To All The ‘Andrew Tates’ Of The World, On Behalf Of Anyone Kickboxing Depression

“When ignorance is given a voice, ours must be louder.” – Nicole Lyons

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article was originally published for The Odyssey on September 25, 2017.

Three weeks ago, The Mighty, a website that only publishes articles having to do with illnesses and chronic conditions, broke a story about kick boxer Andrew Tate who tweeted some seriously ignorant thoughts recently. He began a twitter thread where he began to describe how ‘depression isn’t real.’

The thread, which is more than a hundred tweets long, is extremely offensive and anxiety-inducing, to say the least. I’m here to summarize it, tell you why it matters and speak not only to Andrew Tate, but all the people agreeing with him.

When you’re a celebrity, you have a platform. You also know that whatever you say on your platform will be scrutinized whether it is the popular opinion or not.

Andrew Tate has not rescinded any of his tweets. This means people can still read them, and that’s dangerous.

Before I delve deeper, I want to make one thing clear: whether or not Tate is trolling, he is still causing a problem. By trolling, he’s welcoming those who agree to bully and shame those who are mentally ill, thus causing more issues.

On September 7, 2017, Andrew Tate tweeted out the following, “Depression isn’t real. You feel sad, you move on. You will always be depressed if your life is depressing. Change it.” He mostly draws attention to people he believes aren’t making the most of their situations. He tweets, “Sure. Natural to sometimes FEEL depressed. It doesn’t make it a DISEASE. I feel hungry sometimes, then I change it.”

As if these thoughts weren’t dangerous enough, he even begins to call out people specifically for their appearances as they reply to him. He cites others’ photos, picks on them for their physical attributes and then makes comments about other irrelevant things.

Also:

Like I said before, one of the biggest issues is that when you utilize a platform, you’re going to be scrutinized, no matter what you say. In tweeting these things, Tate also sparked other debates about feminism, masculinity and gender bias.

And:

Speaking this way to a vulnerable audience is dangerous. While Tate may believe that it will ‘help’ these people, he has accomplished the opposite; making people upset, anxious and depressed.

Why is this a problem, you ask? Not only is this man going out of his way to try and ‘prove’ that depression isn’t real; he’s gathering a group of people with a toxic way of thinking together to encourage the bullying of people who struggle with mental illness.

These people direct messaging Tate to agree are fueling the fire of those who think it’s acceptable to speak this way to anyone struggling.

September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, which means we dedicate this time to prevent and spread awareness of suicide and the effects it can have. Andrew Tate not only encourages the mindset of those who think suicide is cowardly but also encourages those who are suicidal because he’s invalidating them.

Let us not forget that in announcing that depression isn’t real, Tate and his followers are also invalidating every single public figure who has fallen victim to suicide.

What’s that Robin Williams? What did you say, Alexander McQueen? Sorry Chris Cornell and more recently, Chester Bennington. You guys just wallowed in pain and didn’t make the most of your situations! Sorry! If only you could be like Andrew Tate!

Andrew Tate believes he’s a winner because he won’t ‘let’ himself be depressed. It appears Andrew Tate wouldn’t know depression if it knocked him on his ass, and let’s hope for his sake, that it never does.

Nicole Lyons, of The Mighty, first brought my attention to the issue at hand. She says it best when she writes, “Unkind people are usually that way because others have been unkind to them, but there is no excuse for ignorance or complete denial of mental health issues. That is a dangerous thing. When ignorance is given a voice, ours must be louder.”

According to Andrew Tate, I’m depressed because I’m not changing anything for the better in my life. It’s because I’m being a ‘little bitch’ and believing in the ‘hoax’ of depression, right?

I am someone who fights every single day to get out of bed and get shit done. I refuse to wallow, and yet still, for some silly reason, I’m still depressed.

Explain that, Andrew Tate. Explain to me why, that despite my ever-growing efforts to be a successful woman, get a degree, a job, activities and work out among other things, why am I still depressed?

It’s because I have a chemical imbalance in my brain and depression is fucking real. That’s right.

