I consider myself to be a pretty strong, independent, and resilient woman. I like to accomplish things on my own and find it difficult to ask others for help. Asking someone for help was viewed as a weakness to me for most of my life. It was quite normal for me to say "I'm fine" regardless of the chaos that was occuring in my mind. It took me a long time to realize that pretending to be ok all time was making me sick. It would manifest itself into some very physical ailments due to my constant anxiety that people were going to find out that I wasn't fine at all. For many years I experienced chronic stomach pain, IBS, nausea, rashes, and eczema. I was always tired and wanted to sleep all the time. I was clinically depressed, but I truly believed that I just needed to "suck it up" and take care of my obligations. I felt a great deal of anxiety and shame because I couldn't seem to snap out of it and stop being such a downer. When you are in the midst of a depressive episode, telling yourself to "get over it" is pretty counterproductive as it just seems to pick away at your feelings of self-worth.
For as long as I can remember I have always felt the need to look after others. It doesn’t matter if it’s a family member, friend, or even someone that I barely know. I have an inherent need to help “fix” the lives of others whether they want me to or not. Now wanting to help others is not a bad thing, unless it begins to be at the cost of your own physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. I am extremely sensitive to the feelings of others, and I find it very difficult to take a step back and remove myself from situations in which I over-empathize with someone else. This is especially true if it is someone I care about. I became almost obsessive in my need to help others, and I would often begin to sacrifice my own mental health and financial stability to support someone who I believed to need my help. When I look back now, I realize that I was providing support to people who hadn’t even asked for my help. I truly believed that they needed me, they just didn’t know it yet. My feelings of self-worth began to “depend” on my ability and need to make things better for those whose lives I believed needed to be fixed.