I have worked with behavioral change models, hypnosis, meditation, and performance improvement for over twenty five years. I’ve become increasingly skeptical about the concept of willpower, and concerned by the marketed self-help obsession that surrounds it. It's always in the media how you might be broken and how you can pay for a product, service, or experience to get you on the path to being better. What I am sharing here is the accumulation of many years of thought, research, and exploration on this topic.
I have had the week from hell.
Let me tell you a story about a little girl who grew afraid to talk. She was a chatterbox. She loved attention. She loved love. The thing she loved best was giving hugs, because she always got one back too. She was happy and vivacious. She doesn’t remember exactly when it happened, when the Change took hold. At some point, she was told to keep quiet. She was told no one cared to hear her. She started learning that she talked too much. She tried to be quieter. She would bite her tongue until it bled. Then, she was told to shut up. “Shut Up-It’s not Your Place to talk". She was told that the word ‘love’ meant it’s ok to hurt people, as long as you say you’re sorry afterwards; as long as you buy them a treat or give them a hug. She was taught to ‘be seen and not heard’ and when she was heard there would be hell to pay. Her voice brought beatings, her voice brought lectures, more punishments that exceeded her crimes. She was taught that respect was owed, not earned. She learned that her body was not her own, her mind she was not allowed to make up. She was taught that to love someone, you had to fear them, actually be afraid of them, of displeasing them in the slightest. She learned how to read every minute nuance of body language. She found out when she could get away with using her voice and when she better not even try. Her body was stronger than his, but she had been instructed in such a way that her head was unaware of this possibility.
It's been over a year since I left an abusive relationship I was in for about 15 months. It doesn't seem to be a long time to be in a relationship but it really messed with my head. A year seems like more than enough time for recovery but I am still struggling. Just like our perception of domestic abuse can be lacking, our perception of the recovery from an abusive situation can be lacking too.
A Note: This piece contains content relating to disordered eating and mental illness.
DISCLAIMER: Those suffering from Depression, Anxiety, PTSD or other such distressing conditions, please be advised that this piece deals with subject matter that may be triggering. Recounts of panic attacks and violent behaviour are mentioned. If you find this post upsetting, please let me know, and contact one of the following helplines and counselling services:
When I was twelve years old, I grabbed a pair of scissors from my parent’s desk and made a small cut.
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.
I have always wanted to share my story with people, as I think I could bring on some wisdom, advice, and comfort to others. This is just one part of my huge story, just a day in my life with mental illness.