Blog for mental health 2013
I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.
Okay, yes, I know this topic isn’t one to be laughed at or taken lightly, but if you knew how many times I changed my mind before I finally decided to include this post here rather than on an entirely new blog, you’d laugh.
So, this post. You regular visitors – who I unabashedly call my friends – have here seen a couple of posts recently addressing mental health issues. Those posts weren’t the most comfortable I’ve ever written, and it was only after some internal struggle that I decided to include them here. Include them I did, and the response I got to them, while limited in volume, was extraordinary in terms of kindness, understanding, and support. Thank you, by the way.
Not surprisingly, I’m not the first blogger to write about mental health issues. The folks over at A Canvas Of The Minds are a collective* of terrific writers whose purpose is to raise awareness of mental illness and eliminate the stigma associated with it. They do this best by reaching an ever wider audience, and so are enlisting the talents of the many bloggers who touch on these issues on WordPress. Enter Dad Knows.
SummerSolsticeGirl, a regular visitor and keenly aware of the struggles I’m facing, suggested I take part in this fabulous endeavor – unsure if I was ready for it but making the suggestion as another form of support. I hesitated to take part – I mean, of course, as there’s little I’m not hesitant about these days - but only because of my doubts about being able to do it properly. In the end, I decided this was something I couldn’t disregard, and could best support the program’s aims by adding my pledge to it here rather than a new blog.
Poke around at Canvas’ blog for even a short time and you’ll see that their writers are terrific, eloquently sharing their stories about how they deal with a multitude of mental health issues. Their stories, like Lord Voldemort, are great – terrible, yes, but great. Their journeys have been long and arduous, and they know well how to relate those stories to the world. My story, though? Even though it’s been in the back of my mind for years, if not decades, that I need help, my journey is really only in its infancy.
So far, my story includes terrible bouts with self-doubt, utter lack of confidence, and a constant regret about not being the man I wish I was. Not a day goes by without me beating myself up over what I’m not. It’s easy for all of us to be hard on ourselves, but I think I take it to another level. I’m really good at it, and that’s not good.
It also includes a real and disconcerting social anxiety, in the form of not functioning well amid large groups of people. Or small groups. Or one on one. I’m convinced that I have nothing interesting to add to any conversation, and at times being forced into situations wishing for witty and intelligent repartee gets overwhelming. I left a first communion party for a friend of my daughter’s not long ago for just that reason. Oy.
My story has seen a recent development of not being in control of my emotions. I’m reaching for the handkerchief frequently throughout the day now, unable to stop the flow of tears. They’re not insignificant tears – there’s near overwhelming sadness behind them each and every time. They come anytime, all the time, anywhere, at a moment’s notice, and from almost any trigger. I don’t understand this phenomenon, and I don’t much like it. And don’t even ask about watching Downton Abbey a few weeks ago.
More than any of those, though, are the constant underlying shadows – for me, it’s become more and more easy to fall into the shadows of depression (Is that what it is, officially, I mean? I don’t know – yet.), and it’s become more and more difficult to climb back out of those shadows. Once wallowing among the monsters that live in those shadows, it’s more difficult than it should be – so much more difficult – to do anything but beat myself down for not being able to get up and out of the shadows. You can guess how much good that does, and what the result is. And how long it finally does take to get up and out then. The shadows’ reach is extensive, too. Under their influence, I’m uncertain of any value I add to my family, and uncertain of my worth as a friend. That’s not a call for reassurance or anything of the sort; it’s just as good a description of my circumstances as I can give at the moment. Those shadows - I tell you. They affect me and they affect my family, and I’m finally realizing just how much. We all deserve better than this, and while it’s taken me for pretty much ever to seek help, I am as of the past couple of weeks, beginning a journey to better days.
That journey ahead promises to be difficult, I’m sure, and I really don’t know how long a journey it will be or what to expect along the way. I don’t mind saying I’m fearful that I won’t get any of this under control. In fact, I’m downright terrified that I’m not helpable (well, it should be a word) and that I’m pretty much stuck with this garbage, unable to fix it or improve at all. Uncertainty, trepidation, fear… terror – I’m feeling them all. All of them, and, yet, hope as well. Without that hope, well, I shudder to think how dark my outlook would be.
But there is hope – for me, and for all those suffering from similar illnesses or worse. There has to be.
Now, back to my doubts about being able to accept this pledge properly. I’m new to trying to understand mental illness, I’m new to speaking out about it, and I’m new to the family of those writing about it on WordPress. What that means is that at this point I’m unable to fulfill one piece of this campaign’s expectations, and that’s pledging five other folks who have “proven their mettle” as mental health bloggers. Everyone I know of has certainly already been pledged, at least once. Ruby, sorry, but I know you understand.
So there you go – my initial contribution to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 campaign. I kind of wish I could clue you in to what’s coming on my journey and on this blog – but I don’t know any more than you today. We’ll find out together, hopefully.
* Those who now know why this post is tagged with “Borg” get points.