Greetings my Dandelions, and welcome back as I continue this series of posts on mental illness. I’d like to thank each and every one of you for commenting and sharing these posts on social media. It means a lot to me. And not only that, it means a lot to someone who needed to see them right that moment. Or that one person that took a moment and said “Hey. That’s me.”
My offer still stands from the beginning. I’m looking for you. I care about you. You are safe here. You are not alone in this. No man is an island, but perhaps a planet in one, big, chaotic galaxy.
So, let’s get today’s topic under way. And I’m sure it’s one that resonates.
And in the Age of the Internet? Boy howdy, is this a major issue.
You feel it don’t you, my Dandelions, the instinct to walk on eggshells? Pretending you understand because you don’t want to be seen as lesser?
You overpromise and overcommit. Because you may have successfully accomplished a task or project once before, surely you can repeat the success in half the time and raise the bar on perfection.
But the fact remains, replicating that success may prove difficult. Even impossible. You hide your feelings, your worries that you made a critical error or that you know you’re not going to be able to deliver. But you didn’t want to look like a fool for asking for a refresher on the directions or agreed upon terms.
After all, you should know this! You clearly know what you’re doing.
But you don’t.
And you struggle, and trudge on, because you don’t want to look like an idiot. Or worse, childish. Because children are simple and learn by review and repetition. And no, no! Oh no! You are no child.
But somehow everything you learned in elementary school about listening and following instruction never took.
This can be applied to anything. You know you have your weak points.
A homework assignment.
A book draft.
An art piece.
A guest blog post.
Cleaning your space.
Separating your laundry.
Meeting up with a friend for a movie.
Baking an unfamiliar recipe.
The list goes ever onward. And ready for a secret, my Dandelions?
I’m guilty of every single one.
You are not the lone Dandelion in your thoughts and feelings, we, together, are a part of a vast field. You, me, and hundreds of millions of others.
Miscommunication leads you and me to hide our feelings and insecurities. That is until the pressure builds and we crumble.
I definitely do.
When I claim I understand what is expected of me, I am met with the cold reality of my limitations. And I can’t cope. I melt down. I’m a failure. I realize there is no way around working with what I have and delivering in a satisfactory way.
And then comes the part I have to confess I broke my promise. And then the damming reality check I had misunderstood the parameters to start with. Then the cycle renews itself. The feelings of anguish and failure that I never followed the directions and have to toss an entire project.
Take it from someone who already has a “touch of madness” in them. It’s heartbreaking.
I place so much expectation on myself, and I spiral out of control when I can’t live up to my own standards of perfection. I bet you do it to. Or you know someone who does.
I get so frustrated that I’m incapable of effectively communicating my feelings when I’m upset. It’s like mid-sentence I start speaking an entirely different language around me that no one understands.
I could be upset about being tired and overwhelmed, and everyone in the room is troubled as to why I’m so upset about oranges.
And that’s when the crying and screaming starts. And because I’m not being understood, I start losing the point of what I had been trying to say. The more I try to find it, I get panicked and frustrated. And then I give up. Because my point was so desperately important to me, but to others, it was not. Clearly, I was being “silly” and “unreasonable” or much worse, “I made it all up.”
I know you’ve done it my Dandelion. Or you know a Dandelion who has.
As we wander this world, viewing our world and the universe beyond with a much different telescope, it’s our job to educate others with what we see. It’s up to us to be forward with our questions and statements as well as clarify what we mean by them.
It’s embarrassing at first, true. Every time I get a royalty statement, I have to ask Dreamspinner admin to walk me through it, step by step. I have a severe learning disability in math. And save very basic addition and subtraction, I have a below average third grade level in math.
I’m a freaking adult. Do you know how long it’s taken me to openly admit I am quite literally math illiterate?
It’s our job, my Dandelions, to teach others to have patience with us and listen. People listen in a way that they’re already prepared what to say next, regardless of what you say. Active listening is the key. And it’s a skill that needs to be honed. Even asking “What did I just say?” or “Repeat that back to me?” works wonders. Don’t get frustrated, clarify before continuing. Though it can be intensely frustrating. Especially when I have an advanced vocabulary and others around me don’t understand certain turns of phrases.
And all of us ourselves, each and every Dandelion, we need to actively listen too. But it’s next to impossible in the heat of the moment when our synapses are on fire.
Walk away from the discussion if you can. If it’s impossible to get your point across because you’re too high-keyed, write them down. Write an angry letter of what you’re trying to explain, get it all out. Don’t send it. By the time you get all your angry thoughts down, you should be exhausted and better yet, calm.
Now you need to write a second letter, this time explaining all your points in a logical way. Keeping it calm, cool, and collected. Send that one. You’ll be glad you did.
When I can’t explain myself to my mother, and things get heated and escalate to the point of no return, I text her in the next room to explain. It diffuses the situation, and works well. We both see each other’s points, and we can come to an agreement instead of feeling consistently resentful.
But, here’s a major cravat you need to take into consideration.
Sometimes, people are assholes.
Understand that sometimes people can and do take advantage of your mangled thoughts and how easy it is to confuse you. They pretend to be the voice of reason when every fiber of your being screams you know better. They either talk you down, or worse, physically beat it out of you, until you’re convinced, “Oh…I made it up.”
I’ve been there. Got the scars to prove it.
And know this: You didn’t make it up. I still have to tell myself this every day.
Document everything. Screencap. Email. Everything with a paper trail. Talk it over with your therapist or a trusted friend.
There are predators in the world who find us easy pickings. Then there’s people who come to us in the guise of a friend, and regrettably, just don’t care.
I care. I care about you, sweet Dandelions. And if you can’t find a reason, look harder. There is never any shame in asking for help. Silence is how stigmas perpetuate ever onward.