Weight Off My Chest: Mental Illness and Relationships Part One
“How can you be sad when so much good is going on around you?”
“Ugh. Sometimes being your friend is so hard. You’re always down and always thinking negative. Get over it.”
All these things I have heard throughout my life from those alike me who probably lash out with these words due to their own inability to cope with their own emotions. They give off this false bravado as if they are impenetrable to emotional hardships—conditional or non-conditional—and assume everyone else should be the same. And yes, though you may be emotionally stale and numb to feelings that you mask with your money, your influence, your looks, just remember that those with depression, bipolar disorder, personality disorders or any other mentally confining ailment do not always have that choice. Let me address these questions and deprecating statements below from my own formed opinions based on my experiences as someone with a mental illness.
1. “How can you be sad when so much good is going on around you and in your life.”
A: Sweetheart, babydoll, my little honey-boo bear who still thinks of the world in black and white disregarding the various shades of gray within it—nobody knows exactly the reasoning as to why. Chemical imbalances, sure. But if I were to be able to give you an answer as to why people are down, exhausted, not feeling it, experiencing opposite emotions to things that might make you jump for joy, I’d be reaching for straws. I am never sure why I can be sad, suicidal, unhappy even when my career could take off and what may seem like something so magnanimous of a blessing could even be viewed as a curse. Self-sabotaging? One could make that inference. But remember, the reality that you perceive is just that—your perception.
People with mental illness have it just a bit harder in regards to discerning situations through a clear scope. In these situations, it’s best not to point a finger and tell someone with these conditions that they should just get over it. That doesn’t work and I am sure if the illness took a corporeal form you’d see the rageful, relentless monster hiding beneath. After all, you probably wouldn’t tell a cancer patient to just GET OVER IT? Why? Because you can see it and would look like an insensitive jackass! By the way, you can see mental illness as well to a degree. But that’s another post for another time.
2.“Ugh. Sometimes being your friend is so hard. You’re always down and always thinking negative.”
A: Yes. Yes, I agree that forming a relationship with someone with mental illness can be a gamble depending on the severity, the diagnosis and if the individual has taken steps to get treatment.
FYI though, friendships can be hard in general. Disagreements, different opinions and viewpoints, and opposing morals can become quite the structure to scale. Now throw in mental illness and you have got a real party started!
I am grateful for the friends I have had during the years. I’ve loved, I’ve lost but I commend each person that has entered my life and been there for me in my darkest times. Could I have possibly been a burden to some because of my emotional needs? It’s possible. But to those that never used it against me, I thank you.
Guys and gals, we have to love our friends for who they are and how they are if we consider them friends. What you get is what you see and if you are not comfortable or readily available for a particular person—mentally ill or not—you are not obligated to stay. That being said, if you make the decision to stay, do not use a person’s crutch and beat them with it. People have a mental illness, but they are not just their illness; they are so much more!
3. MAN UP!
This last one really has bugged me all my life because I’d hear it from several upon several people. From the bullheaded, obstinate, testosterone-fueled, emotionally stunted male to the females who mask their insecurities by telling others to get over theirs.
The mythical believe that people should mask their emotions and man up is bullshit. Society has men especially really messed up in the head with this harmful stereotypical, yet truthful archetype of holding in what is eating you from the inside out.
How dare a man cry, how dare a man scream for help, how dare a man show signs of perfectly normal human responses to transgressions and traumas that life can put on us. Any man, person, or ignoramus that I hear say this automatically gets a raised brow and usually a swift goodbye from me.
When these questions or statements are directed towards someone the messenger does not always perceive the consequences. Many MEN and WOMEN who have been told to mask what’s going on inside of them develop horrible coping mechanisms–drink themselves silly, pump their veins with dope, become promiscuous just to feel an ounce of relief, or just look for the door marked ‘exit’ and commit suicide.
You just told someone that their emotions, their pain, their story, their moments of heartache and exhaustion do not matter and that they need to fake it to make it. Not cool, not empathetic, not nice and damn sure not a type of friend anyone needs.
I guess I felt some type of way when writing this. I just think about how people need to be more aware of what they say, what they do and what they perceive. I always remember that mental illness is an illness and has been proven to be so. Sometimes I wish it could be visible so people could stop throwing it in the darkest corners of their closed minds denying its existence.
I hope you guys know that I understand firsthand how it can be to trust others with your pain, your joys, your heart. You’re putting yourself out there and I believe that you should continue to. There’s so much phoniness in this world that it can be hard to tell what’s real and what’s simply an apparition of what lies in front of us. Take care of yourselves and those that matter to you this week.
Chat with you guys soon,
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