On Mental Health

Don’t Let Me Fool You.

There are women in my life who handle a lot more stress with work, family, hobbies etc, than I do – yet never seem to need therapy or medication to cope with anxiety or depression. And whenever they say things that remind me of that, I curl up in the corner and hide in my shame.

I talk a lot of talk and use a lot of hashtags about the importance of understanding that poor mental health is not a sign of weakness, that getting help is an act of BRAVERY, and yet…YET…I still battle my own demons of shame every day.

I thought of that this morning when I was reminded again of friends who seem to have a better grasp on life than I do and I felt embarrassed that I have made it so known that I seek therapy. I found myself thinking, Ug. I wish I didn’t talk so much about therapy now. She handles so much more and doesn’t need it or medication and here I am crumbling under the weight of half of her load and WHY DO I HAVE TO BE SO OPEN ABOUT EVERYTHING?

And I’m embarrassed and ashamed that I seek therapy. I’m that girl who talks about her therapist all the time. I’m hiding in the corner again.

But then I stop for a moment and think about my wings. The wings on my back that are tattered and worn. We all have them, you know. Mine were so tattered and worn though for so long – just falling apart after my Dad died – that I hadn’t flown in years. I hadn’t spread them in so long, I forgot they were there.

But lately, my therapist and I have been working together to mend the holes of the beautiful wings and I’ve taken them out a few times and soared over my anxiety and depression and felt the weight of the world fall to the side as I took a deep breath and remembered what it was like to FLY.

I think about how my husband told someone recently about how much better all of our lives are since I started getting help. Not just because I’m getting better, but because I’m sharing my lessons and my vulnerabilities with them and now we all feel more connected. I’m not carrying the weight on my own anymore and so now we can all fly as a family, helping each other along the way.

But, I still fight the voices of shame and embarrassment every day. So I actively try to keep preaching the lines of openness. Sometimes I fly because I’m feeling better equipped to handle the challenges of life, but other times I refuse to even show my wings.

So for all of you who sometimes vocalize your own struggles to remind me I’m not alone? Thank you. Because some days I still fight the demons of shame, I sit on the ground and watch the people above me soar with such ease and I’m embarrassed that I struggle so much to even get off the ground. So I thank those of you who have shown me the holes in your wings and have sat with me on the ground, sometimes even helping me repair mine, so we can fly together.


13 thoughts on “Don’t Let Me Fool You.”

  1. I love you. You are not alone.

    You were behind me in traffic the other day, and I fumbled to text you in time, but you just looked so happy. You were by yourself in the van, but you were smiling. Singing, maybe? I don’t know. But man, you were beautiful. I didn’t text you, but I should’ve let you know.

  2. Be kind to yourself. Your brain lies to you. It makes it harder. Some people who do more, and handle more, and seem more together… maybe they have struggles they’re not showing… or maybe they have brain chemistry that lets them see the truth about their strength and competence, and not the lies and meanness that an anxious brain chemistry feeds you. (And me, and so many others.)

    You’re being brave and strong and amazing in being up front about your journey to healing. Keep at it. All of it. And may your brain learn to be a truth-teller soon. (Mine too.)

  3. This was beautiful, Kim. My wings have been tattered, too, and like you, I tried to be very open about what I was going through with those around me. It’s been good, but I’ve had those moments you describe of wishing that I hadn’t shared so much. But I’ve gained more through sharing than I have lost. I’ve found that some of those people who seem to have it all together actually don’t. I’ve learned who some of my real friends are, and how to be a real friend to someone in this situation. I don’t know why life seems more difficult for me than for others, but this is my path and yours, too. You never know who you’re touching or impacting with your sharing-keep it up!

  4. Good on Donnie to say what he did, to lift some of the shame off and also communicate to others & the kids that this is helping. He’s also praising the effort that you’ve put in and what a difference it makes. Gold star for you!

  5. Great post! It is a struggle, but you are working it! One thing I might point out, or remind you about… You actually have no idea what is going on “behind the scenes” of those other people you think are so “together”. It is possible they ARE in therapy and they DO take medication, but they just aren’t talking about it. Even more likely, they put on a “face” in public, but are a mess when in the privacy of their own home/their own head.

    Some people are open about their struggles, which truly helps us all. But, the many of us who don’t feel safe to do so, are just putting on a face and getting through another hard day…

  6. Anxiety and depression are both imbalances in brain chemistry. There is no shame in faulty brain chemistry. Were all have different personalities, too. We all handle situations differently and internalize them differently , too. A lot of people do not handle life as well as you think they are. Being a runner, you hang out with healthy people. They eat healthy exercise, don’t smoke and probably don’t drink heavily or misuse drugs. But there are many many adults that “deal” with issues mistreating there bodies. Be open. I am . I have a counselor , and psychiatrist to manage and prescribe the medications (3).
    I would be curious to know your myers- briggs personality type (there are similar tests online). My wise counselor told me that people that love big, hurt big.

  7. You know what? I bet that other person that “has it all together” actually doesn’t. I just don’t think there are a lot of people who just really and truly FEEL like they have it all together. I think everyone is kind of a mess inside. Some just are more honest about it. And I bet she really loves your openness and it makes her look at things differently. I look back at some harder times in my life and I KNOW i looked like I had it together. But inside I was a hot mess! That is probably her!

  8. You may already know this one, but I’ll share it anyway. “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” Meaning, no matter how you feel inside, when you listen to someone who seems to have it harder in some way but seems to be handling it better than you think you are handling the same issue – you just don’t know that that’s the case. The people who seem to you to have more things to handle and never mention depression/anxiety or using therapy – you just don’t know. Maybe they don’t. Maybe they do, but don’t talk about it because of shame. When you’re with that person who seems to handle it so much better than you, remember – you don’t know what they aren’t telling you. You choose to be open and share your struggles, that isn’t a weakness.

  9. Thanks for writing this. I just wrote a somewhat similar post yesterday – about not wanting to share but wanting to share and back and forth forever and ever amen.

    I’m always, without fail, so grateful when others share their journey with mental health stuff. So thank you.

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