Standing with Joni Earkson Tada who struggled with depression after being paralyzed
Yesterday, I was honored to receive an award that I dreamed about winning ever since I heard about it several years ago. My classmates and faculty nominated me to win the Friend of ADA (American Disabilities Association) Award at my university. The reason for this was my work blogging and advocating for those with mental illness and aspergers.
For most, yesterday was a dream come true. A lightness lifted me as I carried my bouquet of flowers around campus and blushed as people congratulated me. This award seemed like the first step toward helping others on a more global scale and winning the Noble Prize one day.
Yet, another part of my day was filled with gut-wrenching sobs and suicidal thoughts. As I cried so hard talking to my mom that I nearly collapsed, I shuddered to think of what people must think when they passed by my heaving form. What a failure I was to the award that I had just received!
My mother is an amazing person. She cares for and loves me to the best of her abilities. However she is not perfect. In fact, she is not even my therapist.
Often times, I interact with my family as if they were my medical caregivers. When I self-harm, their confused and angry response terrifies me. Times when I need consoling, they might be warn out and unable to listen. The way my Aspergian brain works still bewilders and annoys them. Thus, I am left longing for therapy from people who (despite their love) do not have the training or energy to give me that.
When you struggle with depression or an eating disorder, getting outside of yourself and noticing the world around yourself can be difficult on some days. At the same, many people with mental illness care deeply for others. Many are caregivers to the point where they wear themselves out and are left wearied each day. Finding a balance between being stuck in my head and focusing on others to the point of hurting myself is difficult. Many times, I go to one of the two extremes, but I am trying to get better at loving others and myself.
Even though caring for others can be stressful and tiring, this selflessness can be very healing and life-giving. We are meant to help one another, rejoicing in good times and mourning in hard ones. As someone with aspergers, empathy can be a bit confusing for me. I previously wrote about how I both take on the feelings of others but also struggle to read people. However, the overall function of empathy is an amazing thing that keeps us close to others.
Everyone loves in a unique way. We need to find the way that works the best for us and those around us. This video shows one way that comforting others and empathy can look.