Welcome back to the blog! I am happy to say it is finally cooling off and after many months of way too much heat I can finally attempt to wear my sweatpants. So grab a cup of coffee or wine, whatever floats your boat, because you're in for a heavy topic today.
I was fortunate enough over the last week to have a discussion with some friends about the difficulty of suffering in silence. Something that I think comes naturally to most of us for many reasons. We are taught to toughen up as kids and emotion and vulnerability are usually seen as a sign of weakness (which it’s not). Now add in the shame and guilt that accompanies things like mental illness, addiction, eating disorders, you name it. It's a recipe for disaster.
From my experience with mental illness and eating disorders I will say they are VERY confusing. To try to explain, let alone understand what you are going through, especially while you are going through it is difficult enough. Just imagine trying to verbalize in some coherent way a mess of swirling emotions, contradictory thoughts, and physically feeling like you're going to rip your skin off. It's enough to make you want to pass out. So we just don't.
We fear being judged for what we are going through. We fear that we are going to sound like a lunatic trying to explain how we feel because let's face it, we don't even know how we feel. We fear there really isn't a solution so why even bother. And so we continue to hold it in. We let our thoughts pile one on top of the other, convincing us that for whatever reason our secret will ruin us. That no one will understand. That we will lose everything if we open our mouths.
We fear that speaking the words will force us to actually have to deal with the problem instead of living in a nice state of denial. We fear our perfect facade that we have worked so hard to create will come crashing down and everyone will see we are nothing more than the Coliseum. Crumbling fragments of broken walls and stones. What we fail to realize is the beauty that still exists in the Coliseum. The beauty IS the brokenness of the walls and the cracking of the facade.
We think perfection is the answer but perfection is boring. There is no story of struggle and triumph in perfection. There are no battle scars on a perfect facade. Nothing to allude to the story that is uniquely our life.
One of the scariest things I think we can do in our life is acknowledge who we are, exactly the way we are. To look ourselves in the mirror and say this is 100% who I am, flaws, scars, and everything in between. To acknowledge the good, the bad, and the ugly. No one wants to admit the skeletons they hide in their closet. Honestly, who wants to deal with the shitty stuff? That sucks! I would much rather just be happy and worry free everyday but unfortunately I don't live in the Barbie dream world I wish existed. But if we can acknowledge who we are, and I mean FULLY who we are, we can begin to work on the areas in our lives that we struggle with.
There is so much power in speaking your struggle and putting it out there in the universe. Whether that means telling a friend you are struggling with alcohol, telling a therapist you're struggling with depression, or maybe the most you can do is write it down in a journal right now. The ability to take that struggle and just put it out there for the world immediately lessens the power it has over you because you are no longer holding on to a secret. The secret will eat you alive not the struggle. Suffering in silence or trying to bury your problems behind closed doors will eventually take its toll on you.
By no means am I telling you to go shout your struggles from the rooftops or corner a complete stranger at a party and word vomit your life problems to them. No. That's the wrong idea and will almost definitely backfire in your face. Those people aren't equipped to help you. But find a friend you can trust, a professional, a church leader, a family member, someone who you can say “Hey, this is really hard for me but I feel like I can trust you, I'm struggling.”
More than likely, they won't have the answers to your problems. They are problems you will ultimately need to solve. But hopefully they will be able to provide you with a little support. It's easy to convince ourselves that we are alone in our problems. That no one will understand what we are going through.
But YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Your struggle is unique to you but you are not alone in your struggle. There are others out there who have gone through or are going through what you are going through. With 7.6 Billion people on the planet, the odds of you going through something no one has ever gone through is basically impossible. I say this not to discount your struggle but to remind you that whatever it is, you are not alone.
I know the loneliness I have felt at times. I am not someone who is surrounded by a large social circle and it was easy for me to turn inward. To give in to the darkness and sink in to the loneliness that would accompany the hardest nights. There is value in learning to be comfortable alone but you do not have to suffer alone. Suffering in silence is not the answer!
Please remember that.
That was a lot to unpack on you all but I think it's something worth discussing. The idea of anyone suffering alone breaks my heart. Be kind and compassionate to one another because we are all struggling with something.
Love you guys. Thanks for reading again! Below are some resources for anyone that might need them.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Helpline 1-800-931-2237
Disclaimer: Please note, all information on The Cheeky Life is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for professional care. The intention of this blog is to connect with the community and share my personal experiences with mental health, eating disorders, and life in general. All opinions are my own.