Here’s my open letter. Don’t worry, if you’re still reading, this will be short.

To all the Andrew Tates of the world: Fuck off. Everyone in the mentally ill community already deals with enough bullshit without having to deal with the likes of you. Are you allowed to have an opinion? Sure. Are you allowed to post that opinion? Sure.

But if you ever come face to face with mental illness or depression, I hope you have access to help. Because we’ve all been somewhere where that isn’t the case, and we were left to flounder until we grew stronger.

Cancer is just as real as depression; when you have cancer, you can’t cure it by saying, “Cancer isn’t real, I can still kick ass!” Stop treating mental illness like it isn’t illness. Both are debilitating and valid illnesses.

If you are someone who lives with mental illness or depression, you keep doing you. You’re out here killing the game, getting up every day and moving forward, even when it feels like all the forces in the world are moving against you. Even on the days when you’re not getting up or moving forward, you’re still fighting the good fight. Keep your head up and your eyes ahead – the future is coming and you’ll want to stick around for it.

I’m sorry that the Andrew Tates of the world are trying to discredit you and hold you back. Know that you are stronger than them and you can do this. Reach out and take a hand; we will work together to push forward. That’s all we can do – keep going. We’ll keep going together.

If you struggle with any of these issues and you need help, you can call the hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. You can also utilize the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online chat.

To Those Struggling To Get Back On Their Feet

“I’m just a little bit caught in the middle. I try to keep going but it’s not that simple.”

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on August 21, 2017.

Hi there,

I know you’re struggling. I know you’ve been struggling for a long time. It’s getting bad, isn’t it? It feels like you’re drowning all the time, like your feet are trying desperately to reach the bottom, but it’s like someone moved it lower, right? Your legs and arms are tired from not only holding yourself up but other people, too. You’re fading, your breath is running out, and you feel as if this is it.

Every time you feel your head bob under the wave, under the tide or under the current, you always find some way to make it back to the top. Whether it be a helping hand or some strength you never knew you had, there is hope.

I know you don’t want to hear this, but it has to be said. You need to keep going. You need to keep fighting. You need to keep your head up. You cannot give up; there is no giving up. Don’t let yourself drown. Don’t let yourself down.

I know it’s tiring. I know you’re done with the world. I know you’re done with the people around you, even the ones who are helping, even the ones who you’re helping. I know you don’t want to get out of bed. I know you have little interest in doing the things that once made you happy. I know this and so much more. Trust me, I’ve been there.

I, too, feel as if there is nothing to hope for tomorrow. Hell, I lost my faith at the beginning of the summer and it’s only just starting to make a cameo back into my life. It’s going to take a while to re-teach myself to keep faith in things that you can’t see or hear. It’s going to take a while for me to heal. It’s going to take a while for me to feel comfortable again.

When life stops throwing you curve balls and starts throwing you things much worse than baseball analogies, you need to keep your head up. When the raining and pouring stops and you’re faced with a full-blown shit-storm, keep your eyes on the horizon. When your heart is so broken you can’t process anything short of positivity, force yourself to move forward.

You can’t do this alone, but you can do it. You’re not alone. I’ve been in dark, shaky places. Most of the time, I feel like I’m wearing shoes on the sandy beach, with my ankles sinking and my feet feeling wobbly; unable to grasp any solid ground. My hands are always out in front of me ready to feel the ground if I fall down on the way to wherever I’m going. I try to prepare myself for the absolute worst. It’s okay to brace yourself for the worst, even if the worst isn’t coming.

This is a rough period in your life. Whatever you’re going through has your on your tippy-toes all day every day just to ensure that you won’t be caught off guard by anything worse. It has you on your knees, looking up at the sky wondering if anyone is watching you. If so, why would they let all of this bad stuff happen to you? Why aren’t they helping you navigate it? Why aren’t they helping to fix it? Why do things keep getting worse?

I don’t have any answers for you. I don’t know if anyone is in the sky, or Heaven or the afterlife. I don’t know if we have guardian angels or gods. I don’t know if the universe is a being who watches out for you. In this dark time, I’m not sure of anything anymore.

