The Definition of Strength

By Lara FraserApril 20, 2016

I’ve always had this misconstrued view of strength. I used to believe that reaching out for help was showing weakness, needing assistance was being a failure, and crying was a flaw. Because of that, I made sure to never show any of those signs of “weakness.” Few people considered me strong and many saw me as weak already, so I knew I couldn’t afford to show how “weak” I really was. I also wanted to be strong for myself, to prove to myself that I wasn’t some fragile little flower.

Because of my view of what strength was, when anxiety hit me, I recoiled into myself. I hid my anxiety and drew in, away from any outreached arms that wanted to help me. I didn’t want help because that meant I was too weak to do it on my own. Besides that, I didn’t want others to know that I had anxiety. That was another “weakness” that I didn’t want to claim. So I suffered through panic attack after panic attack, which was then accompanied by depression. Despite how much I struggled and suffered though, I refused to uncoil from my inner world of “safety” and “strength.”

This is an idea that comes from our society: Be strong so that people won’t walk all over you. Be strong so that you can withstand what comes at you. Be strong to earn respect. This isn’t strength though; this is a weakness known as pride. Being too prideful to reach out for help gets you nowhere as I soon discovered when I first started suffering from anxiety. There are so many options around you to go to for help: friends, family, counselors, etc. So many people out there want to help you and reaching out to them is not weakness; in fact, it’s a sign of strength. Exposing yourself and what you suffer with to someone else – especially a complete stranger- is hard and scary, and it takes strength to do so. One day I stepped into my guidance counselor’s office and said, “I need to speak to someone about mental illness.” And it remains one of the scariest but bravest things I’ve ever done. The same was true for when I told my friends and family. I shook and freaked out every time I’ve told someone about my struggle, but doing something despite how it scares you is the very definition of bravery.

People don’t understand how much strength fighting a mental illness like anxiety takes, but it I know from experience that it takes a lot. So take the outreached hand. I promise you won’t regret it. Get help today with what you’re struggling with, whatever it may be. Remember what real strength is and never let the world’s view of strength make you think that you are weak.

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Comments (11)

  1. Amanda

    Thank you

    Reply  |  
  2. Jill

    They don’t really want to help. They just want me to be better. They don’t want to hear the ins and outs, they just want me to stop thinking so much and be happy because I have so many things to be thankful for. It’s all in my head and they are not “real” problems. Strength to fight the lies that depression tells me and strength to get through the pain of fighting this battle alone. My strength comes from Him.

    Reply  |  
    1. kayla

      Your not alone. I feel you. My family feels the same way.

      Reply  |  
  3. Dominique Addison

    Lara,
    This really encouraged me. I also suffer from anxiety. I had (still do sometimes) the same exact feelings that you do regarding not wanting share my feelings. I have also been hurt so many times after i have done so–so i would just shut down. Again, i still have the same feelings, but God is really giving me the strength and grace to deal with my mental illness.
    May God continue to help you be fearless.

    -Dom Addison

    Reply  |  
  4. Anne Jackson

    Thank you for writing this! I know that it took great strength for me to ask for help as well. I am glad that I did because after years of therapy, I am now free from depression.

    Reply  |  
  5. Bellla

    One of the most overused and misused sentences in this generation is undoubtedly “stay strong”.
    God bless

    Reply  |  
  6. Vincent L.

    After reading your blog, I realized how much that applied to my life. Thank you for telling your story. You’re worthy and a one of a kind person. Always Believe In Yourself!

    Reply  |  
  7. Helen

    Unfortunately I also have trust issues which make me either put on a face and make like absolutely nothing is bothering me, or if they don’t stop just go mute and look away. I’d love to be able to go somewhere but in my mind as soon as they ask w.e I’d just be like “nopenopenope” and walk out freaking out or more likely just not go anyways. I already had that chance but I didn’t tell anybody and consequently nobody was there to make me go and no freaking way I was going to talk about myself to some weird stranger who pretends they care. In reality I just wouldn’t be able to do what they want.

    Reply  |  
  8. Angela

    I feel like my family thinks my anxiety isn’t real. And when I break down in tears because it’s so hard sometimes to live, I’m told to stop being “dramatic” and acting like a “five-year-old”. If I told my family about everything I’ve struggled with: my dad would probably mock me, my sister would most likely roll her eyes, and my mom would probably make the situation about herself by saying something related to when she was a child. But maybe I’m wrong? I don’t know…all I know is that I don’t think I can take the risk to talk to my family and potentially end up even more mentally scarred.

    At least I have God to help me.

    Reply  |  
  9. Carla

    I share your feelings. I share the feelings of those who have posted comments. I am afraid of the non acceptance. I am afraid of hurting others if I do kill myself, I am afraid of hurting others if don’t as financially I am worth more dead than alive and my company is failing. Sometimes I feel as if there is no right answer. I hurt in my soul. I hurt in my heart. The anxiety and depression make it hard to function at times. I really feel most of the people in my life would be better at least financially if I were not here any longer. I’ve written the note. I’ve contemplated how but I know it would kill my Father, so I don’t and I won’t. I stay on this earth for those whom in making that decision it would devastate. As my Father is elderly, is it just a matter of time? I know there are others it would hurt but in my reality, am I just waiting for the inevitable? I am too prideful to admit this out loud to anyone. I cry in private. I ache in private. Outwardly, I put on a brave face but it is getting harder to face life everyday. I find it hard to go to sleep and even harder to wake up. I find that I am going deeper and deeper into myself. I no longer socialize much with friends or family. Getting out of bed to do what I know I need to do every day is harder every day. I am so proud an in awe that you had the courage to get help and I am thankful help was there for you. In my case, I am afraid of the rejection of my situation. I am seeking the strength and yes I talk to God about it…every day. I just wish I had someone I knew would provide support and not criticism. I am sure I do and I am just not seeing it. I feel embarrassed and feel without courage. I am hoping your story has given me the courage to consider another alternative and talk to my best friend. Thank you for the strength to share your story.

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      Hi Carla,

      We’re so sorry to hear about how you’re feeling. We want to encourage you to reach out for help. If you need a place to start, we list resources here: https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/.

      We’d also love to send some words of encouragement your way. Would you mind reaching out to our team at info@twloha.com?

      We believe in you, Carla. The world would not be a better place without you in it. Please stay alive.

      Reply  |  
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