One thing I continue to struggle with is my identity. After 24 years I only know a couple things about myself. I love too hard too quickly, I care more about others than myself, and I’m a people pleaser. Not one of those is something for me and only me. I have lived my life pouring my self into others and to be frank don’t know any other way of living. Happiness for me is when I succeed in making someone else happy. My favorite quote proves this. ” To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Doesn’t sound so bad right? Well the struggle is no joke. Being this compassionate has led me down dark paths of disadvantage. I continue reliving the past over and over in my head. And my main question is this. Do I care too much for others and not enough for me? Well I honestly still can’t answer this. Part of me says yes, but the other says, if everyone cared only about themselves , where the hell would we be?
Without selflessness, the world would continue to thrive in greed and jealously. All of these thoughts come back to my label of mentally ill. Like any other disease, it is a label. Unfortunately society accepts some labels more than others; mental illness being on the losing side. The stigma against mental illness makes me want to go “crazy”. Many think it’s just in our heads and there is no biological component. Well let me tell you that I disagree 100%. Sure life events and experiences can affect the chances of mental illness but there is no way that one person can handle the same situation and another go off the deep end completely. There has to be some sort of medical explanation that proves it’s not a defect, but a medical condition.
To those that think just get over it, it’s not that easy. Everyone has a voice inside their head but some are more prominent than others. Personally I wake up everyday and the voice tells me to just go back to sleep because being asleep is better than dealing with the day. Every morning that thought passes through my head until I using coping skills I’ve learned over the years to redirect my thoughts. My brain is constantly pulling me one way and tugging me the other way; a constant battle of tug of war.
So when people tell me they’re afraid for me, I actually get quite upset. I have had people tell me not to watch sad movies, listen to sad music, be friends with someone that has “drama”, date someone that similar issues to mine, read books that are “dark”; all because they think this will send me over the edge to a point of no return. The best way I can explain my answer to those ideas is, sad movies help me see the good in my life, sad music helps me connect with people I’ve never met that have similar issues to mine, being friends with someone that has problems that I can provide comfort makes me feel better, “dark” themes in books sometimes connect to my dark side of my mind, and dating someone who has mental illness as well made me feel not alone. None of these made me feel particularly worse in my battle with depression and anxiety. There is something to be said in finding the beauty in darkness. With all of this muck in my mind and life, it takes all I have to find the light in my life. So what does it matter which way I get this? If I want to read a book about Jaycee Duguard and get one quote out of it that I connect with; how does that make me feel worse? If I want to listen to “emo” music because I connect with a message they are portraying to their fans; how does that make me more depressed? If I date someone who is going through similar mental battles as mine; how does that bring me into a “funk”.
Here’s my truth. I might read a sad book or watch a sad movie or listen to a sad song. I may even cry; hard. To me that is healing. To feel their pain and understand where that emotion comes from gives me more connection to the world than anything else.
Here’s the truth on dating someone with mental illness as well as yourself. Yes we both battle everyday. Yes we may connect on a “dark” level. Yes we may feed off each others emotions. Yes we will have bad days. Yes we will care when the other is not “happy”.
But no it will make our mental illness any worse.
I found more comfort in that one person who suffered from mental illness than anyone else I’ve met in my life. I wasn’t alone anymore. I wasn’t stained with M.I as a precursor to who I actually was. I wasn’t a result of people’s assumptions. I wasn’t the butt of sick jokes of mental illness and suicide. I wasn’t watching others walk on eggshells around me. I wasn’t fragile. I wasn’t broken.
So yes, I may cry when I know that person is struggling, but who hasn’t cried over their significant other before??? Who hasn’t wished better for their other half?
Having mental illness should not be a determination of worthiness when it comes to love and romance. If everyone thought ” they’re sick and need a lot of help, so there’s no way that could help you”, then the whole mentally ill population would be alone. I would be alone because some guy’s family would be telling him that my struggles are not worth the fight and effort. They need to find someone that brings them help, not down. Why is it that mental illness is worse off than say any other disease? If you heard a husband leaving a wife because she had cancer, you would think ” what an asshole. how could he do that?”. If the wife had mental illness you’d probably hear something along the lines of ” Well she must be crazy. He can’t handle all of that. It was causing him too much stress.” Just because there are no physical side effects per say, doesn’t mean it is any less serious than other diseases. Depression and anxiety have stopped me from being confident and social, pursuing a degree I wanted, caused me to fail 3 college courses, resulted in hospitalization, decision to be put on meds, caused me to turn to alcohol to cope, caused me to call into work ( sometimes 4 or 5 days at time) and yet it is not considered serious enough to be a significant disease. Coping with society’s mentality of mental illness is enough to drive me “mad”.
So how can the people around you tell you that finding someone that understands all of this is wrong; that it’s nothing but negative for me. I truly do not understand how finding a common ground, even if it’s a “negative” place cannot help someone. For christ’s sake, half of the premise in therapy in the hospital was group therapy. A set hour of time where you sat with others, like you with mental illness, and shared off each others ideas. My medical insurance company financially covered time for me to feed off other people with mental illness and feel a commordity with them.
So I’m sorry I do not agree with you. No relationship is easy, for MANY reasons. Why does mental illness have to be a specific issue that affects whether or not someone is good enough for you?
And frankly my dear. I don’t give a damn.