You can find anything on social media these days. Dance moves, recipes, how-to videos. Anything you could fathom, it’s out there on the web to be found. With that being said, not all of it is friendly or light-hearted in nature.
There has been what I would call a movement in recent years of people coming forward and being more open with their battle with mental health issues. This in itself is great. It’s shedding light on an issue that has been hidden away in the shadows for far too long. But with that being said, there is also more to this that has been seemingly becoming more and more popular. And that is the romanticisation and glorification of mental disorders.
There is nothing wrong with being open and having a dialogue about battles that you’re facing with depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. In fact, being open and talking about it is the way to continue gaining more and more support for these issues.
But let’s get this straight–there is nothing beautiful about depression. There is nothing beautiful about anxiety. There is nothing beautiful about bipolar. It is tragic, it is ugly, and it can be brutal.
There is nothing glamorous about gasping for air with your heart racing and mind on overdrive in the midst of a panic attack. There is nothing glamorous about swallowing a handful of pills because you so badly want the pain to end. There is nothing glamorous about feeling like the world is coming down on your head and you can’t breathe, so you slice your skin open in hopes of feeling some kind of relief for just a split second.
None of these things are rational and none of these things make sense–but that is part of the battle that numerous people face each day. These are real issues that real people like you and I face every day. And to glamorize it on social media like it’s a beautifully tragic thing? That’s a punch in the face to the ones who are constantly fighting their demons.
I am in no way diminishing any person’s personal battles, because we all face them. And nobody’s battle is worse or better than the next person. A majority of people believe things like self-harm and suicide attempts are nothing more than a cry for attention. A way to get pity. Is that the case sometimes? Maybe so, but this is not always the case. They’re desperate for help and don’t know where to turn or who to go to and just need something in that moment. Some kind of relief. But this also all stems back to the romanticisation of these issues on social media.
We need to be better. We need more dialogue and communication with each other. Check on your people. Even the strong people around you. You never know what kind of demons and battles they’re fighting in their own minds. And one simple act of reaching out can be the catalyst of change.
You were never meant to predict the ebbs and flows.
As you navigate the open waters of your life, there’s no telling where the sails of your boat may direct you; what’s far more important than knowing how you’ll get somewhere in the end is having faith that you’ll get there without knowing how. That in and of itself is perhaps the hardest part of the journey—believing in yourself when the path is unclear, and perhaps when no one else currently does.
As I navigate my own scary waters, I’ve questioned, doubted, and wondered whether I was making the right decisions in my life. It’s so difficult to trust your gut while believing in the uncertainty that lies ahead. But what I can tell you from personal experience is that trusting your gut and allowing yourself to drift with the current is perhaps the best decision I’ve ever made.
As long as you know where you want to go, there is nothing more liberating than realizing that anything is possible if you’re willing to stay committed to your journey, believe that you are receiving the growth that you need in this moment now, and persevere through the seemingly rough times in your life that lie ahead for you. Those difficult times will help you become the person you’ve always wanted to be.
So give yourself permission to grow into the person you’ve always aspired to be.
Give yourself permission to take a risk in your life on something that you truly believe in because you see what your life could be if you’re willing to just go out there and try.
The only way we fail in life is if we give up entirely. Be brave enough to bet on yourself when times get hard, knowing that in the end, you will be okay no matter what. You will always be okay. There are no wrong turns in life.
Every moment has led you into the person you are today.
We’ve been living in the COVID-19 pandemic for over two years now, and it has brought with it—among other things—a greater awareness of mental health. More people than ever are experiencing increased rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. While the pandemic’s toll is burdensome, to say the least, it is extremely validating to see that mental health is being taken more seriously.
Everyone’s treatment for mental health issues looks different, but for many of us, it involves talk therapy. It looks different for everyone, but therapy can help anyone. You don’t need a mental illness to see a therapist; you don’t even need to be in a crisis to see a therapist.
Here are reasons everyone should consider therapy:
1. Therapy helps you deal with everyday life.
While it’s true that not everyone has a mental illness, it’s also true that everyone struggles with their mental health—just like everyone struggles with their physical health. Learning coping strategies and how to better handle situations are crucial skills to learn, and therapy teaches you just that. For many people, it helps to speak to an objective person, like a therapist, as opposed to speaking to friends or family members. And therapists have backgrounds in psychology, sociology, and similar fields, so they have expertise in the human mind that we could all benefit from.
