Today’s world is a world of constant controversy. No one seems to agree—on anything. No wonder anxiety plagues so many of us!
I often wonder if I will ever get better—less depressed, less anxious, less paranoid, with this current state of things. It reminds me that although I was personally diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia, everyone is going through something to some degree, and therefore – fortunately and unfortunately – no one really notices you except you.
I recently realized that other people aren’t as self-involved as those of us with mental illnesses, at least in my opinion. However, I will loudly, but not proudly admit that I am in my head all the time. I have a lot of trauma that makes me feel as if I am not enough, so I constantly question if I hurt someone’s feelings. Before, during, and after almost every social interaction, I entertain a sporadic array of questions. “Did I come off as rude when I didn’t congratulate her?” and worse, “Is she going to hate me because I didn’t?” The feelings are overwhelming after the latter question. I fear I can make someone else feel just as sad and insignificant as I feel. I mean, after all, hurt people hurt. Isn’t that what they say?
They Don’t Notice
I don’t want to hurt people the way I’ve been hurt, so while I sit at dinner with my colleague, I study how I sit, the way I enter and leave the room, the way that I respond. No one can possibly notice every single muscle movement. Why am I obsessing? I nitpick every single action when I am around her and others with similar energies. I don’t feel safe to just be. I dread our interactions, but unfortunately, I must be around this person. After all, it’s life. We will have to interact with people that aren’t on our wavelength. However, the interaction should be informative to some degree, not daunting and overwhelming.
My colleague is overly consumed with the problems in her life. I can tell by the way she does not listen when I speak. She cuts me off so effortlessly to engage in a story about her problems. She doesn’t notice. I am concerned about her problems the whole time, but she never extends the same courtesy to me. I am diagnosed with mental illness, yet I sit there and make sure, in every way, that she doesn’t feel triggered. I fear the reaction that will follow if she does. A harsh, bitter attitude that makes me think, “Ouch.” I would never respond to anyone in that manner. Her energies make me question mine, and my energies are already being interrogated. I don’t need to be around someone who triggers me to this level, but I have to, so I take a moment to think about the two of us.
We’re both two souls navigating through this world. Based on how negative and overly concerned with herself she is, I assume she is also battling something. She may be diagnosed with something, too, but we don’t talk about that. I take a moment to get out of my head and stop worrying about how I am presenting myself, which I admit is a bit self-involved. Rather, I worry: why do I think she is affected by my words and actions; is she noticing that I am affected by hers? The answer is no. So I stay quiet and intuitively register this interaction. I don’t want to surround myself with this type of energy. It will help in the future when that same gut feeling presents itself. I’ll know that I’m right when the feeling is confirmed by the flood of anxious thoughts that follow. They don’t notice I am in my head because they are, too. I need to be around people who push me out of my own head, not drag me into theirs. That’s not right for anyone to do.
There are some relationships where anxious thoughts never appear or appear at such a lower rate than others. If the thoughts bubble up, I dismiss them immediately, knowing “this person knows I would never make them feel less than.” We need to trust our feelings and our comfortability with people. When I am around the right, positive energies and vibrations, anxious thoughts subside.
One relationship in which I feel at ease is with my brother. I don’t worry that he is noticing my every movement. I don’t worry that he is studying me to make sure I’m getting better, judging me based on my mental health, or completely dismissing my illness. I know he cares for me, and I also know, and value, that he is dealing with his own problems. When I am in his company, I feel as if we’re just two souls trying to navigate in this chaotic world. I don’t feel as if I am different from him—that I have an enhanced view of the world and increased sensitivity because of my current mental state. The interaction with my colleague is different. I feel as if I have a deeper understanding of the world that I must share with her—that my mental illness provides me with a glimpse of the world that would help her if she saw it, too. However, she doesn’t stop to listen. I feel silenced and buried in my mind.
You’re Noticing You
At the end of the day, having a mental illness is not the worst thing that has happened to me; it is the greatest. I read posts about people having bad, unsettling dreams, and I think, “Wow, that could be a movie!” “Normal” people don’t get this. They don’t get to survey every part of their brain and every word they say, annoying though that is at times. We do, and I believe that helps us become optimal people at the end of the day. We just have to try to be less judgmental of ourselves and trust our interactions and relationships. We need to register who we are uncomfortable around and stop blaming ourselves.
So, notice when you are unsettled and don’t feel comfortable. Take note of those people who seem to trigger an explosion of anxious thoughts before, during, and after you interact with them! They are not the people those of us with mental illnesses need. We need people who are just as present, alert, and sensitive in the moment as we are. People who will drag us out of our overly crowded minds and into the real world. People who are noticing both themselves and us. No one can record our every move; our minds don’t have to either. Our minds, however, should notice those interactions where we seem to feel the need to analyze and judge our actions.
Notice yourself and your beauty.
About the Author: Sharmin is an artist who strives to live her life with positive intention. She currently makes music with the purpose of empowering people to find their inner genius, and the beauty of their mind. Her music can be found on her website.
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