This has been a rough week for me for many reasons. Yesterday, I found myself fighting the urge to cry all morning. I started work as I normally do, and then it just hit me. I couldn’t fight it or control it. I just burst out in tears and cried and cried and cried. It was exhausting, but it needed to happen. I’m still trying to recover.
I’ve always been a huge advocate of letting yourself cry. I think it’s necessary for anyone. Of course the act of crying is a physical release in more ways than one, but I like to think about it as letting all of those emotions, negative experiences, and frustrations leave your body. It’s like boiling water; you can cover it up all you want, but eventually, the water is going to break through that pot lid and will have to be released eventually.
One of my biggest mental hurdles that contributed to this need to cry is a frustration about what constituted as strength or weakness. People see crying as weakness, when really, it’s strength. People see owning your mental illness as strength, when others see just having a mental illness as a weakness. People see struggling to function every now and then as a weakness, but also see being able to step back and advocate for your need to take a break as strength. If you’re like me though, sometimes you have a really hard time seeing strength vs. weakness clearly.
I opened up to a lot of people this week about how I was feeling. I got a lot of really positive messages about how strong I was, how self-aware I am, how I seem to know all of the right things to do to get back to a positive place. And it’s all true. I acknowledge that. I appreciate those reminders so much. But like… why do I still feel so sad? Why am I still struggle to do basic things like work, feed myself, get enough sleep, practice my breathing techniques, etc. Why do I still have so many days of struggle? Why, when I have all the tools I need, when I have a lot of positive things to ground myself with, when I have so much support, when I have access to free therapy, am I struggling so much?!?!
I mean, the simple but not helpful answer is I have a mental illness. Something is just different in my brain and I can’t really control that. It’s not my fault. It just is what it is. I have to be okay with that. Sometimes, the tools just don’t work. Maybe if I got evaluated again that would help me come to terms with this? I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.
It’s taken a heck of a lot of work, but I always know in those moments where I’m sad, panicked, and having a really hard time coping, that I’m going to be okay. I know that I will get through it. I know the fight is never over, and that I’m never going to back down. It just sucks sometimes knowing all of this, and yet I still feel like my world is crumbling and I will never be able to contribute to society and I will never progress.
Do you have a clear definition of what you see as strength and what you see as weakness? Or are the lines blurred for you as well?