2. Therapy teaches you about yourself.
Therapy is a great way to learn who you are as a person. When you identify your thinking patterns and common emotions, when you identify how you interact with the world, you have a better understanding of yourself. A lot of what I’ve learned about myself I’ve learned from therapy. This is not to say that you can’t learn these skills outside of therapy, but therapy can do this for you, too!
3. Therapy can prevent a mental health crisis.
Getting therapy before you’re in a mental health crisis—such as a major depressive episode or an actively suicidal state—can be a lifesaver. Oftentimes, our problems get worse when we leave them unaddressed. And the longer we leave problems alone, the more time they have to build up, which makes things worse. If I had gone to therapy as soon as I noticed things were off, I could have saved myself a lot of struggling and pain. At the very least, I would have had the support I needed earlier on, which is crucial to the recovery process.
4. Therapy destigmatizes mental health.
While there’s been an uptick in people discussing mental health publicly there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health in general. The media rarely portrays mental illness, and when it does, it’s often riddled with stereotypes: People with mental disorders are perceived as dangerous, weak, and downplaying or even lying about their illness. Taking the first step to acknowledge that you need help is already a great way to break the stigma around mental health. And when you find the right fit for therapy, you’ll learn that mental health isn’t something to be scared of or feel shameful about. It’s a health issue, like any other health issue you may experience, and sometimes you need help in treating the issue. There’s nothing wrong with that. Realizing you need help is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
5. Therapy validates your feelings.
Ideally, everyone would have people in their lives who support them, not just medical professionals, but also their support system. Sadly, this isn’t the case for everyone. Some people grew up in communities where mental health was taboo, and they may be living with people now who feel the same way. This sort of “hush-hush” attitude toward mental health can be very isolating, which only worsens mental health conditions. A good therapist won’t do this. They will help you work through your thoughts, but they will also acknowledge and validate your feelings. Therapists don’t treat mental health issues like personal failures—they treat them as health issues. They work with you to understand your feelings and validate what you’re going through.
6. Therapy empowers you.
Therapy gives you the tools needed to deal with the stress, trauma, and pain life throws at you. When you go to therapy, you find things that used to overwhelm you now overwhelm you less. Therapy gives you skills to not only practice in therapy but also in your day-to-day life. Therapy doesn’t “fix” you; instead, it gives you the skills you need to get through life’s worse hardships. Knowing that you are an active participant in your therapy treatment can be daunting, but it can also be liberating. The moment you made the appointment and first spoke with your therapist, the moment you committed to helping yourself. You owe your success to both yourself and your therapist.
There are so many benefits to going to therapy beyond the points I listed above. Mental health is physical health, which means you need to maintain it, and it helps to see professionals from time to time. If you don’t know where to start, check out Psychology Today’s comprehensive therapist search. You can filter based on location, issue, therapy type, in-person vs. teletherapy, and more.
Those who have been on their healing journey for years now would tell you that they have tried it all: moving to a new city, seeking therapy, reading all the self-help books, getting over their own fears, taking risks, moving out, leaving that toxic relationship, quitting their jobs… and the list goes on. They would tell you that they have followed every rule in the book and added their own spin on it, but those who have truly conquered the healing journey will tell you that the most important rule is to keep fighting for yourself. That is the winning rule, everything else is just secondary.
You can change everything in your life and go to the best therapists, but there will be times when you will have to face your biggest fears alone. There will be times when you have to fight the toughest battles alone. There will be bad days when you don’t have anyone to call and you’ll only have yourself. There will be times when everyone in your life has done their job and it will be time to do yours because your main job begins, not when everything is going right, but when everything goes wrong and you’ve used up all the tools that could help you. Your main job begins when you’ve studied the whole book and now it’s time to take the test.
