It’s not easy, but I believe it is important not to hide and internalise our mental health.
You may remember a few years ago a long post I wrote about my mothers MS, and how I coped with this growing up. I keep meaning to write some more thoughts, but suffice to say there have been OK days, and there have been bad days. Nearly a year ago now mum fell and broke her ankle. She hasn’t walked since. For the first time I have been contacted directly by medical professionals. I have watched the indignity of a degenerative illness, watched my fiercely independent mum being stripped slowly of everything she was proud of. I have had the same conversation multiple times on the same day. Worst of all, I still have no answer to the question ‘Why her? Why me?’. I struggle to understand my emotions, at times feeling bitter towards those who have what I have not, and at times I have even lashed out against the love and care of my own mother in the mistaken belief that my independence makes me superior.
Alongside this, over the last few months me and Lizzie have been planning a wedding and buying a house, and we move in on Tuesday. I know that we are truly lucky to be able to do this – we have been so kindly supported by friends and family throughout the whole process – but I also feel the need to say how hard this process has been. There were days when seemingly trivial complications nearly brought me to tears. The pressure we have both felt to ‘just do it’, to ‘get on’ at a time when we are foundering is indescribable, and I for one have felt a cheat, as if I have somehow been allowed to pretend at being adults. At times, when I discussed this in public I was made to feel like I was complaining about nothing.
Every day I look at all of the hatred in the world – people choosing to kill innocent civilians, people choosing to exploit minorities to gain power, people making phenomenal sums of money at a time when so many are struggling eat.
Every single person in this planet experiences pain, and sometimes we all struggle to understand what we are doing on this planet. Dismissing this pain and refusing to admit how we feel hurts people, reinforces stigma, and makes people afraid to talk. This fear can lead to anger, and right now there is more than enough of this in the world.
I believe that the only effective remedy is love, openness and honesty. We need to reach out to those in pain, to offer our unconditional support. We need to understand that everyone will go through loss, and we need to be there for them as we would like them to be there for us. Most importantly, we must not be afraid to be true to ourselves.
So. Today, I cried. But I am not ashamed.