“That’s the problem with being the strong one; No one offers you a hand.”
– A Wise Person
Strength does not equate to invincibility. Mental illnesses affects tens of millions of individuals each year. Research has shown that only half of the individuals diagnosed with a mental illness receive treatment. Growing up as a black woman, I’ve seen firsthand how mental illness has been ignored amongst my community. Many of us have been taught to look past our struggles and not harp on the problems that plague us. We have been taught to be strong.
Strength, however, does not equate to invincibility. Suppressing issues and hardships is not strength. Many times being the “strong” one, everyone relies on you to be their rock. You become the listening ear and the shoulder for everyone’s problems, anxieties, worries, and fear.
And yet you are so consumed with being strong that you forget that you yourself have your own problems, anxieties, worries, and fear. But strength does not equal invincibility. Facing your fears and showing emotion does not make you weak, despite what we have been conditioned to believe. I’ve recently come across a quote that stated, “That’s the problem with being strong – people think they can say or do anything to you and you’re gonna still be standing, sturdy like a rock. People think that you’re never going to be sad, people thank that you’re never going to need them to be there for you, people expect you to be there for them ’round the clock even though you have your own battles to fight. That’s the problem with being strong.”
Being strong is a mask. A mask that one wears to avoid vulnerability and accountability. A mask that falsely exudes the image that you can take on the world and the world’s issues without giving anything back. Energy, however, does not die. Energy is transferable. Taking on countless amounts of negative energy from the world and never taking the opportunity to displace that energy elsewhere is not only weak but dangerous.
In the present time of Covid-19, there has been an increase in anxiety, fear, and other mental health issues. No one knows the exact number but there has also been an increase in suicide rates during this time. Without work, school, social gatherings, etc., many have found themselves with an abundance of idle time to sit with their thoughts and feelings. And those thoughts and feelings are not always pleasant.
Right now, more than ever, it is of most importance that you remember to check on your strong friend. If you are indeed the strong friend, it is important to remove the mask and remind the people around you that you need support as well. The strong one can take on a lot, sometimes more than most, but strength does not equal invincibility. Be strong enough to know that strong is not all that you are. Remember to invest in yourself and mental health and ask for support from those around you.