The Self-esteem of Mental Health

I recently read… well listened to Turtles All the Way Down and it got me thinking not just about the main characters but, about what my mental health means to me. I’ve gotten so used to talking about my anxiety and my depression that it doesn’t really bother me to bring it up in normal conversations.

Don’t worry I’m not that guy who brings it up every chance they get as if to say that I’m going through these things somehow gives me a perspective someone else doesn’t have, but… to connect with people. When I see someone in pain or hurting I can’t help myself but, want to step in. Now, this trait has gotten me into a lot of trouble because used to sacrifice my mental health just to try and cheer someone up. I say used to as if it’s been a while but, I think it’s only been a few months now so I don’t know if I’ll be falling off the wagon again but, hopefully, I can keep the chip this time.

I would expend so much of my energy giving a damn about somebody else just because they do or have made me feel good one day, that I’d be a wreck because I hadn’t spent time on myself.  And often times when I’d ask for what I needed from them I’ve been trying to stop that now.

For a long time it took me forever to just love myself now I’m working on treating myself better… It’s been a long road and even though I feel better I don’t know if I’ve made the strides I think I have.  I won’t really know until I’m faced with the same situations… But, I can see the people who really need help and at least not put myself in the same position I’ve put myself in before. So hopefully that leads to something new.

So anyways, Turtles All the Way Down paints interesting characters who try their best to rise above their own problems. The main character is so interesting and seeing inside her head is both frightening and beautifully complex. What I love about John Green’s writing is it’s witty and careful and the people are actually people none of them are exactly who they appear to be. I’m not surprised by how much I liked it, only surprised by just how much his work could still impact me. I think I’ll be a lifelong fan.

 

Confidence.

I’m confident in a lot of things about me. If you ask anyone close to me they’ll probably tell you how I can talk about myself for hours. Which is probably true. I am not afraid to talk myself up. I don’t mind putting my best foot forward and I think people actually respond fairly well to it. Am I a little cocky? Probably. Does that make me a bad person? I don’t think so. But to get to my point there are a couple things I’m not too confident in.

I don’t think I have much to offer people. It’s probably the last dregs of that teenage low self-esteem angst but, I’m not sure how much I add to people’s lives. I mean they tell me they like having me around but, everyone lies. People get into relationships (all types) because they want something from someone else. Whether it’s companionship or because the person is smart and they can help me get ahead or do good on a math test. Whatever that is they offer something. I don’t know what my thing is and I overcompensate.

I try to be a big part, helping them through their pain and troubles. A shoulder to cry on when they’re in need. If they need something they can always count on me. I push myself way too hard to be available and ready with the right thing to say.  Not that I’m bad at that part but, it weighs on me. There’s sometimes when I’m an absolute mess and there’s no one to talk to. They tell me their problems and I try and fix them. It’s easy not because it keeps me away from my own problems because it makes me feel useful. I like feeling useful. I like knowing that no matter how low I get someone’s life would be worse without me in it.

Does that make me selfish? Probably. Do I tell them? Yes. I tell them that I’m self-centered that I do most of these things for myself. Do they believe me? No, they just think I’m being humble. If there’s anything you learn from reading this blog, other than the fact that I’m an overthinking basket case, it should be that any bit of demureness that comes from me is due to uncertainty.

The other thing is my writing, it’s not as interesting as the earlier topic, not much to analyze here. I guess I’m the same as everyone else here. We’re all just trying to get through the next project and hopefully, one day write a hit. I know I’m not alone in wanting this so bad you lie awake at night hoping just hoping that it’s good enough. That the right person thinks highly enough of it and tells all their friends about it. That it somehow gets on the right person’s blog and they read about it and love it. And everyone is just clamoring to get their hands on your book like it’s the only one out there. They read it all in one night or savor it over a week. They love your world so much they dream up their own characters to fill it. (Deep breath. I actually did this while writing this.)

I want what every writer wants. What every person wants. To be loved for what I bring in the world. To be admired for what I can do. And to be cherished by the people who love me.

PS. Sorry, this is so heavy but, I had a lot get off my chest.

Vultures

Some people are vultures circling and circling hoping to find you when you’re weak and needy and take advantage. What do they want from you? How far will they go?  Does it even matter? How can you spend your entire life around Vultures and not turn into one?

I’ve got this friend and she’s been going through it these last few years. She’s been very strong and tried to keep her head down but, in light of what’s gone on, she’s starting to see the people around her for who they really are. The only problem is when all your friends are vultures how do you get away? I want to help her but, she says she knows what she’s doing… And I don’t really know if there’s anything to do. She’s got a lot of feelings of attachment to these people. Some have been her friends for a long time and others are even family and she feels more than a bit of responsibility toward them.

I no longer have vultures in my life. I don’t really entertain that kind of behavior in any real capacity. If I see them flying overhead I show them exactly why I’m not the guy to pull that shit with. There is a difference between people who seek to pull others down to their levels and those people who need a little help to get out of a jam. And the differences are readily obvious. I don’t ignore people who need help but, I can’t stand the people who seek to make others miserable.

