I read somewhere that writing about your problems can be helpful, when the problems are related to mental health or identity. (I read that in a fabulous book called Symptoms of Being Human, by Jeff Garvin, which is about a gender fluid teenager who starts a blog as a way to express their feelings. I’m terrible at descriptions, and I’m deeply sorry for that one, but the book is definitely worth reading.)
me Ari. Of all the nicknames people have for me, that one’s my
favorite. I’m a really short girl with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes,
and I laugh really easily. On the surface, I seem mentally stable. And
maybe I am. I’m not sure, if that makes any sense.
here’s the thing: What I went through wasn’t my own mental health
problems. Instead, I acted as the therapist for nearly all of my friends
for years. They’re all doing better now, but my own mental health is so
much worse. I have triggers now, something I never imagined could
happen to me. I was supposed to be the “okay” one, the one who solved
all the problems, not the one who had the problems.
tell you how it happened. You know when someone tells you about
something bad that happened to them, and you take on some of their pain
so they don’t have to carry it alone? I did that. I did it with multiple
people, for a few years. And I hid any pain of my own, because it added
to theirs and I couldn’t let that happen. I never allowed myself to be
upset or angry, because it affected them in a bad way. It upset them and
they didn’t deal with being upset very well, so I did my best to make
sure they never were. They were the sun around which I, the Earth,
orbited. Everything was about them. And I didn’t realize I had a problem
until it wasn’t like that anymore. Suddenly, I was allowed to have
feelings. I was allowed to have bad days and triggers and to not be
okay. It was terrifying, and I had no idea how to deal with it.
Honestly, I still don’t. But I’ve made some great friends, and I know I
can rely on them.
told some of my friends what I’ve been through, and they told me
something that I didn’t believe for a while. My past isn’t a series of
secondhand experiences with other people’s mental illnesses. It’s a
series of firsthand experiences with trying to help someone who’s in a
downwards spiral, and then falling into that spiral with them. I’m
allowed to have bad days, and what I went through matters just as much
as what my friends went through. My struggles are not less valid because
they don’t come with a diagnosis.
I’m sorry, I sound really attack-y right now. (It’s a word. Accept it.)I don’t mean to sound like I’m attacking. It’s just that I don’t always remember. I still have days where I want to call that friend I stopped talking to, because even though it hurts me to talk to her, maybe she needs me. And she’s the one with depression, so I need to make sure she’s okay. On those days, I have to stop and remind myself that I matter just as much as she does. I repeat it like it’s a mantra. “You matter. Your problems are no less important because they don’t have a label. You matter…” Over and over, until eventually I believe it.
Maybe one day I won’t need to remind myself anymore. I can’t wait for that day.
And as long as we’re talking about things I want, I’d like a kitten.
Luv and chocolate,