I’m a heart on sleeve wearing open book
That much is obvious from the candidness of this here blog. As well as my first book, which people have claimed was the catalyst for them changing their life. Minor thing right? Wrong! It’s a bloody big deal.
The people who know things (?) say we shouldn’t expect other people to behave the way that we do. That we need to get to grips with the fact that we can’t control the way other’s think or their actions towards us. In fact fully grasping this was a big turning point for my mental health after my second breakdown in 2006. However, I’ve been truly shocked by other people’s behaviour this past year, utterly lost for words many times (as a writer that is saying something).
So I feel it’s appropriate to share this piece right now. Because if you want to cross the line into my real world, or are already a part of it, there are a few basic rules I’d like you to adhere to.
Basic rules of life
Please do not smile sweetly to my face, then bitch about me behind my back. As far as I’m concerned, integrity is everything, so if you have a problem with me, or my kids, let’s talk about it. I don’t think it’s expecting too much for you to come to me with your grievances, so we can discuss them like adults. At thirty eight and a half I am an adult, and everyone I interact with is also an adult. Act like one.
I don’t ask for help lightly, if I do it’s because I am desperate. I had two mental breakdowns in my twenties, and have had numerous cycles of depression throughout my life. I can sense the black clouds when they are looming. I try exceptionally hard to stay positive, but with my days being as chronically stressful as they are, this is a monumental task.
When a person has estranged themselves from their entire family, it means they have had to make unimaginably difficult decisions. Don’t judge me for them, have compassion and try to understand what would drive a person to do that in the first place.
While we’re on the subject of judgement, until you’ve truly walked in my shoes, your unsolicited opinion is rarely welcome. Genuinely helpful advice, yes please. Constructive criticism which will enable me to become a better person, hell yeah. Anything else? Zip your lips and throw away the key.
Me talking openly about my struggles is not attention seeking. In fact I often end up in floods of tears when people tell me how inspirational I am for doing so. Give me a compliment about my hair being swishy then I’ll smile politely and say thank you. Tell me that you think I’m amazing for daring to openly go where most others can’t/won’t, then I will cry. But let me be explicit here: when you spend as much time feeling as broken as I do, you don’t feel very inspirational. Quite the opposite.
But above all else…
Don’t be a disappointment. Don’t tell me you’re a friend but find any excuse you can to not spend time with me. Don’t disappear for months then come back and give me some flimsy reason as to why you couldn’t return my text messages.
Life is hard, that much is clear. But when are surrounded by awesome people, it gets so much easier. I don’t allow everyone I meet into my world, far from it. I’m selective, I like to feel that my friendships are genuine and a two way street. If it all starts feeling a bit too one-sided, then I’m going to take it personally. Ten years ago, fresh out the other side of mental breakdown and true rock bottom, I thought I had all this sussed out. However, as I said at the start, this past year has properly opened my eyes.
They say that in the end everyone is just trying to save themselves, but I think this mindset is making us selfish. At what point should we put what we want to one side and just be there for the ones we supposedly love most in our lives? I don’t have all the answers, but I do hope this piece starts a conversation.
My mental health has taken a battering in the last six months or so. I used to be great at plastering on a fake smile and pretending I was ok, but now, not so much. In the same way that my daughter gets emotionally burnt out from masking her autism, I think I too have become emotionally burnt out. I’m also concerned that I might have PTSD brewing. The warning signs are there, plain as day. ♥️ As I mentioned in my previous post, our January has been all kinds of horrendous: Sickness ✅ Meltdowns every day ✅ Sleep thievery a newborn baby would be proud of ✅ Crippling overwhelm ✅ Feeling like I’m failing in every aspect of my life ✅ The list could go on, but you get the picture? ♥️ Half the people I know tell me I should be demanding help from those in a position to give it. The other half clearly think I’ve done too much moaning already and need to (wo)man up. The edges are getting blurry, that much is obvious, but I do know this. Others find my candidness comforting, and that counts for a lot in this over-filtered often fake world we live in. ♥️ I had numerous messages after posting a me too last year, from women thanking me for being their voice. Women who were traumatised by the abuse they’ve suffered silently, because coming out would destroy their families. People have said that my self-help book/memoir gave them the impetus to change their lives for the better. That my blog posts touch them in a way other words simply don’t. This is why I will continue to talk openly about my struggles for as long as I’m on social media. There’s only so long that you can pretend you’re ok (when you’re not) before the wheels start falling off. ♥️ So it was rather apt that the PR team for #GetTheInsideOut asked me to spread the word about their brilliant campaign aimed to get people talking about their mental health. A problem shared is a problem halved after all. Check out the hashtag for more details…