Healing doesn’t mean that everything in your life will magically start to go right, it means that you’ll have to learn how to fight for yourself when everything is going wrong. When you’ve tried so hard for something that fell apart. When you’ve invested so much time in something that didn’t work out. When you gave too much to someone who ended up using you. When you’ve trusted someone with all your heart and they thanked you by breaking every promise. These are the moments when everything you’ve tried so hard to heal from comes crashing down on you. These are the moments when you question everything you’ve worked on and believed in. These are the moments that have the power to paralyse you when you are so close to the finish line.
Healing doesn’t mean anything when you don’t practice it during hard times. It doesn’t mean anything when you don’t fight against the same things that broke you in the first place. It doesn’t mean anything when you don’t counteract all the triggers that evoke your self-destructive behaviors. It only counts when you are faced with the worst and you handle it differently this time around. When you choose to fight for yourself instead of giving up and going back to the person you used to be.
Because it’s easy to fight for yourself when you’re happy, when you’re winning, or when you’re being loved or praised for your success, but it’s hard when you’re beating yourself up or when you’ve messed up something good or when you’ve let yourself down, because trust me, nothing will heal you during these moments but yourself. No one will be able to stop your limiting beliefs or negative thoughts from permeating your mind except for you. No one will understand the magnitude of your worries or fears or pain like you do. So you can only heal by fighting for yourself over and over again, especially when it’s the hardest thing to do. You have to be the only one cheering yourself on, especially when you’re losing.
You may not carry that self-help book everywhere you go and you can’t always call your therapist anytime. You may not always have supportive friends or parents who can guide you, and this is why you have to learn how to fight for yourself so you can heal on your own, and if you do it right, your life will drastically change.
It’s exhausting, isn’t it? Pretending to not have a mental illness when you do. Society makes us do that. We have to make it seem like we have it all together. We have to act like we’re fine when deep down everyday is a struggle. We have to act outgoing and hardworking all the time when in reality we’re overthinking and wondering if people hate us. People who don’t have mental illnesses don’t get how hard it is.
We have to wear a mask and act “normal,” and the stigma needs to be taken away. Nobody pats us on the back, yet we are actively fighting something.
Some days, trying isn’t good enough for everyone, and that’s hurtful, because some days it’s all we can do. We have to actively try every day to make everyone around us think that we’re some form of okay. And that’s exhausting. Nobody taught us about mental illness in school and it’s sad. When we get out in the real world, there’s no set list of things to do or rules to follow. We constantly think what we’re doing isn’t correct, and maybe it’s not good enough. Ever feel that way?
If you have, I can relate to you. It’s hard to feel good enough when society makes you feel like shit day in and day out. What else do we have to do to make people understand that we’re trying day by day? We have to work so much harder all the time to get to even a small place of contentment. Sometimes we lay in bed and think of all the things we could’ve done “better,” when in reality, we did our absolute best. Ever feel that way?
I’d like to tell anyone who does feel that way: You’re not alone. I feel that way every day, and sometimes I struggle to get out of bed in the morning. I’d like to tell you that you matter and nothing you do is terrible and is absolutely great.
We live in a world so dramatically different than any before us. We live parallel lives of reality and virtual origins. We are split. Told that if we aren’t pretty enough, popular enough, happy enough, then we are defective. We live in an age where people are “famous” because they are beautiful, and that’s it. That’s all it takes. They have a camera, and they show us how beautiful and happy they are, and we all believe it. We question our realities. We take a photo for “the gram”. We check our angles, we suck it in, we make sure our makeup is in place, our hair perfectly coiffed, and we put in place our perfected smiles. We want to be a part of the popular crowd.
But we aren’t just posing for the photos anymore.
Why do we all have this need to be a somebody? To be different, remembered, better? Why do we feel the urge that what we are is not enough. That being ordinary isn’t extraordinary? That we need to convince others of our happiness? Pardon me, but there are very few people that actually give a shit about each of us. We have our select few (family, friends, coworkers) who would actually be there for us, who would bring us soup when we are sick. So why do we feel this urge to take our pretty pictures so to make sure they know how happy and pretty we are too?
We are in an age where we are no longer living for ourselves. We are living to show others how wonderful we are. We are living in a show to convince the world that we matter.
