You are not alone
I think the most common fear we face as humans is the fear of being and, more importantly feeling, alone.
But what happens when you suffer a mental condition that tells you you’re lonely and that ‘no one will understand’ when the total opposite can be true? What happens when you’re surrounded by people and you still feel the loneliest person in the room?
Then we suffer.
We doubt ourselves.
We feel unliked and unloved.
We feel life in the most dark and painful of ways.
So I’m here to tell you something.
You are not alone.
Though the ways in which we suffer may not align, it doesn’t mean we won’t understand. Doesn’t mean that we don’t understand that when you feel that true sense of loneliness, the realisation can almost take your breath away.
People come to a life of depression and anxiety in many different ways. Some follow a spell of trauma in their lives. Some stem from a shit childhood with even shitter parents. And some stem from absolutely nowhere (I’m the latter).
So whilst our journeys to and through depression and anxiety may differ greatly, we share a great many commonalities in the way in which we feel. And that’s what I need to explain to you today; to make you listen to me say, you are not alone.
Despite a lot of positive campaigns throughout the world’s media; most of us stay quiet. We stay quiet in our unrepentant suffering because ‘no-one feels how I do’, ‘no one understands’. We stay quiet because we believe in society’s’ bullshit that our emotions and thoughts are our own fault despite suffering an illness. That we somehow deserve all the nights we cry ourselves to sleep, have panic attacks and think of walking into the ocean. We stay quiet because we think it’s our fault; that we’re weak and a failure and that we have no right to ‘complain’.
The problem with all of those points, apart from them being untrue, is that it leaves us with a crushing sense of loneliness. It leaves us believing that we have to deal with our struggles alone because ‘no one will understand’. But whether it’s the middle of the day at work or the dead of night when we can’t sleep; there are millions out there who understand.
We understand that sometimes, going food shopping in the supermarket can be so overwhelming, we walk out with nothing we intended to buy because we’re too depressed to focus on living. We understand that we can spend entire days filled with friends and barely remember a word we shared in conversation. We understand that despite a seemingly happy life, we can lead an excruciatingly unhappy one through no fault of our own.
You are not alone.
And you are most certainly not alone in thinking you are. We don’t think that our friends, family or neighbours suffer like we do because ‘their house/family is perfect’, or ‘they always seem so happy’ but there are many different masks we wear throughout lives and you can’t judge a book by its cover however much we find ourselves doing so.
The problem in that is that it means we never see what’s beneath the mask. We never see our friend have a meltdown because she’s spent 7 hours online looking for the ‘perfect’ cushion to match her suite. We never see our school patrol officer cry because he’s so depressed his wife has left him for ‘someone better’. We never see the checkout woman scream that she’s terrified her son is mentally ill but can’t seem to help him.
So we assume. We assume that everyone else has a better, more ‘controlled’ life than we do but they don’t – they’re just better at hiding it; they have a stronger mask. They’re feeling just as alone as you but are unwilling to admit it to themselves and each other.
We do need to wear masks where appropriate but the danger is, we no longer know how or when to take them off and show our real selves. We don’t know if anyone will accept us as we are. So we feel lonely because we fear honesty.
But you are not alone.
You may not feel you have anyone in your contacts list to call when you’re crying yourself into hyperventilation and just need to rant about life and you may not have anyone in your immediate life that necessarily understands your illness but that doesn’t mean there aren’t others out there feeling the exact same way as you in that moment. Doesn’t mean that someone right now, as you read this, isn’t crying with perceived loneliness. Because they are. Just as you and I have done in the past.
Our suffering is both unique and common to those plagued by mental illness.
We suffer in silence and that is the only, real, reason you feel alone right now. Because we are so afraid to confess to the struggle. So afraid to say, as an adult, that life is painful and hard and that we need some support and help.
So I’m here to say the opposite.
I’m an adult and I suffer greatly in the confines of my own mind and body and I find that extremely painful and hard at times.
But I am not alone.
And neither are you.