Her laugh was a tell. She often coerced a laugh when she felt guilty, ashamed, unloved, unappreciated and unworthy. It was a ploy to cover up how she really felt. She was the type of person who aimed to please everyone but herself.
I’ve known her since I moved into the neighbourhood. Her name was Judith, and she was my neighbour.
Judith represents a lot of people, including myself. We are the walking wounded.
Suffering in Silence
Why is it difficult to express how we truly feel?
Why do we hide our true emotion – both feelings of sadness and happiness?
On the one hand we want to put on an air of I’m fine and everything is fine, even though we are breaking apart inside.
And on the other, we want to tamp down our state of joy because we don’t want others to feel bad about their shitty situation. Or that we don’t want people to judge us as arrogant or bragging.
Why do we constantly keep ourselves in check – what we say; what we do; what we feel; what we create and express; how we dress; what we eat, and on and on and on?
Is it any surprise that we are so unhappy?
According to a 2020 study by NIMH, 8.4% of adults had at least one major depressive episode.
And per CAMH data, one in two Canadians have—or have had—a mental illness by the time they’re 40 years old.
When I first heard of the death of Stephen tWitch Boss, I was affected in a way that surprised me.
I cried over this news.
I relived the experience of my grade eight classmate and friend, Danielle, who committed suicide. She had striking red hair, freckles, slick hands for the basketball, and a compassionate soul.
I felt for the handful of friends I had over the years who tried unsuccessfully to end their life because they were in misery and darkness.
I feel deeply for these beautiful human beings who suffered silently. And for those who continue to suffer alone.
I had been one of the walking wounded.
I started this blog to offer myself an outlet to express the raw and painful emotions that surface as I move about in this world. It is also for others to read and recognize that they are not alone in their challenges.
Heartbreak, loss, grief, sadness, or rejection are not unique nor are we the only ones experiencing them, but it feels like we ARE at the time.
Coupled with the societal and perhaps cultural conditioning that we’re not allowed to feel these feelings let alone share them, magnifies the perception that we are alone on our journey, which then compounds the suffering.
This is a big lie!
The ego propaganda is to make us believe that others will judge us; that we can do this alone; that we don’t need to burden others with our problems.
This is NOT the truth.
We don’t have to suffer alone.
We don’t have to suffer period.
We don’t need to cover up how we’re truly feeling.
We don’t need to figure this out (whatever we’re challenged with) on our own.
Reach Out to Someone You Trust
Do you have the willingness to reach out to a friend and share with them what you’re going through?
And if you’re that friend, are you willing to just listen? Can you be ok to not fix anything or figure it out for them who’s having a hard time?
Can you just put an arm around them or embrace them if that’s what calls out to you?
Can you just sit with them, walk with them, stand by them…be with them?
You don’t need to know what to say or what to do, sometimes all it takes is to just be present; to just show up for them.
I’ve participated in many ‘therapy’ settings – one on ones, circles, and with friends, and what I found helpful for myself is to allow myself to be vulnerable and express what I’m feeling despite the fear of being judged or being seen as not having it together.
And when I’m being asked to hold space, I try my best, although not always, to be present and to just listen.
There is a false belief we buy into that whatever is perceived as ‘wrong’ needs to be righted somehow. It needs to be fixed right away.
But what if all that needs to be done right now is to give ourselves permission to express emotions like sadness, rage or grief rather than suppress them?
What if all that can be done right now is to scream into a pillow; scream in a forest; or to just let everything out, however ‘ugly’ it looks?
Can we just be in the ugliness? Can we let others in on our ugliness?
Can we stop resisting whatever it is we’re feeling, and give ourselves the honour of experiencing the breadth of what is unfolding for us?
I heard someone say that to resist what we’re experiencing is to deny ourselves the opportunity for growth and healing.
This I find true in my own journey.
We don’t have to burden ourselves with our secrets or private thoughts – in my experience, these thoughts either never manifest or they are absolutely false. Sometimes all it takes is to share with someone we trust what we’re going through to recognize that it’s not as bad as we think it is.
We don’t have to be the walking wounded.
Mental Health Resources
Virtual Therapist Platforms
- Talk Space
- Better Help
- Well in 5 (based in Canada)
- Inkblot (based in Ontario)
- Canadian Mental Health Association
- National Institute of Mental Health
Writer and globe wanderer, who's interests not only take her to distant corners of the world, but also to undiscovered regions of her inner Self. Proponent of the practice of mindfulness, self-compassion, and gratitude, the trifecta of healing and being, to transform her relationship with daily life challenges.
Thank you for being transparent and letting others know it is okay to feel and express feelings. I think mental health is looked at negatively and therefore many people hold their feelings in, which is never good. The fact that 1 in 2 Canadians have a mental illness or depression before 40 speaks volumes. People need to know it is okay to share their feelings and to know they are not alone, so thank you for sharing.