Why? Honestly, why? If you have an answer please tell me. Because it seems skewed to me, to live in front of these screens when there’s a beautiful world outside. A world where things are different, where we actually interact, where you experience sounds and smells and feel the wind in your hair. Where you meet people and they see you back, you both get to look into each other’s eyes. There’s something about reading your book at the park or at a coffee shop. About going on a walk alone with your thoughts instead of suppressing everything that makes us individuals by watching what the masses are doing. There’s something about not wanting every product that social media ads target at you. There’s something about being the person that brings the soup to someone who is sick instead of sending them a message to feel better soon. There’s something about feeling whole being ourselves.
I don’t believe there is anything wrong with living a simple, ordinary life. About realizing that we are all just a small part of a big beautiful world.
We can make differences in the lives around us without pretending for those outside of our circles. We really don’t have to pretend. We don’t have to fear oblivion, because you know what? It’s going to happen. We are all just small parts of a whole.
We matter, of course we matter, but each of our individual existences is not the end all be all of the human race.
We don’t need to focus on getting a nice picture of our fun day unless it’s something that is kept for ourselves. The amount of likes a photo gets is not a measure of how wonderful we are, or how successful our day was.
We can dress up nice because it makes us feel pretty, go outside, and take pictures that empower ourselves and make us feel confident in our skin. We don’t have to document every small sliver of our existence as though without it we are nothing. We can use social media as a photo album of our lives, for ourselves.
Our relationships dictate the quality of our life. Yes, of course there are other important things, but for the most part, the quality of our relationships will determine how you feel about your life. If you feel loved, connected, and cared for, it lessens the heavy burden of stress that we often place on ourselves and brings us into the moment with other spiritual beings having a temporary human experience. This connection to others is what makes us human.
There are no wrong decisions in life, only wrong ways to look at them. In the moment, we make decisions that may or may not have worked out. Regardless, those decisions have led you to where you are now. Looking back, you may wish you did things differently. But in the moment, you were brave enough to make a decision and follow through with it. That’s something you should be proud of, and instead of letting your past decisions define your present and your future, you should learn from them and let them guide your way forward. We are constantly learning. We will always be learning and growing.
True self-awareness is the knowledge that our lives are but a means to an end. We have a limited time here, so knowing this, how do you choose to spend your life? How do you choose to spend your days? Who do you choose to spend it with? The awareness that we are not ‘invincible’ is perhaps your greatest ally because it acknowledges the present moment as all we have. Stop waiting. Go after the things that you truly want in your life. It’s our actions that fuel our self-belief.
Life is not tiring. Rather, choosing to wear a mask hiding who you truly are and adhering to beliefs that aren’t aligned with your being is the tiring part. Your life is your own, and while others may offer their opinions on how you should be spending it, there is nothing more freeing than having the courage to live honestly; an honest life is a full life.
The world starts and ends with your mind. No matter what you achieve in the external world, you will always be brought back to your own state of being. If you don’t take care of your mental health, nothing outside of you will fulfill you. Ironically, it’s only when you change your internal state that you can fully enjoy all the things that come your way in your external world. So start with your mind. No matter where you are now, it will always just be you and your own thoughts; it’s time to become your own best friend.
Stop chasing perfectionism. Perfectionism is a fear mindset that is stopping you from taking action. The key to letting go of this mindset is to begin. Get out of the thinking mind and begin taking action, then let go of the outcome. What is perfect? Is it even possible? We can spend our whole lives ruminating on being perfect, or we can take action today, believe in our ability and let go of the outcome. We never know what can happen.
Talk a little nicer to yourself. The thoughts and words that come into our mind often manifest into our lives. Become aware of your self-limiting beliefs and patterns—consciously choose the words that you want to say about yourself and fully realize that your words do mean something. Gentle encouragement as you navigate the confusing journey of life goes a long way. You deserve to feel worthy. Feeling worthy begins with yourself.
You’ve heard that healing is a continual process. In fact, it takes a lifetime. If you want the life you’ve always wanted, you’re going to have to do something different. You’ve heard it all before. The truth is, you’ve been working on your healing work for years on end and the results seem microscopic. You get temporary relief from the monotony of life, but some days are still marked by cascading anxiety, suffocating hopelessness, and dark holes of despair. You’re having trouble looking into the future and seeing better days. You’re exhausted from your efforts to heal.
