This month, for our special edition on Mental Health, we are handing over our Media Naranja column—which focuses on love, it in all its forms—to an initiative that has spent years creating a community passionate about breaking mental health stigmas in Costa Rica. The initiative is Vaso Lleno; its founder, Cris Gomar. On her social networks, she regularly shares messages of love and support for people facing various mental health challenges.
For today’s column, we share a message from Cris based on a Vaso Lleno post on May 6, 2022, about the love we all need to show each other. Read the original post here.
Today I cried a little bit in a meeting, because I remembered all the ghosts and lies that my anxiety creates every day. My mind had not taken me there for a long time. Maybe being busy, and emotional stability, had led me away from that dark place: that place where I think that people with mental disorders make life a little harder for those around us. Thinking that way connects to pain that runs deep. Even though we know that the disorder is the result of something bigger, that it’s not our fault, this thinking limits us from doing many other things. For example, loving ourselves in more healthy and more beautiful ways. Or even worse, it keeps us from allowing other people to love us for who we think we are.
In my experience, part of having a mental disorder is adapting to instability. We have high moments, and we have others that can be very low. So low that they lead us to depression, to have suicidal thoughts or even to try to kill ourselves. I feel that, despite being medicated and going to therapy, I need to get used to and even get attached to those ups and downs. That’s where I spend most of my time, on that ever-changing curve.
It’s hard for me even to read these words. Thinking about it, saying it or feeling it is even worse. Feeling that we are difficult to love can be, for me, one of the cruelest feelings. “The worst part of having a mental illness is that people expect you to behave as if you don’t have it,” they say in the latest Joker movie. And yes, I never say so calmly that I am intolerant to casein as saying that I have a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Why not? Because changing the menu isn’t quite as hard. Getting used to or adapting to the needs of another person due to their mental disorders is another world.
That’s all, really. I wanted to tell you this because I know that these are more common thoughts than we think, and they’re difficult to express. It is very hard to come to the conclusion that we are “difficult to love,” or to have a constant fear that a relationship, a job, or a friendship could end because of that difficulty.
I’m sorry for everyone involved. So let’s treat each other with more affection—because many of us are having a tough time, and don’t even know how to express it.