I once saw a headline that read something like “Demi Levato says boyfriend Wilmer Valderrama saved her life and helped her recover from her terrible mental illness and eating disorder”.
Obviously, it wasn’t exactly that, because that headline is way too long to be click bait, but I definitely remember my exact reaction. I don’t need anyone to help me get better. I can do this on my own. I considered myself an Independent Woman (trademark Destiny’s Child). I judged Demi for relying on someone, especially a BOYFRIEND, to help her get back on her feet. I felt it was irresponsible of her to spread the message that boyfriends are necessary to the healing process. I mean, she’s a role model for young girls! She should be telling them that everything can be cured by the magic of girl power, like I had been told by my childhood role models, the Spice Girls. It took me a while, at least a year, to realize that Demi was actually being brave and honest. She admitted that she couldn’t do it on her own, and as much as I love the idea of being Miss Independent (trademark Kelly Clarkson), I couldn’t do it on my own either. It’s just like that girl I follow on Pinterest (but maybe Malcolm X) said:
“When I becomes We, even Illness becomes Wellness.”
Please do not read this delightful quote as “if you don’t have a boy/girlfriend then you are screwed.” We all know that’s not true, even if that’s the moral of every Disney Princess movie from the 90s. Support can come from so many different places: teachers, friends, parents, siblings, doctors, therapists, organized support groups. It doesn’t matter where you find help, the most important thing is that you take it without feeling guilty or weak. Because when your brain isn’t working properly, you cannot support yourself. It’s impossible. You can tell yourself over and over that THIS time you’re going to stay in control and be totally normal, but your broken brain isn’t going to listen.
That same girl I follow on Pinterest (but probably someone else) said “"Mental illness is like fighting a war where the enemy's strategy is to convince you that the war isn't actually happening.” When I’m lying on my kitchen floor crying, my brain is usually sending me super helpful messages like “Everyone else can handle life, but you can’t," or “You are too weak to face the normal pressures of being an adult,” or the classic “You are a failure.” My brain never tells me “You have a mood disorder that makes simple things difficult sometimes,” or “This horrible pain will pass eventually and you will feel okay again.” That’s why I need someone else to tell me those things. I don’t need a prince charming to come save me. Nobody needs that! But I do need someone who will remind me that my struggles are valid and real, and that I’m doing the best I can. And if that person is quite charming and happens to have the jawline of a prince, then that’s okay too! We all need to stop judging ourselves, and others, when we accept help. Sure, Beyonce once sang:
“I depend on me…(I depend on me)
All the women who independent
Throw your hands up at me”
But a few years later, in the song “Flawless”, she gives a shout out to her family for all they’ve taught her, and all they do for her. So yeah, Beyonce (feminist of the FREAKING year, re:Lemonade) depends on other people. And maybe you don’t have a dad who’s eager to teach you how to “love your haters,” or a sister who urges you to “speak your mind.” But no matter what, there ARE people out there who want to help you.
It’s okay to let them.