One sunny afternoon I went to a family and friends’ celebration, and I wanted the earth to swallow me whole. I’d that very week been diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety; nobody there knew. Those at the gathering were celebrating religious and political beliefs that were virtually opposite to my markedly less conservative views. I was invited as a relative, and never knew if they really thought I shared their views or if it just didn’t matter. There was a lot of Bible reading, text interpreted to support favorite right-wing politicians. Many emotional speeches on the rightness and beauty of the group’s beliefs also implied that divergent views were stupid, evil or both. I wished I could disappear.
Mental health problems are inconvenient, messy, embarrassing. Incompatible philosophies and tastes, maybe even political or religious views, are sometimes socially acceptable as matters of personal leanings. But being exceedingly depressed or anxious?…
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I’ve been this way most of my life and never knew it. Once I found out I realized why I felt like a loner most of the time. It’s frustrating to know that there is something “different” about me. I think it’s easier for people to understand if you have a knife sticking out of your back or if you have a physical ailment like cancer. But something “we create because we are not strong”? Umm…no…definitely not socially acceptable.
Yes, it seems to me characteristic of our human condition not only that most of us feel ourselves outsiders in one way or another but that, since there’s a natural compulsion to avoid and hide what makes us Different, we don’t realize how universal the sense might be or what a broad range of features it might include. And worse yet, because it’s all kept secret at so many levels, we don’t easily pinpoint, diagnose or treat the things that trouble us so. We end up not understanding our own selves until we’ve struggled far too long. I’m so glad you managed, too, to uncover some of the things that hindered you, and hope that, like me, you’ll find the healing tends to continue and increase over time.
You are very special to me already, so I think you must have made a whole lot of progress in your journey to be so compelling!
My brokenness was painted onto me, layer by layer, as I grew from a child to an adult. To this day, I can’t answer the question of whether I would still have lived a life complicated by bipolar disorder, chronic depression, and dissociative disorder, had I not been severely abused growing up. Perhaps those conditions would have existed either way. The only malady I can specifically point to is PTSD, as those incidents are directly related to the abuse.
Oddly enough, as I’ve grown and worked my way through finding a comfortable way to exist within the “odd one out” syndrome, I’m beginning to realize, more and more, that it doesn’t matter at all from whence it came, but rather, how I find my way through. I will never, no matter what or how far I travel, be able to erase what came before, but if I can spend some time quietly enjoying the company of children on the porch, then I can make it through another day.
(posting duplicate comment over at A Holistic Journey)
As I said over at AHJ, you know whereof you speak, better than most! I can think of nothing more appropriate anyone can do than to live *forward*. We can’t generally forget the past (and sometimes simply shouldn’t, or we won’t learn from it), but to live stuck in it is tantamount to not living at all. You are a heroine.
Kathryn, thanks again for your post on Holistic Wayfarer. So nice to meet you. Love your artwork; it’s phenomenal. Another misfit brain following along on this journey of hope.
I am so delighted to have met you, too, Susan, and I look forward to our future sharing! Many blessings and joys be yours!
An excellent book that makes sense of the main political divide in the United States, as well as systems of morality in general, is The Righteous Mind:
I highly recommend it.
Sounds intriguing! I seem to be surrounded by people who inhale books while I wrestle my way ever-so-slowly through! But this one sounds both pertinent and thought-provoking, so I’ll seek it out as soon as I get a chance. Thanks, Steve!
I suggested to the author that he should try to get on as a speaker at both the Democratic and Republican national conventions. He e-mailed back that liberals don’t like him—even though he’s a liberal—because he thinks conservatives make some good points.
(By the way, I’m usually a slow reader too.)
Man, I am constantly amazed at how foolishly polarized we have become, everybody thinking and believing and acting in extremes. Will we ever grow up? Sigh.
I can’t imagine you being a slow reader. But I’ll take your word for it, because if I challenged you to a race, we might both die of old age before we got the results, and that would just be embarrassing. 😉