Not Sick Enough
Honestly, I’m going to get back to the fun stuff soon, I am. It’s just that Riverdale has been off air for three weeks and maybe it’s the only thing giving my life meaning, you know? Well, time for one more introspective bungee-jump before it’s back tomorrow.
As a general-purpose full-time wreck, I’ve engaged with a lot of recovery communities over the years – people who are trying to move forward from problems with food, with their bodies, with self-harm, with obsessions, compulsions, any number of addictions. And one of the things that I’ve found in common across almost all of these places is this notion: “I’m not sick enough.”
And what follows that statement varies: I’m not sick enough to get help, I’m not sick enough yet, I’m not sick enough compared to this person, or that one, or that one, either. No matter if we’re talking OCD, self-harm, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, it seems like the nagging problem a lot of people struggle with is the idea that, for whatever reason, they don’t deserve help.
And trust me, I get this, I really do. I have a degree in burying my head in the sand and ignoring obvious signs of illness. Ask anyone close to me – I am a fully paid-up member of the “no, but they’ve got it worse, I don’t want to make a big deal out of my stuff” club. Or maybe don’t ask them, because I’ve probably been hiding everything from them until months after the fact for fear of seeming too needy. As I wrote about a few months ago, papering over of mental distress is just my go-to for dealing with anything. And I think that’s true for a lot of people, too – there’s always some safe justification to keep us from getting help.
But, obviously, just politely ignoring the depressed elephant in the room doesn’t actually make it go away, and at some point or another, these problems will make their sinister Empire-Strikes-Back return. So I just wanted to say, to myself and anyone else who might need to hear it: you don’t have to wait until you’re at the “appropriate” level of sickness before you start dealing with what’s going on with you. When you start putting rules on what that appropriate level is, that level has a sneaky habit of pushing further and further back until you’re just in the habit of ignoring what’s actually happening and tackling the issues at hand feels insurmountable.
You wouldn’t wait till your arm was dangling off by a single nerve-thread before you pulled it out of the bear trap, and you don’t have to wait until you’re in a really bad place before you take steps to look after yourself. It doesn’t matter what’s going on compared to anyone else, including previous versions of yourself; if things aren’t where they need to be for you to feel safe and comfortable inside your own head, you can address that. Whether that’s reaching out for professional care or just jamming your face in your cat’s fur, you’ve got my permission. I’ve got my permission. It’s 2019, and we’re taking care of ourselves for a change. Make a note.
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