Thank you for the invitation to BayArt. At first, I thought I didn’t have anything to contribute to the group, but upon reflection I think I do. We all do. Every experience and thought matters, maybe not to all people, maybe just to one person. One is enough, one is a job well done.
A very brief introduction to myself is that I created a blog (HonestK), a long time thought, after being faced with my world falling away in front of me, caused by me, directed by me. After the birth of my daughter in 2015 I fell into a swirling world of depression and anxiety, all of which was somewhat new to me. I quickly realised that my experience of this illness is only going to be demolished by one person, me. Therapy and medication can only do so much to aid the battle, ultimately I hold the power, one that must be understood in order for it to be accepted within myself.
Turning to the blogging community is one of the best things I could have done. Reading other people’s mental health struggles, reading their raw, emotive pain, having a sense that I am not alone, that I have so much in common with complete strangers was and continues to be a mental weight off my shoulders. These depressive feelings, wanting to escape, feeling inadequate, lonely, an outcast, alienated from friends and family, my mind running in over drive, feeling completely and utterly alone are not mine. These thought and feeling belong to my mental health, or as I like to call it my ‘crazy’. It’s not me, it cannot be me if so many other people, with different life stresses, from other walks of life feel exactly the same.
There is a saying that misery loves company. I believe that to be true. It is my misery that brought me to this place, my misery that is so desperately asking for help, one that I am willing to give if only I understood what that entailed. My misery seeks answers and guidance from your misery. My misery threatens to destroy my mind and family, yet has an unmatched power to provide me with empathy, growth, compassion and love. Misery truly loves company, but which company you keep determines the power it can wield over your life.
My choice, like so many others in the blogging community, is to provide my misery with honest company. No holds barred posts detailing a person’s struggle with any mental health battle, are not only refreshing and a source of support but also liberating. It helps to release the author from the grasp of their mental battle, freeing them of thoughts, loneliness and shame. Arguably, sharing real, honest thoughts and feelings is one of the hardest, most vulnerable things a person can do. What will others thinks? What if I am alone? What if no one understands? What if I am attacked for my thoughts? What if?
What if we share and bring hope to an other person? What if we share and smash the stigma surrounding mental health? What if we share something that is thought as a ‘taboo’ yet it affects more individuals than we know? What if?
Pumped up on the braveness of other honest sharers, I threw the negative ‘what ifs?’ out the window, battened down the hatches and exposed my inner workings on my blog. I have nothing to lose. I do not have to hide myself any longer. I am not the happy, joke making, laid back person I cast out into the world. I am much more. I carry a darker side to myself that I loathe. I am a work in progress, like so many others. Working to knock down the loathe wall and open my heart to myself. Even as I type that I judge myself, is that a dramatic thing to write? Will people think of me as crazy? Do I really want to bare my soul?
Yes I do.
For myself just as much for others. One of the hardest posts I wrote was detailing how it has taken me a long time to fall in love with my daughter. As a new mother I was fed this notion that once the baby has popped out I would be overcome with love. A false notion society has put upon new parents. I felt no love for my child, only fear, anxiety, responsibility and hatred on many occasions. My partner witnesses me slowly dropping into post natal depression, to which I was oblivious. He is my rock and will continue to be so, for as long as I (and my crazy) allow him to be. Can you imagine the shame and utter ‘I’m such a horrible mother’ I felt on a daily basis with my new born baby? It was heart breaking. I am committed to never letting another parent feel that way, I almost feel urged to protect them from this naive, false image of parenthood we are fed.
Honest, raw and brutal sharing is all that we have to give in order to protect others. The immense feeling of support and understanding from other people is there, it’s everywhere. I am truly amazed when I share a ‘deep dark secret’ such as hating my baby, that others felt the same way too. They provide me with love and support, never once judging. That horrible, negative, heart wrenching self hate surrounding my lack of love for my daughter dissipated the moment I shared it on my blog and thus over social media. I am not alone. I was never alone. I had no reason to beat myself up over it. I am normal. I am a great parent.
The power in sharing can never be overestimated. It can connect with so many people in so many ways. I urge anyone to share, not only for yourself but for other people. On the flip side of your media there is a person reading, and you might just make the world of difference. You might provide clarity, support, understanding, warmth, acceptance and a belonging.
For anyone suffering for a mental health ‘problem’ a awareness and self acceptance is crucial. Yet, how can we understand our emotions and feelings if we can’t compare them to others? How does a person know it’s okay to feel this way?
By letting it known it’s normal to not be okay.
By understanding yourself on your own terms, not others.
By building a community to express ourselves and provide support for others.
By believing in yourself and having the guts to share our ‘darkside‘.
By being you.