Content warning! Severe Mental Health chat.
I wanted to write this post – no scrap that actually, I NEEDED to write it. Not for sympathy.
Not for ‘attention’ well for attention to the topic maybe, but for my truth.
The need to share my truth of this awful rollercoaster I’m on with my health.
To the outside world my life has never looked less complicated. I’m married to the best man I’ve ever known. I have two beautiful kids. I’m writing and advocating – two of the things that set my soul on fire.
So what have I got to be so hysterical about? This week is the 4th week I’ve not been able to stay up for longer than 3 hours a day. My body is not working as it should. My mum, husband and two of my best friends have all looked after my kids during half term: a week when I should be making memories with them. 3 weeks ago I caught a common cold that left me in bed for 5 days at my mum’s house.
Off the back off that came a Fibro flare, my joints seized and neuropathy took over my extremities. This week I had some blood tests which show my inflammatory markers are high again.
The pain I’ve been trying to hide has left me angry and ashamed. I’m angry because I’m tired of having to explain that I’m sick, even though I don’t ‘look’ it. The physical and mental toll of being unwell is too much.
- I’m angry at the world for not understanding my needs.
- I’m angry that the sound of two people talking at once now cause visceral reactions in me, that make me want to run into oncoming traffic.
- I’m angry because I’m ashamed that once a month during PMDD I am hysterical and I’m ashamed that I can’t look after my own children without help.
- I’m ashamed at the way I respond to stress and stimuli.
- I’m ashamed at myself for not being more grateful on the hard days.
- I’m ashamed that I can’t cope with life in an admirable and inspiring way; because society deems that’s the way disabled people should cope.
- That I’m not thriving despite anything – I’m surviving at best.
Yesterday I walked the dog in the rain and thought about throwing myself in the river. I don’t want to do that, but it’s a thought that niggles for 10-15 days a month, sometimes grows arms & legs & tells me my life, my wonderful life, with my beautiful family isn’t worth sticking around for.
I could and would never intentionally leave my kids, but this knowledge terrifies me too, because sometimes I’m overwhelmed by it. I’m scared to be around them, in case I unintentionally fuck them up with my very existence.
That word again: SHAME in my opinion parents are shamed for their struggles. Especially mothers.
She’s not doing enough her kids are acting out.
She’s doing too much her kids are neglected.
She needs help – those poor kids.
And on it goes, the shame cycle.
For example: usually, after a post like this I get an influx of messages from kind strangers, telling me they’re sending love, and solitary one or two messages from people I know in person. My real life friends. It’s a tough one because whilst we absolutely should not rely on external validation as a coping mechanism, it can still be difficult to tell your brain that. With social media now being our go to resource for almost everything, you think your friends and family have seen it, you think they’re rolling their eyes. And because of those insecurities, it’s hard to dismiss the notion that these feelings, intrusive thoughts and so on, are feelings we indeed should be ashamed of.
I wish she’d keep it to herself because it makes me uncomfortable!
I dunno why she writes all that stuff there’s no need it’s so cringe.
She doesn’t know how lucky she is.
If she were really feeling that bad she wouldn’t be posting about it.
And it got me thinking, is this what we want our children growing up to believe? That when they feel bad about their life they must keep quiet? That if it’s so bad they’re even possibly thinking of ending it, nobody wants to hear about it. They should only tell a doctor or someone close to them because other people, the rest of the world, might feel uncomfortable if the whole truth is shared with them? Should we be teaching our kids that their feelings don’t matter because they’re cringe to read about, silly to other people who might not understand them? Attention seeking.
It’s not about attention, but even if it is – so what? Don’t people who might be feeling suicidal, or so unwell they’re struggling to keep themselves safe, deserve attention?
Aren’t we all – just trying our best to survive, with some of us finding it easier or harder than others at different times. It’s not about comparison, who has it worse, or wanting a pat on the back for speaking out…. It’s about acceptance on a grand scale. It’s about making small changes that will lead to larger societal shifts in how we relate to each other.
For me personally, the problem isn’t with recognising feelings of shame. I’m aware of them I’m aware of behaviours that stem from them. No, for me it’s about self compassion, that’s the one thing I can’t seem to grasp and it’s a major road block in helping me execute strategies to deal with shame and all of its associated emotions.
I made some decisions this week that I hope will help me tackle this moving forward.