How are you?
The most common greeting-so common that it just springs out of peoples mouthes without them even thinking. Although, most people feel genuinely interested in the other persons life when asking the question.
People aren’t built to expect bad things or bad days, so when asking ‘how are you’ they are usually just ready to hear all the good and wonderful things that have been happening in that persons life.
Unfortunately, not everyones lives are all sunshine and daisies. That leaves pressure for those of us who have been struggling. We feel we need to respond with positive answers-regardless of how we are actually feeling. We feel we we need to pretend everything is going how we hoped it would be.
Why do we do this? It’s so fake and routine!
At church I often I find myself frantic for the ‘right‘ answers when asked, “How are you?” For simplicity sake and so I didn’t need to break out into a big honest spiel, I reply, “Good!” or “Alright!” And to my close friends, whom I fear may see right through me, I shrug my shoulders and make ‘that distressed face.’ That’s when you know things are very bad.
Really, I’m fine…except for I am totally not. I’m completely falling apart inside. My mind is a raging hurricane! My thoughts are a disgusting junkyard full of twisted metal!
I am beyond upset and disappointed in myself for slipping so far from where I was just a few short weeks ago. It scares me that all it takes is one wee trigger to set my mind off, to shake me to my core and to completely disrupt my life.
But then, I’m also upset at myself for being upset with myself (totally makes sense, right?) because this is not my fault. Again, I remind myself that recovery comes with setbacks, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t escape them.
“This is just a setback. This is just a setback. This is just a setback.
(Repeat. Repeat. Repeat…)
Imagine being so consumed by something that you literally could not think of anything else until you felt certain of the outcome you needed…so caught up in the thoughts and worries that you could not go to work, concentrate in conversations, do simple math (like counting out money), or perhaps even stand to be around people because your brain is essentially on overdrive.
The result: a heavy, crushing, debilitating, long-lasting, wave of anxiety.
It was so much that I tried to end my life…again. It pains me to say that. I so badly want to keep it a secret because I am so ashamed of myself. Ashamed that I didn’t tell anybody. Ashamed that thoughts that appear SO trivial could drive me to such extremes.
This is the harsh reality of mental illness.
It brings people to the place they said they would never go. That dark, scary, place. The place I thought I was so far from. It sneaks up on you when you least expect it and it changes your thinking. You think no one really cares. You think death is the only option. You think this is the safest way.
For me, the distress comes from harm OCD.
My mind races 123876562431078465 miles a minute. I’m scared of my mind. I’m scared about these intrusive thoughts. I’m (irrationally) scared for my loved ones, and even strangers’, safety. Even though I know I would never act on these thoughts. Ever. I’m so scared of acting on the thoughts though. I’m terrified that there is half an ounce of longing to the thoughts; as if that part of me wants and enjoys the thoughts. They feel so real.
My greatest fear is people around me getting physically hurt-especially the people I love the most…and what if that came from me…what if I was the one that hurt them!? I couldn’t live with that happening, so I do everything in my power to prevent it.
The media does not help. Many tv series show people killing left and right. They make it look “normal.” Often the killer doesn’t even have a motive! So then, I sit there and think “What if that’s me one day!? What if I just went crazy and attacked someone!?”
That is why this week, I thought the only way to keep other people safe (from myself) was to hurt myself. It doesn’t make sense and it’s not true but that’s what I thought. It’s what my OCD made me believe was true.
What I did not think about was ANYTHING else. Not about other people, my dog, my dreams, Gods plan/timing… I could only think about all the horrible things that I could do. I didn’t think of anything real; just what I felt was real.
It is a miracle that I escaped unharmed…I mean NO liver damage when my liver should be in liver failure. If that’s not a divine sign from God that He is not finished with you yet, I don’t know what is!
I’m fighting my brain constantly (literally constantly). I was drained from this never-ending battle.
OCD had a firm grip on me last week even though I am doing everything I possibly can to get past this. I’ve tried telling myself, “Summer, you would never do that. Thoughts are just thoughts. They don’t mean anything.” I’ve tried to ignore the thoughts; I’ve tried not to ignore the thoughts. The best thing I can do is to just ‘let the thoughts come and go as they please.’ ‘Don’t give the thoughts meaning.’ ‘Do not try to fight the thoughts.’
NO!! Its so ridiculously hard to let go of revolting thoughts and images that literally make me vomit at times. My coping strategies that helped me out of this mess before seem completely useless right now. Regardless, I will continue to do everything I can to manage until something changes.
So, next time you go to ask someone how they have been, try some of these alternatives:
How has your day been so far?
Have you had a nice morning so far?
Recall and ask about the little things in their life. It means the world to people when you ask about the little details of their life.
Ask about an area of life that they care about. (Writing, drawing, music, tattoos, school, work, sports, exercise, pets/animals, relationships, travel, ect.)
Just simply tell them that you have been thinking or praying for them. There is something fantastic about the feeling of someone thinking about you. You feel cared for, loved on, and not forgotten.
Or hit them with a compliment instead of a vague question! Don’t you look extra lovely today!
Or, the best thing people can do for me when they know I’ve been struggling is say, “Hey, can I pray for you right now?” BEFORE you leave me and I’m left wondering if any people care enough to go home and actually pray for me.
If you don’t know the person well enough to say anything personal, just say, “Wow! It’s so nice to see you! I pray for you often. Hope to see you again soon!”
Don’t assume that because I look well, I am doing well. There is a very real battle going on inside my head that no one else sees.