Trust Me, You’re Too Good for This Column

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by Bailey Vincent |

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best friend, adaptive, surgery, burden

“How do you keep going?”

This is a question I know all too well. I’m not sharing this question in the same way that my eldest daughter “complains” about her extra-long eyelashes. (Like, we get it. It’s so hard.) I’m sharing this because sometimes sharing is all we can do when we don’t know how to keep going.

Multiple times a day, I am asked questions like, “How do you not give up?” And every time, I feel … scared. Not because of the giving up part, but because I don’t like lying.

I live in (Sylvia) Plath land more than I’d like to admit. And although I do find honor in being a shoulder for others — so please don’t stop — I’m scared I’m going to screw that up, too.

I am not a mental health professional (although apparently I should’ve been?), and while I like to say the key to being a dance director is being everyone’s therapist, I worry I’m not good enough for the dancers and the DMs that I love.

I worry I’m not good enough at everything. That’s the whole bit. That’s the whole column. (You can skip to the end.)

Recently, I saw a tweet that asked, “Are you mad at me???” and that’s basically my entire inner voice, all the time, on repeat.

Am I happy or am I sad? Who knows? It’s the internet. (Photo by Bailey Anne Vincent)

Sometimes, someone will leave comments like, “You sound like you have obsessive compulsive disorder,” or, “Are you taking pills for anxiety?” And though I love a good keyboard psychologist, I don’t want to actually say, “Yes. The former is especially true. But why does that matter to you?” (Bonus points because it rhymed.)

I am wary of talking about mental health online because the only thing we stigmatize more than Not Having a Diagnosis or Being a Woman With Emotions is Mental Health. Or mental health, rather, since we think too little of it to drama-capitalize it, thus ruining my whole brand.

I know that many of the open, vibrant women ask me online why I haven’t cut ship yet. (Normally, this happens on Instagram, because that’s the only ‘line I use anymore.) Because they, like me, live in a world that makes imperfect people feel broken. And alone. As if we don’t know who to turn to.

So, we turn to each other.

We turn to other humans with chronic pain or insufferable illness or merry-go-round treatment regimens because we know that no one else will want to hear us out past a certain point. And there is a point. Barring a couple best-friend or sibling scenarios, the majority of us know the limits of others. (For me, it’s normally somewhere around “butt symptoms.”)

We see a friend post about someone else’s appendix surgery and think, “Why haven’t I heard from anyone in a year?” Or, we see prayer vigils and text outreach plans for another and think, “I didn’t want that anyway.”

If so, why are we thinking it?

What are we thinking? That online happiness isn’t real. Also, oral hygiene is important. Bailey and her daughter Kage, 15. (Photo by Bailey Anne Vincent)

I live in “It’s no big deal” territory, where I tell myself that I hate a fuss and find it all embarrassing (dance director and all that), and I’m so glad no one knows I’m “going through it.” And then I’m secretly sort of sad I went through it alone.

But why?

I did it to myself. I don’t tell others about big surgeries that lie ahead. I downplay and slough. And even if my land metaphors make a very confusing map at this point, I delve in and out of Plath land far too frequently because of it. I’ve bought real estate here.

So, every time a digital friend asks why I’m not giving up, I want to say, “You are asking the wrong person.”

Instead, I say, “You’re not alone. I feel like that, too,” or, “I don’t handle it well either, but I’m here for you,” and other such things I really do mean.

But I don’t dump my own dump on someone else because that’s the worst thing you can do to anyone feeling Wolfonian feelings. And I don’t become a keyboard psychologist. And I don’t point out what’s wrong with them when I don’t really know them, because we can’t ever really know someone.

Instead, I say, “Tell me what’s up and I’ll listen,” and then I do. And I do it multiple times a day, all day. And then I worry I’m not good enough for this.

I worry I’m not good enough at everything. That’s the whole bit. That’s the whole column. (You can skip to the end.)

***

Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.

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