By Isabelle Laureta
You may think I’m out of my mind for saying this but I don’t know how to open up to people. Well, not exactly. I know the right words to say but I guess I’m more afraid my friends will just make fun of me, invalidate my sadness, or be freaked out by how much darkness I’m holding inside of me. On the surface, I may seem okay. I wake up every day, go to work, face the hustle and bustle of the city like a normal person, and turn in, only to do the exact same thing the next day. But in between the “normal” routine, it just gets me how nothing I do now matters in the long run and how I’m wasting so much of my time and energy for something that’s relatively pointless in the larger scheme of things. I told one of my closest friends about this inexplicable sadness and he just laughed at me and shrugged it off. On one hand, maybe he’s right. Maybe this is just all in my head. But on the other hand, I know that this isn’t something I should just take lightly as it’s starting to affect my daily life. It sure affected my friendship with him because I now think I cannot trust him with my feelings anymore. I don’t even know what I’m asking of you. Maybe tell me I’m not just making this all up?
I want to start by getting the only false and invalid thing on your letter out of the way: I don’t think you’re out of your mind. Like, at all. And whoever does probably lives in a special bubble where they feed on high doses of stigma against those of us unhinged. Such a shame, honestly.
Extremely introverted fragile blob who suffers from high levels of anxiety that I am, trust me when I say I know how you feel and I know that the darkness you’re holding inside of you is real. I know what it’s like to feel something you can’t even describe, or even begin to unravel the layers of its cause because you don’t even freaking know what causes it. You can’t even distract yourself and “shrug it off” by doing the things you used to love because—guess what—for some other unknown reason, you don’t enjoy doing these things anymore. You just know that it’s something that’s eating you up inside, something you need to escape from, something you absolutely need to get out of your system before it catches up and wins over your sanity.
It sucks that your friend didn’t take you seriously when you finally mustered the courage to tell him about what you were going through. It must’ve taken a lot of courage from you to do that, and to be ridiculed like that is the last thing you needed. I want you to think about this: If he’s someone you consider a true friend, do you think he’ll do what he did and shrug off your cry for help? Probably not. Or he probably just needs to get out of his happy bubble, stop inhaling the stigma, and start educating himself more about what mental health is and how important it is that we keep it in check to be highly functioning individuals. Maybe then, people like you and me need not be forced in a corner of our own darkness and stop being terrified of the idea of opening up.
You see, when you surround yourself with the right people to open up to—people who aren’t necessarily professionals, but are open-minded, kind, and sincere enough to touch the darkness you’ve been hiding within, or even merely listen to what you have to say without prejudice, then you’ll find it easy to open up, no holds barred. In fact, it’ll be one of the easiest thing you’ll ever do while going through this. You’ll find yourself not being able to wait until the next time you can rant. I’m very lucky to have found people in my life who don’t only do the bare minimum and tolerate me in my dark moments, but also make an effort to make me feel better, even if it means just being there and listening to the things I have to say. Because sometimes, we don’t need people who will solve our problems for us, not even someone who will tell us it’s going to be okay. We just need someone who will pat us on the back and say, “Yeah, that sucks.” You may think it wouldn’t change anything, but those three words are more powerful than you assume, because it means someone finally understands, that someone finally recognizes the realness of what you’re going through. And that’s more than enough.
I’m not going to lie: It wasn’t easy to find these particular people. There was a lot of trial and error that went with it, and I gave up the idea completely more times than I could count, but it was so worth it in retrospect. So go out and find your people. There’s no shame in being vulnerable. If they take it the wrong way, know that it’s not your fault. Not everyone is ready enough for the dark yet beautiful, messed up but organized disaster, absolutely complex person that you are.
I still highly encourage you to see a therapist. I know it’s so much to ask, but don’t let the stigma get to you and go get help. I cannot stress enough how important this is: Getting help doesn’t mean you’re weak. If the traditional sit-down with a therapist isn’t your cup of tea, there are other things you can try. I’ve tried signing up to online therapists and it helped me more than I’d imagined. Do what works best for you—just don’t give up. Sorry, but that’s not an option. Not right now, not ever.
I’m rooting for you!
Ask me your deepest, weirdest, darkest questions! I’m no expert at anything and I don’t have it all figured out either (because, honestly, who does?), but let me at least try. Send them over to email@example.com and let’sm ake sense of this crazy millennial life together! <3
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