The topic of mental health has always been a big topic in my life. I was about 13 years old when I first felt like there was a huge, heavy stone on my chest. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t sleep. I felt slowed down, as if something was trying to pull me down. And there was nothing I could do about it, because there was no stone and no other visible object that could be perceived by others and it seemed obvious why I felt that way. 15 years later it is a sack on my chest or a very heavy bag. Filled with large and small stones, sometimes both. I understood only in the last years that I had already with 13 similar symptoms as I had them now and in the past 15 years, sometimes stronger times weaker.
An intense engagement with my therapist and many books, articles, conversations and exchanges later, I have a better relationship for the little monster in me that comes and goes when it wants, but is nevertheless a part of me. I have found ways and possibilities to address these issues, to make them more present in my life and to do them as well as I can in my lectures and workshops.
So what exactly do I want with this article? If everything is okay, why am I writing about it again?
I very often have the feeling that I talk a lot about mental health and talk a lot about what occupies me, how it occupies me, what questions trigger me, how I want to be addressed in panic attacks, etc. I am not afraid to write about it. And then I notice again and again that most of it happens in my head. Just now I had such a situation again. My brother called me, we phoned only very briefly. Usually we talk on the phone for a very short time, which I think is a pity, I wish we had a closer relationship. I notice that it is difficult for him to get to me, I seem distant and monosyllabic, perhaps even disinterested. Then I noticed that he knew nothing about me and therefore did not know that my distance or my state of mind had nothing to do with him in most cases. He gets the feeling that he is doing something wrong and that makes me sad.
That is why I have just decided to write and talk about it in more detail. More often, to fit in the right moments to scatter information that could help people in my life, but perhaps in your life as well (?), to understand or classify mental challenges a little better.
One reason why I talk so little about it is that I often get sad or worried looks when I talk about it. I know that people like the phrase “I hope you’ll feel better soon”, it sometimes comes from the heart. But for people like me who have learned to live with their depression for more than half of their lives, it’s a funny sentence. It suggests that it’s not okay that I’m not well, although it’s a part of me that I don’t want to repel or ignore. I often get the feeling that only people who are happy with themselves and the world and everything else can have a good life.
People worry because they like me, love me, value me as a person. I understand that. But that doesn’t make it easier to talk about it, because of course I care about other people’s feelings and I want them to be well. And then I start to take care of them, to give them a good feeling. I can rarely “just” say that I had another panic attack without someone looking at me worriedly.
I can rarely say that I go round and round in my brain, repeating sentences until I actually pronounce them, because sometimes it feels so impossible to simply say something. Or to say that I’m not feeling well at the moment and that I’m silent or can’t look anyone in the eye. Sometimes there are also plans with other people that may shift or change and throw me completely out of balance, give me a feeling of insecurity. Sometimes I don’t know how to explain it, it seems so difficult for others to understand, and I can rarely simply say that my brain sometimes conspires against me and exposes me to the most desperate devaluations and insults until I start crying, because honestly…who can stand up to so many insults without crying?
These are just a few examples, things that happen in my head. And because they’ve been happening for so long, I’ve got used to them, yes, I live with them and most of the time I’m fine or okay. I didn’t realize how much it helps or can help people sometimes understand why I can’t do certain supposed little things. For example, why for a while I wasn’t able to look for a job or even think about money. Even the thought of it put me under so much pressure and caused so much stress that I could only cry to deal with the panic.
A lot has changed in my close relationships since I started talking about it more often.
I am more active in giving people the opportunity not to react worriedly or anxiously because we talk about it more often and it becomes more familiar for them. After all, it’s not the first time for them. And that gives me a lot of support that I didn’t expect. I can more often allow myself to cry in front of others, to let them hold me in their arms and to know that people give me their support and attention and do not turn away from me because they feel that I am “too much”. I trust that it is consensual because we have an honest exchange over and over again about what personal boundaries are and I never expect anyone to feel able to support me at any time.
I am just noticing that polyamory gives me the opportunity to develop a different sense of commitment. It seems easier for me to get support or ask for it when I know that there is not just one person in my life I can trust in such an intimate and intimate sense. It is easier for me to ask for support because there are several people I can ask and these people know that they are not my only go-to person. I feel more secure because I feel that honest answers about capacity and support are getting easier and I am less afraid to overwhelm someone. I’m just becoming more and more aware of what commitment means when it is practiced. And it’s frankly quite great.