A Message to Myself: It’s Not Your Fault

Hi friends,

I wanted to share some food for thought for anyone else who gets stuck on the track of thinking: Something about me is fundamentally wrong, I don’t deserve the things I want, and my hopes and expectations are too high.
This way of thinking can come about for any number of reasons. Sometimes, when our expectations don’t match up with reality, it feels like this is somehow due to a moral failure or a sense of unworthiness.
Often, things simply don’t work out. Not because we did something wrong. They just didn’t work. It’s pretty simple, right?
But for some reason, instead of internalizing things this way, our inner dialogue goes more like this:
This didn’t work out, and it’s my fault, and this will continue to happen because of who I am. Maybe I deserve less than I thought.
Have you been there before? Have you felt your energy shift as your mind goes from thinking about small disappointments to making a giant, irrational leap in thinking that somehow, you are being rejected for who and how you are, and that’s why things aren’t working? 27955620062_70b62fc866_k.jpg
I don’t always feel this way, as I’ve worked for years to change my inner dialogue and it has dramatically improved. But when I do feel this way, I want to shrink and hide. To stop asking for more. To be as small as possible to avoid future disappointments.
But I think that as tempting as it is to do that, we really need to do the opposite. When circumstances in your life lead you to believe that you are not good enough, or wrong, or undeserving, the best (and maybe only) way to push past those self-imposed limitations is not to curb your ambition and enthusiasm and your hope for better things. As counterintuitive as it feels, in those moments we need to expect more, know that we deserve more, and hope for bigger and better things. Especially when we feel that the opposite is true.
Not everything negative that happens is a rejection of who or how you are. In fact, most things are not. Sometimes they are just reminders that you are settling for less than what you deserve: which is to feel loved, fulfilled, and inspired.
Lots of things about you are fundamentally good. You deserve the things you want. Your hopes and expectations are not too high, so long as you are willing to put in the work to get them (and I know you are).
I’ll be repeating that message to myself for as long as it takes to really believe it, and I hope you will, too.
With love,
Samantha B.

Thanks to Sam for contributing her words to our site.
Always remember you are not alone.
You are loved.
PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Just Sit Back And Relapse Again

By: KaLeena Genette

Any form of depression is tricky to handle. My form happens to be Bipolar II Disorder, and I’ve been battling that demon for nearly 11 years. Last year I finally broke–really, seriously broke–to the point of being nearly catatonic for about two months. After ten years of “I’ll go see a shrink eventually,” I ended up with no choice if I wanted to keep my job and my sanity.

I’m one of the people who are lucky. I landed in the office of a psychiatrist who made the right call on medication. I wound up on the couch of a patient therapist who watched me lose my mind for weeks until the medication started kicking in and the anxiety and depression started to recede.

Now I’m here, and “here” is still a difficult place to be. Over the course of ten years, I developed unhealthy habits and unhealthy ways of thinking. Even though I have the medication and I’m at the right dose, I have ten years of bad habits to put to rest. This version of life isn’t the miracle I was looking for.

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Why is Happiness so Hard?

Why is Happiness so Hard?

The last couple of months have been difficult. They have been hard for reasons I cannot fathom into words because I do not know the correct vocabulary to describe the empty pit in my stomach, the yearning in my chest for something more.

More. I always need more.

I have everything in this world but my brain, my chest, my heart, my throat, my limbs, my being is always grasping for more.

Maybe more isn’t want I need. It’s not what I’m searching for. No, what I’m ultimately wanting is to feel at ease. To feel okay. To feel worthy. To feel utter happiness.

There are dark clouds inside my mind that like to take a backseat most of the time but never fully leave my head. They precipitate ideas that I am not good enough, I do not deserve what I have: the people in my life, the progress I have made.

Let me briefly explain to you what I have in this life, and why I am so mad at myself.

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I have a mother who would give everything in her being to wipe the clouds from my brain, to give me even just a moment of sincere happiness.

I have a father who would cut down every single tree that is blocking the sun from reaching my dark thoughts.

I have a brother who will stand by me through every panic attack, mental breakdown, and through all of my second, third, and fourth thoughts about making decisions, and then tell me “You did so great, Rebecca”.

I have best friends who are genuinely interested in my life, how I’m doing, what my goals are, and where I’m feeling on this spectrum of intense anxiety and depression.

