‘Having a personal narrative or story is not a problem in and of itself – in fact, to tell one’s story can be a beautiful and empowering thing. It is when we over-identify with and become fused with our stories that we can really suffer’
My last post was almost 3 months ago to the day, and since then, I’ve drafted several, but published none. I’ve gone back and forth over what I want to do with the blog so many times, asked myself so many questions of it – why do I write? Is it for me, for you, or for attention? Does it help me to work things out? Does is expose too much of me and leave me vulnerable to attack or manipulation? Do I even need it anymore, or does it belong in the past alongside all the difficulties I experienced?
These are all big questions, questions I’ve been struggling to answer. Yesterday, I came across the above quote on twitter and it really made me stop and think. I loved blogging. I loved the act of sitting down with the laptop, making sense of my thoughts, coming away from writing in a clearer and calmer frame of mind, and then getting validation back from all of you for what I was feeling. It was so important for so long, because I was never able to validate anything for myself. It gave me an incredible sense of worth to know that people were identifying with what I was writing, and if I’m being brutally honest, it was also a fantastic ego boost. For the first time in my life, I felt I was really achieving something, contributing something. Whether I cared to admit it or not, I felt important.
Things have changed so much over the last 12 months, not least of which is the fact that I no longer consider myself to have a serious mental health problem. Yes, I still have bad days, but they’re normal, human bad days, generally triggered by normal, human experiences. I don’t feel the need to pathologise or label them. I know what my triggers are, I know what I need to do when I’m anxious or angry or upset, I know the kind of lifestyle that suits me best, and most importantly, I have so much compassion for myself.
So where does the blog fit into all this? The conclusion that I’ve been so slow to come to is that in fact, it doesn’t, and really, it was reading the above that crystalised this thought for me. The blog belongs to the past. I don’t need to look for validation outside, because I have it inside. I don’t need to identify myself as a mental health blogger, or someone who once had serious mental health issues. I don’t need to identify myself as anything at all, other than me. Again, this was a hard realisation to come to, because we live in a society that places incredibly high value on what we do for a living. Writing may not have been my job, but it absolutely was my identity, for years.
There’s a sadness in letting that go, because it was such a driving force in my life. But there’s also relief. In order to keep writing, or at least to keep writing about mental health, I’d need to keep writing from my own experience, and honestly, I don’t want to do that anymore. My life is quiet, simple, and largely peaceful. Himself and I are in a better place than we have ever been after the trauma of the last 10 years and any personal happenings that cause me distress I want to keep to myself. I don’t need to share my troubles with the world, because I don’t need the world to fix them for me anymore. I could keep getting pulled back into various crusades – biomedical v person centred model, to medicate or talk, or the state of our nation’s mental health services – but I don’t want to. There are so many people doing that already, and with far more success than I could ever have. That’s a tough one to admit, because I so very much wanted to be able to make a difference. Maybe I did for a while.
I posted a while back about the new beginnings adventure for hubby and I, and a natural progression of that new beginning is that everything that ties us to the past is let go. We’ve learned so, so much – about ourselves as individuals, about each other, and about ourselves as a couple. We don’t need to hold on to the past anymore. I don’t need to keep telling the story of my travels from depressed to ‘borderline’ to suicidal to sanity. It’s been done, it’s been told, and it’s all right here for anyone who ever wants to read it. I know what happened, I don’t need to keep reiterating it – all that will do is keep me back there. The next step, the next stage in this crazy adventure, is all new and unknown, free from the weight and oppression of the past.
So, I think this is it. My career as a mental health blogger has come to a natural end. I could force a future for it, but that wouldn’t feel right, which is why so many posts have gone unpublished the last few months. This is the only one that feels authentic. I have no idea what’s next for me, and I’m very ok with that.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the unwavering support and understanding that you have met me with this last 5 years. I hope I helped in even a small way, because my god did you help me, more than you will ever know.
Shine on you crazy diamonds 🙂