Why You Don’t Always Have To Be Strong

June 4, 2016

be strong

One of the things I’ve always wanted to retain on this blog is honesty. It means everything to me that what I share here is the truth, and from the heart. But on top of that, it’s also important to me that what I’m saying is accessible and relatable to you.

Anyone who has been reading my blog for a little while will know that I occasionally share content about my experience with anxiety. It’s not a secret, and I’m not ashamed of it. In fact, by writing about it openly, I like to think I am destigmatising it a bit. I’m a strong advocate of talking about mental health.

Sidenote: I had to Google the word destigmatising *twice* before feeling fully confident it’s an actual word. If The Guardian is using it, then it must be – right?

Anyway, I wanted to share my thoughts on the idea that we have to try and be strong all the time. Spoiler alert: I disagree.

Pretending to be strong when you’re not is exhausting. In fact, I’ve had experiences where trying to put on a brave face when having a bad time with my mental health has been detrimental. When you suffer from anxiety, every day can be incredibly draining because you’re dealing with situations you are uncomfortable with. You have to push yourself through, and sometimes that gets too tough. If you try too hard to be strong, it can break you.

I need to pause here just to say that anxiety is an incredibly broad spectrum, and I know that the levels of which I suffer pale in comparison to others. This is “advice” for anyone in any place on the spectrum. I just wanted to tell you that pretending to be fine is not the same as being fine.

I hope this message isn’t misconstrued, because I don’t want people to feel like they shouldn’t ever try and push on through the bad times. That’s not what I mean at all. I just think it’s important to know when you need to take a break from trying so hard. To just take some time to relax, regroup and then push on. Take it from someone who has had to do this a few times in her life – it does help.

What made me realise I needed that break was this overwhelming sense of being well…overwhelmed. When every decision makes you stressed, when you play out a thousand scenarios in your head, you need to stop. You need to take yourself out of that situation and take some time to switch off. Where the hardest decision you have to make is what to watch next on Netflix, or which flavour of Gu cheesecake you’re having for pudding. FYI, I’m all about the mango and passionfruit.

Taking a break from things does not make you weak. It doesn’t make you less of a person than anyone else. In fact, it makes you pretty damn sensible because you know your limits. You know it’s time to step back, get in tune with how you feel, and move on from it. I promise you’ll come back even stronger than before.

12 responses to “Why You Don’t Always Have To Be Strong”

  1. Aimee Cottle says:

    Lovely post. You’re so right. I often put a face on, pretend to be okay; pretend to be strong. But it’s exhausting and, like you say, sometimes you just need to take that time for you! X

    • Cat says:

      Thank you so much, glad you liked the post. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in just cutting yourself some slack and being honest in how you feel! x

  2. E says:

    You should never put on a brave face if you feel like you can’t! It really sucks suffering with anxiety. You’re right, it is completely exhausting and sometimes you just need 5 minutes to yourself to make you feel better again.

  3. Amy Rutter says:

    Thank you for this, I love it. I think after my latest post you know this speaks to me 🙂 x

  4. Jess says:

    I suffer from terrible anxiety and find it really hard to leave the house on my own. Today I accomplished that and I’m really proud of myself. Hardly anyone in my life knows I struggle with an anxiety disorder for fear of being laughed at and told that I’m being stupid because even though people shouldn’t say those things, they still do. Slowly I’m getting help and with the patience of my husband, I’m taking small steps to getting my independence back to some degree.
    It’s wonderful when I find people who suffer from the same thing as I do (this sounds horrible haha) but its a comfort knowing people know what its like and we are not alone.

    • Cat says:

      I’m sorry to hear that Jess 🙁 But really proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone! One of the biggest triggers of my anxiety is making decisions, and it can be so draining and frustrating dealing with the simplest of choices. I’m glad to hear you are getting help for your problems, and taking steps in the right direction. You should be super pleased with yourself. It really is great having a supportive partner too.
      I agree it is wonderful to find people who suffer from a common, or similar problem, but then you feel bad for being pleased lol. It definitely is a comfort to know you aren’t alone 🙂

  5. Rosie says:

    This post is everything. I know exactly how you feel and because I’m such an introvert, I really need to take time and have a break from everything and everyone.

    • Cat says:

      Thank you poppet, I really do appreciate when people can relate to what I post…makes me feel better about it! Everyone needs a break sometimes, and those who never take one are only making things harder for themselves x

  6. This is such a great post and very true!! Sometimes it’s okay not to be strong. Sometimes I just like having a bit of a cry on my boyfriend’s shoulder while he looks absolutely bewildered. Then I feel better 🙂 x

    • Cat says:

      Thank you Holly, much appreciated! Having a good cry is so cathartic, it really works. My boyfriend has definitely been at the receiving end of a few shoulder cries! x

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