I can’t stand ‘inspirational’ quotes.
To me they’re anything but inspirational, in fact they tend to have the opposite effect.
‘If you want the rainbow you’ve got to put up with the rain.’
‘There’s no such word as can’t.’
‘Once you choose hope anything is possible.’
‘Stars can’t shine without the darkness.’
On good days they get on my nerves and on bad days they have the potential to induce a full blown panic attack.
A lot of them make me feel guilty, some of them are physically impossible and the majority make me want to scream.
When I was a student a nurse who I was on placement with, when I told her I was looking forward to catching up on lots of sleep on my days of said that I shouldn’t waste my life sleeping; that I should get out there and see the world and make the most of every moment.
I really wish she hadn’t said that.
On days where I’m hiding in bed, curled up under the duvet and paralysed with fear or stuck on the sofa looking at the sunshine outside I can guarantee that her words will worm their way into my thoughts and I will feel worse than I already did.
That not only do I feel trapped and scared and alone but I have to feel guilty about it as well.
The one I dislike the most is ‘It will be ok in the end, if it’s not ok then it’s not the end’ because maybe the panic and hurt is never going to end and for some people life carries on in fear and pain and sadness this is how it’s going to be forever and ever.
Life isn’t a fairy tale where there’s a big happy ending and everything works out for those who are ‘good’ and those who are bad are punished because for some people things just don’t get better.
The only two ‘inspirational’ quotes that I’ve ever come across that I actually like are ‘This too, will pass’ and ‘Keep on keeping on.’
I like them because when I read or hear those words it’s like a friend is speaking to me. She knows what I’m going through because she’s going through it too. She wouldn’t ask me to do anything that she wouldn’t be able to do and so if she’s asking me to do something then maybe, just maybe I can actually do it.
For me these two quotes are realistic; personal past experience tells me that I can keep on keeping on and that this too will pass because if it didn’t it’s unlikely I’d be sat here typing.
I like them because there’s no expectation of an all singing, all dancing come back, a big FUCK YOU to depression and everything else. I’m not expected to shout that I will win, to march into battle and all sorts of things that I just don’t feel able to do.
Instead I feel like the words acknowledge that depression and panic attacks and everything else that attempt to mentally beat me up on a daily basis are really difficult to cope with and they know this.
That they’re really, genuinely sorry to ask but that they do need to ask me to do one small thing.
To carry on
To not just lay down and die, metaphorically and literally.
I know these two quotes are not for everyone and I don’t say them to anyone else apart from my friend because we know what the other one means when we use them; that we’re not just brushing off things that we find too difficult to deal with by using someone else’s words poorly disguised as caring.
Too often I’ve found that people use quotes when they have no idea what to say to me and although I know in a lot of cases the person using them meant well, there were few things more likely to make me feel like I was wasting their time.
I know how difficult it is to be confronted with someone who opens up and tells you that they’re struggling; I’ve been on both sides on a number of occasions and I know how difficult and scary it is to tell someone how you’re feeling and how difficult you’re finding life, even if they asked you.
To then be told ‘Everything is meant to be’ or ‘Everything happens for a reason’ or ‘Times like this will help you to really appreciate the better times’ feels like a slap in the face.
I would rather they had told me they had no idea what to say.
This is something I know the bereaved parents that I’ve met through work and through blogging also find difficult to deal with. It’s easy to say ‘God took your baby because he needed a special angel’ until the baby that God wants is yours.
Again, I know that in most cases the words are well meant and that people think sentiments like this will genuinely help and because people have no idea what to say in these kind of situations but instead of being honest they feel as though they have to say something when a lot of the time they haven’t actually thought the words through.
I make sure I don’t mention angels or stars or anything else like that unless the parents do so first. A lot of the time I only have a limited knowledge of their religion or beliefs and well intended comments about God and angels could be at best upsetting or at worst offensive.
Instead I quietly offer a tissue or a hand to hold, someone to sit with in the silence that arises when no one knows what to say because there are no words you can say that they actually want to hear; nothing can be said that can make the situation any easier to bear.
I don’t know if I believe in God and Angels, Heaven and an afterlife but I do know that using them to comfort bereaved or terrified parents, frightened friends or strangers battling with anxiety, depression or anything else would be empty and futile.
Instead I think I’ll stick with this.