Words aren’t enough to describe the feeling
How do I put to words the feeling of being lonely in a crowded place - as if my presence is so small to the point of insignificance?
There comes a time when words don’t seem to come close to describing the emotions one feel - because explaining what it is like to feel numb can be difficult.
Watching the world go by as if someone does not belong to this world can fuel the isolation, emptiness and despondency. The invisible barrier between the self and the world around sets apart me from you. If you were to ask what I’m feeling, I wouldn’t be able to tell you because I’d feel you wouldn’t understand.
The perception that the world around can seem a little superficial, void of genuine concern at times stops the true expression of our feelings and emotions. Too many instances did my emotions get brushed off, belittled and ignored, that I felt no one really cared. “I’m fine” then becomes the most convenient response to “How are you?”. When the emotional disconnect between you and I feels so great, no words will be able to accurately describe what I’m feeling for you to understand.
When no words seem to matter, sometimes saying “I’m fine” is better than saying nothing at all.
Thoughts get louder when no one seems to listen
Too often we ask “why’re you crying?” instead of “what happened?”, or say “things will get better” instead of “I’ll be here with you”.
On top of being at a loss for words, is the fear of judgment and the sense of guilt for feeling the way I do. The lack of validation hinders me from sharing with you what’s on my mind because it reinforces the difference between you and I. When a thought is weighing down on me for some time, it can be overwhelming emotionally.
The story of The Glass of Water shares that the absolute weight (of the glass of water) doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.
The day when we embrace differences and be accepting of imperfections will be the time a safe space is created for us to be open about our feelings without the fear of judgment.
Actions become a mask to meet expectations
We’ve been told of what’s expected of us - at school, at work, and even at home.
Our society continues to hold the perception that being bogged down by mental health is a representation of failure, and no one wants to be associated with that label.
More often than not, people with a mental health disorder are defined by their diagnosis. The prejudice against people struggling with their mental health still exist because there is a lack of visibility of how mental disorders look like. When the struggles with mental health is invisible to the people around, they will never know what to look out for, let alone understand how it feels.
We expect people to always have their act together despite what happens in their life. We therefore have to act indifferent even when we’re feeling otherwise. We put away our frowns because we don’t want to be judged or shunned for being in touch with our own feelings. We act like everything’s OK even when we’re falling apart inside.
When your feelings are not validated, shame is attached to moments when you are feeling low. You may then start to feel like you’re a burden and that you have to deal with your problems on your own - which reinforces the despair in your circumstance.
Too often we perceive things as the way they seem on the surface without pausing to look beneath the façade. We each fight a battle every day, and we tend to impose our expectations on others – whether or not they are coping well.
Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.
The least we could do is to pause and remind ourselves “perhaps today is just not their day”.
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