So today a fb thing about mental health popped past me, read it and yeah, normalising, talking about it was one of the things we need to do. So as I’m in a good place, let’s do this.
I’m pretty lucky, I can fake confidence when i don’t have to be around people and stuff like that really well, which gives me a platform to shout into the shit storm that is the internet from. Sometimes it’s reasoned and sometimes it’s a need to vent now before I go off the rails.
Writing about mental health, creating art about things that are somewhat darker than a bowl of fruit (Every time someone paints a still life, Jesus cuts someone.) is a bit of a privilege, and not in a tumblr sense of the word.
One of the things the article talked about was the stigma attached and that only through talking about these things we normalise it, and by that I mean the discussion of it as there is nothing ‘normal’ about going through this.
Occasionally I get messages about things I write about to say thank you, and that’s weird. Not because saying thank you is bad. It’s weird because one of the things I get to hear a lot is ‘I can’t talk about it with anyone.’
And that’s scary.
Because there is nothing more isolating than not being able to talk and the last thing someone needs with a head full of demons is isolation, even if we do it to ourselves. And not talking this time nearly cost me.
And I get it, actually sitting down and saying ‘help me’ or ‘This is bad’ is difficult. Everyone I have ever spoken to about this stuff has said the same, they felt alone, that it was only them, that they wished that they had someone who they could share with, but they felt they couldn’t.
Yeah you can post on fb (I tend to when I’ve hit a certain point, mainly as it’s a damned fine safety valve.) But actually sitting down and talking about it for real is hard.
So I’m going to talk about it, because if one person goes ‘Hey I’m gonna talk about this to someone.’ It’s a win in my books. If you don’t want to read it, feel free to move along.
Personally I’ve just come out of a bad one. Notes written, plan made, bad one.
It took a while to get to the point where I said help or in this case ‘I’m suicidal, don’t worry I won’t’, because my assumptions were that I could manage it myself (I’m very used to dealing with this on a weekly basis at times), no one wanted to hear it, no one actually liked me (yes, depression does warp your sense of reality, the reality is at least one person tolerates me.) and let’s face it suicide is not a word you just chuck about, well not if you mean it. Not if you actually comprehend the damage it can cause or have seen that damage up close and personal.
Now i’ve been through this before, its not my first rodeo by any sense, I know the theory, i know that talking matters, thing is when you get to that point rationality falls away.
How close? Well does it matter? (Put it this way, there’s no teletubby porn on my hard drive anymore.) Coming out the other side is what matters. Some folk read me right, picked me up and gave me the strength I needed to actually fight back.
So why didn’t I talk about it? I mean it would be actually much easier to say ‘hey i’m depressed and suicidal, here is why, help!’ wouldn’t it?
Well one of the reasons is you don’t always see it coming. Seriously it’s not like a sign pops up and goes ‘Hey buckle up fucko, this is gonna be a bit shit.’
You don’t notice till you are in it, I have warning signs that I and a few people know.
For me the biggy is ‘planning’ at that point I know something is up, at that point I need to do something. I can pin point the exact moment this bout got serious, but this time the warning sign slipped past me.
I can tell you now what the antecedents were and are, but at the time that kind of self analysis is pretty much outside of most people’s reach. The problem with catastrophic thinking is that it’s not logical and in fact often masks logic.
All the CBT, Mindfulness etc in the world won’t help if you aren’t able to access them.
It’s hard to talk about a thing that you can’t actually see.
But I digress, talking.
At the best of times I’m pretty quiet (seriously, spend some time with me, unless it’s a subject I know, I feel incredibly safe around you or I have got to know you pretty well, I don’t talk much. I am an archetypal nerd). Depression drives yourself into you pretty damned hard and often leaves you there once it clears up I wrote a whole thing about how it makes you feel a while back, but take it from me you don’t want to talk to people.
Especially to the people you need to help. Why? One is that you feel guilty for leaning on them, another is you don’t want to be judged by them and the third?
Well this genuine conversation
‘I’m suicidal, I need help’
‘Oh, is it my fault? Did I do something?’
Some comforting of person convinced that time they were slightly rude has led to your need to open up a vein, while in my head a different commentary is running.
‘No I suffer from an imbalance in my brain chemistry, a pile of unresolved horrors and can you take your fucking ego and stuff it up your arse this isn’t about you?’
No really, that happened, that is a thing. We spend a lot of time saying it’s not other peoples fault and it’s tiring, and can lead to a little bit of grumpiness. I’m getting cards made up for next time. ‘Its not you, it’s me.’
So what got me out the other side? Three things.
- The adorable present someone posted me…… (It was a London post mark for those interested.). Nothing like being told to kill yourself to stubbornly make you change your mind. I think that’s the last time I will mention that till I have a name to attach it to.
2. A promise.
3. But the main part was the people who were around me. The ones who didn’t let me push them away and gave me the biggest fuck you when I disappeared into myself.
Who made me talk about it, realised what I needed and got me there.
And it was that simple. Talking about it. Say how I felt to people who wouldn’t judge, would listen, didn’t care how bad it was and weren’t scared of the S word.
Obviously in a couple of weeks clear I will have the piss mercilessly taken out of me.
And at its core that’s it, being able to say this is me, i need help. I mean there were some awesome drunken head rubs too, but it was mainly the talking.
Thing is, for a lot of people the perceived stigma attached to mental health issues opening up is hard, talking about it is hard, finding a voice is hard.
Maybe if we talk about this more, maybe if we share those experiences we might actually save a few more people, get a little more help. Be able to say ‘Hey i get it, I know how you feel cause, that was me.’
Me? Well this is with me for the rest of my life, i have a chemical imbalance (and a head full of crazy). I’m used to it, i get blips and always will. I live with that self destructive bit of me every day and most of the time he’s fuel for cool things, it’s just when he gets a bit uppity there is a problem.
What do I need to do? Well channel it as usual. Art and writing. Spend more time with the people who make me smile and try to be a bit more open about my head.