My advice for dealing with Vultures and people surrounded by them is Stay vigilant, they always show their true colors eventually. It’s frustrating watching people get taken advantage of but there’s only so much you can handle. You can’t only help those who need it when they’re ready to listen about it.

Old Friends

Like most people, I’ve lost friends throughout my life. But some have really stood the test of time. They remember who I was before and how much I’ve changed they’ve seen me at my best and worse. I don’t think I’d rather have anyone else at my back.

My best male friend who shall only be known as The Editor did so on my first book has been the only person who I can talk most about my book with. Having read it and given me ideas on how to make it better has made him instrumental in my development as a writer.

There were questions he’s asked about the world of the Aftermath Collection, that I hadn’t actually thought of. He’s done more for the world building than any flights off inspiration I’ve had. I wouldn’t have come this far this quickly without him.

Friend 2 is probably the person I trust most in the world. No matter what I’ve come clean about to her she’s never judged me. I don’t know anyone with a bigger heart and better judge of character. The fact that she spends time with me, makes me believe that I might actually be worth it.

They’ve been with me through a lot and I will never take them for granted. I don’t think I’d be anywhere near this far in life or in the career I want without them. They’ve taught just taught me so much.

I don’t think I expect a lot from people.

I guess the title says it all, I mean I don’t really feel like I need much from everyone. At work, mostly I just want people to do their damn jobs. It’s not really that hard, I understand things may come up or you have a bad day but, it doesn’t make sense for you to not work to catch up on the days you just aren’t feeling it. Especially, when departments seem to be able to get their stuff out in the same amount of time or quicker.

With friends, I understand I’m not your first priority and often times you aren’t mine. I don’t expect you to drop everything when I text and I don’t loose my mind when you don’t call. If you want to hang out I will certainly make time for you if I don’t have any earlier plans. If you promise to get back to me I totally understand if you don’t. It’s really not a problem, I love you and if that’s who you are chances are I already know that about you.

People are going to hurt you. I mean it’s a forgone conclusion, right? The closer you get to friends, family, and SO’s the more likely, they will do something that’s going to hurt you. Do you stop loving them? I guess it depends on how egregious the actions that were taken. But, for me I kind of realize this is a thing within their nature and moving forward our relationship, whatever it is, will have to reflect that. Now that doesn’t mean beating them up about it every chance you get but, maybe just keeping it in the back of your mind at all times.

Maybe it’s wrong to say I don’t expect much from people but, I think it’s true. I’ve learned from a young age that people are going to let you down and often times there’s nothing you can do about it. I think it’s more a part of growing up and being the starry-eyed kid doesn’t work anymore.

Goals (At least the ones that don’t have to do with writing.)

My friend has been really going through it this past couple of months and for the longest time, I didn’t know how to help her. I won’t really talk about what happened because even though she might not care, I’d rather keep her privacy. I gave advice and it didn’t work. I was a shoulder to cry on that they didn’t take. For everything I tried to do nothing seemed to work. I hated the idea that I might have to watch all of this come to a head and not be able to stop it. The whole thing vexed me.

I knew it wasn’t about me. I knew that what she was experiencing had absolutely nothing to do with me but I wanted to be there for her like she had been for me. Without meaning to she dug me out of a hole I was in due to my depression. It was the only reason I really got back on board with my writing and the only reason. I got back involved with the blog. So her friendship, needless to say, is very important to me.

This is the first time I’ve ever been actually able to help her in any meaningful way. And though I’ve been on call for the past couple of days (gently woken up by text notifications) I haven’t been happier. More well rested maybe but not happier. Being able to be there for a friend really makes me feel fulfilled in a way. I’m sure that says something about me and my overall psychological state, in a psychology textbook somewhere.

Needless to say, I wouldn’t want what happened to her to happen to anyone else. I just think when this is all over we’ll be closer. I hope that I can pull her out of the same hole she did me and we both can move on.

Reunion

This week some of my old friends from high school and I got together to have dinner and just talk. I hadn’t seen some in as much as three years and some I saw three months ago but, I think it was good for me. Just to get an update,While I didn’t get to talk to all of them the way I wanted or as long as I wanted I had the best time. I laughed better than I had in months and it was all thanks to them.

Some of them were in great places in their lives, getting a great job or meeting people that would be or could be spouses. One moved pretty far. Some of them had significant others who just seem to really get them. One of them was getting over his first big heartbreak. It was sad to see but, we got him to look back and laugh for the first time.  I was there by myself but, I saw the changes in them and found a way to connect to that with my own. It was electric.

For me the highlight of the night was when some one I guess I had looked up to a bit from the old days said “So your published… Your like one of the only one of us to do something.” I can’t really put into words the way that made me feel but I hope it will be in my memory for a long time to come. Helping me get over writer’s block and persevere when I want to procrastinate. For me this was one of the best nights of my adult life.