You’re exhausted from trying to be better when it feels like no one else is working on their personal growth this hard. You forget that the body heals on its own. The process is aided by the nourishment you provide and through small challenges, not by pushing past the breaking point. Healing isn’t about being better than someone else. Healing is about living with, and liking yourself. Healing enables you to focus on the present moment rather than the past or even the future.
You’re frustrated with your healing work because you put too much pressure on yourself. You’re exhausted from your healing because you’re making work instead of allowing yourself to be supported through the process. You’re exhausted because you’re unkind to yourself. You are on the right track. You’re fine-tuning as time goes by. The goal of your healing is to be so free that it’s only a minor annoyance when others try to steal your peace. The goal of your healing work is to enjoy life regardless of what everyone else is doing. If you’re tired of healing and wondering why you should keep going, take a step back, slow down, and remember to live. I suspect you’re doing much better than you think.
You’re exhausted from your healing work because you’re looking for threats rather than opportunities. You’re exhausted from your healing work because you’re burying your vulnerability and masking your feelings. You’re exhausted from your healing work because you’ve been fighting instead of grieving. You’re exhausted from your healing work because you’re desperately trying to change yourself rather than accepting yourself as you are. Instead of realizing that traumatic events happened to you, and you protected yourself the best way you knew how—not that you are flawed.
You’re exhausted from your healing work because you’re still trying to show people you are worthy based on how fast you can heal. You’re exhausted from your healing work because you’ve put your life on hold to focus on healing rather than living through the process. You’re exhausted from your healing work because you’re still living in fear rather than recognizing that you’re safe now.
You don’t have to be a victim anymore. People have exerted their power and control on you for so long that you believe you’re trapped, but really you’re only trapped in your mind. Forget about what people will think. Forget about your ego. Forget about everything you think you’ll lose—it’s time to live.
Forget about the labels for a moment: empath, highly sensitive, too emotional, fragile, can’t take criticisms, emotionally unstable, and old soul. Forget about the image of being some fragile, helpless person who’s only here to serve others and get trampled on. The point of healing is to discover who you really are and want to be. Approach healing as self-discovery rather than another task.
Your healing is not a spectacle, nor is it a race or a performance. Your healing is not a marketing ploy. Your healing is yours. Sometimes your healing looks like rage and frustration. Other times your healing requires deep rest and moments of stillness. Your healing allows for grace, play, and laughing at yourself.
You don’t have to be flawless. You don’t have to achieve some level of wholeness or spiritual height before you begin to live. Look at the people wreaking havoc on your life; they still have friends, family, and even lovers who stay with them through their worst behaviour. But here you are, kind, loving, and compassionate, wondering if you’re deserving of a better life. The answer is unequivocally yes.
I know you’re exhausted. You’re allowed to be. You don’t need to do anything right now but rest. Gather yourself only when you’re ready. The point of your healing work is reaching for joy and peace just at your fingertips. Healing is worth it, and closer than you think.
If you have a mental illness or are in recovery, you’re likely not a stranger to unsolicited advice. I know it’s something I hear a lot, so I get how overwhelming and frustrating it is, which is why before I go any further, I want to ask you a question. Why is unsolicited advice unhelpful to someone with a mental illness or a person with substance abuse challenges?
Unsolicited advice is more for the person advising the person needing support for their mental health, according to Verywell Mind.
Unsolicited advice oversimplifies complex conditions like trauma, addiction, and a mental health diagnosis.
Unsolicited advice is patronizing, invalidating, and can be traumatic, making a person feel worse and ashamed of themselves.
As you can tell from the above points, unsolicited advice is more harmful than helpful. A big reason is unless a person has lived experiences with things like a mental health diagnosis or an education in psychology, understands trauma-informed care, or has experienced adverse childhood experiences. It isn’t easy to understand how complex these challenges and similar ones are. It takes years to understand mental illness, substance abuse, or anything related to psychology or mental health, for that matter.
I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t support a person; I’m trying to say you first need to learn how to support someone, and even though supporting a person can be tricky, it is possible. A great way to start is by keeping the following questions and tips in mind when supporting someone.
