Thursday, 5 February 2015

On Time To Talk


I haven't written in a really long time, for a number of reasons.

Apparently it's time to talk day, a day which although I see the good intentions behind is a little problematic.

People often ask why people with mental health problems, disabilities & invisible disabilities don't always talk so openly about it. Well one of the biggest reasons is that some of us don't feel safe doing so. We face so much stigma, could lose our jobs or our families. Not only that, I think most of us are kind of bored of people's "helpful advice". On top of which there are a number of reasons why we may not be able to access the care we need. Factors such as gender, race and sexuality play a huge role in this. As well as finance and our current governments complete dismantling of mental health services. Fuck you Cameron!

But I'm not really here to talk about that, I'm here to talk about my own personal experiences & what works for me. I stress that this is entirely personal and in no way reflects on how others deal with their situation. Everyone has different strategies and they are all valid, they are all good, but they are all different.

Although I am more than happy to talk, and often feel quite comfortable doing so I actually prefer not to. It's not that I feel any shame (I used to though, growing up), it's not that I care if I'm making people feel uncomfortable (that is entirely their issue, not mine).

I would like to stress that one of the reasons I feel as comfortable as I do is the invaluable & unconditional support I receive from my mother, my partner & many of my wonderful friends. This is a privilege that I wish that everyone had, but unfortunately this is not the case. I am also what is referred to as "highly functioning". Which means I can "pass" (a horrible term) for someone who is well. I hold down a 9-5.30 job and I can force myself to do a lot of the things that are hard for me, such as socialising. This is not all the time, and when prolonged means I make my mh worse.

I don't always like to talk about it because it's not something I wish to dwell on. I have so many tricks I do to keep myself going & talking about my health constantly is not one of them. However yes it informs much of who I am, what I do & how I live my life. I have been in and out of mental health care since I was 12. I am officially diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorder & OCD as well as scoring highly on PTSD tests but with no official diagnosis as such. I have also dealt with eating disorders on and off since childhood. I am currently not on medication and engage in what medical professionals call "self-management". I largely do not take medication as I am what is often referred to as "treatment resistant". This means a number of things but in part that the side effects of the medication make me sicker than my diagnosed mental health issues do un-medicated. Some of the tricks I do to manage my health have been learnt through CBT but the vast majority have been learnt through personal trial and error. All of those things you so helpfully advise, I have tried them all and then some.

Is it hard living with this? Yes of course it fucking is. But I am also a human being, your head tilts & puppy dog eyes when I talk about it are patronising. Your proclamations of how brave I am are infuriating.

I do not exist to teach you about mental health, I do not exist to make you feel comfortable in my presence, I exist solely as me, living my life as fully as I am able to. But for those of you who do need someone to talk to, I am always here.