Who listens?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from having mental health issues, it’s that communication is key. Take it from someone who knows, I bottled things up or tried to deal with them on my own for a lot longer than I should have.

The process of opening yourself up to another person is a complex one, there is always that fear of rejection or disbelief. There is also the realisation that once you have decided to speak, people may choose not to listen and believe me, there is nothing worse than not being heard.

It took me a long time to realise that my internal turmoil was not visible on the outside and I became accustomed to being referred to as quirky or weird. Oddly enough, as the years passed I became quite proud of those two monikers, it meant I was an individual.

Looking back, I think I expected people to instantly recognise what my flaws were and make allowances for them, the problem was, I needed to back up the expectation with explanation, which was something I never did. Instead, I wore people out with my complex thought processes bourne from a lifetimes lack of self confidence.

Never be afraid to talk, and to keep talking until someone listens. We don’t even have to open our mouths, we can also use our fingers to weave their magic via pen, notebook or keyboard. Its therapeutic. I’ve found that noting my words down, be that in a journal or online, helps me to process the particular issue I’m facing. It might not always provide a solution, and that’s ok, because sometimes all that is needed is a good dose of reality.

I’m better at voicing my feelings, but I’m not quite adept at it yet. I still tend to back away if challenged and I often get frustrated when the person who I am voicing my concerns to either interprets it as a string of excuses or chalks it down to my anxiety.

One thing is for sure though, I will keep talking, it’s taken me so long to get to this point. I can’t stop now.

As Mandy Hale once said, ‘Just be yourself. Let people see the real, imperfect, flawed, quirky, weird, beautiful and magical person that you are.’

48 thoughts on “Who listens?

  1. I think its also about how much trust you have in the person you open up to. I guess I was burnt too often thru life thinking I could trust when all I did was give those people fuel to attack me with. But as I age, and sadly I am I do adhere to Mandy Hale’s words….I think our flaws can sometimes be the reason others find reason to love us. Have a great day Juls…

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  2. I experienced deep depression for several years, was in counseling and it didn’t help as much as writing in my journals or joining a writers group where I could write out my thoughts. I am 62 and I still have trouble communicating with others at times. I am most comfortable writing out thoughts but, there is a deep, deep desire in me to be able to speak to groups of women and encourage them. I never would have thought years ago that I would have such a yearning to be a speaker to groups. thank you for this post…. I always look forward to your posts.
    Cathi (DAF)

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    • I have no doubt that the words you have written over the years have encouraged more people than you think. I always used to say if I could help just one person then it was time well spent.
      Never say never re getting up. At a family party at Christmas everyone was encouraging me to host a game I had done years previously. I keep saying no and was breaking out in cold sweats on the day, but actually I thought of my Counsellor saying I should give it a try, so I did. I was quite proud of myself.
      I have no doubt that you would be amazing, I think it’s always easier to entertain an audience when you’re passionate about your chosen subject, which you clearly are <3

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  3. What a great quote! I find it hard to show my feelings at times to be honest. But talking or at least letting things out is so important! Great post Juls

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  4. Isn’t it ironic or strange that people can fear a response from a stranger or friend they meet “on the street” yet pay a professional to listen to their life stories in hopes of making positive moves/changes (without said fear)? As if a professional could not reject or snap at you, as well. Well, surely not, if they want to get paid. But, if the money remains on the table, is the focus really on the persons present or the hourly rates?

    No particular reason. Just food for thought as it came to mind.

    With all the modern technology that feels like an invasion of privacy or future war of the robots in the making, it’s surprising there isn’t something that helps people identify with each other, find like-minded or understanding friends. I suppose any idiot can reprogram a computer but cannot sort out another human being. And, by sort out, I don’t mean a lobotomy.

    Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just spot people and detect if their ideals/motives were compatible? I suppose that would be a form of FBook or something similar, if people presented themselves honestly.

    I dunno. But, it’s clear the people we are placed among are not ideally matched to us. Us birds without feathers do NOT flock so well together. It’s like we’re not the same species though we have the same skin and bones.

    Quirky and weird do not explain or define what troubles you. It would seem they were polite words to excuse deeper connection. But, yes, they make cute accessories to your person like hair bows and charm bracelets.

    I think your and my own complex thought processes are result of spending so much time with ourselves. Each time we either failed to socialize or met with resistance, we spent another hour training with ourselves, honing brains others gave to sport, drugs and conflict. We should not feel or be punished for thinking more deeply or frequently. But, we also need to figure out what sort of people we gel with to live peacefully outside of our heads.

