Mental Health – Words Can’t Bring Me Down

For Valentine’s Day, my wonderful husband made me a playlist of “Beautiful” songs. It included various versions of “You Are So Beautiful”, “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt and many others. The one that always sticks in my mind is “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera. The line in the title is from that song.

I have talked about being bullied, called all sorts of names, and internalizing all of the negative messages throughout my life. However, I have learned that just like the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, so are all those negative labels. We can so easily discount the first one and believe all the others. But Why?

My mother said on many occasions that I was ordinary. While some of my friends were pretty, thin, athletic, brilliant, etc., I was ordinary. Then she would say “there is nothing wrong with ordinary.” I held on to that for years and even blamed my feeling “not good enough” on her.

Words like beautiful, ordinary, intelligent, normal, are just that – words. And the thing about words is that they can have many definitions and even more interpretations.

Let’s start with “normal”. The usual thoughts on this are that it means “status quo”, and in a way that is true, but on an individual basis only.

When I was in a mental health day program many years ago, the doctor who ran one of the group sessions was talking about what normal meant to us. I was in a very depressed state on top of my incredibly low self-esteem. He said that our normal was how we were right at that moment. I took it to mean that this was it. I wasn’t going to get any better and I would always be fat, ugly, stupid, and everything else negative that I had been called. I ran out of the room and hid in a bathroom stall. One of the program leaders followed me and through the closed stall door, she said that what he meant was that this was my normal for that moment and it is okay. She went on to say that my normal would change as I changed whether for better or worse. It would all depend on me. Oh, and other people’s normal levels are not mine so I shouldn’t compare myself.

Beautiful is another word I have struggled with. When Hubby has called me beautiful I would think of the person I last saw in the mirror and think “Is he blind or something?” Yet other times when I am not inflamed from illness or medication and/or I have been able to get some activity going I can look in the mirror and see some beauty.

How come Hubby can see it all the time and I can’t? It really isn’t the changes in my health, it is the changes in my mind and heart. When I was 22 I made a framed photo collage for my parents’ Christmas present. It was a difficult project because I couldn’t find any pictures of me I really liked. Now I am 60 and when I look at those same pictures I see someone I like very much. I am finding that this revelation is giving me a better attitude.

I have been finding it difficult to lose the weight I need to for my health’s sake because I have been thinking that “when I lose it I will look better”. By thinking that I already am beautiful, I just need to eat healthier, it is easier to stay away from the bad foods. If I do falter (like the ice cream yesterday), I remind myself that I will feel such and such the next day (depending on the food). If I lose weight from it all then that is a bonus!

The picture above was taken by a friend in our dog park. If I had known that she was taking it I would have been upset. But it was totally candid and picked up a little moment between Miley and me with her football. Even a year ago I would have deleted it because I am “too fat”, “not looking my best (with the dog walking hat)”, and using the walker. Well, the truth is, I love this image because it shows me as I am and my little goofball in a sweet moment. That is why I used it here – Sometimes we bring ourselves down with words…but not today!

The song By Christina Agulera was written by Linda Perry and originally Christina didn’t want to record it. However, as she dug deeper into the lyrics she agreed and the rest, as they say, is history. The official video shows people struggling with various issues from depression, bullying, anorexia, Not being strong enough. It also shows a cross-dresser and a gay kiss. This was because all sorts of people really could relate to how words and attitudes can bring them down. I love that video; however, I chose a lyric video because I wanted to focus on the words themselves.

Lydia!

 

 

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10 Replies to “Mental Health – Words Can’t Bring Me Down”

  1. I, too, love that version of C.A. “…you can’t bring me down, no matter what you say…” I had a mom who told me once, I would never be a “looker” like my sisters but at least I had brains. Which, today, I can see that for what it was, but then all I heard was your sisters are pretty and you are not. My husband tells me I am more beautiful on the inside, but on the outside too. It would stun me. Then, after I hit 50, I got it. If you are not a loving soul you can never be attractive in any sense of the word. I love that picture of you with Miley! And I want a cap just like yours! You do look beautiful, loving, and kind in that photo. You ARE those things, Lydia. Words will no longer bring you down, my friend! 💜

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    1. Thanks so much, Kim! I wonder if our mothers ever knew the damage they were causing. At least she said you had brains. When I left university she said they never thought I was college material but had to let me try. The reason I left (for what I thought was one semester) was to rethink my major. By the way, I was positive I have been following you. I read your blog so I don’t know what happened but I am following you now.

      Oh, the cap! I got it at the pet food store. They were locally made. I wanted something to for when it rains. Now, if I put it on Miley gets excited because she is going out with me. If I don’t wear it she goes into “her room” a bathroom right beside the front door to wait for my return! Who said animals are dumb!

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      1. Animals, are not dumb. So smart! Your little Miley.😊 Lydia, I often wonder if my mother, our mothers, have had any remorse over the not such kind things they’ve said. Mine, doesn’t. In fact she claims no memory of most of the dismissive, hurtful things she called me. I guess, parents are only human. If you have a bunch of kids, we had 6 in my family, you are going to have bad days… my mom is in poor health now, meaner than a badger caught in a trap… but also easily hurt if I call her out on what she says so there goes my closure! Cynthia at photobaugh just wrote a blog post about ‘letting it be’ instead of letting it go. I think that’s what we have to do, stop giving the ‘hurt’ energy by confronting it or even dwelling on it. Instead, we eventually find our power as we age and letting something ‘be’ is a far better choice as we try to live healthier lives. Don’t you think? I’m going to try.😊

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      2. I totally agree 100%! My mother passed many years ago but my Dad (who lived with us for his last 4 years) and my sister took up the torch and tried to beat me into the ground without seeing all the really difficult progress I made with all my chronic challenges (physical and mental). My sister is the only one left but I told her I was tired of trying to measure up only to be punched in the gut every time. So we are not in contact with each other anymore. Sad, but something I had to do for me. But it was more of a letting be than letting go. You are right, we need to do more of that.

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      3. Its sad, the same happened with my younger sister and I, she called me once after 5 years of not speaking just to yell at me about her right to privacy and I had better not blog about her, or any family member for that matter… I laughed out loud and said not to worry, I had much more important things to write about than her… (oops) haven’t spoke to her in two additional years. She’s younger by six years, the baby of the family… I just think she doesn’t get the precious time she’s wasting. But I let it be after that phone call. Trying to reason with family about chronic illness rarely works… unless they’ve had experience with it. And that’s rare. I am sad that you and your sister aren’t talking, I’m sad for me and my sister too. But there is a time and place when enough is enough. Let it be. 💜

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comments. I have weeded out some people in my life who I know will never be able to see the changes and strength in me. Tragically that includes some family. but I need to do what is best for me!

      Liked by 1 person

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