In the jolly world of mental health, we’re always calling after self-awareness. I’m not saying it’s not important but I think it’s at least equally important to be aware of others as well. Being aware of what something might look like to others or how it might make them feel.
An example: I stopped watching a completely harmless teen film because a scene in it made me feel uncomfortable.
I was watching a film called Alex Strangelove on Netflix. In a scene where Alex’s girlfriend tells all his friends that they’ve never had sex – and goes on to tell that she’s been trying to sleep with him for months but he doesn’t let her before leaving the scene. Queue endless jokes on Alex’s expense.
That scene made me feel terrible. Alex’s girlfriend had no right to reveal something so incredibly personal in front of his friends. She could’ve said that they’ve never slept together and left it at that. As someone who has been in a relationship that was partially built on public humiliation, I knew exactly how horrible that must’ve felt.
It sounds dramatic but that’s an unforgivable thing to do. You just don’t do that to someone you love. Had I been Alex, I would’ve broken up with her then and there. The film would’ve only been fifteen minutes long.
I could imagine that to an average viewer the scene wouldn’t had been anything more than a gag but inadvertently it tapped right into my own insecurities. I couldn’t watch a scene where they were portrayed in a humorous light. I just couldn’t.
The reason why I’m telling about this is that I did the right thing by turning the film off.
The harsh reality is that nobody in this film will put your mental health first. You have to do that yourself. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary and important. Sorry to be the one to tell you this but nobody is going to knock on your door with a medal for your success in gritting your teeth. If you force yourself to do something you’re not ready for the only person paying the price will be you.
Honestly, I’m the first person to admit that I’m always after that ‘Martyr of the Year’ – title. Look how hard I worked! I did the thing even though I didn’t want to and now I feel shit! I think it’s to due with the fact that one of the adjectives my parents would use about me the most was cheery, which in Finnish is used to describe someone who acts unprompted and gets things done.
It’s fine! It’s fine! Not a problem! We’ll get it sorted! What’s that you’re saying that I’m bleeding from my head? It’s just a silly little blood vessel, I’ll just tie a dish towel around that, NOT A PROBLEM.
I’m not saying you should wrap yourself in cotton wool (see what I did there?) but jesus christ, you don’t go for the marathon straight after your leg is off the cast. You need to do things that you’re able to do now and then build on from there. Maybe one day you’re able to do the thing that makes you uncomfortable now with ease. That’s brilliant but why are you in such a hurry?
Just do things at your own pace.
At home we have a saying ‘what’s the rush, in a world that’s already been built?’