Some things are scary to talk about, and that can be for different reasons. It could be something that happened to you, something you did or continue to do. The things that seem the hardest to say out loud are the ones that will bring you the most incredible relief.
I suffered in silence for years, struggling to do the simplest of tasks and feeling like I couldn’t go on. My mind bullied me into not sharing my pain. No one would believe that I was depressed as I didn’t have a reason for it. No one would understand how my eating disorder controlled me. I convinced myself that if I told people the truth that they would all leave me.
So I lost years to my mental illness. I reached a point where I couldn’t carry on alone anymore, I wish I hadn’t let it get that far, but I did. I forced myself to start opening up to my closest friends, sharing the darkness that had kept me trapped for so long. I was sure that they wouldn’t believe me, that they would leave me, but instead, they finally got to know me. They started to understand me and provided the unconditional love that I had always craved.
It wasn’t sunshine and daisies from that point on, and some people weren’t ready to listen, but everything became so much easier. Once I could release my scariest thoughts and actions into the world, they stopped controlling me, and I had a chance to regain control over my mind and life again.
When I went back to therapy, I pushed myself to share the things that scared me most. The thoughts that made me feel like the worst person alive, the things I had done that I couldn’t escape. I shared the worst of me, and in return, my therapist made me feel heard, understood, and less alone.
Things can get better, when you decide to start sharing the things that scare you most, such as:
When something happens to us, and we don’t feel able to tell someone, it’s usually a significant warning sign. We love to share good things, we feel able to share ordinary things, but we can fall quiet when something is bad or confusing.
It can be a coping mechanism so that you don’t have to accept what happened to you. Things feel more real when said out loud and confided to another, and until that point, you can try to repress it and convince yourself that didn’t happen. Whilst this is an understandable reaction, it isn’t a healthy way to move past what has occurred. It can feel like everything carries on as usual, but you continue to carry this burden, and it will eat away at you.
By saying something out loud, you remove the secrecy of what happened to you, and you remove the power of whoever did it. You regain control over your story. You give people a chance to comfort you and empathise.
You also don’t know who else has experienced this, and they might be able to offer some insights or advice. Or even just knowing that someone else has, that you’re not alone, can be a relief like no other.
Guilt is a heavy emotion; it weighs down on you and pulls you down. It eats away at any joy, achievement or hope. Shame is powerful as it can affect your future more than your past, ruining every emotion that follows rather than memories. We all have done things that we’re not proud of; it’s human nature to screw up. But keeping it to yourself doesn’t help anyone and only serves to hinder you.
Guilt can overpower you, but often it’s unnecessarily placed. Sometimes you know that, and that’s why you don’t tell someone, as then they’ll remind you of that. It can be easier to drown in guilt than fight to swim.
That’s the case with many emotions and actions that harm us, as it feels more comfortable to continue than change. I knew that I should stop self-harming; there was a shame that hung over it. But I didn’t want to, as it made me feel good and it seemed more comfortable than actually dealing with my emotions. So the cycle continued, and I kept silent about it so that no one could try and stop me.
If you feel like you can’t tell people about something you’re doing, it’s usually because you know it’s wrong, but you can continue as long as you don’t say it out loud. It could even be continuing to see the guy that your friends hate, because they know he disrespects you and that you deserve more. And you know that too, but you don’t want to lose something that feels good, so you swallow your shame and come when he calls.
My mind is the scariest place to me. I often don’t understand it, why I think the things I do or act the way I do. My personality disorder makes everything feel heightened; every betrayal is the end of the world; every comment cuts deep. I spent years hiding the mess within my mind. I found it easier to talk about my depression whilst never opening up about everything that came with it.
When I saw my last therapist, I knew that this time it had to be different. I had to stop rehearsing what I would say and keeping things from them. I got diagnosed with BPD, and it was the most significant relief. I could finally admit the worst parts of myself, and have her tell me that I’m not the only one to feel like this. Opening up to other people about my personality disorder and the thoughts that accompanied it was such a relief. It helped them to understand me and to realise what I needed from them.
It confirmed that I wasn’t crazy; I wasn’t the worst person alive. Instead, I was just struggling with a personality disorder.
Our thoughts can hold so much power over us; they can make us believe the unthinkable. That someone will actually reject us for being who we are, that someone not replying means they hate you and never want to see you again. But when you say these things out loud, you remove their power and reveal the truth of the words. Saying it out loud highlights how extreme it can be, and gives others the chance to confirm that.
If you don’t feel ready to talk to someone, then practice by talking to yourself. As soon as the words are released, you’ll feel such a relief. Or write it down, and watch how the entire story takes form on paper. It can provide you with perspective and a chance to see through the emotion.
Whatever it is, if you’re scared to talk about it, then there is a reason for that. Of course, there are situations and people that you should choose to speak to, but I genuinely believe that everything gets better once you say it out loud. Once you share your struggle, you take the weight of secrecy off of yourself. Once you say it out loud, it stops holding so much power over you. You allow people to share your burden and to help you, a task any friend would gladly take.
When in doubt, consider if the roles were reversed. Would you want that friend to tell you if something terrible had happened or if they needed help? If so, then they deserve the same from you.
Things can get better, and they will get better, but you can’t get there alone. The scariest things to talk about are usually the most important ones. Do yourself a favour and choose someone to open up to. You can’t control their reaction, but you can control taking that step forward and choosing recovery.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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