Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Best Advice I Can Give You

I was talking to someone a couple of days ago about mental health and anxiety. He was struggling with their current situation, which wasn't at all unhappy. The only thing I could say to him was this:


More than that, for the majority of the time it's just how we (those millions of people who live with mental health issues) are. The pressure to be happy in the life that you have - when nothing is technically wrong - can be crushing. 

I lived with the question for more than a decade: "Why aren't I just happy?" I'd cry over it frequently, feeling like a failure because everything I had in live wasn't enough for me; feeling ungrateful because I had so much; feeling horribly confused because at times I could be so very happy, then the emptiness would come. As much as I wish I known my diagnosis and understood my symptoms sooner I suppose it's a part of me that made me stronger. I did fight through it. I still got up every day. I had an incredible job and incredible friends. In a way that almost made things harder: my symptoms weren't severe enough to really be noticed. 

I suppose it might possible to fight your own way through depression alone, without acknowledgement or support, but it's a hell of a lot better not to. 

It's ok to not be ok. Most of us aren't. 

Friday, 29 May 2015


Today I drove home in a hailstorm. Thousands of tiny frozen particles ricocheted madly off my windscreen, like they were attacking me, attacking the ground, attacking people with a glacial force. Three hours later it's a gorgeous day again, you'd never know it happened. When I started thinking I wanted to write something here it came into my mind and I started to think about how my brain can act just like the weather, and kind of attack me when I least expect it. Now I suppose I'm more able to know when it's happening, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hit me with some force. When it used to happen I supposed it was just being a fucking horrible person. It manifested itself like that, a fault of my own, and that feeling didn't leave me for years and years.

Blaming yourself for the weather? That's just crazy.

What I'm Listening to Today: Damien Jurado, Reel to Reel Demos (Where Shall You Take Me) on vinyl, a really beautiful record by a genius who shows all of us struggle.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Lives of Others

Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.

The truth is a powerful thing.

The thing I have found most startling since I started actually talking about my own mental health is how it almost always leads to somebody telling me something similar, or something worse, about a relative or a friend or themselves. Again and again we all keep it quiet, don't mention it until we are pushed.

And it's not in the way that you might if you were talking about a more physical illness - like cancer. I mean sure you might wait until your comfortable to tell someone about that kind of a struggle. But there is a precedent for it - books, films, TV shows and by enlarge you would only expect a swelling of (perhaps hard to deal with in itself) sympathy.

There is still a huge disparity when it comes to mental health issues. Instead of waiting for something positive or empathetic you wait to be judged. You wait for people to look at you differently, or try and skirt over it politely. I'm lucky in that very often this hasn't been the case for me - it's happened only a few times. Instead I've found people sharing their own stories. I remember telling one of my oldest friends about it after she had been through an episode of her own and she was stunned. 'Everybody hides stuff' was what she said eventually. Of course we do. Why? Because your brain, after all feels, like your responsibility. Perhaps the only responsibility that will make a difference is the ability to tell the truth about it.