Nour Qassim Derweesh - Authornour.email@example.com
Karolina Shi - Illustratorkarolina.firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m drowning. The water is forcing its way down my throat. There’s a war going on inside me. I can feel it burning everywhere. Up my nose and at the back of my throat. Despite my best efforts to calm myself down, I’m failing and I’m falling. And as the burning fills my entire chest, and takes hold of my racing heart, white lights cut through the water, and I’m suddenly dragged back to the waiting area of the testing clinic.
Drowning? You ask.
Shame, I say.
Shame feels like you’re drowning. It consumes your entire self, you flush, stutter, your heart rate skyrockets, and it all feels like someone’s pulled the rug right from under your feet. A shift in your equilibrium. Shame is terrifying, and it is dangerous.
You might be rolling your eyes at something that may seem like an overdramatic statement, and I get it, hello pretentiousness, but let me explain. I think we all know that our health is precious, –we only have one and we’ve been constantly told to take care of it. So how is it that something can be so precious yet so heavily affected by shame? Think about it, the thoughts and perceptions people have about prostate exams, abortions, cosmetic surgery, single-parent-pregnancy, STI/STD testing and so much more. I’m sure some of you cringed at the thought of going to seek help for any of those things. And that’s precisely my point. We feel so much shame for these things, even though it affects our health.I think it’s terrifying that an emotion can dictate how you decide to treat your health. Shame is no easy emotion, that’s for damn sure, but if we get wrapped up in it, it can have some disastrous effects.
The Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten) reports the possible consequences of letting an STD like syphilis (among many STDs/STIs on their site) go untreated, which include serious damage to the heart and brain.Isn’t it complicated to treat? What can you do against syphilis? Taking antibiotics. Which, when reading, might seem like an easy cure, and it absolutely is. Syphilis isn’t fatal, you just have to seek help.
But how can you seek help when you feel like you’re drowning in shame and worry?
Well, this is something I asked myself. And the answer I found isn’t revolutionary, but it’s something we need to hear. We walk the walk.
See, all shame accomplishes is laying additional stress onto an aspect of our life. Does making something more difficult for yourself help a situation? Hell no. Try to take away the judgement your shame holds and look at the actual thing being affected by it. Chances are that the thing being pushed down by your shame has no reason to be. All shame does is pull you down–seriously, can you recall a moment in your life where shame, truly and honestly, helped you through something?
So what do we do about it? We walk the walk, again and again.
It’s uncomfortable, and everything inside of us tells us to run, but we walk the walk. We have to sit in the emotion, and prove to ourselves that we can come out fine on the other end. Because emotions pass, problems don’t and they need to be dealt with. So let yourself feel it all, then still do it, because you can. You are bigger and stronger than the shackles of your shame. Free yourself of your imprisonment and swim up to the surface, because I know that we can do it.