In 2015, Mental Health Week runs from Sunday 4th to Saturday 10th October.
We are nearly at the end of this week and as your personal astrologer, I would say this is a shite time to have a week of Mental Health awareness, since Mercury is still Retrograde, but then who listens to me?
I have blogged since 2006. Nearly ten years of musings and in that time, I have never really been seen as a blogger. My posts are sporadic and I don’t make money from my blog. Perhaps this allows me freedom from not having to keep opening the kimono* for a glimpse at my ugly bits.
I am a writer who posts opinions and thoughts online. But I don’t live my life publicly enough, or refuse to expose my existence in all its complicated glory, so I can get my gold card for ‘worst life ever’ status.
This is my practise space for writing. My morning pages, and my attempt at pushing myself further in every way. If you read it then thank you but I do it for me.
Social and mainstream media is becoming more and more extreme in what it will show. Drowned children on beaches. Live streaming the funeral of a 13-year-old Youtube star. Reality star parents making Twitter announcements about their daughter’s suicide. A wellness expert claiming to have a new type of cancer to garner more Instagram followers. A mother charged with poisoning her child, after creating a reputation online as a blogger who writes compassionately about her child’s illness.
This week I learned of the deaths of two social media stars who took their own lives, and the media responds with the clickbait cries of ‘They had it all. What went wrong?’
Clearly they didn’t have it all. Who the hell does? Even, in all his handsomeness, George Clooney wears terrible jeans with runners, forever known as ‘Junners’). But the enormous pressure to show that you are living the best life ever, with accompanying curated Instagrams and super fun Snapchats, doesn’t allow for much mental wiggle room.
On the other hand, there are those who are forever crowing about their mental illness and troubles. ‘I’m sadder than you, and you and you and I want to die, but first, let me take a selfie of my sadness.’ They’re not the ones I worry about.
The selfies with the endless smiles are the ones to watch.
I stopped writing about my depression because;
1) I’m not depressed anymore
2) I didn’t want it to be my only story.
I was asked to speak and write about my illness for a number of years and I did it for a while, but it became exhausting. Every time I wrote something about my crazy years, or met someone at an event, I had to go back into that world and find that Kate that I had worked so hard to let go of.
‘But I’m happy now,’ I’d say, and it’s true. But people don’t want happy. They wanted to know about the ugly, dark night of the soul stuff.
And I wonder if the Internet confession box, that is now filled to bursting, will soon explode. So many are crying out for help, but we can’t hear the ones who need real help, because of the noisy ones who are yelling about their next big announcement and personal exposé.
Many people say blogging is dead and in some ways, I agree. I read very few blogs now. I read blogs that make me calm. Show me how to make something. Show me your vegie garden. Show me your dog or your baby. Show me balance.
A friend moved house recently, and I swear to Xenu, the joyous updates of her house adventures made my day! Seriously. I took so much pleasure in her house joy. She had gone from a difficult living situation, to a tree filled, comfy palace. I love hearing about it. It’s real happiness. and it’s becoming apparent that admitting real happiness is rare on the internet.
Life is about balance. We live in a dualistic universe. We should not always be up, and nor should we be always down. Being brave enough to embrace both sides of your existence is where your sweet spot lies.
So don’t be afraid to show us your smile, but don’t think it always has to be there. It’s okay to not feel like smiling. And your tears? If you’re always sad, always planning your emotional and physical demise, then get some help. It is possible to smile again. I promise.
Being yourself shouldn’t be seen as brave. It should be encouraged at all times. I just hope I pray, that it will come back into vogue again soon.
My depression was the best thing that ever happened to me. I found my treasure when I was at the bottom of the well of despair. I found my writing skills, I had time to write books. I began to truly know myself for the first time.
I opened my own kimono and took a long hard look at myself. I just don’t need to keep opening it over and over again because having one foot in the ‘crying room’ was stopping me from a full recovery.
Your story is not the thing that happens to you. That’s just a chapter that shapes the next one. Your story is about how you respond and shift as a result of that landslide or love affair.
Be brave. Ask for help. Tell me about your happiness. Smile when you feel like it. Call me when you’re not feeling life is a good time.
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
E. E Cummings
*Opening the kimono is the worst term ever invented in business language but it’s so perfectly voyeuristic and impersonal for the internet confession phase we’re in right now. Apologies if I caused bile to surface into your mouth. ☮