I’ve tried therapy. I’ve spoken to a stranger for an hour at a time until they’ve been ushering a box of tissues at my weepy face. I’ve been given a box of felt tips and a piece of A1 paper and been told to just draw. I’ve been asked ‘and how did that make you feel?’ more times than is necessary, and i’ve come through the stream of counsellors not particularly feeling much better.
Because I don’t like therapists.
I don’t like the way they feel patronising, the way they’ve never given feedback, just asked questions as if to make you come to your own conclusions about your life (I’m fine at making my own conclusions about my life in my head without your guidance, thanks).
I never walked away from a session feeling that life was clearer, that we were making progress, that my mental state was healing. I walked away wondering whether any of my friends would be available for wine and a pizza and pyjamas and a chick flick. Because having your deepest issues brought up once a week is quite sad, it’s quite upsetting, it can turn an OK day into a bleak day.
I’m sure it’s not that way for everyone. Some people might feel like it lifts a weight off their shoulders after they’ve spoken to someone trained and paid to listen to you speak in a way which can sometimes be overbearing for a friend or boyfriend to have to listen to time and time again. But for me, therapy or counselling was not the answer to my woes, it simply became something I dreaded going to and so I stopped.
Anti-depressants helped more. And I like that they helped more. I like that because it confirms that mental illness is a disease, something wrong with you that you cannot control, something that needs regulating with medicine and chemicals the same way something like asthma or diabetes does. It confirms that having a mental illness isn’t something that can be talked out of you like a bad mood or a bad memory.
But for me, the greatest healer and the greatest cure of all has been you.
All of you.
The people who read the sometimes erratic and chaotic thoughts that come out of my brain and onto my keyboard. When you comment on my work, when you retweet it, when you like it on my Facebook page, it reminds me that i’m not alone and that gives me strength. And I think that’s what I’ve always needed, reassurance that i’m not crazy and alone, fighting a battle that makes me a freak, makes me insane makes me different to everyone else.
For me that’s the worst, starting a day as a normal sane person and out of nowhere feeling so cripplingly insane that you honestly believe you’ll have to be checked into a mental hospital. Because you’re out of control, no-one can help you, you need actual medical assistance.
I never reply to comments and a lot of the time it’s because I don’t know where to start. How do you begin to reply and say thank you to people who are saving you every single day?
I’ve kept a diary since I was 11, and although back then it was more filled with notes about boys I fancied and my dreams of popularity, it’s now become a place that I only write when I am feeling troubled and confused. When I am feeling so alone and alienated that I can’t write about my emotions on my blog. I feel like putting my stream of thoughts into sentences helps me to undertsnad them, to pinpoint why i’m feeling the way I am.
I’ve been overwhelmed by how many of you suffer from the same harrowing emotions and illnesses that I do, and the more we’re open about them and the more we accept them as the norm, the less alone we’ll feel. Because that’s the thing with mental illness, it’s makes you feel incredibly alienated even when you’re surrounded by people, even when you have close friends, family, a boyfriend. It makes you feel alone and a burden and that feeling is the worst feeling in the whole wide world.
So this blog is my support group. The place I come when I need help but I don’t want to whinge to my loved ones anymore. I hope it helps you too. I hope it feels like a place that makes you feel less alone, a place where it’s OK to be mentally unstable, to sometimes feel like all you want to do is hibernate.
So thank you, thank you for mending me. Thank you for turning the internet into a happy place. Thank you for giving me strength, and thank you for continuing to support me every day. I feel like I have the biggest friendship group in the world. I feel like a member of One Direction. You guys give me the confidence to talk about my depression and anxiety in passing as though it’s the cold, the ability to talk to me family more openly about it, this feeling in my belly that it’ll all be OK, and for that I am forever in your debt.
Now go and eat some cake or a mince pie or summin and merry Christmas.