Now, it wasn't just one person, but a couple, and it's been mentioned since I started blogging. Sometimes it's accusatory. Sometimes it's not.
It amounts to the same thing though, and that is that talking about mental health makes people really fucking uncomfortable.
"It's so personal."
"We don't talk about it."
And that's a problem. Not talking about it is really fucking unhealthy. That's why there are so many mental health campaigns designed to get people talking about it. Because bottling it up inside helps no one. It doesn't help you, and it doesn't help those who are suffering too.
I have not been shy about explaining how I felt growing up. It's gotten a lot better, though I can say that there are a lot of wounds left open, a lot of anger and grief without closure because those responsible for inflicting that pain will never apologise (this song explains how I still feel sometimes). It's taken a number of years and some very expensive therapy to get to the point where I can even talk about it without wanting to punch a hole in the wall. I still go to therapy, when I can afford a session.
You can rest assured that I'm making peace with it because I can talk about it. Usually, if the pain is too raw, I can't. I start to, but the minute my mouth opens, words get drowned in a sudden flood of tears.
An aside: I cannot recommend therapy enough. It took me some shopping around, but I eventually found a therapist who respected my desire to avoid medication whenever possible, and was otherwise a great fit. She helped me through a lot of childhood traumas, and my grief and anger following my step-mother's cancer diagnosis and subsequent death, and every so often, when I need a little extra help, she's just a phone call away.
I'm so grateful I took that step. And I'm so grateful for my current circle of friends, who are nothing but the kindest, loveliest, most supportive people I know. Thanks guys, for being there for me and not trying to tear me down.
I'm open about it because finally, after years of bottling it up to disastrous results, I'm finally in a good place. By being open with my past and mental health issues, they lose some of their power over me. I'm no longer controlled by the shame of mental illness, or by the events of the past, and that has done wonders for treating that mental illness.
And there is still a lot of stigma around mental illness. There is a lot of shame around it. It's ridiculous. We don't have the same reaction to a cold, or measles, or cancer. But when it comes to mental illness, we decide it's alright to do our darndest to try and silence the sufferers.
When we see a person with a broken leg, we tend to watch ourselves to avoid doing more injury to that leg. When someone expresses emotional pain, why do we not mind ourselves around them to avoid causing more? Why is it okay to speak sharply to them?
I think part of it might be a reaction to guilt. People, and I'm culpable as well, tend to react badly if they feel they're being accused of something. Instead of listening, they shut down and bite back, weather or not you're speaking about their actions precisely. They might be feeling responsible, and they don't want to shoulder that responsibility. So they tell the person to shut up. To be quiet. To stop crying for attention, you attention seeking whore...
Everyone acts like a dick sometimes, even you, so stop being so dramatic.
Sometimes it's just because they're hurting too, and they can't express it, so they go into attack mode.
Sometimes it's because they don't believe mental illness is a thing, so why are you even talking about it? Everyone gets bullied. Get over it.
For whatever reason, people are uncomfortable with the subject, and so do what they can to shut discussion down. It works for some; those who are too hurt and too tired to fight back any more. They close down.
And they suffer in silence.
Maybe, if they're lucky, they stumble across something in which someone openly shares their own struggles. And maybe this wounded, tired person finds a spark of hope in that thing. Maybe, just maybe, they realise they're not so alone. Maybe, just maybe, they see that things aren't as dark as they appear, that there is help, that someone else has pulled themselves up from the mire of despair, and maybe, just maybe, they can too.
It happened to me. I think I've mentioned it before, but I read a blog post by Wil Wheaton (yes, that Wil Wheaton) detailing his struggle with mental health. It was that post, so many years ago, that sent me to the phone in a quest to find a therapist. It was that post that convinced me that life isn't all dark, and good things are possible, that it's not easy, but I'm not alone in this, and good things can be mine if I'm willing to fight for them.
So, I speak.
I speak because I spent a life being unheard.
I speak because silence hurt so, so much.
I speak because I have a voice that others are denied.
I speak because I hope that someone who is hurting will read this, and know they are not alone, that there is hope, that despair can be overcome.
I speak because it's time to end the silence, end the stigma, and recognise the humanity in all of us. Even the desperate, Even the angry. Even the despairing.
We're all struggling through this mess called life. We all carry our wounds.
Let's be kinder to one another, hm?