This is not an easy post, I despise being open, but it may help some people somewhere, so here I am.
Given this is mental health awareness week, it seems fitting that I should confront this and talk about it today.
I have an unpleasant past. It’s full of abusive men, and some abusive women too. It started when I was a baby and continued until I fled England for Prague. That’s over two decades of continuous abuse. That means that I have… issues. I buried them, ignored them, and told myself there was bloody well nothing wrong with me for the longest time. Stiff upper lip, straight back, and damn well get on with it.
Two breakdowns, and a few cases of burning out later, and I’m finally coming to accept that I have a laundry list of mental health issues. Now I do not take medication for them, I know what those drugs to my brain, and you are not going to convince me to change my mind. I manage in my own way.
Yes I know the tone of this post is far more aggressive than my usual, happy, bubbly, tone, but this is really, really hard, and today, I have 0 spoons.
I have depression. I’ve come very close to suicide many times. My best friend at the time didn’t think I’d make it to my 19th birthday. I have body dysmorphia and the associated eating disorder. I also have anxiety. Add in the two learning disabilities (oh how I hate that fucking term).
It’s shit. It makes me feel weak. It makes me feel inferior, and worthless, and useless. Yes I know part of that is the abuse, I know part of that is the depression, but that doesn’t make those feelings go away.
Today I have to do ALL the things. I have an insanely tight editing outline for Witch Infernal, I have freelance work, and errands that need to be done all over the city. My anxiety is through the roof, I’m fucking trembling.
Some people would tell me to ease up the editing outline, it’ll be ok if the books get released at slower pace. No. I can’t do that, because this entire thing is a balancing act. If I push now, if I get this series out at the pace I want, then I can breathe. It will be a weight lifted and a milestone achieved. That is a much larger longterm benefit.
And that’s what this mental health BS comes down to. It’s a balancing act. I have to figure out what I can do this hour, this day, this week, and how that balances against the longterm gains and losses. It’s exhausting. I’m so incredibly fortunate to have a husband who understands, and cares. Truth be told I probably wouldn’t still be here if it weren’t for him and the amount of help he’s given me.
He’s helping me see that I am not weak. I’m not worthless. My brain’s just screwed up, and together, we’ll deal with it.
Now that I’ve had a chance to calm and breathe, I’m extending this a little.
The first, biggest, and hardest step to this whole mental health issues thing, is accepting that there’s a problem to begin with. For the longest time I swore blind that I was completely over my sexual abuse. Sure I tensed up every time I even thought about sex, I was insanely aggressive over being touched, and had other huge neon signs. But I was over it! Ha. No.
I’ve only come to start accepting the anxiety over the last month or so. It’s not normal to get as tense as I do in the situations I do. I’m a happy go luck extrovert, and yet…
Once you’ve accepted there’s a problem, once you’ve got past your own mental stigma at the label, you can start understanding. You can start figuring out how it works, and how to make it better. How to manage it. It’s hard. There will always be good days and bad days, but it can be done.
We need to learn to remember that we’re more than a collection of tick-boxes. It can be so easy to fall into that pit. I’m someone with anxiety, with depression, with body dysmorphia. But that’s not all I am. I’m also an indie author. A wife. An editor. A scotch lover. A book worm. And so, so, much more. But these issues, these boxes, become overwhelming and all encompassing.
It can be so easy to only see what’s wrong with us. To completely miss what’s right with us. And that’s the truly hard part of this journey, of learning how to handle these mental health annoyances. They’ll always be with us. They are a part of us, but the key there is a PART. We are more than that. We are better than that.
I’m not asking for sympathy. I’m just making you aware. That’s what this week is about right?