The biggest weapons against mental illness.
You know that saying that you learn in school or hear from some other unknown source:
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Let me ask you… How many times have words hurt you? They have hurt me a great deal throughout my life.
I see this little slogan as the ideal. We are all striving for the “words will never hurt me” bit. But, having dealt with insecurities, depression, and anxiety I find myself having the ability to crumble just by hearing the smallest word. Just the simplest comment can shatter my day or worse my whole perspective.
I have been told a lot of things. Here are some examples (with some little side comments). Keep in mind that I find these funny now. Remember awful things don’t reflect you, but the person saying them, which means that there is something going on in their own life and this is how they are acting out.
“Kajsa, you are the size of all the guys”.
No, 5’10” girl wants to be told that. Just so you know I didn’t respond saying, “You’re the size of a sickly chipmunk on a good day.”
“You are the worst person to hang out with.”
My definition of fun is different from you. That doesn’t mean I am bad to hang with. Also Netflix has this way of being a common dominator for almost all relationships. If not… Well… We can figure something else out. =)
“If you weren’t so tall, I would date you.”
In reply I said: “Well, I would still say no.” Don’t judge me too harshly. But honestly, would you like me to apologize that you aren’t taller or that I am not shorter?
“You are very boring.”
Yes, I am tired just like everyone else at the end of a school day and unlike some people I like to hang at home for a quiet evening to de-people instead of going out. Also I it is important to respect that we are all different with different preferences. This is why we have more than one friend. Thus, go be free and I will find someone else to be “boring with”. Sounds fair to me.
“You are old.”
Does it show? I mean I have accomplished things in my life that I can be proud of at my age. I also have been through a lot to know that old equals experience and not age. You know the saying “Age before beauty.” Thus I take that as I am very beautiful. (Not to sound vain or anything!)
“You are no fun.”
For you, maybe not. But I know how to have my own fun. Your definition is just different from mine. My definition of fun means to do something that I enjoy. Whether that is with other people or not doesn’t really matter. The point it people’s perceptions of what is fun or not will vary. But that doesn’t mean that the person isn’t fun. Being no fun means sitting there like a bump on a log…
“You are a man hater.”
Most of my friends are guys and my brother is one of my best friends?
These are just some examples. Pretty juicy huh? In the moment, these comments really hurt and I cried over them for days after they were said to me. But for a second, focus on what I said in response to the comments. They don’t necessary bite back but they explain them away. (Okay some of them do bite… I’ll admit that I am not perfect also.)
So many words are spoken every day, with many of them being cruel and meant to cause damage. With mental illness, such nasty commentary is no stranger.
“Get over it.”
“It’s all in your head.”
“Stop being all sad because you are making me sad.”
“You are good for nothing.”
“You will never accomplish anything being like that.”
“Just take your pills.”
“You are crazy and cry all the time. Why don’t or can’t you act normal?”
I bet for some of you these hit close to home. Here is the point that I am trying to get across. People shouldn’t be able to control you with their words. I know that is like asking for a 10 layered cake with perfect fondant from someone who has never baked before, but it’s true.
You can’t control what people say to you. You can’t control their reaction towards you. Hurt comes from choosing to listen. More often than not, we are required to shut our ears off to the world and remember what truly is important.
You. On a personal level. It is how you think of yourself that matters. No one has the right to convince you that you are worth anything less than who the true you is. Mental illness puts you at a disadvantage, but it is only that. It is not a barricade that you have no hope of getting over. It is merely a detour or obstacle from you realizing and learning who you are and who you want to be. Everyone has their agency, but what is important to remember is that you do to. You have your agency to not listen. Will it be difficult? Yes, it is and will be. You also have your agency to pick a reaction and change your perspective. That is what strength looks like.
Strength is the ability to take what is said and NOT internalize it. People will say things your whole life. Let them, they don’t have to affect you or your happiness. Do this and nothing anyone says to you will cripple you. You have it hard enough as it is from the fight inside. Don’t let the negativity on the outside crush the bright light of your true self on the inside so that you fall further into despair. You are too precious for that.
I think that the saying should be changed so that it is more realistic and attainable.
Sticks and stones may break my bones; and words don’t have to hurt me.
Yeah… I like the sound of that.
I would like to thank you all for reading. Also for your support and kind messages to encourage me to keep writing. I think that it is quite the accomplishment having written 50 posts or articles about things that make me feel very vulnerable. As I think on all the things that I have managed to work out by writing and sharing, I am grateful that I have done this and will continue to do.
Thank you again for your support and allowing me to share my story. Here is to another 50!