The only thing I know is that we have no choice but to go on. We have made it this far, and even thoughts of giving up scare us. It would be too easy, you know? It would be entirely too easy to give up, to start over, to start new. It would be impossible. There’s always a catch; nothing worth having ever comes easy.

We are in the long-run. We are in a fight to save ourselves. We hold a compass that only points forward. You can stop and rest as long as you like, but that dial will never point any direction but forward. Take the time to heal your bones, to heal your senses and your overall well-being. Take the time to be caught in the middle. But, remember, at some point you have to get up, dust off those hiking boots and continue on that journey.

Because we’re at the bottom. It feels as if we’ll never make it to the top. Maybe the top doesn’t exist. Maybe life is just one large incline in which we can fall off of easily, but can never surpass. I don’t know what awaits you toward the top; nor do I know that there is a top, per se.

What I do know is this: it gets better on the way up. You will gain your footing. You will take all the time you need to do so. The climb will begin again, but it’s up to you to begin. You are the main conductor of this journey.

You will be okay. We will be okay. You are never alone and you matter more than you can imagine. You were put on this Earth to rise up and scoop up all the opportunities that you possibly can. There will be a tomorrow. There will be an after-tomorrow. I don’t know what it holds for you, but I do know it holds you.

Let it hold you. Let yourself exist. Let yourself continue. Let yourself persevere.

You will find your footing once again; negativity isn’t permanent. You will find yourself again, one way or other. We always find ourselves where we are seldom looking. You’ll find your way out of the middle and back to the top, or at least further than you are now.

You will find your feet again. Let yourself find peace, no matter the circumstances. Let yourself live again. You owe yourself that much.

 

Yes, My Mental Illness Is Debilitating

“I’m just a little bit caught in the middle. I try to keep going but it’s not that simple.”

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on August 9, 2017.

I’m sick today. I feel shaky, my hands are sweaty and my head hurts, among other things. I have a laundry list of complaints that include body aches, bloating and a fluctuating change in appetite. I’ve been to the doctor, but they say I’m healthy.

They’ve checked all my boxes, noting that I’m doing well with eating vegetables and fruits. This is a different kind of sick. This is the type of sick where I don’t want to see the sun, don’t want to get out of bed, don’t want to see anyone ever again. I have mental illness and it’s debilitating.

I’m not intentionally ignoring you. I’m not ghosting you on purpose and I didn’t read your text and not answer to hurt you. I haven’t answered emails in days because I know I will have to prepare myself to truly process all they have to say. I know I was supposed to have that file sent to you last week, but it’s honestly on the bottom of my to-do list.

It’s not that you’re unimportant to me; you are very important to me. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about all the things I’m not doing to show you that. I haven’t forgotten about the things I was supposed to do for my boss, my mom or my doctor either. Everything is piling up and I’m less than thrilled.

I feel like an anvil is crushing my shoulders. My head is filled with pressure and my ears are ringing nonstop. I don’t know what I did to my neck or my back, but I feel terrible. I am not only sluggish but fatigued. I’m absolutely exhausted and I haven’t even made it out of my bed yet. Everything is so dark and I feel as though I don’t deserve to see the light just beyond my blinds.

My phone is right there. You’re probably near yours too. If I just picked it up and dialed your number, you’d probably answer. But what if you don’t? What if you’re too busy to answer? What if you’d rather not talk to me and you press ignore? It’s better I don’t touch the phone at all.

It’s been hours since I woke up and my stomach is growling. I know I should feed my body something to sustain it, but I can’t think of anything I want to eat. I can’t think of anything appetizing and make myself sick to my stomach just thinking about food.

Even if I manage to get out of bed today, I will not be productive. I will hug myself in the shower, neglecting to wash my hair, as strands or even locks of it twirl around the drain. I will put off getting dressed for too long. When I do get dressed, I’m lucky if I put on a bra or socks. I honestly feel as though every move I make is forced.

