I recently found myself apologizing to everyone around me for my mental health problems. I found myself apologizing to friends because my moods are a roller-coaster ride. I apologize to everyone around me who is effected by what I feel or how to react to those feelings. Something I have come to realize is you should not apologize for who you are, or for what you are experiencing!
I try to explain to my close friends when they tell me they quit paying attention to me when my moods become a roller-coaster ride because it worries them, but how do you think I feel? Yes, I am happy one moment. I could not be happier, in fact. Nothing could be wrong, or I could be managing everything extremely well. Then, my mood changes. Someone may have said something to me that I took more for what it actually meant, I could have said the wrong thing to someone when I really meant something else, or I could have spent the morning dropping everything I held in my hands. Anything can cause my mood to change or to depress me. I can’t help it, no matter how I talk to myself.
I try to explain to friends it is just as frustrating for me not to be able to control it, and it frightens me how bad things can get so quickly. In reply, I am told friends stop paying attention to me, believing I will reach out when I need them. But guess what…. I am horrible at reaching out for help. I do not know how to ask for it. I feel awkward asking for it. And when I do reach out, I do not get help. Reaching out to the psychological services on campus left me feeling like my problems were not severe enough for me to be seeing them. Unless I’m at the edge of a cliff ready to jump, they are not there to help. Reaching out to friends is rough because sometimes I feel like a burden to them when I ask, and then it is a toss up (depending on which friend it is) on whether I actually get a response or not.
When I do reach out and get a response, I am always apologizing for having to talk to someone. Or I apologize for being a burden or a problem. Or I apologize for simply being a bad friend. The apologies never stop, but I am learning to realize that I shouldn’t have to apologize at all. If I can’t help how I feel, then the only response I should have is to tell myself that it is ok to feel like this. It is ok to feel a little down once in a while. It won’t last, we will get through it. And then move on to things that help me. Why should I apologize at all?
If we could control everything about us, then it would mean everyone in the world would be perfect. We would not need therapy because we would simply be able to tell ourselves to “cheer up!” And I cannot tell you how much I hate it when someone tells me that.
There comes a time when things are just bad enough that I try reaching out. And what I hope I express is that when I reach out to you, it means I am trusting you. It means I am hoping beyond hope you will help me, even if it means just getting a hug, having someone to just listen to what I am saying, or to hear that I am not alone. I don’t expect people to fix my problems. I am good at fixing things. I can take control of a situation easily. When I reach out, I just need a friend.
I also noticed that when I started apologizing to friends, I started isolating myself from everyone around me. I stopped texting friends I used to text every day. One friend would text me when she had not heard from me in a long time, and I always appreciate how she reaches out to me. Another friend will go months without hearing from me and not notice, nor will they take the initiative to reach out on their own. I stopped texting people, deciding I should not be a burden or a bother on anyone else. At the beginning of this past semester, I stopped visiting professors whose offices I stopped in on regularly. It took Thin Mints to approach my favorite professor because I simply felt I was a problem. It was as though I quarantined myself off from everyone because I was a disease no one wanted around. I no longer think of myself as a disease. No, I have moved up the ladder to simply being a burden on people. If I get emotionally exhausted from simply being myself, how much other people feel by interacting with me?
Isolation and apologizing are two things I am working on. However, I will no longer apologize for who I am. Yes, I have issues. Yes, I put myself down a lot. Yes, I fight the idea of suicide every day. Yes, I am an introvert who must constantly seek companionship because I need people in my life. But no, I cannot apologize for what I cannot control. I am always working on how I can cope and better manage some things, but I am not perfect. And I should not apologize for not being perfect.