I find it rather insulting that at least two people (I can only remember two doing this) had told me when I was breaking down and really vulnerable that they had thought I was a strong person and apparently my present behavior was making them question that assertion. I find this insulting because I am a strong person. Also, I’m a human being. And just because I reached a breaking point doesn’t meant that I never was strong to begin with.
Let’s start off by saying that when I break down, it’s after a tremendous amount of stress and pressure and usually happens when real life is so troublesome that it aggravates my bipolar and when the two problem areas combine, it creates a hodgepodge of horrors that overwhelms me. I don’t have a meltdown every time someone looks at me wrong or I break a nail. When I get to the point where I tell someone that I’m having problems, I’ve probably been having problems for quite some time. I always try to handle things on my own if I can and sometimes I just can’t.
But the fact that people who saw me in a state of exhaustion and confusion immediately leapt to the conclusion that I wasn’t a strong person after all, just goes to show that some people don’t understand what strength is, particularly when displayed in women. There’s a popular idea floating around in all kinds of media that strong women are strong and only strong. They kick ass, they take names, they have a gooey moment with the male lead to show that they’re still women and they still need male attention and then they go back to being infallibly strong.
When it comes to showing women in media there should be no push to show these “strong” women. The women that should be shown are human women. Women that make mistakes and have vulnerabilities and lose their shit and have to pick up the pieces in order to move on with their lives. That is what human beings do. None of us are cardboard cutouts with a limited range of emotions and no complications in their lives. We all have things that we struggle with and the struggle is not a sign of weakness or lack of willpower.
And honestly, it’s never the good times that make you a better person or teach you much of anything. It’s the hard times, the struggle, the crushing defeat that forces you to learn and change and evolve into a stronger and better person than you once were. And that is nothing to be ashamed about. Everyone has things in their lives that they have to survive. If you’re still here, then you’ve made it. Be proud of that.