Control is a weird thing, isn’t it? People will tell you that it’s always good to have some self-control over your life because it can help you make the right decisions for them. Some people will say otherwise and tell you that needing control is a toxic trait that makes anyone who has it manipulative, and, well— controlling.
But, what do you say to the people who’s mental illnesses stem from being in control or having control over things? What if their need for control is what gets them through life & gets them through the parts of it where it’s so easy to lose your control? What if their need for control stems from a place of trauma; that they experienced parts of their life where they didn’t have control and self-harmed because of that?
Hi, my name is Liz and a major part of my mental health requires me to feel in control or else I become destructive.
I never realized that control was a huge challenge for me until I started my job in college admissions. From working in an environment where I had complete control in my work and what I did, I now was in a place where I was new and learning a million and one things in a way I wasn’t use to. For a lack of better words, the training was disorganized and spontaneous, which are two things that throw off my balance and routine and inevitably my anxiety disorder. Of course, an entire department can’t work around my mental health, so I try my best to work through it and take it one day at a time.
But I realized not saying anything or “riding” things out started to put a toll on me. There were days I felt incompetent because I didn’t know a certain thing, I grew frustrated because I felt like I never knew the complete right answer to the questions I asked. I think this is the first time actually saying this out loud, but there are days when I hate my job more than enjoy it.
I realized that control contributed to a lot of these feelings whenever I spoke about them to my therapist. She constantly reminds me that I can only control the things that I say and do, and the things out of my control, like other people’s actions and thoughts, are not mine to worry about.
But it’s easier said than done.
Today, I chose to come outside for a walk to get my head on straight. After three days (and really just an entire month) of up and down disruptive thinking and behavior, I needed to come outside and take in some sunlight and empty my mind of all negativity. I wanted to come out here and write this without any distraction and external factors that would take me out of this thought process. I chose to do that for myself because I am in control of my own actions.
I want nothing more than to feel okay that I don’t have control over everything that involves me. I want nothing more than to feel confident enough to not let these things out of my control interfere with the things that are in my control.
Most importantly, I want to stop harming myself to have some sort of control when I feel out of control. I want to stop plucking my eyebrows excessively. I want to not rip off my acrylic nails one by one and leave all ten of my fingers bruised and cut up. I want to stop thinking I have to discipline myself when I don’t have everything under control. I want my mind to stop telling me I’m this and that when really I’m doing just fine with what I’m giving.
I am not toxic for wanting control over my life, and I’m not a “control freak” when I say that I need to be in control over certain things. I need it because I know how bad things can get. I need it because there are days when I feel like hurting myself is the only way to have control over the emotions I am feeling land mask them with physical pain instead. I am not ashamed of saying I am a person that needs control, but I wish I was able to manage what is in my control and what’s not in my control better.
Because of my control, I will figure it out.