    From my personal experience, both ways I have tried to be have failed me. As a kid, I grew a thick skin as the quiet one because the noisy one, my sis, was regularly berated for being loud. I learned being quiet was respected and behaved so. But, being quiet, I was never heard, never understood and still not respected as I needed to be. I was just avoiding my parents’ wrath from work stress. When I started speaking out to save myself from drowning, all I got was more people telling me to shut up and get busy and a few who showed signs of promising connection who were usually stripped from my company or pressured to leave (as if I was too much for them).

    I see myself –or rather imagine others see me–as some sort of brainiac outcast who should feel at home with the “weirdos” who like math challenges, curl in corners with self-inflicted wounds and struggle to speak coherently with others (while rambling rapidly about scientific principles others fail to grasp). Yet, if I approached such a group, I’d feel like an outside among mentally challenged folks, or a discarded toy. I am not that mentally challenged.

    Journals are like meditation. I do poorly with both. True, writing things down has its benefits. It can calm the whirlpool of the mind by focusing that energy into a task that is not on a clock. But, so could art therapy. And, it might provide insight/answers by analyzing myself. But, often enough, writing in a journal, I depress myself further and stop to say, “I’m spending all this time alone writing in a notebook when I know I need companionship.”

    Still, I will note as many key events in daily life as I can so I or someone who finds my notes later can put the pieces of my history together, you know, in case this life ever turns out to be movie-worthy. :)

    Excuses is a cruel word people who do not have the patience to listen say.

    Chalking things up to anxiety is fair, though, even if that anxiety comes in various shades/flavors.

    And, what us socially anxious and reclusive people need IS challenge, even if it drains or upsets us. But, the challenge to the challenger is to present the challenge in a way that does not get a similar rejection to the one we anticipate when we approach others in our times of need.

    And, there’s another problem with our ways of processing. It takes so much time and energy to hopefully get a message across that we practically give ourselves dementia. The longer we go without properly connecting with another human being, to the level that we feel fully understood, the more we may dull our senses or interest in trying. I get to a point, at my age, where I don’t even bother engaging in talk about what I am thinking or feeling because I expect failure. So, even if my barrel fills with a bullet full of good intention, I sometimes just blow it off to the side and say, “Forget it. You’ll just waste my time and energy which could be directed elsewhere.”

    That whole be yourself thing is a bit of a pretzel. I know people who seem to do nothing but be themselves, and they are so oblivious to people’s reactions that they are sure to get stepped on/abused. Ignorance is bliss to a point. And, beyond that, there are those who don’t see how annoying they are being because they have tuned out the world.

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    • There’s food for thought in that comment no doubt.

      I get the bit about strangers and counsellors. I don’t mind strangers offering their options and in fact everything my counsellor told me was nothing other people hadn’t already told me. I think I chose to listen at that point because I was ready to hear it. I didn’t get the feel that my counsellor was just after my money at all, considering I wasn’t paying her, she wouldn’t need to have been and in fact she went over and above in her quest to set me on the right path. Simple things like phoning me to find out how I was when my Mum passed away. I acknowledge that counselling would not be for everyone, and who is performing it would also make a difference, but it was definitely the right thing for me at the right time.

      I don’t think anyone will ever see me as a brainiac :)

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      • Aha, see, that’s what concerns me, professionals offering no more than people we know at cost (or, at least, a train of paperwork).

        I suppose that’s what it boils down to: will to try/listen.

        Well, it’s not likely a counselor will discuss money other than when you sign up with him/her or have bills due. But, they will surely bring up how quickly your session has expired or is about to expire, right?

        So, you did not pay at all?

        Hmm.

        Now, there’s something I’ve not heard of, a therapist (well, counselor…of what kind exactly?) calling to check in on you during strife, not just talk about scheduling appts. or how meds are working.

        I think “counseling” is technically less involved than “psychotherapy.” I had a school counselor who could offer simple advice and point me in social/class aid directions. He could help with getting in or out of classes (as I suppose a psychologist may have resources for additional help, including psychiatrists/meds, employment agencies, etc).

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      • I get a lil uneasy when people “give you the tools” and then say “it’s up to you now.” But, if you feel more in control and fortified to achieve, that’s great.

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      • So maybe it’s time you spoke to someone. Seriously, try to imagine something good in every day, just one small thing. It helps. I’m barring you from being negative in my comments. I need positivity and hood vibes! :P

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      • It’s usually those suggestions that make me cry. Imagine what? And, am I imagining something imaginary or “taking small steps to reach bigger goals?”

        I thought I WAS barred. I didn’t see my comment post; it just sorta vanished without any explanation. We all need positive vibes and good people to nourish us. But, ya gotta start with one and build yourself up unless you’re so gosh darn fortunate to have a good circle all the time and can pump out self-help books as you fight the urge to down a package of Oreos.

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      • Doing everything myself seems exhausting, daunting and tragic. If I do everything myself, then I might turn away from everyone else; cuz who needs them?

        Oh, I should have known. So do I.

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      • It’s not as daunting when you see it actually start to work. You know as well as I do that we can’t rely on anyone else, cos half times they don’t understand anyway.
        I’m not cured, not by a long shot, but I DO NOT want to go back to where I was, that’s why negativity is banned! lol

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      • Even when things “start to work” for/with me, that doesn’t mean they steadily will. In fact, it’s usually when I feel good or sure about something that an unexpected surprise catches me off-guard and throws me into panic mode.
        Bosses rely on people below them to get certain jobs done. If the “underlings” didn’t do as they were told, the boss could take a hit/lose their job. It’s part of delegating tasks. We may have to find the right pitch of independence, but we also get through this life and this world through communal action, through sharing the load.
        People don’t understand what they don’t learn. Just as I get told to go back to school to get a piece of paper that certifies learned more stuff and paid a regal sum for the education, I think the people we interact with could take the time to learn who we are and what makes us tick; THEN we’d all understand. Simply saying someone won’t understand is as bad as not speaking up about our feelings.
        I don’t want to go back where I was in my teens, either. Which is why it’s extra hard for me to even listen when people say I may have to walk that old road, again, because I got off too soon.
        Even if I could ban negativity, I am not sure I’d be comfortable in absolute positive energy. It’d be like a sugar high or everyone talking in helium/fairy voices.

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      • I’m never going to be 100% positive and I also dread good things happening because I think something bad will, but I’m altering my thinking and it certainly helps me.
        No two people are the same so what works for me may not work for you. I didn’t go to counselling until I was ready and when I really needed it.

        You don’t have to ban negativity all together, just try and not be negative here. Words have an impact and if I’m trying to think positive and you’re trying to counteract it the that doesn’t help me lol
        We’re all just trying to navigate life as best we can.

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      • I’ve tried to uphold the concept of expecting the worst but hoping for the best to avoid disappointment. But, just like the Golden Rule, I am not as vigilant as I could be.

        I don’t know how anyone pursues altering their thinking. It sounds like a chore or trial I cannot fathom. Yet, I am sure, when the mind/body is willing or driven/pushed, it can do unbelievable things.

        Well, I definitely know you and I have our differences. 😛

        I am sure I’d benefit from counseling, but I’d also benefit from friendship and teamwork.

        I know words have impact. But, maybe you need to understand I come from a fairly negative environment, so the air I breathe (out) isn’t very fragrant in a good way. It’s hard for me to see the light (other than the spot that appears in one eye annoyingly). I can occasionally offer bitterness with a side of wit/humor, but no guarantees.

        I confess I am a terrible counter-er.

        Yes, and I don’t want to sink any ship, especially my own. But, motion sickness is a beeyatch, and I am riddled with anxieties.

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      • It doesn’t matter the environment you come from, think before you write. I understand negativity, I suffer it, but I’m trying to deal with it.
        My point is, you don’t have to bring it here. Your first comment pretty much picked apart my whole post, and countered the semi positive with negatives. We will always have differences while that happens because I differ from my own anxieties and it’s counter productive. We’re just different people and it’s good to debate but you love your last word and will always have it. I’m just asking you to be mindful when commenting that I am trying to be positive that’s all :) So of you’ve nothing good to say, say nothing :) lol

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      • I dissected your post, as I seem inclined to do, to discuss certain points, rather than just slap a “I hear you. Hugs.” on the whole.
        If I countered positives, I was probably “fact-checking” them like a security dog. It’s more like skepticism. I don’t want to give anyone a harder time than they already have; I don’t want to sound like my parents. I also don’t want to feel like an uncontrollable monster who can’t talk with anyone because everything that comes from him damages the city.
        So, put away the pitchforks and torches. 🙂
        I don’t know if I love my last word, but it IS stimulating. Too bad this isn’t a situation in which such stimulation would be more romantically productive. 😛
        I can be mindful. I can be TOO mindful, sometimes, which leads to negativity like fear, doubt and suspicion.
        Saying nothing can be a respectful tactic in some cases, but it can also be the detriment of progress. Often words unspoken precede darker times and actions that could have been taken to prevent bigger problems/disasters.

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      • I don’t take pleasure in picking at/on people, and it hurts to think/know people might think of me that way. I have been the victim, not the bully. But, having been a victim for some time, some of that harassment may have rubbed off on me, as I used to repeat the nasty stuff my brother would say because I thought it was normal. There are things that come out of my mouth/head that don’t get screened well. But, that comes with my astrology, too. I like to think I am the honest answer guy, but it seems not everything I have to say is appreciated or beneficial to others. And, it’s hard to sort that out, hard to curb myself without withdrawing too far.

        I’m having a very hard time staying positive these days. A new computer which is really hard to get used to and be sure it’s working right. All sorts of health problems pecking away at my comfort with myself. Family having their own woes and venting to the point that it’s like streams of fire lashing at my skin. I can’t take my mother’s voice much longer. It’s really hard to get up every day and do things for myself without feeling terribly lonely and ostracized.

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      • I don’t know what I can say to make anything better. I wish I could. I don’t mean to make you feel bad about telling you how your comments make me feel, but it was something I needed to do. Old me would have addressed the problem by relegating your comments to spam, I don’t want to do that.

        For me I find this community hugely beneficial, its the place I come when I need to bolster my spirits. Reading other peoples posts reminds me that life is not perfect for everyone and in fact sometimes my problems pale in comparison.

        While your comments are not intended to be meant the way they are sometimes taken, just be mindful of other people and their feelings. By being a little more relaxed and maybe less opinionated you might find people here who can perhaps help you feel a little less lonely and ostracised. You have to be willing to open yourself up to the possibility though.

        Just remember, everything we go through is usually just a phase, the sun will always rise and set. Problems like you are experiencing with your computer would have had me climbing the walls and riddled with anxiety, Now I try and talk to myself saying it will more than likely work out and if it doesn’t I will fix the problem. It’s not an exact science but it works for me.

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      • So, we both do what we feel we need to do, whether or not it always satisfies and/or cushions the other person. And, had I been regarded as spam, well…yea, that would sting a while. But, it wouldn’t be the first time.
        I can’t seem to be mindful enough. I even often stop to read over my comments before submitting, to make sure I didn’t snap too hastily. But, even that isn’t apparently sufficient.
        If I am less opinionated, am I not more inclined to say very little of interest/use? Am I not limited to simple sympathies and agreements?
        This “phase” has been hanging over me a long time.
        And, they have riddled me with anxiety, on top of the anxieties I have elsewhere about the future of this life.
        I have tried to remain calm by saying it will all work out, but part of me either suspects or realizes that I am just as capable of doing nothing and getting hit with unpleasant surprises and people wondering why I didn’t do more.

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      • It’s a roundabouts thing. Nobody really gives a monkey about each other’s flaws because we are so focused on our own. The people who have a negative opinion of your flaws, most likely aren’t worth the time of day. 🙂

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      • Worth trying to look at all things in life like that IMHO. So I’m talking hats with BeetleyPete at the moment. I wear a grey felt trilby. I discovered hats 4-5 years ago in my mid 30s. Being a life long wearer of glasses it was a revelation to suddenly not be getting glare or rain on the specs. Some folk seem to think trilby = hipster and they can look unto me with disdain. Which when they do it publicly is awesome, because it means they are wearing a big flag above their head saying ‘this man / woman is a dick.’ Saves me the bother of making friends with someone and finding out they are a dick later down the line. 🙂

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      • Lol that’s very true. Do you know I never thought of a hat to keep the rain off spectaculars. You’re just full of good ideas today. I personally think there is something very dapper about a trilby.
        It’s like that time I wore a tie to the school disco and was told girls didn’t wear them,not long after they became a brief fashion statement, nothing to do with me of course but still lol

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  5. You are so right, Jules, we do need to communicate in any way we can so that our voices can be heard. With mental health issues, people don’t always realise that we need help, as you said, they just think we are perhaps a bit odd. Thanks for sharing this advice ;-)

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