I’m in the thicket of a heavy spell of depression. My body aches, my heart aches, my very soul aches, and every time I turn around…people are asking things of me. Everyone around me needs my help. It’s suffocating me because I can’t even get through my regular days without collapsing into a pile of brokenness, at least internally.
My mind tells me it’s because I’m not important enough. People don’t see that I’m struggling because my struggles are not important. They aren’t as bad as so-and-so’s struggles. I know…that’s depression talking with its smooth voice of deceit.
But it’s believable, especially when nobody stops to ask, how are you really doing? Are you okay? What can I do to help?
And I don’t stop to tell anybody, either, because it goes back to feeling as if they wouldn’t care anyway, because I’ve been brushed off in the past more times than I can count. And around and around we go on this continuous loop.
It’s incredible hard for those who have mental illness to speak out, or at least for those who have tried in the past and been met with annoyance and harsh words instead of empathy and kindness. There are some people out there that are able to ask help and receive it immediately. I am not one of them. I am supposed to be the strong one. I’ve dealt with “a lot more” than a “little sad spout”, after all. I’ve had too many surgeries to count and pain days every day, and I still kept moving through all of that, right?
I guess it doesn’t even occur to those around me that it’s exhausting for me to do this, for me to simply get through a regular day. I guess it doesn’t occur to those around me that I’d be nervous about another surgery, wondering if this particular one will make things worse or make it better and how long it will take to get to the better. I guess it’s difficult for them to realize how anxiety inducing it is to think about all the things I’ll struggle doing after surgery: getting my kids ready for school, getting them to school, cleaning, cooking, laundry.
Right now, as much as I’d love to help others…I am struggling to help myself. I recognize that I am not the only one struggling, but when does the balancing act end? When do I get to address my issues and take a breather? When will I count?
I have this inability to speak about what’s happening in my head. I will try to force the words through my mouth. I will try to say “no, I’m drowning. I can’t take anything else on,” and my words will be ignored for the greater good of other people’s needs. I am a push-over; I am easily manipulated and easily ignored. Or at least…that’s how it feels.
In this moment, I am feeling selfish. I am wondering why it’s so difficult for people to see me, to see my struggles and to extend the hand of help or at least leave me be to heal myself.
In the words of the Dalai Lama himself, “If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.”