I return to my room and sit on my bed, staring at the wall for probably hours. You text me, but I don’t answer. You felt obligated to text me. You don’t really want to hear from me. I don’t want to annoy you. I don’t know what to say to you. I opt for nothing at all.

How do I describe how I’m feeling? I would write a text, backspace, rewrite, delete, edit, compose again, and finally lock the phone altogether. I just feel…empty. No, that’s not it. Tired. That’s too simple. Jumbled. Confused. Overwhelmed. How can you be overwhelmed when you haven’t done a single thing today? Scared. Anxious. No, not nervous. Anxious. Panicked. Suffocated.

Despite all those adjectives, I feel my true feelings don’t even scratch the cusp of those descriptors. This overwhelms me more.

Later I may manage some food and maybe I’ll manage too much. I’ll eat too much, returning to the nauseating sensation that plagued me just a few hours earlier. With a heated blanket and a heating pad, I swaddle myself. I overheat. I sweat, I hyperventilate and panic.

I don’t want to see anyone. The question of whether or not I should contact you is not even a thought in my mind anymore. I can’t stop thinking about all the things I’m not doing. I can’t stop thinking about all the deadlines I have missed. I can’t stop thinking about all the people I have disappointed. All the people I have let myself disappoint. All the people I have let myself let down because I couldn’t force myself to get through another day.

I am constantly fighting with myself. There is and will always be a crazy battle raging inside of me. I am either not doing enough or doing entirely too much. I am either not eating or stuffing myself. I am either over-sleeping or barely getting 4 hours. I will never do anything in-between. I will never do anything half-assed. I have mental illness and it debilitates me.

I hate that it debilitates me. I hate that I let it win some days; that I let it convince me to stay in bed, avoid all contact and sunlight and convince me that I am not worth it. I hate that it discourages me from doing things I love. I hate that it makes everything difficult. I hate that I woke up feeling exhausted.

Though I despise my mental illness and absolutely wish it would slink away to give me a chance to catch a fucking break, I have to let it engulf me sometimes. I have to let myself rest. I have to convince myself that it’s OK to let myself rest. I have to put myself first and I have to give my body time.

Though I shouldn’t go days without human contact, a shower, a decent meal or any sense of productivity, I have to let myself breathe. I have to learn to do things in little steps, instead of overwhelming myself.

Maybe we’ll opt for dry shampoo and face wash tomorrow. Maybe I’ll try to text a few people tomorrow. Maybe I’ll order in or ask a friend to bring something over. I’ll answer a couple of emails. I’ll check some things off the to-do list.

I have mental illness. It’s debilitating. I don’t want to get out of bed sometimes and I force myself to get out of bed other times. It’s not constant but it never goes away. I’ll talk to you about it after I have my latest episode. I’ll try to describe to you what I’m feeling.

I’ll try to open the blinds and let some light in. Maybe I’ll open the window. Maybe I’ll go for a drive. I’ll try to watch a movie I like or listen to music I like. I’ll attempt to go to work. I’ll attempt to get my work done.

My mental illness is debilitating. Sometimes, I let it convince me of things I know are not true. Sometimes I let it lock me up deep inside myself and convince myself I’ve forgotten where the key is. I let it convince me that I don’t even have the key. Sometimes, I gather all my might and kick it up to high heaven. I let my mental illness know that today is not the day. Tomorrow might be, though.

It’s hard. It’s never going to stop being hard, but I’m never going to stop trying. I have mental illness. It’s debilitating. I let it hold me when I can no longer hold myself, but I never let it win.

No, I Won’t Reach Out To You When I Am Having A Breakdown

When I am having a major depressive episode, anxious meltdown, or drowning in my mental illness, don’t expect me to come to you.

It’s just not something I’m comfortable with.

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on June 27, 2017.

When I am having a major depressive episode, anxious meltdown, or drowning in my mental illness, don’t expect me to come to you. When I have a breakdown, I feel as if the entire world is resting on my shoulders, but my shoulders are weak and could give out any minute. I feel as if I am paralyzed; I cannot stand up. I cannot stop crying. I am frozen. I won’t ever reach out to you when I’m feeling like this. It’s not personal. it’s not a cry for help. I just can’t function like that. Let me help you understand.

