Writing, or even talking, about the bad stuff

This is one of those recovery oriented posts. I feel like I’ve lost my blogging voice, and although I’ve kept going with gratitude posts on the Zen blog, I haven’t really felt comfortable writing anything very personal.

It’s odd, because I used to write everything on a blog people could read, and I’d spew out three or even four posts a day. I thought nothing of it, and I miss that. Now it feels like a big deal to write anything publicly.

It’s a struggle to talk about what I’ve been experiencing with friends, let alone blog about it. I’m not sure whether it’s because I’m afraid of people’s reactions, or because I feel a degree of shame that I’ve been so knocked back by what happened.

If you’re used to working hard, and if not that, working harder, it’s difficult to put your hand up and say you just can’t. I was thinking about this last night, when I realised for the first time I feel as though I’ve let everybody down by being this unwell. I feel as though I should be stronger, and pull myself together.

Oddly, I’d never expect anybody else to do that. And I know, on an intellectual level, that pushing myself too hard to recover too soon is just going to slow the whole process down. But on an emotional level, it’s much harder, especially watching other people’s lives taking off while I still feel overwhelmed by pretty much everything other than the gym.

There are good days and bad days. This has been one of the bad days, mostly because I was awake most of the night, and going without sleep makes it harder the next day. It didn’t help that I’ve just started a new programme update at the gym, so my muscles scream at me every time I move.

Time for Change has been pushing mental health issues for a while now, with a “Time to talk about it” campaign. I still feel uneasy about discussing it, but to be honest, I’m not sure why. I’ve never encountered any particular discrimination myself, but I think I have a personal sense of shame about it, as though it’s a failing that I don’t just step outside what I’m experiencing and carry on regardless.

Discussing mental illness isn’t really like talking about a broken leg. The causes of mental health problems, especially if they’re tied to things in your past, are really personal and private. People hedge around them, tentatively wanting to know why you’re like this, especially because it’s not something visible.

Well, I say it’s not visible, but a few people see it. People who’ve had serious problems themselves know about it. A couple of weeks ago I had a great conversation with a friend who said he could feel the anxiety radiating out of me. I wasn’t insulted, in fact it was a relief.

It’s very hard to talk about right now, because I’m at the point of recovery where I finally bring down the walls between me and the pain. I feel shaky discussing it with anybody, especially in public, as though I’m a little ball of explosive tears just waiting to spill out everywhere. Having kept it inside for so long, and not having cried, it’s frightening to think it might let loose at any moment.

Then, of course, in the things I tend to read, there’s a dislike of confessional writing. I’m not sure if it’s because that sector is particularly uptight, or prefers intellectual debate over discussions of the more personal, but it does leave me feeling as though writing things like this is somehow a lower form of work.

I have no solution to any of this. I know that the more we talk openly about mental health problems, the more acceptable it becomes in society, the less people can dismiss it as weakness or fear it because of media hype, but when you’re actually one of those people with a problem, and you’re suddenly in the spotlight when your head isn’t exactly working right, that’s a much harder thing to do.

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3 Responses to Writing, or even talking, about the bad stuff

  1. Sam Adamson says:

    I don’t quite know what to say in response to your post other than I do understand. I feel much the same as you do at the moment on virtually a daily basis, I often think if I had a broken leg or something at least then people would see I have a disability.

    You may not feel it an easy subject to blog, or talk about, but believe you me, I understand better than some how hard it is to be open about mental illness, and I applaud you for having the courage to keep writing about it.

    Have a {Hug}

  2. Joely says:

    Sam,

    Thank you :-) I definitely think a broken leg would be easier to explain!

    Joely x

  3. Trisha says:

    Joely I’m sorry you’ve been going through such a hard time! But you have always been strong and resilient.

    I do remember your old blog, though I don’t think it was all that public, all the time? You used to get heaps of notes on those entries!

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