I’m glad people seem to want to be aware of mental illness these days, but can I tell you a secret?
I kind of hate it, too.
You see, what I really need is a place to be dark and turbulent and sad and numb, but I cannot have that, because now my family and my friends and anyone I could possibly reach out to will try to pathologize every emotion I share. With all of this hyper-awareness going on lately, I feel like if I step a toe out of line, I am barraged with unsolicited advice towards therapy and meds.
What kind of therapy? What kind of meds? They don’t know. Because that’s where everyone is right now. Anyone who is gritting through a cycle must now be made feel like they are in immediate danger and dire need of help. It’s often followed up by well-meaning holistic anecdotes of a cousin’s friend who cured themselves with daily hot yoga and homemade kombucha. It’s all in your gut biome, you know?
Or worse – they start to assume you are suicidal and watch you, weirdly. It’s uncomfortable.
If I’m a little too dark, I scare my family. I little too angry, my friends get nervous. If I’m a little too quiet, my husband gets anxiety. If it lasts a little too long, everyone gets impatient.
Sometimes when I make eye contact with someone, my face contorts into an over-enthusiastic smile, because I know I look vacant and sad. And you can’t let anyone know you are vacant or sad, or the wheels start turning and they talk about you. They feel sorry for you. They ask if you are okay and then you have to lie (we all know the lie,) “I’m fine. Just tired.” That just means, “I’m not fine but it’s a doozy, Susan, so I’m not going to ask you to sit in the weeds with me because it’s both impractical and time consuming, plus you lack the skillset to do so.”
I cannot scream, I cannot cry. I cannot be alone. I cannot be with people unless I am smiling. I cannot put my fist through a piece of furniture. I cannot run naked into the woods. I cannot do anything except stand very still and try not to give it away. Because everyone is aware now. So aware.
But the problem is they still don’t understand.
What I long for is people who aren’t afraid of me when I crash out. People I can say dark things to and they know it’s simply a part of the normal spectrum of human emotion and chemical flux. I long to be released once in awhile to work through my mind and forgiven for not always being able to “be there.” I need to be loved as I am, or at the very least, accepted without anyone trying to fix me.
I know, it’s hard on everyone. People are only trying to help. But often, help is simply space and acceptance, without suicide hotlines and pills and therapist recommendations or kombucha recipes. I’d like it if people were also aware of that.
Because I am fine, everybody, just tired.