Why does a person’s language and beliefs around mental health and substance abuse matter when giving advice?
The average person doesn’t realize the complexities of living with a mental health condition or substance abuse issues. Otherwise, I hope they wouldn’t be telling people things like “Why can’t you just quit?” or “Go for a walk” and other helpful statements. Like my favourite one: “Isn’t everyone a little ADHD?” Those forms of advice and microaggressions are toxic and cause a person to feel things like shame and disempower a person.
When you speak like this, you’re telling a person who is likely already nervous and hesitant about doing things like taking medications or seeing a therapist and other forms of support that those options aren’t helpful. You’re also invalidating their experiences when you downplay or mock a person. I get how everyone has an opinion, but it’s time people realize opinions aren’t facts. Those stigmatized opinions negatively impact the person on the receiving end more than you realize.
Instead of focusing on unhelpful opinions and beliefs, my best advice is to try focusing on educating yourself with the help of peer-reviewed sources and asking questions to people like doctors, pharmacists and therapists, and other professionals. Otherwise, your inaccurate beliefs and opinions can stop or scare a person from receiving much-needed medical care, dramatically decreasing their quality of life.
How can you make a person feel validated and that you care about their issues, challenges, and diagnosis?
You can start by advocating for a person who wants to see a psychiatrist or takes medications instead of making them feel bad for seeking professional help. While telling them things like there’s no shame in taking medication or seeking professional help and respecting their boundaries around getting treatment, seeing a therapist, or going to a 12-step program.
You can also own your incorrect words, attitudes, and behaviours. Yup, that’s right—owning those things and learning healthier, more medically accurate beliefs. I know admitting you’re wrong isn’t fun, but it shows you care and respect that person enough to properly educate yourself and take a better approach to support them.
When you do things like this, you’re telling someone they matter, and as a person with mental health challenges, I can tell you this simple step can mean the world to someone. Another thing you can do is advocate for them to get treatment and positively talk about seeking professional help instead of saying things like it’s a weakness or makes you a burden.
That’s why it’s important to realize what we say and even what we post, share, and like on social media can send a message to someone that you think they matter. But unfortunately, it can also indirectly send a message that you don’t think mental health challenges are valid, making a person feel even worse causing them to suffer in silence instead of getting the help they deserve.
It’s time people started focusing on building others up instead of tearing them down before they don’t understand what certain people have been through in their life. Lastly, below are a few ways advocating for seeking help for mental health professionals is beneficial to someone from Healthline and my personal experiences.
Just because you’re a parent or friend doesn’t mean you know more than a mental health professional trained in CBT, ACT, medications and medication adherence, and other helpful interventions. Professionals also have in-depth education in diagnosing mental illness, trauma, and other healthcare resources.
Don’t shove their past challenges or mistakes in their face because doing so does nothing but shame a person and make them feel worse. Also, if a person is getting annoyed at you for disrespecting their boundaries around seeking help for their mental health, that doesn’t mean you’re a snowflake or overly sensitive. It means that you’re putting your message. It means that you’re interfering in something that you have no right to interfere with, plain and simple.
Seeing a mental health professional is great for empowering us to gain a healthy understanding of our emotions and reframing our inner dialogue.
Just because a celebrity, health guru, or influencer posts something about mental health doesn’t mean that that advice should be taken over the advice of a qualified mental health professional.
It’s better to be non-judgmental and compassionate and give us a safe place to share our thoughts, feelings, and struggles instead of judging us for those things.
1. You’re constantly called “type A” or “anal retentive” or just “a perfectionist.”
People credit you with going above and beyond the call of duty, and always executing things to an nth degree. They poke fun at how you (sometimes unintentionally) seem like you have a “my way or the highway” mentality, like it’s just a personality quirk. In reality, the idea of not finishing something or doing something exactly how you’ve envisioned makes you sick to your stomach. Things like someone coming over and seeing your laundry or missing a deadline by even an hour makes your head spin. They shouldn’t seem like a big deal to you, they should be something you can move on from and not dwell on, but they aren’t. You obsess and overthink, dwell and stew. So your perfectionist ways (seem) to manage that.
