Recently I wrote a post and angered someone to the point that they lashed out at me. I accept and understand why I made them upset. I just wasn’t expecting their subsequent actions.
In their onslaught of criticism they threw this phrase in my face:
“Clearly, you have emotional issues”.
Out of almost every unkind thing that was said to me, this one cut the deepest. I try to use this blog as a platform to express myself, and push myself to be honest – especially about struggles I face. I know that I have read blog posts and articles where people expose their insecurities and weaknesses in hopes that they will find confidence and understanding, while simultaneously offering someone in a similar situation the same.
I write and publish because I hope that something I’ve said resonates with a reader, and hopefully helps them in some way.
So when the jab at my mental health was thrown in my face, it cut me right to my core. Up until this point I had respect for this person, but such a low and immature blow quickly demolished much of that.
In some regards though, they were right. I do have “emotional issues”. I deal with them every day. My greatest “emotional issue” manifests itself as anxiety.
My anxiety is not something I like to talk about with many people, but it definitively affects me as it often dictates how I’m feeling and what I feel like I am capable of achieving on any given day.
That being said, I’ve worked very very hard to be productive and functional despite the feelings of anxiety I experience so often. I pride myself on my ability to do my best not to let any anxiety I feel define every aspect of my being. And I pride myself on the ability I have developed to face my anxious feelings personally and privately.
Because while my anxiety might affect how I act and speak, it is ultimately my own personal, private struggle. I get to choose if it is addressed by others as well as by myself.
Amidst the criticism the statement that “I barely knew them and what they had been through” was also made.
Again, there was much truth in their statement. However, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the irony in that phrase. I was being told that I didn’t know them, and thus shouldn’t make assumptions based only off the information I did know, or thought I knew. Yet this is exactly what was being done to me.
Most of the criticism being thrown at me was only based on half truths or knee jerk reactions. And while I could see how I upset them, I couldn’t justify their choice of actions. They decided to only see a version of me that was a villain. And assumptions were made about my character based only off of isolated statements and actions. There was no confrontation for clarification, just assumptions to justify their side.
In a clear attempt to wound me, they took an instance where I put myself out there and shared a struggle, and used that to mock me.
They knew nothing of the struggles and challenges that people with “emotional issues” face, but decided that this was a good way to belittle someone. “Emotional issues” shouldn’t always be seen as a weakness.
People who struggle with their emotional and mental health don’t ask for these challenges and often are actively seeking out ways to overcome them.
I have contemplated sharing my personal experiences with mental and emotional health on this blog several times. But the truth is I am just not confident enough. I am too scared. For me, my mental and emotional health is a very private issue. It’s a challenge I am still learning how to face. I won’t say that it is unconquerable, but it is definitely not something that will be easily resolved. I understand the ramifications of keeping my personal struggles private, if I don’t speak about them, people won’t know and could make assumptions.
But I hope that we as a society are on a path that doesn’t vilify mental illness or emotional stress. I hope that at least one person might read this and feel reassured that it is perfectly normal to struggle with emotional and mental health and choose to confront these challenges privately. Not everything has to be shared all the time. I also hope that at least one person might read this and realize that it isn’t fair to attack someone’s emotional health to belittle them, because it can do far more damage than just being a petty insult.