January 15th, 2017. Sunday. 7:40am. Feeling numb.
Disclaimer: I’m ill. I woke up at 2am and have been working continuously since. I am extremely, excruciatingly exhausted. That is all.
Right, now that all that rubbish is out of the way, good morning! How are you? I hope you’re well, because you’ll need a clear head to properly digest what I am going to discuss with you today. Let’s talk about mental health. Again.
Now yes, I am quite aware that my personal wellbeing is virtually all I talk about on here. I am also aware that this topic is far too complex to be sifting through at 7am on a Sunday morning. Oh well, we’ll live.
And that’s exactly the point. We’ll live.
By starting with my end point, I can think of a few different paths that you might be expecting me to take. One would most certainly be considerably easier, safer, and far less controversial. I’m not going to take that path. Instead, I’m choosing the one that’s riddled with lions and tigers and bears. And snakes.
I’m afraid I’m about to go off on a bit of a rant here, which is especially risky considering my, er, current state. I’ve talked all about by mental wellbeing in past blogs: about how my anxiety is almost as low as my self-esteem; about how years of abuse scarred me with a lovely dose of PTSD; about how I was kicked out of therapy with literally no help whatsoever. Ugh! You see how heavily I’m hyperbolising this, right? This is exactly the problem. I’ve been diagnosed with a cocktail of mental health conditions for so many years now, and only now has it occurred to me that I am letting them win. I am virtually handing my messed-up brain the keys to the ignition of my slow and agonizing defeat.
No! Not messed-up! See, it’s almost uncontrollable!
But why? Why do we allow ourselves to become consumed by our mental health? Is it just me? There was a time when I’d use it all as an excuse to do nothing. It’s awful, looking back. I’d skip school, I’d stay in bed all day, I’d hand in work weeks, if not months late (if at all), and for what? Surely, if we want to combat mental health conditions, we’d fight the urges to do nothing and work ten times harder. Work is to mental health conditions what salt is to slugs. (Man, I never thought I’d say that.) We need to work; we need to socialize; we need to relax. It’s the holy trinity.
Of course, if you ‘suffer’ (I really really hate using that word in this sense) from a mental health condition then you’re going to have your low days. It’s normal. The point is, we need to do everything within our power to minimize the number of those days, because what are we achieving from them? Momentary satisfaction? I really don’t think there’s anything remotely satisfying about shutting yourself off from the world, falling behind on work, and suffering in silence. Do you?
Frustratingly, it’s all around me. Somebody I know, for example, suffers with depression (among other conditions) and uses it as an excuse to get away with everything. I understand that depression can be incredibly difficult to pull yourself up from, because I’ve seen some of my closest friends and relatives manage it. It takes time. That doesn’t mean that you can use it as an excuse to skip school and send me snap after snap of you sat in Starbucks with your bunking buddies, laughing at some pathetic PTSD joke like you’re having the time of your life. It just doesn’t work like that.
Of course, they get away with it. With the heavily negative stigma attached to teenage mental health, why on earth wouldn’t they? That’s why we need to do something. If you are struggling with your mental wellbeing and therapy works for you, great! Keep going, because you’re helping yourself by talking to someone. Honestly. If it doesn’t work for you, or you want something more, then try relaxing. Get a hobby, or a new one. Read. Write. Exercise. Best of all, do it all with the people you love.
You’ll love yourself more when you realize that you’re winning.