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Another quote from another movie. This time from a film titled All the Bright Places. It’s about a high school teenager who is struggling with undiagnosed bipolar disorder—quick Psychology 101. There are two primary diagnoses of bipolar; bipolar I and bipolar II. In general, The main feature is the highs and lows of moods. It’s different from a person just being moody. The primary phases are mania or being manic and depressed. Mania is where a person has high intense energy, emotions, and motivation. The depression manifests where a person would clinically meet the criteria of depression, such as hopelessness, helplessness, shame, and maybe suicidal thoughts.

There’s a line in the movie where the main character says, “people don’t like messy.” I’ve always wondered why mental health has so much stigma, and this line sums it up nicely. Perhaps I’m oversimplifying it, but people don’t like a mess and especially when people themselves are the mess. 

I’m not too fond of it in other people because it forces me to look within myself for something similar. Often, whether man or woman, I may avoid the mess in others because I avoid the mess within myself. That only comes at a very high price, though. The distance that I keep between me and myself will only project onto my relationship with others. If I want to have a meaningful connection with substance with others, I need to be able to connect with something from within. I might think the amount of bond stems from who, but it is more about what. Yes, who the person is will play a role, but I can only connect with others relative to the willingness to see that same mess within myself. I may not struggle with depression, but I may have had moments of despair. I may not have experienced the loss of a parent, but I have experienced loss. That does not mean what I have experienced is on the same level, nor am I making it about myself. But seeing the common humanity that is shared between us, seeing the shared pain that any human can experience. 

In connecting with that thing within me, I become more empathetic. I can connect with the person simply because I’ve experienced that mess. I can be in the present moment with and truly listening to that person because I’m not blinded by how uncomfortable the person’s mess is making me. If I am uneasy by another person’s mess, it’s more of a sign of my own undealt with issues. What this does require is emotional intelligence and allowing myself to be in the uncertainty of emotion. Labeling one person as “emotional” and another “emotionless” means having a skewed look of humanity; unless I am a psychopath, I have feelings. So it’s not so much if I am emotional or unemotional, but how I process it. I may handle it more visibly, or I might be more reserved. No matter how I express, the important thing is to have a balance of keeping in check while at the same time, not suppressing. Handle the mess from within, and we’ll be able to empathize with the mess of others.