To set the stage, let's talk definitions. According to Oxford Languages (by way of Google), mental health can be defined as: a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.
This blog post is going to talk about how life can get real lonely when you start to struggle with your psychological state and your emotions.
"Being alone is good, but being lonely is the worst." - unknown
That's a lot of suffering people, but when you consider the state of our world, it's not surprising. Political turmoil. A pandemic. War. Merciless capitalism. People hating their jobs. The state of the housing market. Inflation. Crippling debt. And that's not even mentioning all the baggage so many of us carry from the dysfunction in our own homes (whether as children OR as adults....or BOTH!)
There is A LOT to unpack.
But who can we unpack it with???
Everyone is not in the place to afford therapy, and for those who can, there's always the issue of finding a therapist that really gets you, one with whom you feel truly safe and compatible. I've had only success with my therapists, but I've heard some horror stories.
Then there's family. Some fortunate souls are blessed with supportive and understanding families. And then there's the rest of us. We have families that tell us we just need to "trust in God and pray it away" or simply "stop being so negative, and think happy thoughts". Then, there are the family members that take your mental health as an attack against them. "I did the best I could for you. Are you saying I didn't do enough? I did everything I could to give you everything I never had." Oh! And then..... there's the family that will just call you selfish and/or ungrateful.
With an honorable mention, I can't leave out the family member that seems trustworthy enough for you to share your struggle with, only for them to go back and share confidential information with others. So, there's that.
What about your friends? *cues TLC*
"What about your friends?
Are they gonna be low down?
Will they ever be around?
Or will they turn their backs on you?"
- What about your friends? TLC
Here's where it gets a little nuanced and a little tricky, right?? Because you may very well have a person or people in your life who say, "if you ever need to talk, just call me" or some variation of that, like they've presented themselves as a listening ear.
But, questions that need answers:
- What are the RULES?!
- How many times a week (day) can I call you?
- Are you open to receiving text messages?
- Is this not burdensome or boring to you???
- ARE YOU SURE?!?!
Because, honestly, life is a lot. Just a few weeks ago I stopped taking my anxiety and depression medication (under the supervision and guidance of a doctor), and I think I am triggered 90% of the time these days. And, I would LOVE to have someone to unload this on all the time, like, "Can you BELIEVE what happened???" BUT I am socially aware enough to know that having to listen to all of that on a continual basis is probably a lot for people.
It's not realistic to expect the people in my life to allow me to word vomit all over them on the phone or via text message whenever I want, especially because so many other people are going through their own struggles (remember, 1 in 4). So sending emotionally charged messages could very well disrupt the peace that someone else is trying to establish for themselves.
Of course, you are not responsible for setting and maintaining other people's boundaries. They need to let you know if something you shared was too much. That way you can know how to adjust and respect their needs.
But the way my anxiety is set up....
Having someone tell me that I overshared or that my vulnerability was too much for them.....oh, I'd just want to go bury myself in a sea of blankets and never show my face again.
So because of that, I try to be careful about how much I share.
I've actually had people to tell me that my sharing was a bit overwhelming for them, and that's been hard to hear because in none of those instances was I even sharing everything I was actually thinking or feeling.
Having those types of interactions can definitely result in you being much more hesitant and reserved about sharing these things, and that is hard. When you have a RICH thought life, runaway intrusive thoughts, anxious thoughts, and lots of reflections/connections being made about how your upbringing impacts your life today, there's so much you could share....but it doesn't necessarily feel like there is anywhere safe to share it.
And that is very lonely.
Anxiety. Depression. C-PTSD. PTSD. OCD. AHD. Hypervigilance. Overstimulation. Schizophrenia. Grief.
These are some HARD things to go through, and then to add the thoughts that no one wants to hear you talk about it on top of that. Ugh. That's rough. Oh! And let's not forget that a lot of us have jobs that we have to go to and pretend to not even be feeling any of these things. I think that could be its own blog post, honestly.
So, what can we do??
Ok....so short and sweet: I don't know.
BUT, my doctor/therapist keeps telling me to journal. She says that she has several, and she keeps them everywhere so she can just start writing whenever the emotion hits her.
I think this is a great idea. I just haven't taken the steps to do this yet. I wonder if writing out all my thoughts all the time would give the same sense of relief that confiding in a friend/my husband does. One thing's for sure, I wouldn't have to censor myself or worry about sounding absolutely out of my mind. That's refreshing.
Honestly, I just don't know if I'm disciplined enough to stop what I'm doing and start writing about my feelings instead of just continuing
to stew. Obviously, in theory, this sounds amazing and like the perfect solution. I just find I don't necessarily have a great track record with consistency.....and I don't want to buy 5 journals just to never use them. "So buy 1 journal and try it out", you might say.
Well, if I do that, I might lose it. Or I'll forget to bring it to work with me, and it won't work.
I could honestly think of 50 reasons why I can't do this, but the truth is, I've really got to do something. And so do you. We can't live this way. Carrying all this pain, sadness, anger, confusion, and more inside of us. I'm sure it's eating away at us, and that is no way to live.
So how about this?