It's all fair enough people talking about how they stay physically fit and healthy. Very rarely do we talk about our struggles to stay mentally fit and healthy. The stigma's attached to mental illnesses are utterly ridiculous and so we often stay silent.
Last week was mental health awareness week. I'm not going to blather on about statistics, nor am I going to preach about how more should be done to reduce the stigma. There are others far more knowledgeable and eloquent on those matters than I am. Others who are far funnier, or far more wide reaching with their words who do a far better job than I ever could. I can tell you that my depression is not one of those medical statistics. I was never diagnosed, but I know if I went to a doctor today with those symptoms, that that's what I would be told. It makes me wonder if that 1 in 4 statistic is correct, if actually it's a lot higher.
Anyway, I digress. I feel if I'm going to be honest with you about my physical health, I should be honest with you about the rest of it. My brain and all that goes with it is a part of me, after all. A part of me I sometimes wonder just how much control I have over.
I've been struggling over the past month or so. Something happened to trigger off a pretty bad week a few weeks ago, but I was struggling even before then. I feel all my thoughts of inadequacy coming back. It's nowhere near as bad as it was last year. The only way I can describe it is that there's this illogical, nasty part of my brain that tells me I'm useless, worthless and undeserving. The logical, nice part of my brain counteracts this, but sometimes the nasty side wins. When it wins, I disappear. Last year I went offline for about 6 months. At the time I didn't know why I'd done so, but now I know it was because I decided no one really wants me around, so I should just go.
This how I'm starting to feel now. Currently, I'm battling a brain that's telling me I'm boring and dull, that the reason why people don't talk to me or respond to me is because they don't like me, and the reason they do talk and respond is because they don't like me, but they feel sorry for me. I've gone through phases of feeling this way all my life. I really wish I knew how to stop those thoughts. I seem to be fighting them back a lot better each time they start up, but I'd love to never, ever have to hear them again. I refuse to go offline, even though I'm currently comparing myself unfavourably to others on twitter and blogs a lot right now. It would be easy to just go away for a while. But I'm refusing to give in to that desire.
This evil, illogical, lying part of my brain is the reason I fade away in a crowd of people I don't really know. I watch as others grab one another in huge hugs and talk as if they've known each other all their lives. I want to do the same, but always I'm worried that the lies are actually true: that I'm boring, weird and a hanger on. Someone people only talk to because they feel sorry for them.
I've not written all of this in order for there to be an outpouring of sympathy or to seek attention. I've written this because I'm terrible at expressing my inner turmoil. I'd be the first person to support a friend who was struggling like I am, yet when I struggle, I trivialise my feelings. I tell myself that it's pathetic and stupid and no one should have to share my burden. And then the evil side wins, I disappear into my shell, hiding my feelings on the outside, feeling numb to the world on the inside.
The way I'm trying to stay mentally fit and healthy right now is to stand up and say "This is me. This is who I am. I struggle. I find it hard, even though there's nothing at all wrong in my life at the moment. And that's ok". I'm forcing myself to stay online when I don't want to, because if I shut myself away, I'll get more lonely than I'm currently feeling, and feel worse.
I refuse to continue the cycle. I refuse to listen to the lies. I may not succeed some days, but I promise you, this time, I'm staying right here. Even if it means I can't talk about yarn, crochet and the baby booties I've been thrusting upon unsuspecting new (and expecting) mothers.
To anyone else out there, if you ever, ever need to talk to someone about anything, whether it's the lies that your brain is telling you, or the fact you're having a bad day, I am always happy to listen/read an email. There's never any need to struggle alone. Problems, no matter how trivial they may seem months later, can always be a horrible weight upon your shoulder at the time. I'm more than happy to try and take some of that weight from you.