It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been friends. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve come to me with your problems. It definitely doesn’t matter if we’re in the same proximity. When I am breaking down, I will not reach out to you for help because I don’t think I need help. My first instinct is to doubt myself – I automatically think that my trigger was self-inflicted, or I was being too sensitive. My second instinct is to hide my feelings. I shouldn’t bother anyone else with my problems. People have problems of their own, and I’m freaking out over nothing. My third instinct is to push it down, far away and act like it never happened. I should be stronger than this.

When I don’t come to you, don’t take it as an insult. Don’t think that I’m avoiding you, or that I’ve been speaking to someone else over you. Don’t be upset with me because I wasn’t able to express myself. I’ve never been very good at expressing my feelings. It’s hard to explain why I was fine a second ago, and now I can’t stop shaking. It’s even more difficult to let myself be so vulnerable. When my mental illness strikes, I’m as raw as it can be. There are no shields, gates or guards up; I am completely naked and surrounded by darkness. It’s terrifying.

I’ve tried coping mechanisms, but personally, I’ve found that riding it out is the best way for me to handle a breakdown. When I open up to others while breaking down, I feel it is often harder to calm down because I feel like I have to prove or explain myself. I don’t always know the reasons for why I become upset. I rarely have the answers.

When I’m breaking down, don’t expect me to reach out to you. Don’t expect me to come to you when I’m letting my anxiety and depression get the best of me for an unexpected amount of time. Don’t ask me to talk to you while I’m crying, don’t ask me why I’m shaking, and don’t ask others what is ‘wrong’ with me.

I know that people aren’t so great at handling grief, depression, or mental illness in general. It can be hard to reach someone, especially when they have a mindset like mine. It can be even harder to know what to say and what not to say. A trigger could disguise itself as a compliment; you never know what weapons you’re expelling when you speak. It’s a difficult situation. I choose not to back others into the corner that is mental breakdowns because I don’t want anything to become worse. When I’m at my lowest and most vulnerable, I can’t chance anything going wrong. I don’t have it in me to handle mistakes when I’m down like that. When I’m down, I’m not feeling very strong at all.

What I will do is come to you after a breakdown. I’ll text you, call you, or return to our hang out after I’ve cried my eyes out and calmed myself down. I might tell you about it if I’m feeling a bit stronger, or I may wait until I’ve got my feet planted firmly. I’ll talk to you about why it happened, and maybe we can discuss ways to maybe soften the blow the next time.

I will reach out to you when I feel I am strong enough to. Please understand that you have done nothing wrong. I will reach for your hand when I feel safe inside myself enough to do so. Let me return to my strength before we can be strong together.

Replacing Apologies With Gratitude

Often, people don’t know how to tell you things aren’t your fault. They don’t understand where the toxic roots come from, and they don’t understand how to comfort you when you feel the way that you do.

“Thank You” is the new “I’m Sorry.”

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on April 4, 2017.

When I was younger, I was a sounding board for many of my friends who felt they didn’t have anyone else to talk to. I heard stories of depression, anxiety, suicide and anything else you can imagine teenagers between the ages of fourteen and sixteen have to say. It was a really demanding and heavy job; I often felt that I had no where to release my own feelings and began to absorb others’ on top of my own. Soon, I found myself in a toxic environment where I was doing everything wrong and so I began apologizing for everything, even when there was nothing to apologize for.

Being in a toxic environment is like suffocating; being surrounded by several toxic people at once is like drowning. It’s heavy, it’s debilitating and you always feel guilty and shameful. Toxic relationships have a way of bringing you down, as if you were shackled to a wall inside a tornado. Manipulative people take your fears and insecurities and their own insecurities and demons, and your life becomes a whirlwind of darkness. You feel as if everything is your fault, because they make it seem like you’re to blame. You’re not, and sometimes you know you’re not, and that’s what makes everything harder.

