If you read my blog “The end of a year, the start of a new me” you will know that for the last year I have kept my blog pretty quiet.
I mentioned briefly some of the reasoning behind that decision, but I wanted to take the opportunity to explain a little more as to why I kept my identity anonymous for so long.
There still remains a stigma that follows you around if you have any type of mental health illness, it’s getting better but definitely still felt by most.
This of course excludes the close friends and family that I have shared my Anxiety and Depression with, they have all be extremely supportive and understanding, and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today, but unfortunately that support isn’t always shown by everyone.
Below are some of the reasons I kept my Mental Health Illnesses and blog anonymous for as long as I did;
Being the topic of this week’s “gossip”
The idea of going to any type of social event and feeling as though all eyes are on you. Plus, something like that is likely to turn into a kind of Chinese whispers and it’s not long before you start to hear thing’s about yourself that even you didn’t know!!
People feeling sorry for me or pitying my Family and I.
I don’t want people to look at me and think “poor you”, and then look at my family and feel the same toward them. I believe it to be really un helpful, it creates awkward silences because nobody knows “The right thing to say” and it just makes people feel uncomfortable.
People assume that you are always miserable, lazy and don’t take care of yourself.
This is one that I feel to be the most common assumption that people have. Because you have Anxiety and Depression you don’t know how to have fun and must be a really boring or miserable person to be around, and rarely make an effort with your appearance.
Changing the way people see me, as a friend, wife or mother.
This one is the biggest reason for keeping it quiet, and an extension of reason number 3. I feel that the minute someone opens up about a mental health illness it leaves you open to a whole load of judgement. Judgement around your capabilities to be a good mother or wife, and how hard it must be to live with “someone like that”
I feel like people are less likely to approach you if they know, and in turn making it really hard to make new friends.
Setting the record straight
Having any type of illness is going to make day to day life harder, and at times affect your ability to carry out what others would see as being basic tasks, but that can be said for anyone in any situation, everyone has off or down days, we are all human and cannot be expected to run at 100% all day every day.
I was at one point going to just except the stereotype’s and the boxed categories that I may be put into, keep my blog anonymous and just allow people to make those assumptions, but I am no longer happy to do so, I want to be a voice of reason and truth and say that that isn’t how I or others with a mental health illness are and it’s definitely not how we want to be seen.
There are day’s or even weeks of struggle but I believe I am still the best wife and mum to my children that I can be. There are days when I can’t manage the school run because the anxiety has taken control. What you see is the mum that didn’t show up, what you don’t see is the mum that fought to get out of bed and get ready to ensure the morning was un disrupted and normalised for her children, the mum that battled with the terrible thoughts about herself and the tears that followed but continued to make their packed lunch. The mum that tied their laces and did their hair despite feeling like she isn’t good enough for this world. The mum that feels her entire body fill with guilt as she watches as someone else takes her children to school, not for a good reason like because she has to go to work but because she fears unrealistic fear, that at times can be so crippling she feels like she can’t breathe, depression that makes her feel so bad that she can barely look at herself in the mirror.
No one see’s the fight that goes on behind close doors, they just see what they believe to be some one that lets others down, some one that can’t be bothered to show up. I am here to say that there isn’t a person that tries more than someone that has any type of illness, whether it physical or mental.
Every day is just another day you try to get through, you try to meet the expectations of society. Some days you just can’t manage it and other day’s……. you smash it!
You get up and you take your children to school, you make the trip to the supermarket and you write a blog to help others who need to hear they are doing great. You tell them that there is absolutely no shame in having a mental health illness, in fact it’s the complete opposite.
You are one of the many warriors of our world, you are strong, you are kind, you are doing your best and that my friend is amazing!!
It makes you nothing like any of the stereotype’s that are out there, it gives you the strength to smash through all those boxes that you get put into and it allows you the opportunity to prove most importantly to yourself that you are just as worthy , just as awesome and just as great as any another person out there.
This is me
I am not defined by my illness, Yes, I Have Anxiety and Depression but;
• I am not boring or miserable, I love life and love to laugh and have fun.
• I am not a bad mum or wife; I love them with every ounce of my being and will always do the best I can for them.
• I sometimes struggle and have to let people down, but it’s never done because I can’t be bothered or because I don’t care, the reason most of the time is because I care too much.
I have always raised both my girls to be strong and to care more about what they think of themselves rather than worry about the opinions of others. This message has always been so important for me to share with them, because unfortunately I have spent the last 30 years of my life doing the complete opposite, and if I’m honest trying to live up to the expectations of other’s is draining and unrealistic. It never allows you the opportunity to become your true self, realise your own potential and fulfil your own dreams and passions in life. After spending the last 3 years fearing what others think of me and the illness I live with, I have finally decided to take my own advice and start caring more about my self than I do the opinions of others.
There will always be people that make those assumptions, we are never going to be able to change everyone’s perspective, but we must remember that there are so many more people that don’t think like that, people that want to help, love and support us.
I want to share this message of positivity and hope to those of you that need it and help you to see the warriors that you truly are.
Share a smile not a judgment
Lead with kindness
I would like to end this blog by giving a shout out and huge thank you to the wonderful Mental Health Charity Chasing the stigma, for all their hard work in raising awareness. They are an amazing charity with such an important message, please take a look at their website and show your support.