I Believe You

The other day I was speaking with a friend about living with a mental illness. I have OCD. She does not. She is incredibly supportive. She promised that she was not judging me and that she would always ask questions to learn more and try to understand as much as she could. She said she would never feel offended by my OCD-induced fears or put off by my struggles and pain.

What a friend right?

This same friend has some physical illnesses that cause her significant and sometimes excruciating daily pain. Like her, I try to understand. I ask a lot of questions so that I can understand as much as possible. I support and listen. I never feel offended or put off by her pain.

Later I was thinking about this conversation and conversations we have had in the past. I was feeling very grateful for her friendship. I was feeling very grateful for the safe spot I have with her to be open and honest about how my OCD really affects my life.

It made me realize that it was because I knew she believed me. Simple as that.

In that moment it hit me. That is what I want and what I think most people want.

We want to be believed.

Understanding is great. But can we really understand someone else’s pain or struggle? Even if we share the same diagnosis, it can and most definitely will affect us differently because we are all individuals who feel things in our own way.

No matter how deeply we empathize, we will never fully get it.

As a person who lives with mental illness, I can say that I appreciate people asking questions in a supportive and compassionate way. It means so much to know that someone wants to understand OCD better because they care about me.

But sometimes I just want to know that I am believed. I want to be able to say

I feel ________.

No justification, no explanation, no need to defend or prove my pain.

My friend helped me see that when we believe the people we love, we empower them and allow them to exhale and just be. We give them space to be in pain without adding more to their already overflowing plate by making them work at explaining it. And believe me, it’s work.

By simply believing what others tell us as truth, we can offer a level of support like no other.

Try it.

Just try believing without proof or explanation and see what happens.


19 thoughts on “I Believe You

  1. I could very much relate to this post. It is such a challenge for all of us to understand someone else’s experience. I especially like what you wrote here, “when we believe the people we love, we empower them and allow them to exhale and just be. We give them space to be in pain without adding more to their already overflowing plate by making them work at explaining it. And believe me, it’s work.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ali,
      Thank you for your kind comment. I’m so happy to know that my words resonated with you. I truly believe that being believed is much better than being understood. Understanding is great…don’t get me wrong, but sometimes true understanding is impossible. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This right here:

    “My friend helped me see that when we believe the people we love, we empower them and allow them to exhale and just be. We give them space to be in pain without adding more to their already overflowing plate by making them work at explaining it.”

    Yes. Yes to this. Thank you for sharing, Nichol.

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  3. I found this post to be so true in relation to myself and my illnesses. To be heard and believed is so rare. Compassion goes a long way but to be believed is to be free. Great post.

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  4. You being so open to wanting to tell your story and letting people ask you questions about it is a great thing. The more people that understand the truth about mental illnesses instead of the stereotypes will lead to a greater acceptance and hopefully more help for those suffering.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I sure hope so. Pulling back the curtain and ending the stigma and shame around mental illness and instead focusing on how we can support each other is something worth fighting for. ❤

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  5. When it comes to illness of any kind but especially mental or chronic illnesses the naysayers will always show themselves, when you find the one(s) who believe what you say and believe in YOU, those are the keepers. I found mine and I am keeping her, she is so incredible and she feels like family to me. Always. 💜💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You know! I love how you have always been able to help me open my mind and see things in a new way! I have always said over and over, I just wish people could understand me or I wish people could HEAR me, it’s like I have no voice sometimes! But… I think what you just said here supersedes both understanding and hearing if they believe us they will hear and understand!

    In the same token though, I have been guilty of being disbelieving of what people say to me and asking them to “explain” without really meaning to, but maybe conditioning? Hopefully, I can be more aware of this and just simply BELIEVE them.

    P.S. I am loving your regular blogs again!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I really relate to this post. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about things like OCD, but when people just believe you, it makes things so much better.

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    1. I agree! It is really hard to talk about OCD. I feel that there is so much information about it that it can become overwhelming for people. I think it’s best shared in small doses. 🙂

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  8. Hello Nichol,
    I have a dear friend who suffers with OCD and understanding a little bit more about it is very important to me. Thank you for sharing this with us, and I hope you can teach us more about it and how we can be supportive.

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  9. A great read! I can totally relate to this. I have lived with OCD for most of my adult life. It is something that is still relatively misunderstood. I have found comfort in speaking to people who have it as I feel understood. Ever since I became a Life Coach I have connected with many more people with OCD. Maybe it’s because they know I have it and don’t let it stop me from living my life. Its a hard condition to explain, so I agree, release info in small doses. Take care

    Like

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