This a guest blog post from contributor that has posted here before, Emily K Harrington. Please enjoy.
For the Strong Who Feel Weak
If you live with an ice-cold knife in your chest. If you’ve ever felt your soul catch on fire. If you’ve had bugs crawl under your skin. If your body has ever felt so tight you felt your physical form contracting… you’re my people.
If you have lost all hope or had none to begin with, I’ve been there. If you’ve tried therapy and coping skills and it didn’t help, I’ve been there. If the medications you’ve been prescribed made you worse instead of better… I’ve been there. But where I am now is beautiful and meaningful, and I started exactly where you are. And I didn’t get better on my own. I’ll never be cured, but I can live a life in which I am willing to occupy my body.
Logistically and philosophically, things can only get worse to the point at which you die. It can’t get worse than that. It isn’t always possible for things to get worse. But it is always possible for things to get better. Things can always get better. This is true. So, wherever you are, with whatever lack of hope you have, it is unequivocally true that it is possible for your life to improve.
You’re strong. You’re in pain. You’re out of answers. You’ve lost hope.
And all I can offer is words. At the end of the day, you’re the only one who lives inside your head and gets to make decisions about your life.
If you’re struggling, you’re not alone, and there are literally hundreds of millions of other people online who have had your same symptoms and some version of your experiences. No two humans are exactly alike, but none of us are really that different, either. We’ve all got the same chemicals in our brains, just different balances. So reach out. (Themighty.com is a great place to read other people’s stories or just comments on daily life with any one of many health problems, mental and physical. The Mighty is a loving community, and if you have a story to tell, you can submit it to them to potentially get published. Your story could reach many people, so if you have something to offer (and everyone does), write your story and get your helpful information out into the world to help others.)
You are so strong. You’re having a bad day or month or year. You may have terrible, repetitive thoughts, but you are not created out of those thoughts. Thoughts come and go, and even if some come back over and over, that repetition doesn’t make them true. You are a human with inherent worth and lovability. Even if it feels like no one loves you, you’re worthy of love. Even if you feel weak, you’re carrying a burden that takes tremendous strength to bear. Even when there’s no one to talk to, you still have options for expressing your feelings.
You are actually pretty great. You deserve love. You deserve happiness. You deserve meaning. You deserve safety. You deserve respect. You deserve to express all of your feelings, positive or negative. You deserve to live in less pain.
There is hope out there. There are doctors and therapists and blogs and communities and self-help groups and books on how to feel better. There are concrete things you can do to minimize your pain.
This is your journey. For good or for ill, it’s yours. So stand up and fight. Life is an adventure, and adventures are dangerous and scary sometimes, and can be exhausting. This adventure is yours, alone.
At the end of your life, you will not be on your deathbed saying “I wish I had spent less time helping and loving people.” Give a hug. Hold a door. Text your mom to say you love her. Pick up a piece of trash from the ground and throw it away properly. Give blood. Give that homeless vet a little bit of money. Compliment the cashier at the grocery store. Smile at a child. Spread love in the world. It will help you every time.
Stop guilting yourself. Stop blaming yourself. Stop berating yourself for things you have no control over. Stop calling yourself names. You are not worthless, weak, a burden, unlovable, broken, ugly, stupid, or a loser. If you just started crying, it’s probably because you think one or more of those words is true about you. It’s not. No more self-hate. For a moment, imagine what it would look like (in terms of your actions) for you to love yourself. What would you do to show yourself love? pause to think Do one of those things today.
There is always hope, but you won’t always be able to believe it. You’re always worthy of love, but that won’t always feel true. Continue to allow your thoughts to come and go, to simply be things that happen in your mind that are then replaced with other happenings. You won’t always see clearly: such is the nature of mental illness. But you’ll come back. You always come back.
I know we don’t know each other; all I know is that you’re reading about mental health online right now, which means you’re seeking to understand yourself or others. For that, I am very proud of you, and you have permission to be proud of yourself, too.
Love and empathy forever.
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