Hey, all. Before I say this, please know that I’m not minimizing anyone’s struggles (quite the opposite), claiming that all issues present equal difficulties (they don’t), or making a veiled cry for help (I’m not).
But here’s something I’ve learned.
Everyone has issues.
If you’re like me, you tend to believe you’re insane, that everyone else has it together, or that you’re bizarre or weak because of the problems you face. However, the longer I live the more I realize that every single person struggles with something. Sometimes that struggle is physical, often it’s psychological. In a great many cases, it’s emotional.
Like that woman next door. The one with the perfect family, the striking good looks, and the brand new BMW?
She struggles with depression. Even worse, she has no idea why she’s depressed because she believes she should be happy and doesn’t realize the issue is chemical rather than situational.
That man you pulled up next to at the stoplight. The one in the sensible gold Honda Civic. He looks confident, together. Everyone must surely look up to him.
But he’s having debilitating headaches that make it impossible for him to enjoy life. The tests don’t show anything, but he knows how he feels, and he suspects—correctly or not—that he has an inoperable tumor.
That lady you passed this morning on the sidewalk? The one with the fancy new leather gloves? She’s a germophobe. She scrubs her hands so often and so violently that her skin is in a constant state of raw irritation.
The girl at the drive-thru, that smiling sixteen-year-old with the sunny disposition? She’s struggling with her sexual identity and is getting cyber-bullied because of it.
That grandmother you said hello to at the supermarket, she’s estranged from her only daughter, and she cries herself to sleep every night. She misses her grandchildren, but she’ll never get to know them. So she cries some more.
The little kid walking home from school, he struggles with intrusive thoughts. He’s also terrified of getting a bad grade on his spelling test. What’s more, he feels like he’s a coward because he feels so afraid all the time.
The little boy’s older brother went through a phase in junior high when he sought attention through negative behavior. Now he’s a freshman, and though he wants to do better and longs for others to give him a chance, he’s still branded a troublemaker by his peers and teachers, and he wants nothing more than to go back and live his life differently. But he can’t.
I say all these things not because they’re related or similar but because I think two helpful things occur when we remember that others have problems too.
One, we realize that we’re not weak or dumb or crazy or lesser creatures than others. Remembering that everyone is struggling with something teaches us that struggling is universal. We’re not broken. Or if we are, there’s nothing wrong with our brokenness.
Secondly, remembering that everyone struggles with something is a constant reminder that we need to show compassion whenever we can, that we need to try to understand before we condemn. Knowing that others struggle encourages us to practice empathy.
Personally? I’m that little kid who struggles with intrusive thoughts. I’m besieged every morning with a nightmarish newsreel of my mistakes, and believe me, there are plenty of mistakes in the reel. I’m afraid of hurting people’s feelings, afraid of letting them down. Afraid of making a mistake and regretting it and then having to be haunted by it every night as I struggle to fall asleep. I have insomnia. I get furious with myself. I cry at least three times a week because I love my children so deeply, and I don’t want them to leave me. Then I feel guilty for feeling that way because it feels selfish.
I’ve got issues.
So do you.
Let’s be kind to one another. Let’s try harder to understand.
Have a good night, friends. Take care of yourselves.
4 thoughts on “A Reminder: Everyone Has Issues”
Wow, Jonathan. This is beautiful. And weirdly timely for me.
For some reason (perhaps because we’ve managed to get through a year without a major crisis–knock wood–and I can afford to THINK) this has been an extra-hard winter for me. Just a couple of weeks ago, I bit the bullet and made an appointment for some counseling. This won’t be my first go-round, but it’s been at least a decade since I felt the need to see someone.
Today, was my second visit with my brand new therapist. We talked about things that are closely related to what you say you struggle with … parenting, and guilt, and-yes-intrusive thoughts.
The internet is a miraculous place sometimes, I think. Thank you for sharing. It’s good to feel like I’m not alone in these things.
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Renae, thank you so much for sharing that. I think if more people were transparent about their struggles, more people would feel better about themselves. You’re an awesome person, but like me, you’re working through some things. I’m so happy that you’re talking to someone about it, and I feel fortunate to have you as a friend.
Thanks again! 🙂
I’d like to start by saying thank you for writing this, and sharing your own experience. I have to admit that it made me tear up a little, because it made me realize that when we’re caught up in our own problems it’s very easy to forget that others are having troubles too.
I’ve struggled with depression for over 20 years and within the last 10 years had a stroke that triggered PTSD and anxiety (and panic) disorder. My doctor and I found meds that work for me, but last year (especially when the weather got colder) I started feeling so sad, powerless, hopeless, and alone that I had to go on an additional anti-depressant. So far it seems to be helping, which is a very good thing considering how bad I was feeling! I still have insomnia, intrusive thoughts and cry more than I think I ought to, but I feel like things are more manageable now that my mind is a bit clearer.
I was reminded the other day by a friend that everyone has issues they’re dealing with, and it is so true; but like I mentioned earlier, when you’re caught up in the throes of your own despair, you tend to forget – or not even realize – that other people are going through their own struggles. Thank you for reminding me again that I’m not alone, and for reinforcing the fact that everyone needs to be more empathetic to each other – it really is so very important.
Heidi, I loved your comments. I really appreciate honesty, and there was so much honesty in your words. Your issues are important, and I’m very glad that you’re taking measures to help things as much as you can.
And I hope you come by the blog often. Your writing was very heartfelt and well-expressed. 🙂