“You are not mentally ill or you would not be working!”
That was one of the many negative responses from my mother when I finally opened up about my issues. I had thought I could finally explain why I am the way I am; why I snap at what might seem the smallest thing or just need to close up and retreat into my own world for a while. Whilst I cannot assume the underlying reasons why my mother chose those words, it really made me think twice about telling anyone else. I don’t understand how people can appear so understanding and compassionate for celebrities or strangers on Facebook/Instagram yet refuse to acknowledge any hint of compassion for family or friends. These people say they love you but what they actually mean is that they love how you facilitate their lifestyle or how it makes them feel. When you open up it’s not to ask for anything but just to explain our mood changes, over-sensitivity, lack of energy, as well as verbalising the need for emotional support and understanding during our good and bad times.
It has taken a lot to admit that I suffer from mental health issues, some days I’m not even sure what it is that I actually have. Have the years of disordered eating caused the repeated episodes of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts or is this just what I am? I have tried medication, C.B.T , talking therapies and more recently psychotherapy combined with exercise. It is hard work constantly trying to make the right choice. Life is like waiting with bated breath ready for the next trigger to justify returning to the safeness of my disorders. I often think about how better off my family would be without me and how much happier my husband could be with a normal wife. My most recent therapy has taught me why I feel like this, why I choose negative responses to stress, criticisms or distressing events and on a rational day I can see clearly what I need to do to change.
Whilst I take full responsibility for how my mental health has impacted life massively and negatively on my family I need to recognise the positives; showing compassion to others (no matter how perfect their life may seem on the outside); demonstrating the willpower to not be on social media; working at being present and active in my children’s lives; motivating myself to work (not just for self esteem but to be a positive role model for my children ) and creating a healthy environment through food and exercise as a family.
None of us are perfect parents but I hope that by being open with my struggles it means my children will know that no matter what they may struggle with in life I will always give them emotional support to become a more resilient and mentally healthy person.