I’ve had a couple of rough days (two of which I only left my bed because I was bribed out by one of my friends and his millionaire shortbread/cookies), but todays been a bit like that and it’s raining- and I can’t help but think that it is some type of pathetic fallacy- but it reminded me of a quote from Rowan Atkinson, “I love walking in the rain because no one can see me cry”. I have never thought about this quote much, I originally interpreted it as comparable to the tears of a clown motif, where a man can hide his sadness behind comedy, but only now have I thought about it more. I think it’s more about being enabled to feel genuinely and unsuppressed emotion. So much of culture encourages us to be controlled, social etiquette encourages a “stiff upper lip”, your pride tells you crying is weakness, from a young age boys are told not to cry, this idea of emotional suppression is woven throughout many aspects of our lives.
I can’t talk for everyone, nor would I want to, but I can talk about me and why emotional suppression can be damaging. To people who have read my blog, the fact I have depression is no surprise, it’s largely why I started blogging and it’s largely what I talk about, but having depression forced me to be emotionally dishonest a lot of the time. When I say emotionally dishonest, it doesn’t mean I lie to myself, it means I lie to others. A lot of time people will look at me and ask if I’m ok and I will say I’m fine or I’ll play down how bad I really am. This is common of almost everyone, people often ask other people “How was your day” or “How have you been”, and they doing it expecting the other person to simply say “fine” instead of answering honestly. This is what people do, we wear masks and we pretend to be what is expected of us. I (and I imagine a large amount of other people) do all this while wanting simultaneously wanting people to see who we really are and see that we’re struggling. There are a lot of days where I feel like I’m falling apart, and frankly I just want to be held. But for various reasons feel unable to express this and instead fall into the typical “I’m fine” lie, but all I want is for the other person to look at me and say “are you sure?” Just to clarify, this isn’t to say that every time I say I’m fine I’m lying. I am generally quite emotionally open and wear my heart on my sleeve, but ever since getting back to university the pressure to fall back into emotional dishonesty has grown.
All of this reminded me of the film “Girl Interrupted”. I love that film, and think it’s portrayal of mental health is very good. A lot of Winona Ryder’s quotes in the film are ones I strongly relate to, notably “how the hell am I supposed to recover when I don’t even understand my disease?”, and the general sense of confusion and vulnerability created by her character. However the most relevant quote for the point I am trying to make is made by Angelina Jolie’s character; “There’s too many buttons and they’re just – there’s way too many just begging to be pressed, they’re just begging to be pressed, you know? They’re just – they’re just begging to be pressed! And it makes me wonder, it really makes me f*****g wonder, why doesn’t anyone ever press mine? Why am I so neglected? Why doesn’t anyone reach in and rip out the truth and tell me that I’m a fucking whore, or that my parents wish I were dead?” It’s the moment in which it becomes clear that her whole character was built upon emotional dishonesty, all of her actions are done because she wants someone to look at her and say you’re not ok and help her. In real life a lot of the time people run is to see if someone will chase them, people push people away to see if they will come back and they shut down because they want someone to open them up.
This idea of conflict (the want to be safe through shutting yourself away, but be loved for who you really are) is built strongly into my character and personality and I think many other peoples. The purpose of this blog was to try and encourage people to think about the effect their emotional dishonesty may have. I admit a lot of the time saying “I’m fine” or forcing a smile has none, but on rare occasion it does. I feel I can’t truly capture the point I want to make, and this is a bit more like the rambled musings of someone trying to sound smarter than they are, but I hope some of my (few) readers may take something from this.