The trite phrases that we offer up to people when struggling.
I am about 10 months into a high functioning depression. I call it high functioning not because I am special or I need to be better than someone who may not be functioning at the same level as I am due to no fault of their own. I am calling it high functioning because I am still going to work every day, still engaging in after work activities, engaging in physical activities, still hanging out with friends occasionally all while living in darkness. Although I am a loner and by most people standards they would think I was isolating ALL the time – it is just me. I am not close to many people and I struggle with superficial conversations, I seek depth or I seek solitude.
I have had bouts of down time before however this time all my positive self talk, all my strategies have fallen short. This time I can’t seem to get out of the darkness. I have days that are better than others and being busy certainly makes a difference yet when busy I crave and almost ache for silence and solitude yet my silence and solitude leads to rumination and around and around we go. I can best describe it as heavy, everything is so fucking heavy and so exhausting.
World politics, I mean seriously, between shithole countries and nuclear threats, sexual harassment and discrimination everywhere it is hard not to feel heavy and those are examples of the external factors. Inside, it is the darkness of aging, of becoming invisible, of becoming irrelevant (used to think that would be great – ah, not so much), seeking to find meaning and purpose in my career and life. I mean why am I here when I am not making a difference in anyone’s life? I do not say that for sympathy, I say that because facing the reality can be ugly. Career wise, I know I used to make a difference and I know I don’t now, that is a fact which then begs the question why am I still in the same career? Money, plain and simple and that makes me feel and sound like a slave, like a victim and I fucking hate sounding and acting like a victim but here I am watching myself do just that and that adds even more heaviness. I have had the thoughts that come with existential crisis before but this is different somehow, more devious in nature, more demonic, more menacing.
I do not know how to get out of this but what I DO KNOW is I need people to STOP with the fucking clichés.
Throughout this period some well meaning people and friends who have noticed a difference in my demeanour and have taken the time to check in. These people who are either seeking to ‘know’ what is wrong with me in a salacious manner or sincerely concerned, either way they are full of platitudes like ‘you just need to pull yourself up from your bootstraps’. Oh really, fuck why didn’t I think of that? Or the ever helpful ‘it will pass,” “it is not the end of the world,’ ‘you will get over it’.
First of all what is IT, because if you can tell me that then maybe I can problem solve my way out but it is not ONE thing, not ONE it, it is everything. What if it does not pass, if I do not get over it and it is the end of the world, of my world?
How about the ever popular, ‘it can’t be that bad,’ nice, way to validate my experience.
What about ‘god won’t give you more than you can handle’. R-E-A-L-L-Y? Then please tell me why people succumb and take their own life because they can’t handle IT or do you think them weak because they simply got too tired of fighting?
The clichés are everywhere and have become a part of what we think is our ‘supportive’ vocabulary should be. We use them so much that they roll out without any thought and substance behind them.
I admit I am guilty of this shallow support, the best I can offer when I do not know what to say but can we please just STOP!
Can we please just remain silent instead of offering some stupid phrase to make yourself feel better because you do not know what to do with someone who is suffering?
How about just acknowledging the pain, how about simply offering support if needed or wanted, or just sitting in silence until the person is ready to move and then move with them.
Can we please just STOP judging! Judgements that infer weakness when depressed or struggling with burnout.
Can we please just STOP trying to fix everything! This action is not about actually fixing anything, it is about making the uncomfortableness of uncomfortable.
Can we please just STOP with the clichés! Vulnerability is the centre and vulnerability is essential to healing and is immediately stifled when a thoughtless platitude is offered.
I do not know when I will come out of this or if I will come out of this but be rest assured it will not be because of some fucking CLICHÉ.
Rhonda Cochrane can be found at: thebestofrhonda.com
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