A little insight goes a long way

Recently I came across an article that gave quite a bit of insight into some of the behaviors that I have noticed in myself and my husband that I had never really understood before. It is a common trait in ADHD and the various manifestations of it are all too familiar. Though I am not one to rely on labels to hold myself back, it is important to be able to be informed about various aspects of yourself in order to better yourself.

It was in reflecting on this article that I came to realize a very different insight than you might expect. One related to how I have been dealing with my emotions related to the auto-immune flare ups and fibromyalgia flare ups I have been experiencing lately. I have been struggling emotionally with not being able to push through the pain and sickness, because when I was younger I was able to. Something that struck me as I was reflecting on my own behavioral patterns is that I had never actually thought of the true difference in the situation between then and now. I let my emotions build up wildly because I have already gone through a good variety of situations where I faced Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria because I am not able to just push through the pain. I’ve let myself stew and ultimately bottle up the emotional reactions to those situations, which I have unjustly internalized against myself.

What I had not let myself look at was the rational difference between when I was younger and now. I had not explored why I could push through before and why I cannot now. It was the chemical reactions that my body produced when consuming gluten and casein that I had forgotten to grant any weight. Although I was suffering, inflamed and in tremendous amounts of pain when I was younger, my brain was flooding with opiod-like substances. Even after going gluten free 5 years ago, I had continued to consume dairy–which I later discovered an allergy to. I can vividly remember the sensation of the ever delicious DQ blizzard on days of stress or pain. I relied on this almost weekly during university. Although not healthy, it had become a coping mechanism that helped me to push through the migraines and pain I was experiencing.

Now I am in a situation where I am eating healthy, avoiding foods that cause upset and trying my best to move forward through the suffering. Comparatively, I have gone from having an opiate-like high all the time, to not. Realistically, whether I was in more pain back then does not effect the fact that I at least had some form of relief, albeit a horribly unhealthy form of relief. I am no longer able to ask for most kinds of relief, because I cannot tolerate most medications without experiencing severe side effects. I am fighting the real battle now, without any shield. I know that there will be people who judge me and criticize me for where I am and what I am capable of doing, but at least I can give myself the peace of mind to know that I am doing what I can. Although I know I will still have stronger emotional reactions than I would like to admit, I can start to work through them without beating myself up for being sick.

Isolating Shouts of Support

With the advent of the increase in advocacy for mental health there has been the birth of an interesting but isolating phenomenon. As individuals begin to hear echoes of support for mental health chime throughout the internet, the reality of support and support systems has taken on a hollow tone. In my own experience with fighting depression, I have found it has become much more common for an individual to support the idea of making depression less taboo rather than actually supporting individuals that suffer from this debilitating mental illness, or any illness in truth. What’s worse, most do not seem to realize that there is truly a distinction between them.

It is becoming increasingly common for people to rally behind the flag of representing the experiences of a group of people in order to reduce the taboo, raise awareness and to support inclusiveness. Yet in doing so, the opposite is almost always the case in practice. This act of rallying distances these individuals from the reality of the people they are trying to support because it creates a concept to rally behind rather than actively taking steps to help. Which in most cases leaves little that is done to actually assist these groups of people as a whole, no matter how many individuals say “I support you.”

Though it has never been easy to find a support system when suffering with mental or physical illness it is becoming harder to find the more people group behind social media to support individuals from a safe distance. Although many will say that they support you, they are saying they support the idea of you getting the necessary help you need. They are not saying that they want to provide that help. They are not saying that they want to be of service. They are not saying that they want to confront the reality of your hardships head on and face them with you. This leaves you confused and helpless as you search through the voices of those saying “I support you” to find one that means “I will help you and stand by you through this myself”.

In many ways, I find this flood of internet support and awareness has become more isolating than anything. At least before the cries of support rang about social media, you knew who really meant it and who didn’t as soon as you said “I’m not well”. There wasn’t a wall you could hide behind to pretend that you would be there.