You may have noticed that I did not post yesterday. I thought about lying, saying I accomplished the task. I thought about being honest and say that I didn’t complete the task (and then make excuses). Eventually, I went with option three: do nothing.
My main downfall is that I would rather do nothing than admit failure. This is a very hard post for me to write. I am admitting that I couldn’t stick to a self-care regime of 30 days. I made it to 12. I am embarrassed.
Have any of you ever been struck with Holy Shit I’m An Adult-itus. Sometimes, it’s like a door hitting me in the face, the realization that I’m a free person. Once I’m out of work, there are very few limits. I have a car, I have a little spending cash… what’s stopping me from going out and doing things? Why am I constantly watching the same sitcoms over and over while I play Candy Crush?
I have a bookshelf that I’ve been wanting to repaint. Today is a gorgeous day for a drive. I was already out. I could have gone to the paint store—I drove right by it. The bookshelf isn’t too heavy for me to carry on my own. This is an easy project that could have been done today with very little effort.
So why wasn’t it?
Please note, I’m not a doctor. Everything I’m writing here is from my own personal experiences struggling with mental health for years on end.
1. Low-self esteem.
We’ve all heard the term, but what does it mean? At the root of the issue is a feeling of inferiority. There’s a feeling, deep inside, that everyone in the world is better off than you are. They’re smarter, richer, happier, better looking. Everyone. Every single person. Even the people that it is evident are not in that standing. There’s a little monster living inside of your head, telling you all of this. Telling you that if you try, you might fail, and it’s better to do nothing than to fail.
I avoided the project because it might not have looked the way I wanted it to. At least the way it is now, scratched up and stained, makes it look like the second-hand shelf that it is. If I painted it and it looked like shit, people would see it and know that I can’t do something as simple as painting a shelf.
2. The Burden of Existing
This is not a suicidal confession. Trust me. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. The whole mental hospital thing was a lot of fun and all, but I don’t have any intention of going back.
No, it’s not living that’s the problem. It’s existing. Knowing you have to find something to do to fill enough hours until you’re able to sleep again. Lately, I’ve been having trouble keeping my eyes open for more than twelve hours. It’s not a lack of projects of interests, it’s finding the desire within you to do something about it.
3. The Lack of Emotions
This one is potentially the hardest and most significant one for me. Not only do I not find simple joy in life, I also don’t feel sad about it. My emotions seem to range from content to floating.
Floating is the term I use to try to pin a description to the feeling of nothingness. Floating is when you’re going through the actions of life, but not really doing anything. Floating is when you get up in the morning, pee, count the brushstrokes of your toothbrush because you don’t trust yourself to brush enough without the reminder, go to work, do your tasks with a half smile on your face (gotta look good for the customers) and then go home and do nothing until it’s time for bed.
4. The Estranging Nature of Self Depreciation
It’s awkward when a friend or acquaintance is constantly down on themselves. I am very guilty of this, and I’ve also been a target for others. Is this person fishing for compliments? Am I fishing for compliments? Sometimes, when you’re vocally down on yourself, you don’t know what you’re reaching for.
Some call self-depreciation manipulation (say that three times fast). I disagree. Often times, self-depreciation is the only outlet you have to let out your insecurities. I’m not saying it’s healthy or that any of us should make a habit of it, I’m only saying that there may be a time and place.
Self-depreciation comes in many forms. The most common is being vocally down on yourself. “I’m ugly.” “I’m stupid.” A more subtle one is adding “or maybe not” to the end of a sentence. By adding that clause, you are giving yourself an out. Adding that on may seem like you’re trying to save face in the case of being wrong, but it comes across as not being true to your convictions. “I think I look cute today… or maybe not…”
This is uncomfortable for other people. When you call yourself stupid or childish, it leaves your audience (be it a friend, a coworker, a classroom presentation, or the internet) in an uncomfortable position. How would you respond if I said right now, “I think my blog is a hunk of crap,”? If you agree, do you lie to save face and tell me it’s good? If you disagree, do you contradict me?
5. The Misconceptions of Family and Friends
On TV and in the movies, when a character is depressed and/or in therapy, the family and friends do all sorts of research and try to be understanding. They learn all they can and, often, coddle the person.
In real life, it is often the opposite. For this one, I’m not talking totally from personal experience, but there are truths here. Depression is hard to understand and I don’t think everyone who knows someone who is depressed should immediately take to the internet and buy books to educate themselves.
Instead, I think that we should all, as a society, work to take the stigma away from mental health. Or, at least, strive to better define it in the media.
The best example of depression in the media that I’ve seen in recent years is Disney • Pixar’s Inside Out (um holy shit that came out three years ago??!?!?!?!??!). The story follows the emotions inside the head of a 12-year-old girl. Through a mishap, Joy and Sadness get lost. The girl feels empty and angry. She lashes out. Not only does she not feel joy, she is also at a loss for how to feel sadness. I’ve discussed this in point three.
The reason this is such a good example is that it shows the complexities of depression. I can’t repeat it enough, but it is not just the lack of happiness or joy that defines this illness. Also, it’s a children’s movie. Let’s start the new generation off right by teaching them to understand differences like this.
PLEASE if you are a friend or family member who is reading this, do not worry about me. As I already said, I am not going to kill myself or anything. I am in a slump right now. There is nothing anyone can do to help me. I’ve been here before and I just have to work hard to get out of it.
ALSO if you are a friend or family member, please do not tell me how strong I am or brave I am. It makes me uncomfortable. It’s the opposite of the “The Estranging Nature of Self Depreciation.” Compliments or affirmations that I don’t feel I deserve make me genuinely uncomfortable.
FINALLY here is a picture of me, Joy, and Sadness in Disney World this spring.
2 thoughts on “5 Hard Truths About Mental Health”
I won’t tell you how wonderful I think you are but I will tell you my eyes see strengths and talents that I hope someday you see within yourself. You have such a way with words I can feel your discomfort just reading your blog. Keep on pushing.