A friend and I were chatting this week and she said, “whether you’re doing well or whether you’re in crisis, I’m in.” I don’t think she fully realized the weight of those two simple words. Hopefully she doesn’t read the rest of this post and sorely regret it, #stuckwithmenow haha. But for someone like myself, living with a mental illness, having someone tell you they are “in” even in times of crisis comes with a lot of emotion. Relief. Reassurance. Guilt.
F*ck I carry a lot of guilt. Guilt for being honest. Guilt when I’m dishonest. Guilt for the obvious failure of this journey so far. The weight of this guilt can be unbearable at times. Let’s be f*cking real for a minute. Mental illness is a burden. It’s a burden on the one who lives with it – both emotionally and physically. It’s a burden on their friends and family. Do I choose to live with a mental illness? Obviously not. Do my loved ones know that? Sure. Are they “in” for the ride regardless? For the most part, yes. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t often the elephant in the room, especially in times of crisis.
Is she okay today? Is it okay if I say x? What are her triggers again?
Exhausting isn’t it? I’m exhausted for them.
There’s a lot of misperception when it comes to the word, crisis. I imagine some people envision it like a glass being knocked over and shattering on the floor into a million pieces. It’s obvious. It’s loud. But that’s not always case.
Moments, hours, days, weeks of “crisis” can be completely ordinary things for the average person but completely triggering for another. And while I have really big triggers (like rejection and death), I have small ones too. Everyday stressors that most people can cope with and move on, can send me spinning for days.
Changes to my routine. Getting sick. An unexpected behaviour from someone I trust. A meltdown from one or both of my kids (which happens daily at the moment). A loved one going through a difficult time. Making poor health-related decisions (another daily occurrence). You might be thinking these are everyday stressors, and they are. But for someone with anxiety and depression, coping can be difficult, debilitating even. And the symptoms aren’t obvious or loud like you might think. They can be subtle and often they are behind closed doors, only visible and sometimes harmful to the ones closest to them.
It’s rare to find people who just get you. Who can know something is wrong without you having to say a word. You think you’ve gotten so good at hiding behind the smile but they see right through it. Dammit. They know you’re in crisis. These people are often the closest to you – your immediate family, your spouse, friends you’ve known forever who have seen you through enough crises that they’d see it from a mile away. So when you find someone new, someone unexpected, it takes you by surprise. Enter guilt. Enter self doubt. Enter regret. Not regret that you let them in enough to see you, like really see you, but regret that you’ve burdened yet another person.
I told my friend that I’m not in crisis. This wasn’t completely true. I suspect she knows this, she’s pretty intuitive. I wasn’t trying to lie to her but I instinctively try to lessen the burden on those around me. For fear they will leave. For fear they’ll become exhausted of me. It’s a built-in defence mechanism so that when they do leave and inevitably give up on me, I won’t break completely. Truth is, I’m in crisis daily. Not the loud or obvious kind. Not the kind where anyone needs to worry about me doing anything harmful. But the kind that can make daily tasks a struggle. The kind that can make me seem moody for no reason whatsoever. The kind that makes me overanalyze the simplest of things. I like to think I contribute enough positive things to my relationships that my crises don’t overly affect those closest to me. But some days I do wonder why they put up with it.
So I’m back (for now, no guarantees) and I am working on it. I’m seeing a new therapist. I’m making small changes to my daily habits vs. trying to overhaul my life all at once which just overwhelms me and leads to inevitable failure. I’m learning more of the why behind my poor relationship with food and my body. I’m getting stronger, even if it feels like the opposite most days.
Sometimes I do get “knocked over” and break on the floor (both figuratively and literally) The past five months since I’ve written have been no exception. But unlike glass shattered into a million pieces I can and will continue trying to put myself back together. I always have and I always will. If I learned anything this past year, it’s that I’m one resilient b*tch. And having people who love me and are “in” regardless, doesn’t hurt. I’m “in” for them too.