"Just be happy."
"Don't stress out so much."
"Don't be so negative."
Have you ever said these things to someone? Have you ever been on the receiving end? Have you ever wanted to punch the person saying them in the face? Yeah, me too. I know my reaction, sometimes spoken out loud, is always the same.
"Thanks for the hot tip, asshole."
Funny enough, but saying a statement like "cheer up!" does not make it magically happen. I know there's lots of research on visualization, positive affirmations, etc. I've used them myself. Positive affirmations is part of how I helped improve my body image. But that was only one small part. There's a lot of work that goes into making any kind of change, especially a big one like depression, anxiety, or just being a Type A pain in the ass (I admit it). So yes, saying positive things, things you want to be real, can help. But it is not the only thing you have to do for change to happen.
When someone says a statement like that to me, which seems to be fairly often, I can't help but get a little irritated. Yes, I know! Fuck! I get it, okay. It's what you say when you don't know what else to say to help someone who's clearly having a hard time with life. I've been on that end too, but you're better off saying nothing. Just give your friend a hug and be there to listen.
Now I'm not saying that you don't have a choice in who you are and how you behave. Of course you do. I'm just saying it's not as easy and just "being". Any statement that includes "just be" or "don't be" makes it sound so incredibly simple. As if you can suddenly change what you are, in an instant. You might as well say "just be a bird!" I can't think of anybody I know who is capable of instantaneous and difficult changes. It takes work, no matter who you are.
|Wish I felt as strong as Oscar!|
"Be strong." or "Stay strong." There's another statement worth mentioning.
"I don't fucking feel strong!"
Just heard that that other day and it really hit home for me. Yes, exactly! Sometimes I don't feel strong. Why should I pretend that I do? Just to make everyone in my life feel more okay with my depression? Another way society tries to make you feel bad about it, like you don't feel bad enough. Bottle that shit up! Don't show your weakness! Put on that fake fucking smile and pretend like you're not hurting inside. You won't get anywhere being upset! Successful people aren't depressed!
I call bullshit.
We all have shit to deal with. The happiest person you know, if you really get to know them, sit down with them and have a deep conversation, what will be revealed? That they're happy 100% of the time and spend every moment in gratitude and perfect harmony with the universe? Nope. You'll find out they struggle with shit, too. Maybe they're farther on their journey than you are, and so it seems like they're happy all the time to you at first. But I guarantee that they still have struggles. "Life is suffering" after all, it's not easy for any of us. I bet even Tony fucking Robbins has bad days. And he's a billionaire.
So why do we all expect each other to hide our suffering? Why are we uncomfortable when someone shows their true emotion? Why are we always expected to torture ourselves in the quest for being strong? If we're all dealing with shit, why can't we deal with it together?
I don't know the answer, I just know that's how it feels. There are very few people in my life that I tell my real problems to. I'm not saying we should all go around telling the world our darkest issues. But it would be nice to not be worrying about everyone's judgement if they find out we have a mental illness or are just struggling with life. Maybe those of us labeled with a mental illness are simply those of us willing to admit to someone that we're struggling and need help! That doesn't make us fucking weak! Maybe it actually makes us stronger. Admitting we aren't in this life of suffering alone. Accepting a little defeat. Swallowing our pride long enough to say, "help me, please!"
It takes strength to ask for help. It's really hard to tell anyone that you're having a hard time. Anyone who's experienced any kind of mental illness knows what I speak of. The first time you admitted it to someone, how did it go? How did you feel? Easy stuff, didn't make you break down and cry at all, right? Didn't shatter your soul or self-confidence when faced with the person's concern, disappointment, irritation? Yeah, right. Even after all these years, admitting my problems and asking for help are still the hardest words I've ever said. And it's still hard every time I talk about it or share a post about it.
So maybe, just maybe, we can all at least keep this in mind. That we are all struggling with something. We are all weak sometimes and strong others. Happy and sad. Calm and stressed. Life is a balance. We can't seem to appreciate the good things in this world without the presence of the bad, here to remind us to be grateful for the good. Remember that before you blurt out something rude like "just cheer up!" Or at least, don't be surprised if the person tells you to fuck off.