“Connection, along with love and belonging (two expressions of connection), is why we are here, and it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. Shame is the fear of disconnection – it’s the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal that we’ve not lived up to, or a goal that we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection.” Daring Greatly, Brené Brown
I have been terrified to write this post. When a wound is so close there are not a lot of pretty words surrounding it. I’ve decided to share with you what’s truly going on in my world because there are probably, …definitely, some struggling with the same thing or something similar.
I’ve realized one of the most powerful “tools” of this mental illness is the overwhelming isolation it creates. I feel so alone and like no one else can understand what I’m going through. But I know this is simply not the case.
“Hi! My name is Ellen Slaton and I have Bipolar Disorder.”
Phew. So glad we got that out of the way. I feel like I could beat around the bush on this blogaroo for a while, but to be honest that’s exhausting. So again, why the online announcement when so many of my closest friends don’t know?
I suck at being vulnerable.
I’m even reading books about it (see above referenced quote). I’ve learned that vulnerability and shame go hand and hand. Brown says in the same book, “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”
Reading and processing through Daring Greatly I’ve realized that I am not alone! Everyone struggles with shame on some level. I’ve been choked by guilt and my mental illness and am allowing them to keep me from beautiful friendships. I’m taking the first step that I personally need to and am bringing my “big bad secret” into the light.
For me, so much embarrassment and shame surround the fact that I have this label on my forehead. I reveal it to only a select few and even then, I feel they treat me differently (when they probably aren’t).
I know many might even be surprised by the announcement thinking that I seem “normal.” I’m not going to reveal a list of super fun antidotes to prove that my brain is a cray cray wonderland, I’ll just say that when I’m having a hard time, you wont see me. I isolate, I cancel coffees, lunch dates and hang out times.
This is just my first step. I want to stop canceling with my friends when I’m struggling. Last week when I was falling apart, for the first time ever, I called a friend. I let her see me in all my mess, I let her hear how my speech was all over the place. I knew that I did not sound good, I was embarrassed. And do you know what? She did not disown me as a friend. She did not hang up on me, she prayed for me right then and there and simply loved me.
I wish I could say “Done!! I will forever run to my sweet friend and not feel ashamed!!” But I know that it is a practice :)
As a side note, I would NOT be here today without a few things: my ever faithful God, my husband, my family, & my yoga practice. Just sayin’. These things saved me.
I have lots of nitty gritty details that will probably spill out over the years on this online journal. Again, I share to hopefully help others. I would love your comments.