Speaking Out About Mental Health Part 1

IMG_4646

Photograph from 2012.

July 11th’s Prompt ~ Grit

People say: “You’re brave” “You’re courageous” “You’re an inspiration” “You’ve helped me” “Thank you” when it comes to sharing one’s mental health recovery journey. I’ve been told some of these things, myself, over the course of the year that I’ve been sharing my story. The words have come from followers, friends, family, strangers, and professionals.

Of course, mental health blogging can be a challenge in and of itself. To be honest, living with a mental health condition itself takes a whole lot of courage and, dare I say, grit. Sometimes people living healthy (or sometimes unhealthy) lives without a mental health condition cannot seem to fathom or understand how deeply it runs in our lives and how it can thwart us. For those of you out there reading, well, keep on reading. The answer may not lie in this post, necessarily, but to be seeking out information to better understand your loved one is a really, really good sign.

I often disagree with those out there with mental health conditions who say “You’ve had to have been through it to understand it” or “book knowledge is not enough” (essentially).

Why?

Because empathy exists. With empathy I don’t have to have experienced something myself to have a sense of what you may be going through. With empathy, I can place myself into your world–even if it’s still essentially MY world view.

You see, I interpret the whole concept of “you’d only get it if you’ve been through it” a load of bullshittery because NO ONE would therefore understand it. We are ALL different. Your experience is different than my experience, yet, generally we can clump together our separate experiences and call them what they are: life experiences. Just because I’ve been through X doesn’t mean I went through it the same way you did. Therefore, I don’t necessarily have to have been through X to get a sense of what you’re going through.

It’s all just approximation and some imagination, if that’s a simpler way of looking at it.

People who haven’t gone through mental health conditions can still empathize with us who are going through them, because they offer us a different perspective. Can this perspective be misguided? Absolutely. Do they always know the right thing to say or do? Nope. But they care, and they let us know that, and that’s what’s important. (And if they don’t care, well, fuck them).

Just like it is not necessary to hit rock bottom in order to begin one’s recovery journey, I don’t think it’s necessary to have had to experience mental health conditions one’s self in order to relate to others. I repeat this again, because I think it’s an important distinction (and I don’t feel I’ve covered it enough here).

For instance, take the topic of suicide.

There are the people who harp on and off about the philosophical meaning of it, the religious bullshittery about not doing it and the “selfishness” involved with it. Those are the people who are way back in the forest fighting amongst themselves.

Then there are the people who are at the very edge of the cliff — people who aren’t suicidal yet are willing to learn about it in order to be there for their loved ones.

Next, we have the people falling off, mid flight, in pause, from the cliff side. These are those of us who have experienced suicidality in our lives.

My point?

It’s not necessary to have to experience suicidality yourself in order to get the gist of what it’s like to be free falling.

Again, you may never truly “understand” it, but, who does? Really, who does?

Any who, my point has been made, on that end. No pun intended. Now I’d like to re-explore the other point of this post.

Grit. Living with a mental health condition is an act of bravery. It is the spirit of being courageous, of facing the day, even when that’s the last thing you want to be doing. It is getting up out of the bed in the morning when every part of you just wants to curl up in the fetal position and be with your thoughts.

Blogging for mental health is….at times, facing the adversity. You don’t know how many times people in my life have questioned my blogging and its helpfulness to myself, others, and especially because it’s on the topic of mental health and suicide prevention. I’ve often had mental health professionals and my parents question if this blog is merely feeding into the mental illness rather than providing me of a coping strategy–and a powerful one at that (as well as a journal).

It definitely aggravates me when people do this. I’ve considered it before, and I still disagree. Blogging is a coping strategy for me, it keeps me busy, and I get to choose what I blog about. Maybe I’m just trying to convince myself, but this blog is about recovery to WELLNESS.

And of course, that begs the question, when I’m doing poorly, do I still blog? Do I edit out the negatives or do I expose them, too? Do I curb myself into providing my own to do of adaptive coping strategies and working through what I need to or do I just focus on how shit I feel?

I haven’t always done this. I haven’t always “edited out” or worked through positively my issues, yet I am willing and more prone to do them now.

I DO want this blog to return to its original mission, not the abbreviated, complex and sometimes dangerous outlet it became a few months in.

So, mental health blogging? It’s tricky stuff. We balance on the tightrope of sharing too little or sharing too much. We balance on trying to find a balance, and either putting in too much or not enough, and we struggle at times to find that happy medium.

Yet it’s a part of our journeys. There will always be some form of adversity and someone who has to stand up against it.

Will you be standing? Or will you be silent amongst the crowd? Having a differing opinion but keeping your mouth closed tight?

There’s not really a “right” or “wrong”. It’s whatever works best for you in the moment. It’s not easy to be so transparent, AND it can be learned.

It’s important before we act on a behavior, whatever that behavior is, to understand why or for what purpose we want to move forward with.

I’ve said it before, and for this post, I’ll say it again. I choose to break the silence about mental health because I strongly believe that silence kills. Our society needs to talk about mental health and suicide prevention. It should be taught in schools. It should be common knowledge. I want to do my part in joining the already growing crowd of people sharing their stories and their recovery’s. That’s why I talk, speak up, type, blog, etc.

I hope my point has come across. It’s been a little muddled on this side but, I think I’ve said my piece even if it was jumbled due to interference’s in my environment.

I have a reason to be blogging and that hasn’t changed. Here’s hoping it never erases.

 

❤ ❤ ❤

(PS I’m putting this into the category (imaginary category) of a short series, as I’d like to better write out my thoughts again another time but this is like the draft version of that and it took me a while to write it (fucking writer’s block) and so a more polished version will come out later.)

 

One thought on “Speaking Out About Mental Health Part 1

  1. Pingback: Author Interview – Kait Moon – “Pain Eater: A Memoir” (Poetry & Prose) | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

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