The Power in Knowing You’re Not Alone.

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I saw a friend recently who was going through a really hard time. During the conversation she started a sentence and I filled it in, because I knew what she was talking about having thought similar things myself in the past. She stared at me for a moment in disbelief before saying “you don’t know how sane that made me feel”.

I think we often get caught up in our brains lie. For some reason when we’re going through hard times it likes to tell us that we are alone in it. Our rationality isn’t completely astray, after all nobody has the exact same experiences because none of us are in the exact same situation, but emotions and reactions are chemical, and they all have certain rules to follow. The chances of you being alone in your thoughts or emotions is highly unlikely. You don’t study the brain and read that a certain case is an isolated incident, and where that is recorded it’s normally followed by a footnote that says a similar case was studied seven years later on the other side of the world.

But most of our problems, emotions, and twisted thoughts aren’t the kind that show up once a decade. We’re surrounded by people who have had similar problems.

I’m really open about the fact that I’m bipolar, because I don’t see a reason not to be. I’m very stable and have been medicated for sometime. I’ve also had it since I was a small child, so any shame that comes with the disorder I’ve long since shed. It’s apparently pretty rare to be this open about it, but I’m glad I am, because now when my friends have something mental happening to them they are more likely to turn to me, because they think I’m more likely to understand than just anyone. I have something worse than them so I’m their best bet.

They don’t think anyone else would understand, when in reality, their anxiety, depression, or whatever else, isn’t that uncommon. The only reason they know about mine but none of their other friends is because I’ll tell you every detail of my life if it’s at all relevant to the conversation. I’m the textbook definition of an open book.

Most people aren’t, which is why, even with the rise of people trying to break the stigma, it’s still there. Really generic symptoms are becoming more and more understood, so people know that they aren’t alone in those, but I’ve had people come to me in confidence about some terrible thoughts and they’re terrified, because they didn’t think they were that sick, just stressed and overtired.

They are just stressed and overtired, and anxious too. People don’t talk about that kind of stuff in hashtags online because it’s terrible and it makes it sound like they are worse then they know they are. So the idea is fed that they are alone or sicker then they are, and they start to question themselves, which only feeds the beast.

So, your local open book is here to tell you that you’re not alone. I’ve had that happen too, and so have three of my friends, and a guy in my high school, and a girl from my college. You are very sane, but if you’re not feeling so it’s always nice to go to a doctor and have them tell you that it’s  normal, or maybe you can go and find your local open book. Or hey, my email is in my about me at the top of the page.

Just know that you’re not alone.

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