Mental weakness. I’m convinced everyone experiences it at some point in their life, though most people (it seems) try to deny it. It’s not so much a weakness of character as it is an inability to be strong in that moment. And yet, no one wants to admit what everyone experiences. Why? For fear that they will be labeled.
Depressed. Bipolar. Schitzophrenic. Weak-minded. Pathetic. Flawed.
To use the one I’m most familiar with, depression is neither for the weak-minded, nor the pathetic, nor the flawed. Yes, it is a period where you are weak, but to overcome it, to fight it off for any length of time, requires determination and strength.
Depression eats away at you.
It stalks you slowly, some days retreating to the background and letting you think that it’s all better. Those days are usually right after the day you finally say, “I need help.” So then you push it back one more day.
It saps your energy, leaving you like a shell.
It lets you start a project, sometimes. It rarely lets you finish.
It weighs on your mind, travels to your chest, and camps out.
It makes the world move in slow motion.
It feeds your fears that you aren’t good enough, that you’re broken. That fear, in turn, leads you to over-compensate. Fake smiles, empty laughs, constant movement to try and feed the beast while simultaneously hiding it from everyone.
The fear of discovery leads to snapping at those closest to you. Biting words and quick tempers, all to protect that vulnerable inside.
If you are anxious, as well, the depression fuels your anxiety.
“Does he know? What’s she doing? What if I’m not a good mother? What if everyone thinks I’m a failure?”
And you sink deeper.
Some people are fortunate. They have people close to them that hold out a hand. They remember their own mental weakness and know that it can happen to anyone. They empathize and say, “Let us help you. We’re here for you. You aren’t broken. You aren’t a screw up. You’ve done such a good job to make it this far. Let us help you the rest of the way.”
Some are not. Some, in their stronger moments, bring up the subject, only to be told that “people like that” are “weak, worthless, and cowardly.” And so they retreat again.
Mental weakness, whatever its form, needs to be embraced by our society. It does not need to be shamed into hiding, but brought into the light where our community can gather around and heal those wounds. Those who struggle through it need understanding, not empty words and shallow judgements. And not community for the week after a loved one dies, or a month after they discover a chronic disease. Not just a few days after a new baby or the loss of a job. Most certainly not for a moment if they bring up their struggle, only to brush it away with a “but other people’s lives are worse.”
Your life is your life. No one else can experience it for you, and your feelings are no less valid compared to anyone else’s. Never believe that lie, and never let anyone tell you that lie.
I’m exhausted. I haven’t written a post in months. My house is full of projects started but never finished. I want to sleep all day. I am terrified of my kids being out of my sight. I cannot look at my bank account for near panic attack. I binge-eat. I snap and snark and pull away from everyone. I have been told that I am weak and shouldn’t make such a big deal about it all.
But I will. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for years now and just kept telling myself that it was normal, that there wasn’t really anything serious going on. That high school and its difficulties emotionally were worse. I hid my weakness for fear of being called “dramatic.”
This is bigger than myself now. I am a mother. I have a responsibility to my family to be the best mother and wife and daughter and sister I can be. Some people can get themselves out of this funk. I cannot. And I am tired of being ashamed that I cannot. So here I am, all of my flaws, seeking help.