The Danger of Caring (2019)
This was a short piece written in response to a "the danger of..." prompt. Here, I decided to take something usually perceived as good– being caring and selfless– and provide a different interpretation of it. It is all a true story about my own struggles with mental health and how 'caring'– or, being overly-empathetic– has been something so negative for me and my anxiety. I hope this reflection can encourage people like me to focus on themselves and their priorities a little more.
The danger of caring is finding yourself left wallowing in the nearest mall toilet, hands clawing at your face as a gaunt reflection stares back at you. It is only when, in moments before, a concerned friend asks you about the bags beneath your eyes, your dull stare, and your sunken cheeks, that you take a step back and realise the gaping hole of self-neglect that you have descended into. In the months before, you’ve spent hours daily deciding on what to wear for fear of looking too fat or short or ugly; tagged along with certain people and followed everything they do, not because you want to, but because you are expected to; taken it upon yourself to ‘fix’ people’s problems or to console them whenever they are broken, to make them whole again. And when pain and hurt fill up your emotional reservoir until it becomes too much to handle, the dam bursts. Even then, you continue to tear yourself apart, reprimanding yourself for eating too much or trying too hard or simply for being who you are and needing what you need; the danger of caring means longing only to please others, and not caring when you lose and hurt yourself in the process.