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When You Help Other People So Much It Hurts You

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People who experience mental health struggles often have a strong desire to help others like them. Throughout my life, I have spent a great deal of time and energy on my loved ones. Checking on them, answering questions, giving advice, attempting to help them find wellness tools, just letting them know I’m there. I get so caught up in making sure they are doing well, that I sometimes neglect my own wellness journey. I have been faced with this again recently, so I have had to ask myself, “Where do I draw the line?

Let’s set a few things straight; I am not trying to portray myself as a martyr. I have many days where I still isolate and make no effort to see how my peers are doing, which also makes me feel bad. I also want to make clear, that I do not view any of these people as a burden. I certainly do not get annoyed when others come to me. On my worst day, I will still be your sounding board and offer whatever I can to help you. Furthermore, I am in no way tooting my own horn. There have been times I said the wrong thing and probably did not help someone’s situation. For that I sincerely apologize.

It causes me anxiety when I can’t help lift someone else’s mood. I get that “not good enough” feeling, even though I know that other people’s feelings are ultimately out of my control. It’s very true that you can’t fix everyone. It’s even more true that you can’t help someone that is content to stay stuck in their rut. The same way you can’t help an addict that isn’t ready to let go of their vice.

Over the years, I have had to take a step back from several people, because it was simply too draining for me to keep trying. I absolutely hate getting to that point with anyone, but sometimes it is necessary. This does not mean I have stopped caring, but sometimes it is better to care from a distance. It is very important to not let yourself feel “less” or selfish when this happens.

My point is that you cannot allow yourself to get lost in helping others, because helping yourself is the most important part of your mental health journey.

“You owe yourself the same love that you so freely give to others.”

Unsplash photo via Joseph Rosales

Originally published: September 22, 2018
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