I wanted to write this blog a few weeks ago but pesky life issues kept getting in the way (which I’ve blogged about below). Now, however, my assignment has been handed in, work has calmed down and family life has returned to its version of normalcy.
Three weeks ago I saw a tweet from http://www.blackdogtribe.com a mental health awareness company that are linked tot Ruby Wax. They were looking for people who blog about mental health so I sent them my link to here. A week later they sent me an email saying they were going to promote one of my posts ‘Movin’ On Up’ on Facebook, Twitter and their site.
In the middle of work, deaths and assignments this was fantastic news. I spent the day on a huge high as my phone buzzed constantly with re-tweet texts etc and my Twitter followers number grew very quickly.I went home and did some re-tweeting of my own and then I did something I’ve rarely done – I posted the blog on my Facebook with a note about what the blog is about and why I was so happy.
That got me thinking about being open and honest about mental health issues. I’m happy to share my blog on Twitter; the majority of people I talk to on there are new and have never known the ‘old me’. I connect with people who are at this moment good but ‘virtual’ friends (although who knows that may change). But Facebook is personal. My family are on there, my high school friends, work mates and so on. Only a small percentage of Facebook people know (or knew) my full story. A few months ago I shared a post regarding the death of my natural father’s death which got a great response as did this one promoting my blog.
But…why do I find it easier to tell almost strangers I suffer from depression and anxiety and not the people who know and care for me? I think it’s the stigma of showing weakness. In ‘real life’ I’m the smiley positive one that gets things done. The organiser and the one who is always there for other people. Never the one ‘that can’t cope’. And asking for help is so hard.
The day I told people my father had died was a big day for me. I did for a short while contemplate not actually telling anyone what had happened as I didn’t want to bother people!!! That’s a terrible way to feel. Yet when I did speak up the support both in person and online was overwhelming. In the promoted blog I wrote about being a different person and coping differently to how I would a few years ago. I had people who I didn’t really know well come up to me offering a chance to talk, people speaking up about their own issues and experiences and my level of honesty. People I’d been terrified to let in, in case they thought any less of me.
I need to stop being afraid of sharing. And to not worry about those people who will be offended by my sharing. That’s their issue not mine although I hope they would change their minds with more awareness and understanding. But we as a modern society are completely wrapped up in how we are perceived by others in society. They believe they have to fit in with the media image of perfection whether that is being the right weight, wearing the right clothes or behaving in the correct manner. I’m at peace with my weight even if I’ll never be the type of woman who can wear hot pants. I wear clothes I like to wear. I behave mostly in the manner that makes me happy (not 100% or I wouldn’t have this blog) so I need to take the next step and help raise mental health awareness by not being afraid to speak up and to everyone not just certain ones. I need to step outside my comfort zone. It’s baby steps and will take time but hopefully soon that will happen.