Leaving a toxic relationship of any kind is stressful and scary; you’re never quite sure if you’ll make it out alive. The first few steps of freedom are light and airy, and you wish you had done it earlier, if only you had known you were being manipulated. The bad times don’t stop there though. After leaving a relationship like that, sometimes you take those habits with you long after the fact.

Always feeling as though things are your fault is a common habit that follows you and weaves its way into your other relationships. The roots a toxic person digs into you are so deep, even when you thought you had severed the last of them, there are still seeds hiding underneath your memories.

Often, people don’t know how to tell you things aren’t your fault. They don’t understand where the toxic roots come from, and they don’t understand how to comfort you when you feel the way that you do. They often say something like, “Oh my god! Stop apologizing!” or “It’s not your fault.” Well, we all know it’s not your fault, but it’s become a habit to feel like it’s your fault, so you speak that feeling.

The best way for both parties to decrease the amount of apologizing and animosity toward the constant apologizing is this: simply replace the word ‘sorry’ with ‘thank you’.

When someone is speaking to you about something that is bothering them, do not apologize. Instead try saying, “Thank you for confiding in me.” When someone is apologizing for something that isn’t their fault, try saying, “Thank you for listening to me.” or “Thank you for your concern.”

The thank-you-replacement can go for other situations, too.

Instead of apologizing for being late, try saying, “Thank you for waiting for me.” Instead of apologizing for speaking your mind, or expressing your feelings, try, “Thank you for understanding and comforting me.”

Stop apologizing for everything. It’s easier said than done, of course, but it’s pretty simple to replace an apology with an expression of gratitude. You will begin to feel less heavy with guilt, and the roots of that toxic relationship will eventually dissolve as you become more thankful for your surroundings.

When I was a junior in high school, and I found myself surrounded by toxicity, I found the clearest way out of the situation and rode the solo wave for a while. It was difficult to repel the signs of red flags I saw in other people; I was always on my guard so that I wouldn’t be in a similar situation again. I was so scared of being sucked back into the darkness that I didn’t know how to immerse myself in meaningful relationships again.

When I began replacing my apologies with gratitude, it was like I had opened an entirely new door to my future. There is so much beauty in the world, and we take advantage of it every day. Expressing gratitude for my friendships, my family and myself became something I would try to build on in the future, and attempt to gain more of as I grew older. The remnants of guilt and heaviness from my previous toxic experiences soon faded away and dissolved into my past.

I am still triggered by some things relating to those relationships today, but I no longer let them weight me down long term. I remember to thank my lucky stars for what I have in present time, and what those toxic relationships have provided me with since. Gratitude in place of apology has opened my eyes up to the little things, the little bits of beauty we forget to remember.

I am thankful for the light I have discovered outside of the toxic relationships I once had. There was a time when I thought I’d never see the beauty I have. Getting away from toxicity is difficult, but it is not impossible. Know that gratitude will always be waiting for you to embrace it, even when you think there is nothing to be thankful for. There will always be something to be grateful for, and unlike guilt, gratitude is never apologetic.

It’s Not Giving Up, It’s Stepping Back

Know that even if someone important to you does depart, that they may return. If they don’t, however, know that you’ll be just fine because you can stand on your own two feet.

What to realize when someone “leaves you” due to your mental illness.

This article was originally published for the The Odyssey on March 6, 2017.

We’ve all seen that picture that circulates the internet with a few words written on a photograph that reads, “Please don’t leave,” or “Please don’t leave me.” I’ve heard many people relay those same words to me as they beg me not to ‘leave them behind’ due to their mental illness. I wish they would realize that I’m not leaving them behind; I’m simply taking a breather. When someone ‘leaves’ you for reasons surrounding your mental illness, understand that they’re not giving up on you; they’re simply taking a step back.

Mental illness can be a very powerful and draining thing. Enduring it alone is difficult and many people believe they cannot survive without the support of others. This is true in some cases. The problem is that there will almost always be someone who ‘leaves’ due to the circumstances surrounding your mental illness, and you can’t give up just because that person is no longer around.

