A second note on mental health, and the bother it occasionally gives me. (A stream of consciousness writing, by Mr Bear)
So, it’s been going on a week since I came out with depression. I’ve got to say, I was surprised by the amount of people who reached out, in public and in private. I have had, and continue to get some very constructive messages. I am trying, whenever anyone writes to me, to do the same back! Swapping stories with people who have the same experiences seems to be a great outlet for all involved. So.. Let the rants continue.
I will say though, that this whole ‘going public’ thing may not be for everyone, and neither is coming off meds. If you do start talking openly about a mental illness, like I am, have a good long think first. Can your body handle coming off meds? It could make your illness worse. I knew it was right for me, personally. Don’t make a decision like that lightly. I didn’t. I’m still a bit wobbly without them. The only difference being, that I was just as wobbly with them. Then, there’s the coming out publicly. It’s a great release for me, as I feel that some of my old coping mechanisms and approaches are a little old and dusty now, and this is a whole new way of navigating my illness. It feels good, but then again, on stormy days (of which today is one) I feel way out of my comfort zone, and think ‘ffs jame, why can’t you keep yer big gob shut?’ .
But.. I didn’t. I shouted out loud, and now I have to keep the momentum going. I know it’s a good thing deep down. When the stormy days are going on, it doesn’t feel like that, and I really DO wish I hadn’t said anything. Then I beat myself up about it, then I remember what my good friend (who is bi-polar) said to me – ‘If anyone spoke to me the way I speak to me, I’d bloody well knock them out.’ I have put myself in a new situation, which in turn brings new situations to learn how to deal with. Basically, I am learning how to deal with this in a whole new, and personally radical way. I mostly like it.
So, the point of this second piece was to review some of the things I noticed while speaking with other people with mental illness. In all of the correspondence so far, I noticed that no advice was given, and that the whole ‘sympathy’ thing was at a minimum. People spoke to me directly about their own depression and anxiety, how it affects them personally, (every single one being different in some way) and not once did anyone tell me what I want to do. This was brilliant. So, I responded in kind. I let forth a series of replies, doing just the same, just talking about my own experiences with this. I was really, just typing in a stream of consciousness, and found I could get it into words much easier than talking out loud. I tend to go off on tangents anyway, and my mouth often works quicker than my head does, so having some level of control of what was coming out of my mind, and being able to focus it into something which actually made sense seems to be a helpful thing. Or, it did to me, at least! Then of course, I took a dip, and thought ‘Honestly jame, you are like that tipsy guy in the pub, going off on one again, blah blah blah blah rubbish etc…’ But there’s that comfort zone thing again, and a new situation for me to get over.. So I'm doing it by continuing to write. I invite anyone to write directly to me, if only to rant. I will not be offering any advice, nor will I tell you ‘what you want to do’. Chances are, I will probably just reply with long winded scribblings about myself. So please, if the fancy takes you, get writing some long winded scribbling about yourself. It may work for you, it may not, but it’s worth a go, right?
So, like I said in my original post, I am not out for sympathy, and anyone who says otherwise can contact me directly for a telling off. However, I have noticed that there is a great difference between sympathy and support and I clearly ought to give people more credit! That’s the thing, keeping this to myself for so long, I have only created my own illusions on how people will react. I have been very pleasantly surprised at just how.. er… pleasantly surprised I was at the reaction! Sorry, I really couldn’t think of another way to put it..
I hope to continue writing, as I clearly have much to say on the matter. I will attempt to explain what actually happens on stormy days, and some of the coping mechanisms I employ. I will certainly be taking on board some of the suggestions I have received, and will report back on those, and how they are going. And, whatever else comes into my noisy head. I hope to be as honest as I can, and hopefully offer a place for anyone to share stories and experiences, or just have a good old fashioned shout. This ain't easy, nor did I expect it would be. But I’m doing it anyway. See you when the waters calm…