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About illness, Mental health

The other side of the story

I’ve been getting a lot of reminders lately that not everything is about me.

I’m inherently selfish. Maybe that’s human, and maybe I’m too sensitive. I assume every subtweet is about me. I assume that people’s reactions to me are all about me. I assume that any negative response to something I do indicates I’m a terrible person.

One of the symptoms of depression is catastrophising, and I do it well. The moment someone does something to trigger my low self-esteem, I break down. Literally, the moment. Yesterday I got several messages that I read as being “You’re an awful person.” There was no time to process this and try to respond logically. I immediately started crying and shaking. I felt physically ill. I thought to myself, “I try so hard to be a good person, why do I always fuck up?” I spent the next however long hating myself, harming myself, and doing anything in my power to make the feelings stop – including needlessly and repetitively apologising. I kind of hate when I do this, because often I haven’t done anything wrong, and I would like to learn to stand up for myself more. But I don’t. I just cower and collapse.

It sounds ridiculous when I write it down like this. But other people’s opinions of me matter to me. A lot.

What I am realising is that, most of the time, how people respond to you is more about them than it is about you. I can’t physically take responsibility for every single possible reaction I might provoke,I can’t physically know what everyone else is going through. I will make mistakes. I will be insensitive, especially when I’m hurt. But I can’t be all things for all people.

What I can do is remember that everyone is on their own journey. We’re all just trying to find our way. These incidents seem to happen for me when I forget to be compassionate. Compassion is something I hold in high regard, and when I feel I have acted in a way that isn’t compassionate, I really flip out. So I’m just going to try and keep telling myself that we’re all on our own paths. Not everything is about me. Not everyone is trying to tell me I’m awful. Maybe that will help.


About writehandedgirl

Sarah is a writer who is passionate about social justice, feminism, politics, and cats. She is a columnist and poet and currently lives in Nelson. You can follow Sarah on Twitter (@_writehanded_) or read more of her writing at


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