Fighting to be heard
There are often times when I feel that I try so hard to be seen, to be heard, to be understood and ultimately, what tends to happen instead is that my words or actions end up pissing people off. I know it’s not my duty to make people understand me or get my struggles, but when I’m trying so hard to consistently put my best foot forward on a daily basis, it can be demoralising when that’s not recognised and I’m labelled negatively. Until recently, I experienced feelings of shame, failure and defectiveness. Whilst I’ve always been an open book, this has often landed me in trouble and is met with invalidation of the feelings I face. I’ve often been told by those closest to me that I’m overreacting, I should think about those less fortunate and I should stop making everything about me. Yes, there are often times – for insignificant things – where I find myself wishing I hadn’t responded so dramatically but more often than not, I am hurting and I’m genuinely in pain whether people can see it or not. I shouldn’t need to cut myself to be heard, to be validated or understood. Everyone deserves empathy and that includes me too.
Whilst I’m moving away from the addictive need of wanting to be validated, I still struggle if I feel like I’m self-sacrificing myself for the sake of others or if I don’t have sufficient alone time. I want people to like me and frankly, who doesn’t? However, I take it one step further and act codependently with the expectation that if I try really hard, people will see that and appreciate the great efforts I have gone to in order to make them happy. Where this becomes a problem is when I volunteer to attend things, meet someone or give more of myself than I feel comfortable but end up feeling depleted, drained and burnt out.
You see, the thing about depression is that it can significantly affect your ability to do simple things like being social, washing, cleaning or cooking. These can feel like massive mountains to climb. I appreciate this can feel alien to those who’ve not experienced a struggle with mental health, but trust me when I say, that when the black dog is very much following me everywhere I go, I have no energy to live the life I want to lead. The thought of waking up, working and coming home feels like an insurmountable challenge and yet I do it, because I’m also a high-functioning depressive who suffers from anxiety too. So whilst I may put on a face of bravery, wear a cloak of courage and act in a bubbly and friendly way, underneath the facade, I’m crumbling and sometimes I wish people could see that and hear what I have to say rather than perceiving it differently. Yes, I may cancel my plans with you or I may never be able to give you a straight answer when you need it, but I’m struggling and I know I’m not alone in this.
I rarely let people into this part of me because it’s ruined friendships, relationships and above all, it can make me, like so many others, vulnerable to attacks from people who barely know me, nor take an interest in my welfare, but also the ones closest to me. I think I also give up with getting people to understand me having been party to conversations where they’ve unconsciously said things about others whose behaviour often resonates with me. Yes, I might not want to go out drinking with you or flake on a dinner plan, but I’m not doing that intentionally. For example, those with social anxiety may prefer to go for a coffee or walk over something like a three-course dinner and my thinking is if you can’t understand that or can’t be with me when I’m at lowest, do you even deserve to enjoy me at my highest? Insensitive comments and the lack of awareness when it comes to tricky things like suicide, self harm or social anxiety can make us shut down.
I haven’t mastered the art of communicating with others in a way that is assertive about my own needs yet respectful of their wishes too. However, I am trying and take action to continuously improve this skill on a daily basis. Please bear with me as I attempt to escape the grip of the black dog and grapple with the things I struggle with. All I, and so many others, need is a non-judgmental shoulder to lean on and an ear who will listen to the pain that’s inside of us. Sometimes, we don’t need you to fix it or find solutions, we just need you to hear us – loud and clear.
I’m struggling and so are a lot of people, all it takes is a little kindness and patience to help lessen the pain.
As hard as it is right now, I encourage you to rise from the ashes, spread your wings and fly,
The Confused Butterfly
Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended for educational purposes only. Nothing found on this site should be a substitute for professional medical advice nor is it a substitute for therapy. Therefore, please seek the advice of a Doctor or Mental Health Practitioner if you have any concerns about your wellbeing. These views are personal to me and are in no way a representation of other individuals or organisations.