So clearly, if I’m starting a blog about my life with mental illness, I love to talk about it. But there’s a little more to it than I just want to be a part of the conversation. There’s more to it than believing that the more people talk about it, the less taboo it all becomes, and the easier it is for people to be honest with themselves and others.
Talking about my anxiety – whether it’s regarding how I’m feeling that day, generalizing it for people to understand it, or being honest with people who enter my life – is part of my healing. I NEED to talk about it. I need for people around me to know about it. I need people to understand that things I say, things I do or don’t do, and how I live my life are often because of how anxiety affects me. I need people to take it or leave it, and choose whether or not they can handle it before I get attached and then let down further down the road.
Often when I talk about anxiety in any way, I visualize myself picking up a box out of my soul and opening it up for the world to see. There are so many boxes we have inside of our souls that contain our personal truths, burdens, and feelings. Sometimes, our soul is too full. We need to make room for the love and the positive and the fulfillment.
So when I have an anxious thought or feeling inside of my soul, I need to pick that box up and open it and discard it. For me, verbalizing my anxiety does that for me. That’s me picking up that box, opening it up, and getting rid of it. I need to remove it from my life before it consumes me and I can no longer access the good parts of my soul. Does this even make sense to anyone else but me?
And so, this blog is going to allow me to have a consistent outlet that won’t get tired or sick of me releasing. And I hope that in doing this, it helps you learn that it’s totally cool to talk about your mental illness. The people in your life that don’t want to listen … well, maybe they shouldn’t be in your life. Maybe there are certain times when you can talk to certain people. Some people can handle it and know how to react (or not react, because like.. we don’t always need you to fix it. Sometimes we just need you to listen), and some people can’t. It doesn’t make them bad people. They just don’t get it.
Talking about it helps me let go. Talking about it helps me realize how irrational my thoughts are sometimes. Talking about it helps me get advice and find solutions (when I need that). Talking about it helps others learn about me. Talking about it inspires others to talk about it. Talking about it helps normalize it. Talking about it SAVES. LIVES.
So my advice to you if you know someone who likes or needs to talk about their mental illness?
Listen. Don’t just hear them. Listen. Listen with everything in you. Listen for the cries for helps, for the reasons to be concerned, for ways to fill the needs of your loved one.
If you can’t handle it, tell them. Direct them to resources to help them. Inspire them to write their thoughts down to get it out instead. Don’t harm yourself by taking in their feelings if you aren’t in the mental space to do that.
Care about what they are saying. Don’t tell them they are wrong or shouldn’t feel that way. They probably already know that and just can’t help it.
What advice would you give someone who has a hard time talking about their feelings? Share it in the comments.