TW: contains very mild reference to self-harm/suicide.
It would seem that, when God (or whomever is responsible) was allocating confidence and self-esteem, I was on another planet, doing something else, blissfully ignorant of what this would eventually mean. I have therefore always looked around for encouragement and reassurance from my parents, teachers, university tutors, employers…whoever was in the background. I have never been someone who was happy with my own output, always convinced that I ‘could do better’ and lacking any kind of assertiveness. To constantly seek reassurance happens to be a symptom of Depression and other Mental Health conditions, so when such issues became apparent in me, it was only natural that this be something with which I would struggle enormously.
I spend a disproportionate amount of time doubting myself, doubting that I am ill, doubting that I am worthy of help and support (on a personal or professional level), doubting that I have legitimate cause to ‘bother people’. I like my worries to be validated, to be told that I am neither a ‘time-waster’ nor a ‘fraud’. I like to be reassured that I am not about to be abandoned and left to fend for myself.
However, I have discovered only recently that not only do I have to trust people when they cast aside my fears as baseless and deem them unnecessary. Not only do I have to have faith in those who remind me that my illness is spinning warped versions of the truth and planting them in my mind. But I also have to reassure others. When my behaviour gives people due cause for concern, I have to reassure them that my SH is not an attempt at suicide. I have to explain that it is my way of relieving some of the torment in my mind, and of communicating my distress to others. When I am honest and let people know I’m struggling, I have to go on and promise that I am safe and not an imminent danger to myself. When, despite my best efforts, my Mum comes to learn that I have been having wounds attended to, I must then go on and ask her to trust that I have ‘things’ under control, that she needn’t worry about me (although, as my Mum, she insists it is her job to worry about me).
So, yes, I have always looked over my shoulder in search of the person who can tell me that I am doing things right or that I am not a time-waster, or a fraud. But I have only lately come to realise that, under current circumstances, people need the same from me.