I have an amazing boyfriend who has dealt with every instance of my thoughts betraying myself, who has stood by me as I question his feelings for me because I am too insecure to believe that he could actually care for me.

I have four walls surrounding me and a roof over my head. I have cats who check up on me when they hear my silently crying at night. I have a job that is keeping my head financially above water. I am getting an advanced education. I am healthy. I am surrounded by beauty. I have every reason to feel intense happiness, to be content.

But those dark clouds keep rolling in.

Those clouds tell me that mom and dad are sick of my mental disparities. My brother will only tell me I am doing great for so long, and does he really mean it? They tell me that my friends do not really care about me and my wellbeing. They tell me that my boyfriend is getting sick of me, is obviously going to leave me, and that it’s best to cut ties before you get hurt. Hurt yourself before anyone else can, right?

My thoughts are irrational and I am aware of this fact. I know that what they are telling me is not real, that they are wrong. But then why do I feel the sadness that they bring? If I can understand that the rain that falls from those clouds is just my depression creeping in, why do I let the feelings of dread, worthlessness, and sadness wash over me? How frustrating it is to be clued into what parts of your mind are lying to you, and yet still believe the emotions that they emit.

And this is why I’m mad. Mad at myself. Because I am allowing these beliefs, these thoughts, these lies overtake me. And I don’t know how to stop. And others are feeling at fault for my mood changes, and I’m angry that I’m allowing my own problems to create tears in relationships that I am so thankful for. I can’t stop this cycle and it hurts.

I once went to a psychic and she told me something I’ll never forget. She told me,

“Rebecca, why won’t you let yourself be happy? Someone could ask you to paint a room, all four walls. You’d finish and they would be so happy with how it came out, they would praise you for your hard work, and you would reply, “Yeah, it’s okay, but I didn’t paint the ceiling.”

My friends, my family, my boyfriend, they all ask me why I am so sad, if they are any cause of this despair that I drag along each day. My beautiful support system feels at fault and that hurts me.

I don’t know how to fix myself. But I’m working on it. But for now, I want to say something to those in my life:

Dear You,

I am sorry. I am so sorry that whatever is happening inside of my head is affecting our connection. I need you to know that you are not doing anything to make me feel like this. You are what is keeping me afloat.

To my family, I am sorry that I am so absent. I am trying my best to not allow my self-deprecation show, because I am embarrassed that I have come so far and have taken steps backwards. Thank you for always being there for me when I need it, and thank you for giving me my space when I’m not feeling like myself.

To my friends, I am sorry for my distance. I am sorry that I have not talked more to you about this. I am trying my hardest to figure it out. Thank you for your unwavering support for me and for always picking up your phone when I call.

To my boyfriend, I am sorry that this side of me has shown itself so early in our relationship. It is not something I was expecting to happen. Thank you for your acceptance of me in dark moments and for telling me that things like this aren’t going to make you run away.

Why is happiness so hard for me? Because I’ve got my arms spread out, with ropes tied around them; anxiety yanking one way, depression yanking me the other, both as hard as they can. My fists are clenched and I’m trying to break free, but sometimes they are stronger than me. Because I am not fully “better”, and I’m not sure I ever will be. Because trusting people is hard for me. Because I do not fully like who I am as a person.

But even when these dark clouds become so large that they haze over my eyes, I always manage to see some glimpse of light, a shimmer of gold reaching through. And that is enough to snap me out, to remind me that I will be okay.

So thank you. Thank you for always reaching out for me. Thank you for poking your head through the darkness, for cutting away at the ropes around my wrist. Thank you for your constant reassurance.

Thank you.

 


 

This honest reflection comes from Rebecca, who has submitted both art and a Coping entry to us before. In her own words:

“We are all continuous and beautiful works in progress”

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Societal Stigmas, Gender Norms, and their Effect on Mental Health

Something that has become increasingly bothersome to me, and I’m sure many of you, are the stigmas that society has put in place. Whether the stigmas affect those struggling with mental health, those who do not identify as a binary gender or sexuality, or those of a particular ethnic group, nationality, or religion, society has a way of creating these cookie-cutter-type images of what we are supposed to look and act like. Even though these images are near-to-impossible to recreate, we are often brutally shamed for not meeting these expectations.

We see this in visual ad campaigns where female models are stick thin, oversexualized, and often being dominated by men, and where male models are tall, dark, and rugged, often sporting a six-pack and bulging muscles.  We see this when people of the LGBTQIA community are bullied and murdered for not dressing like the gender they were assigned at birth, for publicly holding hands with someone of the same sex, and for simply not having the desire to hold anyone’s hand. We see this when people are attacked both verbally and physically for identifying with a particular religion, when people of a certain race or ethnicity are targeted and not given the same opportunities as others simply based on the color of their skin, and we see it when people who happen to look similar to whomever is labeled as “the enemy” at that point in time are attacked. And as we know, we see this when the topic of mental health is pushed further and further down on the agenda and people are told that their conditions are “all in their heads,” that their dire needs cannot be met because “other people have it worse,” and that it’s “not as bad” as a physical health condition.

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Forgotten Soldiers: Memorial Day, Veterans, & Mental Health

When we think of Memorial Day, many of us think about a three-day weekend filled with family barbecues, drinking beer, red, white, and blue decorations, and an excuse for department stores to hold huge sales. But there is so much more to this holiday. Memorial Day is a day completely set aside to honor the brave souls who have lost their lives protecting our country.

As we know, there is a heavy and negative stigma attached to mental health, resulting in negative beliefs, self-stigma, lack of motivation to seek help and in self-esteem, and can eventually lead to destructive behavior. What many people don’t know is that these barriers to mental health care are even more prominent in the military, which has led to catastrophically high levels of suicide and mental health cases in veterans and military personnel currently active in the military.

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Having Depression When Your Busy Life Slows Down

It started with a sigh of relief.

Last week I graduated from college, and I couldn’t contain my excitement knowing that I finally had a break after the last hectic eight months of my life. I had been living day to day juggling class, an internship, work, a Senior Honor’s Thesis, meetings, running a website, directing and editing a music video, and finding time to see my girlfriend and friends. It had been the lifestyle I adopted, and I’m proud of all the work I produced and art I was able to create.

But man oh man, I was ready for a break.

This last week I’ve been adjusting back into a more “regular” lifestyle. I moved back into the house I grew up in and began working nights in a restaurant to start saving for my future. It felt amazing to be able to relax and not have the constant stress of deadlines and juggling so many different projects.

However, one night after work I was sitting alone in my living room, time quickly approaching the sunrise, when I felt it.

It hit me in a moment.

The depression and numbness I had seemingly gotten ahead of these last few months was back. As if to say:

Knock, Knock. Remember me?

As much as I know depression is a part of my life and that it will always come and go, there are times where I do feel like I genuinely forget the intensity of feeling nothing. In fact, I didn’t even full realize how long I had gone without feeling those feelings until they were back full force.

But why had I forgotten? Why was I so surprised to feel those feelings again?

The truth of the matter is I was distracted. For the last eight months depression had come in small doses, but nothing like I felt this week. Depression has always been following closely in my rearview mirror, but I was so focused on the road and the turns to take lately I didn’t even notice it.

Being busy kept me distracted. My projects and deadlines gave me a sense of purpose. But with all that stripped away my car had stopped, and my depression took the advantage to jump in the backseat.

That first moment never really gets easier when those emotions hit. It wasn’t a fun night, by any means, but it also felt like a moment of clarity. It reminded me of who I am. And it reminded me of why I do the things I do.

I came across a quote the same night on twitter by author Paulo Coelho that made me reflect in a similar manner.

“Man needs what’s worst in him in order to achieve what’s best in him.”

By no means am I advocating that having depression makes you a bad person. But if I had the opportunity to change one part of myself, I think I would choose to not struggle with depression.

But what makes the quote interesting is that if I didn’t feel these things, would I achieve and be successful at the things I am? Would I still be as empathetic or creative?

I guess I’ll never know the answer.

I have no doubt that within a few weeks I’ll be back in the routine of being busy with new projects and collaborations, and I know that’s something I may be doing to outrun depression. For those of us who live this lifestyle, we need to remember to check in with ourselves. Remember why we do what we do, because there will always be moments when life slows down for us.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Let’s Talk About Death: An Alternative Approach to Mental Health

This community is growing rapidly, and I think the most beautiful aspect of having an eclectic group of folks together in one place is that we all have different stories to tell. Parts of all of our journeys inevitably intertwine in the continuums of triumph and struggle, but we all have our own lens to share. The idiosyncratic blend of colors we each bring to the world is something that ought to be more celebrated in spaces outside of Dear Hope, but until the world takes a turn in a more loving direction, we will always have this space to share those bonds.

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