The past few weeks have been interesting. Really, since last year my life has turned upside down and then right side up once more. I’ve never considered myself luckier to have the friends that I do while simultaneously feeling like no one listens and by extension: not cared about. And as I struggled with anxiety, depression and the demons of negative self-talk, I was struck with a strong reminder: sometimes the support of the people you care about most is exactly what you need and not exactly what you want.
My anxiety sometimes takes the form of mostly needing to be coddled and supported. I need adulation and attention. I want someone to tell me:
Everything will be okay.
But sometimes I get tough love. Sometimes I get stirring speeches. Sometimes I get loving cynicism. Sometimes I get told that I need to stand on my own. Sometimes I’m told to be strong. Sometimes I’m told that I need to just be positive and look on the bright side. Sometimes I’m told to buck up.
None of those are invalid forms of expressing care, love and concern for someone who is struggling with the evils of mental illness. None of those things are, in theory, wrong to say. Some of them, probably, are the best things someone like me actually needs. Sometimes.
It’s important to keep in mind that what sounds encouraging to one person is dismissive and damning to another. What is meant to be supportive often can sound diminutive.
Be kind to each other and know that sometimes what you want sometimes isn’t what you need.