It has been a hot minute since I’ve written anything. I can chalk it up to a lot of different factors like lack of motivation, being busy with school and my internships, or just generally living my life, but in reality, it’s because I haven’t found enjoyment in it (or much of anything) in a while. I haven’t been doing well. While this certainly isn’t my lowest low in terms of depression (because I don’t know if it’s possible to get to that point again, and it’s terrifying to consider that as a possibility), it’s still a low. I’ve had to change medications because Zoloft just wasn’t working anymore. I was also recently diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid condition (Hashimoto’s) which doesn’t help. While dealing with all of this and all of the other normal psychosocial stressors (like family, school, work, etc.), I started a new internship at UT Southwestern. I’m a therapy intern on the adult psychiatric unit. That in itself can be a stressor when you have a hard time living in your own head. It can be hard to turn off or put your own stuff on the back burner and be a driving force for change in other’s lives. And this makes you feel like a shitty person/therapist sometimes because it’s hard to reconcile the fact that my mental health is just as important as theirs and it’s not a selfish thing to consider. You also feel shitty when it feels like you aren’t getting through to a patient or doing enough, but you have to remember that you can’t put in more effort than the patient because that leads to burn out (this is my biggest struggle). And this leads to the entire purpose of this blog post and what drives my practice as a therapist:
“We’ve all got scars.”
This is the title of a previous blog post, and lyrics from one of my favorite songs of all time, “Scars”, by My Brothers and I. (here you go, take a listen). I remember the first time I ever heard the song. I heard them for the first time ever on an episode of Pretty Little Liars (don’t judge me, that show was amazing) and I decided to check them out. When I came across this song, I legitimately started crying because it seemed to say everything that I have always wanted/needed to hear. (I also got these lyrics tattooed on my wrist because they have had such a profound impact on me). Not only do they serve as a reminder that we all have things that we go through as individuals, they remind me to be kinder to people because we never know what someone is going through. Sometimes, I can be a jerk (whether it’s warranted or not, I can be) and I hate that about myself because even if I intend to hurt someone or not, your words can have an impact on someone, and it can be extreme. You never know what your words can do to someone. The saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” was obviously said by someone who has never been bullied or emotionally abused before. People put on faces for others because they don’t want to seem weak, so while someone may look like they’re doing well and laughing on the outside, you never know what’s truly going on in their head.
I know you’re lost, but it’s okay
We’ve all got scars, you are not alone
You have no idea how long I had wanted to hear those words from someone, anyone. To just tell me that it was okay to feel what I was feeling, and that I wasn’t alone. That’s all anyone who struggles/suffers from mental illness truly wants; to be validated in their feelings and to know they aren’t in this alone.
When taken at face value, you probably think, “they’re not wrong, everyone has definitely fallen at some point and needed stitches or got a bad scrape.” However, consider the bigger message (not to sound like an English teacher because sometimes water really does just symbolize water). “We’ve all got scars” legitimately is much deeper than that even when just taken at face value because it means we have all been through something. But scars aren’t just physical representations of an old injury, they are also mental. They can symbolize abuse (whether it be physical, emotional, or sexual), toxic relationships, substance use, or even previous suicide attempts (or thoughts of suicide) (since I’m sticking with the mental health theme here). The scars don’t have to be from something that seemingly traumatic though either, they can be from years of social anxiety, the pressure to do well in school, depression that was triggered by what seems like nothing, the list goes on.
The point I’m trying to make here is that we all have them. They serve a purpose. They are something for us to learn from and build a better life from. It’s all about our perspective (which is really hard to see sometimes). In addition, we aren’t alone with our scars. And there’s comfort in that. While no one has an identical story, they may go through similar circumstances. But even if they didn’t, you are never truly as alone as you feel and that’s something I try to remind my patients of every single day. It’s something I try to remind myself of everyday because it isn’t just them who needs the reminder, I do, too.
Sometimes it can be so easy to forget that you aren’t alone in you’re suffering and that’s what these illnesses thrive off of. They want you to feel shame. They want you to feel doubt. They want to control you and your identity. But most importantly, they want you to feel alone.
So I (and My Brothers and I) just want you remind you that you aren’t. You are never alone. Even when mental illness (and seemingly, the world) want you to feel that way.
If you are ever in crisis, or just need someone to talk to and don’t know who you can reach out to, please, please, please utilize these resources.