The Unhelpful Remarks from Loved Ones

The last year and a half has been a grueling challenge — among finding my place at my job and company, learning how to love myself, treating my OCD, getting through panic attacks, and learning how to be completely independent — it’s no wonder the only thing I want to do on weekends is Netflix Marathons. When I panic, I think about all of the hard work I go through and eventually I get to this “it’s not fair” mentality. That there are people who don’t have to deal with thinking about every thought and feeling they have at all times.

I get tired of rethinking the last day and evaluating every feeling. I get tired of rethinking a tiny desire I have for my significant other to do things simply because other people’s significant others do it. I get tired of evaluating what my desires mean in the grander scheme of things and wondering if any desire or feeling or thought I have is indicative of the failure on my part to be a functioning person.

Perfection is a bitch. I don’t want to want to be perfect. I don’t want to want my relationship to be perfect. And I’m tired of thinking about everything all the time. It’s not just necessarily that I have obsessions. It’s that I fret and worry and wonder about every tiny little firing neuron in my mind.

Here is the thing: I am lucky. I am so lucky to have such a supportive, understanding partner who listens to me and validates my feelings. Who understands my jealousy and doesn’t shame me for it. Who lets me read his text messages because why not, he doesn’t have anything to hide. My closest friends respond in meaningful ways to my concerns about anxiety. They listen to me repeat the same obsessive concerns over and over, without making fun of me or telling me to shut up. My support system, for the most part, is impeccable. But there are some people in my life who are not supportive. And the scary thing is, they don’t know that they’re being destructive.

When I try to express myself to some (read: one) of my loved ones, they say dismissive and unhelpful things. These reactions nearly silence me; lately, I’ve been standing up for myself. I’ve been removing myself from these situations instead of letting the invalidating behavior affect me or deter me from trying to better myself.

Here are some of the things that have been said:
“You’ve got a great job, you’re successful, you’re moving in with your boyfriend who is fantastic..I don’t understand why you’re unhappy.”
“Little things shouldn’t stress you out, you should be able to handle this.”
“Your psychiatrist is only trying to get more money out of you. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

When I first suspected I had OCD, someone in my support system kept telling me over and over again that I didn’t have OCD. They did this in some misplaced effort to be helpful. But, in fact, it was detrimental. I was having all of these intrusive, disturbing thoughts that were indicative of OCD, and by the person telling me I didn’t, it made me feel like the thoughts were real, or reflective of my actual desires. This made me feel worse.

My new psychiatrist is entertaining the idea that I might have undiagnosed ADD and that ADD might be the cause of some of my anxiety. While I don’t necessarily think I meet the criteria for ADD, there are a lot of things about me that meet the criteria, and I think it’s smart on my psychiatrist’s part to eliminate all possibilities. Of course, when I mentioned this to the same person mentioned above, this is what happened:

Them: You don’t have ADD.
Me: I think I’ll leave that up to the mental health professional to decide.
Them: I’ve seen more kids with ADD than your psychiatrist can shake a stick at. You don’t have ADD.
Me: I think it’s a good idea to consider all possibilities, here.
Them: He’s just trying to get more money out of you. You don’t have ADD.
Me: I have to go. I’ll talk to you later.

And I hung up the phone. These kinds of remarks were so unhelpful, especially with the recent occurrence of “I don’t understand why you’re so unhappy” or “You shouldn’t get this stressed out.” How does a person think these things are helpful? It’s so frustrating. It’s so frustrating to hear someone you love say these dismissive and awful things. All it does is serve to drag me down. It makes me feel like I’m not enough. Like I’m not doing enough. Which, frankly, is bullshit. I do so much to better myself. And to hear someone say “why are you so unhappy?” I want to scream. I’m struggling with abnormal anxiety. I’ve battled depression my entire life. It must be so nice to not have these problems.

I’m tired of standing up for myself to this person. It’s exhausting. It is driving me away from them. The worst part is, I can’t cut them out of my life. For the most part, they are a good person to have around. But when it comes to my struggles, they have hardly ever done anything to help me. And I can’t say these things because it will make me seem ungrateful. I just have to grin and bear it and pretend like I don’t care. So I won’t talk to them about my anxiety. I won’t talk about the medication I’m taking. I won’t talk to them about what I’m going through. And that makes me sad.

I’ll stick to my supportive significant other and my friends with their inexhaustible empathy. I’m so thankful for my boyfriend and my friends. I guess, like me, my support system can’t be perfect. I just never expected the breach in the hull would be with someone who is supposed to love me unconditionally.

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