"Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you."
It feels strange to be writing this, a little scary too. Partially because this is the first post after an accidental blogging hiatus and partially because as I type, I feel completely and utterly numb – void of emotion or the capability to respond to my surroundings. I’m past the point of tears, my mind too blank to smile or laugh. Occasionally, my mind does this; it just empties. It empties so that I can wake up one morning with no desire to or understanding of how to get out of bed, my limbs so heavy that the task seems like a gruelling physical challenge. And it’s not glamorous but it’s – sometimes – my reality, which is why after much internal debate I’ve decided to write about it. Mental health.
It’s a hard thing to write about, mainly because describing it is almost impossible. Most days are fine, yet I’ve been through periods of my life where weeks are black, I’ve been in a hole from which I can’t climb out of and the thought of ever feeling “normal” again has simply been a dream. But I sought help (eventually, after realising that my determination to work through it alone was actually more damaging) and now, most days are fine. But some days aren’t. And something I’ve come to realise is that some days never will be. It’s sad to think that my mind will never be completely free but it’s also refreshing and extremely positive to accept it too. I've come to terms with the fact that my mind can be an obstacle sometimes. So when I have bad days now, I’m far more aware of how to get through them and what little things I can do to help myself and make them more bearable. But the way my mind is, the way it works? It'll be that way for life.
And that can be scary. Even now, in the very moment that I type this, I feel tainted; a bit worthless, a bit useless, like damaged goods. Because truthfully, that is exactly how some people see me – and others who too have similar experiences. Some people will never understand. They can’t imagine what you’re going through, no matter how hard you try to explain. So they react in ways which make your situation worse; shutting you out, raising their voice unnecessarily and treating you as if you’re intentionally being sad, moody or unresponsive. Have you ever had someone tell you to "cheer up" and smile on a bad day? I have. And it takes everything I have not to cry, right there and then. Don’t you think I’d be smiling if it was that easy? These people need shaking by the shoulders. But by who? I certainly don’t have the energy.
The importance of kindness and compassion should never be underestimated. You don't have to know what someone is going through to just be kind, gentle and supportive.
Yet knowing that some people will never be able to empathise can be, and is, absolutely heartbreaking. I feel the need to apologise over and over, I’m sorry I’m this way. It's hard for family, for friends and heaven forbid you should enter a new romantic relationship with a less-than-perfect mental state. After all, why buy the broken toy when you can have a shiny brand new one?
But then there are those people that just get it. I am fortunate enough to have people close to me that can hold me, show me affection and be there without asking questions. They’ll meet me for a drink and talk to me about absolutely nothing for extended periods of time. They’ll call me, drop me a message, tell me they love me when they know I need to hear it. And then there are people close to me that don’t understand. That never will. And that’s okay too.
This is not something that affects my everyday life and my god, I am so proud of how far I’ve come – if I’m allowed to say that. But this is a part of who I am and I refuse to be ashamed. As I type these final few sentences, there are several slow tears rolling down my cheeks. Writing it all down and publishing it for the world to see makes it so real. I can and do feel, just sometimes I don’t. But opening up is so important – for others and for myself. Social media is my life, my livelihood and I think it’s wonderful, so powerful. But just sometimes, you need to see a glimpse into life behind the carefully curated feeds.