WHEN YOUR BRAIN ISN'T A RELIABLE NARRATOR
I am Too Much. I am Not Enough. I am loud with nothing to say. I am who you want me to be in a group, but when I’m alone I’m nothing at all. I am I am I am I am.
I’m afraid I’m a paper doll. I dress up for parties, but when I take off my clothes it’s just empty space.
In October of 2018, I almost died by suicide. Every moment I had was spent in a negative self talk spiral. Our brains are not reliable narrators, but they can be very convincing, and I had convinced myself I was better dead. Looking back, it’s alarming to say the least, but at the time it seemed incredibly rational. My insecurities were so loud, they had drowned out all logic. I was too much, people would be better without me. I was not enough, no one would notice I was gone.
Thankfully I was not successful. I spent time in the hospital, and then in a partial hospitalization program. All the while, I was learning. Even years of therapy had not taught me coping skills and radical acceptance and emotional regulation. And it made me angry - that I had to get so sick to learn these very basic, very important skills. So I started sharing my journey online, mostly on Instagram stories, outlining the skills I was learning and trying to be transparent about mental health.
I never knew how many people around me were struggling. Out of the woodwork: friends, acquaintances, almost strangers - all people reaching out to say “me too” or “my mom has” or “my best friend died of.” My negative self talk didn’t stop. I was still Too Much, and yet Not Enough. But now I was in battle, armed with weapons (ayeee CBT and DBT skills). More than that, I could galvanize my pain to help other people, to show them they were not alone.
Sharing my biggest failings in public ultimately made me feel like I had purpose. By posting my insecurities in public, I could help other people tackle their own. On my dark days now, I’ll remind myself, your brain is lying to you. And then I’ll post an Instagram story. And then I see how many insecurities we all share, and how we tackle life anyway. I see the people I admire struggling with their own insecurities, and I remind them “your brain is not a reliable narrator.” I remind myself “your brain is not a reliable narrator.” And then I keep going.
INSECURE: UNMOORED, DOUBTING, UNCOMFORTABLE. FEELING SMALL AND UNABLE TO TAKE UP SPACE. QUICK, SHALLOW BREATHS AND SHAKING HANDS. THE BELIEF THAT I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH, AND I’LL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH. LIES WE TELL TO OURSELVES.
I celebrate: my pain because it's helped me connect to people and find new purpose.
For unpacking mental health/finding support groups: NAMI
For some DBT tips (I use these to help combat self harm and panic attacks): Sunrise RTC
For some CBT tips (learning about cognitive distortions can help identify the harmful thinking patterns we’ve taught ourselves): Positive Psychology
When you’re feeling bad about yourself check out: