Everything's Fine

It’s much easier to blame others for why we are feeling bad. It’s much harder to accept responsibility for over-analyzing or taking comments to heart.
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“I’m fine.”

How are you? I'm fine. Chances are when you get that in response to a question, it’s untrue. It’s definitely not true if you ever hear me say it.

Lately, I have been thinking about honesty. It’s such a difficult thing to be sometimes, honest. I care too much about what people think, which is why it’s taken me so long to start writing again.

When you worry about what people think, you censor yourself. In a recent post I wrote some things that were hurtful to people I love deeply. They were wounded by my words. I am not proud of this.

The truth is often subjective. I look at life through the biased lens of my own experience. I meant it when I said that depression is selfish because when I’m depressed I tend to take things so damn personally (as if it’s all about me all the time).

Sometimes honesty hurts.

It’s much easier to blame others for why we are feeling bad. It’s much harder to accept responsibility for over-analysing or taking comments to heart. Last week I found myself in a dark place, pointing fingers at anyone but myself.

As a consequence of what I wrote, I had some difficult conversations with family members. Raw, uncomfortable and vulnerable.

I realised today that I dislike vulnerability. A lot. My mother raised me to be ‘tough’ so I wouldn’t feel as much pain out in the world. As a result, I tend to view vulnerability as a weakness, especially within myself.

I’m grateful those difficult conversations were had.I feel that they are just the beginnings of better, more honest communication. I am working on not pretending to be fine. On letting certain things slide. On creating some healthy distance between other people’s actions and my own heart.

I’d also like to stop being an expert at putting my game-face on. I can walk into a social setting, dripping with homesickness, devastated by an argument or stressed out about work- and the smiles and jokes would flow as if it were a normal day.

I barely made it to a talk called “Adjusting to New Parenting,” with my mother’s group. I was stressed and exhausted with my newborn at the time. I breezed in 10 minutes late, flustered and anxious but must have concealed it well.

The talk was actually about Post Natal Depression. The organisers gave it a different title to attract more people. There were three of us in attendance. Maybe the truth had gotten out. I remember someone making a comment, “Well since we are the ones who actually made it here, I don’t think we are the ones who need help,” fair point.

I remember learning that day, usually, the mothers who seem like they have it together are the ones struggling most.

Am I that person?

I have not told my Mother’s group about this blog or that I’m in counseling. I mean we talk about EVERYTHING in gory detail. Of all people who would be able to understand exactly what I’m going through….they would!

I spoke about this with my therapist today (who has grown on me quite a lot since my initial resistance). She asked me what I felt about not sharing with my Mother’s group. I squirmed in my seat like I squirm every time a caring friend asks me how I’m doing. I can’t tell if I should say I’m fine or give the uncomfortable answer.

As far as Mum’s group goes, my first thought was maybe I’m just sick of talking about depression….but I don’t think that’s the truth. The truth is I don’t talk about it in real life. Perhaps it’s actually the vulnerability I’m shying away from.

Now that I'm getting help, I can start to see it takes more strength and courage to show weakness than it does to put a mask on and pretend “everything’s fine.”

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Dawn Rieniets is both a visual artist and brand copywriter. She uses her MA in English, journalism and sales background to craft engaging brand identity copy for small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) globally.

Dawn exhibits artwork independently and with groups; Thou Art Mum and Melbourne and Victorian Artists (MAVA). In her online store, you can find original pieces, wall art prints, and other home decor. A few times per year she accepted personalised and sentimental art commissions for clients.

Dawn creates out of her home studio in Wurundjeri country, the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne.
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