Hello everyone and happy Friday, wherever you are in the world! Today I’m continuing to share with you my personal struggle with mental illness–and triumph over it–in the blog series called A Light in Darkness.
What is A Light in Darkness all about? It’s where I share the highs and lows, the tears and scars, and the joy and spark and love that has ultimately gotten me to this wonderful point of my life. My path, my beautiful life. I hope that by telling my story, I can inspire others to keep going with their lives and feel wonderful.
I am by NO means a trained counsellor. I cannot offer you professional advice. I do hope that my words help, and it will be wonderful if they do. My only training comes from life itself, and I’m still learning! You can read my other posts in the series here.
Today’s topic is when love holds on to you through the darkness.
Holding relationships of any kind during many forms of mental illness can be trying. It can be exhausting. Hell, it can even feel impossible.
Your mind is already so intensely wrapped up that you may feel you shouldn’t bother with friendships, with connection, with relationships. You may feel that nobody wants to be around you because of your mental health, no matter what your loved ones tell you otherwise. And so you withdraw, you disconnect, and then you blame yourself.
I know because I’ve been there. And it’s still something I struggle with from time to time.
I have low self esteem, even now. I’ve been slowly working on it, painstakingly building it up bit by bit. But when the anxiety becomes severe or the clinical depression gets worse, my self esteem bottoms out again and I can’t imagine how anyone could stand me. I am pretty insecure. I have very strong paranoia that I’ll be abandoned, and this has gotten me into trouble in the past for not opening up to my loved ones when I needed them most. And because they confront me and are upset, I withdraw even more and feel like even more of a nuisance. It’s a vicious, sickening circle.
These are the things I have thought when it comes to loved ones and my mental health. Do any of these look familiar to you?
- I’m a burden to everyone around me.
- I’m useless.
- I shouldn’t open up because I’ll just come across as dramatic and an attention seeker.
- I need to hide the worst parts of my illness because if I don’t, people will stop loving me.
- Everyone’s going to get sick of me sooner or later and leave me.
- I’m a terrible person/spouse/sibling/parent/child/friend/employee/boss.
- Everyone’s going to be angry with me for my illness or treat me differently.
- I don’t deserve to be loved when I’m like this.
And right now I am sending you tight hugs and telling you that these thoughts are truly and absolutely untrue.
I know it’s not as simple as telling yourself that. Coming to this realization can take a long time, and it can take an even longer time to change your thought patterns and emerge from this.
But know that I’m rooting for you. You can do this. WE can do this.
If you have good people around you, they’ll understand. They’ll still respect you. They’ll still love you, even if you need some time alone. They’ll still help you smile, help you stay afloat.
Those are the people worthy of being your friends, your family, your significant others.
My husband has seen me through years of darkness, and he’s loved me throughout. His opinion of me has never changed. In fact, I think it might be higher now that he sees in person how hard I fight to overcome it. He helps me, he holds onto me, he loves me.
Same for my close friends. Same for my family, both my biological one and my Canadian one.
And having those people in my life has made such a huge difference for me. I couldn’t quite believe that they were really there for me, but time and time again it proved to be true. And for that I am so, so grateful.
They love me in both darkness and in light.
And that’s how everyone should be loved.