It’s a hell of a process to finally admit when you’re in trouble. Since it felt like my life led up to that one big moment, it was almost anticlimactic when things remained much as they always did. The big reveal was not the end, nor the beginning. It was a clearing of the throat, before continuing to breathe as normally as I ever have.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking through old blog posts, private journals and like. I know now that the shame and embarrassment of a life led like mine isn’t unique. There’s a safety in admitting that you’re not a special snowflake with problems and issues no one else can understand. It’s a relief to recognise that mental illness is not a problem I face alone in the world. My drama queen tendencies are symptomatic of my imbalance, and can be corrected. They are not who I am any more than this illness is. Even through the simple act of ageing, I cut out a lot of the immaturity I once claimed as a vital part of my identity. The work in that department continues, but awareness is a happy byproduct of growing the fuck up.
Still, I often wonder, ‘now what?’ Moving forward, taking ownership – why does life still feel nothing has really changed? Since admitting I needed help, I’ve began really taking my health seriously. I’ve had a few slips but for the most part I’ve took my medication, really examined my past behaviour and current reactions. I am noting the way my physical health affects my mental health, and vis versa. I realise I’m being more introspective and less demonstrative – which is probably a relief to my loved ones! Yet with all that I still feel overwhelmed by life and sometimes that can go to dangerous places. I’m coming to terms with the fact that bringing that side of the darkness to light hasn’t made it go away. It was maybe naïve to think so. There’s still a ways to go and most likely, it’ll just be something I deal with for the rest of my life. Not an encouraging thought, but perhaps a realistic one.
So I’m taking a page out of my old book and writing again. I enjoy it, and it forces me to examine my thoughts. Why online? Why not? Part of this is recognising I’m not actually alone – and really, how alone can I be online? Plus, I’ve received so much support from friends, family, even strangers. I’m never going to turn that down. It helps. And maybe, just maybe – the words I write can help someone else too. The worst thing about being open about mental illness is accusations of attentionwhoretiatis. Even when faced with suicidal ideation, self harming, voices telling you what a horrible worthless person you are – the stigma of playing at it for attention is so terrifying that so many people do not seek real help at all. I sure didn’t. But I’m not playing by that rule book now. It’s not helpful. So if you must, stick that diagnosis in with the others. Frankly, it’s the least of my concerns.
I’m pulling the reins now, and I’m giving them a good snap. What now? Let’s see.
(Title inspired by my ‘hiding in plain sight‘ post)