Since I was a child I was the one who would defend my OLDER sister and my younger cousins. I felt like it was my duty to protect them and not let them feel any pain. (Unless it was me bothering them.) I grew up with a man who I never saw cry. I had aunts and a mother who were the strongest people of all. I felt like I needed to be like them and never show emotion.
In hispanic culture most families do not believe in mental health and medications. You are supposed to handle your own situations in private or you bury them and move on.
As I got older I realized that in serious situations, I was awkward. When my friends would cry about boyfriends or fighting with familyI did not know how to react to them feeling upset. I would be the clown and make a joke out of it, using humor to deflect. It was not because I did not care about their feelings but because I wanted to help them forget those feelings, if just for a little while. You know they say it ALL THE TIME, but the people that struggle the most are the people that you would never expect it from. I have this reputation that I have no heart, I have no feelings, I am strong.
“Oh Izzy doesn't care, she has no heart.” “Izzy, I wish i didn't have a heart like you.” “Izzy is like the grinch, her heart is two sizes too small.”
I used to love that people thought that about me. Why? Because people would fear me. They would think I was strong. They’d look up to me as if I had it together. This theory of me having no heart has hurt and ruined friendships, relationships and honestly, was damaging to myself. I was hiding feelings and not truly opening up the way we are supposed to. I kept bottling things up. I was isolated, rarely letting people in. I would let people hurt me and they would think it's okay because “Izzy has no heart.”
Truth be told, I have too big of a heart. My psychiatrist once told me that I am an empath. I take other people's pain and feel it like it is my own. THAT IS WHY I laugh or change the subject when someone is upset. I want everyone to be happy and not feel as low as I have felt. I'm such an empath, that I read a book; “The Catcher and the Rye.” and he talks about all these little kids running around a field and there's a cliff. The catcher is worried about the kids possibly falling. He just wants to catch them all and hold them and let them know that they are safe. I want to BE that catcher. I want to take your pain away from you. How can I do that when I have my own issues I'm not acknowledging? How am I sitting here working in a field where I am supposed to be strong for my patients and here I am barely being able to keep it together myself? My co-workers and my friends would tell me, “Izzy you're always smiling, you have no idea how much light you bring in such dark times.”
My favorite girl Taylor Swift said it best: “You’re tied together with a smile, but you’re coming undone.”
That girl that everyone thought was strong and had “no heart” actually had suicidal thoughts come to her head a HANDFUL of times. There was a point where I did not know if I was going to make it the next day. I was carrying around this pain inside of me that I never thought I was going to be able to get out of. I thought there is no way I can survive feeling like this. I felt like death is the only option I have in order to not feel this feeling. I couldn't imagine feeling the way I was feeling, for FOREVER. I felt like there is no way this is going to end. I’ll never be okay. I couldn't see a future for myself. DEATH WAS THE ONLY OPTION. Even feeling like this, I still kept to myself and put on a happy face every single day and would continue to go to work everyday and see my friends and act like nothing was wrong.
I did not want them to know that I was in pain, that I was a fraud and actually NOT strong. I did not want them to see how truly vulnerable I was.
How could I bear to put my loved ones through this pain? This pain that I am suffering and they can not help me. I couldn't tell my family. I couldn't tell my best friend. I AM SUPPOSED TO BE STRONG FOR THEM. Until finally, I had no choice. I distanced myself from my family for months because I did not want them to be ashamed of me for 1. Getting help, and 2. I didn’t want them to know that the strong woman they raised was feeling depressed over something they felt was a nothing. To me it was everything.
I finally went and got help. On my own. I did what I felt I had to do or else I wouldn't be here today. You know what made me finally get help? A patient. How strong she was to go to a psychiatric hospital on her own and ask for help for herself because no one was listening to her. She felt like she couldn't breathe because of the pain she was in. I FELT THAT. She gave me so much courage. Asking for help does not mean you are weak. IT MEANS YOU ARE STRONG. YOU’RE A FIGHTER. A WARRIOR. I started secretly seeing a provider and was put on medication. You know what? Now I'm THRIVING.
I look back and I cry because I cannot believe I was ever that low. I cry tears of joy because here I am still. I am able to be here and see my niece grow up. I have this job where I am able to help people come out of that dark place that once surrounded me. I have co-workers that push each other everyday and are there for you like family. I have a family that loves me so deeply. I’m here. I have a purpose. It warms my heart when I have people tell me how much they’ve seen me GROW within the last three years. I’m not the same woman I was back then. That pain and darkness has turned me into the woman I am today. I'm thankful for the losses that I have had. Especially for that loss that led me to believe that I didn't belong here. If it was not for that loss, I wouldn't have fought like hell to get my mental health in check. So, thank you. I owe you literally my life. I am here. I am here to stay. I am here to help others. That is my purpose and I’m going to fight like hell so that you never feel the way I did. Yes, I still have some learning to do on opening up, but it’s a process. I’m opening up more, I’m crying more, and I’m asking for help when I need it. I’m expressing my emotions. I mean, I just wrote this blog for people to see.
I’m no longer afraid of letting my family and friends know that HEY, I ACTUALLY HAVE A HEART. Want to see? Put your hand on my chest and FEEL IT BEAT.
The girl with TOO BIG OF A HEART.
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it's like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.” - Robin Williams