details. Did that sideways look mean I said something stupid? Did I come off looking too needy by sending a follow-up text when they didn’t text back in the first place? Oh my God, what are they going to think after watching that five minute drunken snap story? In a rational mind, I can see these aren’t that big of a deal in the scheme of life. However, when I’m spiraling, my “crazies” hijack all rationality and tell me I have ruined something important.
Towards the end of last year I struggled with finding a mental balance. I fluctuated from experiencing fantastic highs on the good days to self-loathing lows when I made a simple mistake. I punished myself for days by replaying what I saw as poor choices. Each time asking myself how I could’ve been so stupid. Finally I got to a place where I didn’t want to hate on myself anymore. I needed some help with perspective to bring my psyche back to an even kilter.
I talk to people every day about how it takes great strength and courage to admit when you need help. I encourage them to seek assistance with others, even professionals, if they find their support systems aren’t providing relief. I go on and on about how there’s nothing wrong with going to therapy; it’s just a sounding board to give you an unbiased opinion. But there I was, worried about letting anyone know I decided to go.
It wasn’t my first time. I received great advice years ago and saw results in enhancing important relationships. So why was it such a big deal now? Maybe I worried people would think I should be lucky to have such trivial problems. Or worse, maybe others will blow it out of proportion, which happens after your immediate family member commits suicide. Even now I struggle to write the words with some fear there will be a perception assigned.
When I went, I confirmed one thing I already knew — I’m an “all or nothing” kind of person. I want things to mean one thing or another. Defined. Judgmental. It’s a very difficult expectation to hold yourself. What I learned was two things could be true at the same time. I could be a good person and make a bad decision. I learned the importance in trusting what people say and not always look for the “what did they really mean.” Lastly, I got a most helpful “check the facts” sheet. At those times when I start to awfulize a situation, I have to pull out a questionnaire and write down the answers. A reality check, if you will. What are other possible conclusions? And what’s the absolute worst case scenario? The process helps see the situation for the importance it should given instead of what my mind wants to blow it into.
The few sessions proved helpful to gain some tools I’d been lacking. Because she was also an artist, the conversations included subjects around the creative process. We discussed the benefits of meditation, finding the “wise mind,” and validating my own art.
So why would I share all this information about my mental health? Something so personal and a topic most people are uncomfortable talking about? Bringing this subject out into the light is the only way to change the stigmas. Showing it’s okay to admit we have doubts. Vulnerabilities. Insecurities. Flaws. Crazies. I do this to encourage you to share your struggles, appreciate these challenges in each other, and refuse to be embarrassed of what you battle. Because even if we don’t believe it in the moment, if we want to change how people view mental illness, we need to pretend not to be ashamed of who we truly are.