Adults, for the most part, are independent. We don’t like to have people go out of their way for us. We don’t like to be an extra problem for others to deal with. When we get hurt or get sick, we hate it when others fuss over us or when we have to ask someone to help us with things we have done on our own before. When we are struggling with mental illness, we become needier of others’ help. We try hard to handle our problems on our own because we fear we will be a burden to others.
When I was really depressed, I kept my feelings from my grandparents, whom I was living with and my parents. I didn’t want to be a burden to them. My grandparents loved having me live with them. My grandma fussed over me and refused to let me help. Grandpa checked my oil every morning and cleaned my car off in the winner. How could I tell them I was sinking deep into a black hole? I didn’t want to cause them problems or hurt them. I was suicidal, depressed, and sick to my stomach every morning. How could I burden them with that? They were doing enough for me. I couldn’t ask for more.
When I moved back home, I feared I was a burden to my parents. I thought if I took my life they would be free from me. I wouldn’t cause them heartache. I didn’t want to cause anyone problems. I feared my illness was making me a helpless wreck who dragged people down into my hole with me. I was a curse on their lives and I feared in time they would be overwhelmed with dealing with my illness and me. I tried to hide things from my mom, but she always knew.
I wanted to handle my illness on my own. I didn’t like to be needy. I wanted to be independent and strong, but I wasn’t. I couldn’t help but fear being a burden to the people I love. The problem was I needed the people I was trying to protect, but how could I subject them to my darkness? How could I expect them to suffer with me? What if they got sick of me and left?
Each time I make friends, I worry about turning to them when I’m down or struggling with a problem. I fear I will be a burden to them. I don’t want to be another obstacle in a person’s life. My friends have their own lives, problems and heartaches and I don’t want to add another one. I often apologize for bothering them. I even worry that I’m a burden to my husband. I often ask him if I am and he always says no, but I still fear that someday he’ll get tired of dealing with me and my illness.
The best way to deal with fears is to face them. Each time my fear of being a burden comes up, I face it. I stand up to it and tell myself they are here for me because they care for me. If they can’t handle my illness, then they would let me know, and if they walked away, it would not be my fault. Most importantly, I must reassure myself it’s okay to lean on others and to also be support to them.
Needing others’ help when you’re suffering with mental illness is not a bad thing. You can’t face your illness on your own. Those who really care about you will never think of you as a burden. Those who walk away choose to; it’s nothing you have done. Some people are not strong enough to handle mental illness.
The fears of being a burden have lessened since I have reached recovery. When my fear does surface, I face it and those I love reassure me I am not a burden. Because I stand up to my fear, I bathe in the light.