I don’t really like to use the word ‘leave’ or ‘leaves’ because I think that usually correlates with someone disappearing. Generally, you leave a place, not a person. You are not an object. You are not an island and your mental illness isn’t shark infested waters. A better word for your situation is likely ‘step back’ or ‘give in’. Giving up and leaving are generally not what a person does when they can no longer bear the weight of your mental illness.

Your demons are dark, no matter what kind they are and no matter where they originate from. They are dark and heavy on your soul. They try to eat you alive. That’s what creates depression, anxiety, and other types of mental illness. When a friend or family member that was once close to you decides to remove themselves from your life due to a circumstance surrounding your mental illness, it is not your fault. Let me repeat that: it is not your responsibility to keep someone from taking a step back.

Friendship is fluid. Family can even be fluid, though many don’t think so. Demons are scary and powerful. They will try to drag anyone and everything down with them into the pits of darkness. They are incredibly toxic. When someone close to you forfeits their relationship with you, it’s because they’re trying to get as far away from those evil demons as they can.

Many of us shoulder our own demons, and if someone takes a step back from their relationship with you, it’s likely due to the fact that they cannot handle both your demons and their own.

It feels personal, but I promise, in a real friendship or a real, genuine relationship, it isn’t. Friends are not generally equipped to handle those types of things. They aren’t registered therapists or psychiatrists, and no matter how many times they lend you an ear, they simply aren’t trained to help you in the way you require.

Understand that those who can no longer face your demons are not giving up, they’re taking a step back. In the bargain that is their mental health and your relationship, they will and should put their mental health first. Just as you aren’t to blame for your mental illness, you’re not to blame for your friends departing.

As long as you have not hurt those friends or family members on purpose, or manipulated them in any way to get what you wanted, you are not the problem. If you genuinely did not hurt someone and they step back, it is not personal. Know that, however, if there was manipulation and ill-feelings involved, that your relationship may not return, and sometimes that’s for the better. It is not someone else’s job to fix you. It is their job to hold your hand while you fix yourself.

Think of your relationships as one of those bridges that lifts up its ends to allow the ships to pass through. The ships represent time. You and that person are just lifting up your sides of the bridge. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to, the bridges cannot pass through if you do not lift your side up. Many ships will pass through. Sometimes, even after the ships have passed, your friend may not wish to put their side of the bridge back down. That’s okay, too. Sometimes it’s not meant to be.

After realizing the reason for your relationship’s hiatus, you have to remember that you are not alone, no matter how lonely you feel. Everyone has to put their mental health first, but that doesn’t mean that yours no longer matters. Your mental health and mental illness are just as important as anyone else’s. Know that you cannot give up just because someone you care about took a step back. You have to take a stand up for yourself and fight tooth and nail for your life. If life was meant to be easy, we’d all live forever.

You have to learn to be your own anchor. You have to prop yourself up and fight against all the negativity coming at you. Be your own ray of sunshine, and perhaps you’ll be a ray of sunshine for others too. You are meant to be here. You have a purpose even if you haven’t realized it just yet. If you weren’t meant to be on this Earth, the Universe would have picked you off long ago.

You are meant to be here to change the world, even if it’s someone’s world. Realizing that will help you in your process of healing. Know that even if someone important to you does depart, that they may return. If they don’t, however, know that you’ll be just fine because you can stand on your own two feet. You are strong. You will always be strong. Continue to be strong, if not for anyone but yourself. No one can drag you down but you, remember that. You are your own anchor.

To All The Perfectionist-Procrastinators

I am my own worst enemy. I am the worst perfectionist procrastinator you will ever meet.

Are you your own worst enemy? Me too.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on January 16, 2017.

Hi, my name is Casey (Hi Casey) and I am my own worst enemy. I spend most of my time bullying myself, pressuring myself and trying to make sure I don’t disappoint my worst enemy: me. My parents were never particularly strict with me when it came to my grades or my future, so I guess someone had to take the job. I guess that someone is me. It’s a tiring and difficult job but I just can’t seem to let myself go.