2. You have little ticks that manifest physically, but they just seem like “bad habits” to the outside eye.
Nail biting, hair picking, knuckle cracking, lip chewing. Even picking at your skin or scabs or leaving your cuticles in a bloody mess. They’re all little symptoms of your anxiety. You try to keep your panics and nervousness internalized as best you can, but it slips out in these seemingly little things.
3. You don’t know when to say when.
“No,” is your most underused work in the English language. You don’t know how to stay away from reaching your limit. So you pile things on top of each other, always assuming that you can just handle anything and everything. You stretch yourself way too thin and then even after you’re breaking, still try to take on more.
4. You can relate to the idea of “compartmentalizing” your emotions.
No one would ever be able to say that you’re someone who wears their heart on their sleeve. In fact, you do pretty much the opposite. You’re so used to and trained to behave like everything’s “fine” even when that couldn’t be further from the truth, that you’re nearly impossible to read. You’ve told yourself so many times that you’re just being “dramatic” or that no one would understand that you’ve become a professional level faker of being fine. You rarely let how you’re actually feeling show, instead you just bottle it up and cover it up and hope that it goes away.
5. And because of this, you’ve been called “stoic” or “unemotional” even when that couldn’t be farther from reality.
You’ve likely gotten a reputation for being rational and logical to a fault, because you don’t let how you’re actually feeling show. Your compartmentalization is next level. Rather than feel your feelings and process them in real time, you put them on a metaphorical shelf in your mind in order to “deal with it later.” Problem is, later rarely comes. And then there are all of these anxieties and issues and feelings that pile up on top of each other and it becomes unbearable to manage.
6. You joke about having FOMO — but it’s much bigger than that.
It’s not so much an “I wish I was included” notion, it’s more a deep-seeded fear of missing out on an opportunity. It’s the fear of being a bad friend if you don’t go somewhere with someone. It’s the fear of not being enough if, for some reason, you’re not able to do everything.
7. You worry about opening up because you’ll be accused of “not getting it” because you seemingly live a normal day-to-day life.
There’s this idea in your head that because you’re still “functioning” your anxiety isn’t a problem, and won’t be perceived as one. Even if you don’t mean to, thinking this way plays into that “trauma olympics” mentality. It’s the idea that because you DON’T do something that’s associated with anxiety, or because your anxiety is different in any other way, you don’t “qualify.” So, rather than say, “This is what I’m struggling with,” and open up, you say nothing at all.
8. You lose a lot of sleep.
You keep yourself up at night often. Whether it’s because your mind is going 10,000 miles a minute or because you’re convinced you can just finish one more thing, you’re way too familiar with being exhausted. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” you probably laugh after another sleepless night. But reality? It weighs on you. Both physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s a problem.
9. Most people would just call you an “overachiever.”
Because when you look at someone who’s so good at compartmentalizing, repressing, deflecting, and who’s anxiety manifests in a way that makes them hyper-vigilant about very specific things (ie: work, staying occupied, cleaning, list making) it can be so, so easy to only see their successes. But what you don’t see, is the battle that it took to GET there. People only see the achievement part, not the stress, the anxiety, the sleeplessness, and the self-deprecation that it took to get there.
10. You joke about needing to be busy to be happy.
“I LOVE being busy.” “I’m happier with a full to-do list.” “Keeping busy keeps me out of trouble!”
It sounds like a glorification of being busy, but really, it’s a cover-up for a fear of what will happen if you stop. The go go go becomes like a drug. The “always having something do” keeps your mind off of, well, your mind. The constantly chasing something else and doing something is ultimately, a big distraction from the anxiety that is ever present in your life.
11. One of your biggest fears is letting people down.
“You could’ve been better.” “Why did you do this?” “You’re such a bad daughter.” “I wish you were a better friend.”
Are those things being said? Probably not. But in your head, in your anxiety-riddled brain, you hear them when presented with the possibility of not doing something at a top tier level. The pressure you put on yourself is enormous. And it ultimately stems from the idea that if you don’t hold yourself to some near-unacheivable standard, you’ll be letting someone down. And that breaks your heart. It may be the anxiety talking, but that doesn’t mean you don’t feel it every single day.