When I was ill, I was constantly feeling guilty about being down and not being ‘OK’.
Something I am now passionate about is letting people know that it is completely OK to not be OK.
There is no need for shame or guilt – because whatever suffering you are going through is real and valid for you right now, in this moment.
When people would express their concern for me and how I was doing, I was constantly saying things like “Oh it’s OK, there are people a lot worse off than me”. Which I now see was completely unhelpful and irrelevant.
Everyone’s situation and experiences are different, and it is not fair to compare someone else’s suffering to your own. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE has their own s**t, and everyone’s s**t is important and real. You may also have people around you telling you that ‘things could be worse’, which can make you feel as if your issues are not important or ‘bad enough’ to be upset about. Most of the time these people are probably just trying to help by staying positive, but what they are also unknowingly doing is devaluing what you are experiencing and making you feel ashamed of your feelings.
The reality is, that if this were the case and there was always someone worse off – then there would be only one person in this world that is the ‘worst off’ and allowed to be upset about their situation, and everyone else should just suck it up! Which is simply not true.
This realisation came to me when I was messaging a beautiful old friend of mine that is battling cancer, she was asking me how things were going with my heart and said that she felt bad for me. I immediately felt so silly and embarrassed for complaining about my situation, and guilty for being so afraid when she was going through something so much worse than me.
What she wrote back to me was what made me think, she simply said – ‘not worse – just different’.
Those 4 words made me realise that I was belittling what I was going through, and not making space to actually feel compassion towards myself. I wasn’t allowing myself to feel sad about what was happening and was scared that everyone I loved would somehow stop loving me if I did. Scared that people would think I was ‘weak’.
Now what I’m not saying is that you should lose your perspective and get stuck in a cycle of feeling sorry for yourself – I’m not saying that at all! What I am saying is that you should give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling and hold space for yourself to be where you are right now.
I think that we can be so hard on ourselves, constantly thinking that we aren’t coping well enough; doing enough; being enough. If you ever have these thoughts, try stepping back and thinking about what you would tell a friend that was in your situation and show yourself the same compassion.
In my experience, this is a massive step towards healing.
Remember, that not everyone will understand what you are going through, but that doesn’t make it any less valid or real.
Trust me that even though it might not feel like it, things will be OK, and what you need the most at times like this is a little self-love and compassion.