I am my own worst enemy. I am the worst perfectionist procrastinator you will ever meet. I know when I can procrastinate and when I can’t and then I still find a way to work even when I procrastinate off-schedule. It’s a work in progress. Progress that I’ll end up procrastinating. It’s a system I’m working on.

In high school, I was particularly terrible at this system, waiting until two or three in the morning to print out a paper due the same day, approximately six hours later. I would stay up entirely too late for a student who had to wake up at 7 a.m. at the very latest each morning to assure my punctuality. I was still late sometimes. I took a two-hour nap every day after school when I didn’t have to stay after and when I did have to stay after, it was until late because I was a theater kid.

Theater was a fun way of procrastinating. It still is, but it’s not as effective, because, in college, theater doesn’t really take a day off. In high school, there were times when we would go to rehearsal but there would be nothing to do. In college, there really isn’t ever a time when you have nothing to do, both in and outside of theatrical activities.

College is pretty great because you make your own schedule and you have your own time to delegate your priorities. If you have priorities, you are probably very good at organizing them. If you’re like me, however, you probably try to do everything at once and then end up stressing out and only taking a break every few hours to cry. While this isn’t healthy and I know it isn’t healthy, I keep doing it.

My name is Casey and I am my own worst enemy. What kind of person makes it harder for themselves just because they don’t feel like doing the work? I am the slacker in a group for a project that determines your final grade and the group is made up of the one, the only, procrastinating perfectionist, me.

I know that perfection isn’t attainable, but I’m gonna pretend I didn’t hear myself say that. Maybe I’m just picky, maybe I just like things to be organized. Then why is my room so messy? It’s not a priority. Why are my priorities so messy? Great question. Anyone else have any questions I won’t be answering anytime soon?

If you’re like me, you will push yourself to the edge and then spend most of your break recuperating, because you had to single-handedly lift yourself back up the ledge. If you’re like me, you will spend hours and hours working on a small task so you don’t have to fry your brain working on a larger task. If you’re like me, you’ll wait until the last minute and then have several breakdowns and gain anxiety from the anxiety you caused yourself.

Why are we like this? I don’t know. I can’t seem to fire myself from this job. I can’t even lay myself off, it’s like I’m feeding off of my own pressure. Maybe I work well under pressure? I think there’s a line between pressure and too much pressure, though. Why can’t I see the line?

My name is Casey and I am my own worst enemy. I know when to recognize improvement and I know when I’ve exceeded my expectations that I’ve done some good work. The only problem is that my expectations are pretty high, even when I swear I’m just trying to do my best. E for Effort, more like Me for Mess.

It’s not just with grades and schooling either, I find myself having to do the absolute most in my workplace, in my extracurricular activities and even my sleep schedule. Why aren’t I sleeping enough? Well because you’re not doing anything in an organized matter? Not good enough.

It’s never good enough and I can’t seem to figure out why. The only person I’m trying to impress is myself. Why am I so impossible? How can I strive to be better than me?

I like to think I have a strong desire for improvement. I feel like you can never stop improving. You’ll never be the best. Even when you’re the best at one thing, you still have other areas to improve in. If you’re with me so far, you’ve probably got a similar mindset. Who are you willing to impress if not yourself?

If you are your own worst enemy, know that you are not alone. You are not dumb, you are not ‘OCD’, you are not sick. You are a human being who wants to improve themselves and while your methods may not be the healthiest, at least you never give up.

If you are your own worst enemy, join us. Tell us your name, your problem and we will welcome you. You will achieve improvement and greatness. You will see a better you. Know that you must accept the you found in the mirror first. Accept the mess on your floor, the frizz in your hair and the clutter in your backpack.

Know that you will improve anything that you put your mind to. Remember that you deserve a break, though and remember to take that break. Remember to embrace relaxation and don’t forget this work ethic. Work often but reward more often. You can be your own worst enemy as long as you are your own best friend too.

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