This is a bit of an odd one. But then I guess in some ways, so am I. Since the last day of April 2020, when the cloak of depression wrapped itself around me, it’s like (cliché incoming!!) I’ve had an internal awakening.
Sounds really strange I know, but before all this, I wasn’t really creative at all, okay yes I wrote this blog but that was roughly the extent , plus a bit of photography here and there. I HATED poetry at school despite the wonderful English teachers I had. And I didn’t have any real interest in creative writing .
So all those bloody horrible experiences I’ve had, otherwise known as emotional abuse, on top of various chronic illnesses, social anxiety, generalised anxiety disorder , PTSD and depression, and without blowing smoke up my own arse too much here, how I somehow survived and dealt with (and still live with) all of that have kind of led me to unlocking this “new” part of myself. Which I actually am starting to like.
So I guess I’ve learned a lot about myself in 2020 more than anything else. I’ve kind of been on a journey of self discovery and become more self aware of my emotions, how I’m actually coping, being aware of what others may be feeling or might be able to open up about. I’ve learned that actually, I can stop beating the shit out of myself if something doesn’t quite work out or if something gets criticised or goes wrong. I’ve learned that actually yes, I can be empathetic with people, and crucially, not give all of myself up to their emotions and take these on too. I’ve learned that, I have got more strength than I give myself credit for, more creativity and ability. I have passion that seemingly came from nowhere and had only increased.
I think the most important thing I’ve been able to take from 2020 is this: that’s it’s okay to be authentically myself. I have accepted that I am bisexual. I have a lot of chronic illnesses and mental health issues. I identify as having a disability that is not visible. I have accepted that I am a survivor of emotional abuse and I want to use my lived experience of this as a positive, as with my mental ill health. I accepted that I will never get answers from my abusers and I’m okay with that. I love that I am able to be authentically me. I, and you, should not be apologising for that.
The other thing I learned, from a very wise and very valued friend is this: Depression lies. Anxiety lies. You are not your depression/anxiety. It’s true. Depression is a dirty liar, that’s all it does.
This has taken a lot of time, energy and effort. Not just from me either. I have been well supported by those I consider close and not as close friends, as well as family, plus the Time to Change York work that I honestly can say I enjoy doing so much and find terrifically rewarding (and the awesome people that I work with in that stuff!). I feel incredibly empowered and proud that I can use my experience to help others with mental ill health and improve the future for others. It’s wrong that people feel silenced (I recently tweeted that being silenced feels like the moment a dentist shoves cotton wool in your mouth) and shamed because of mental ill health. Stigma is not funny, and neither is discrimination, both of which I’ve experienced at work in the past. I, among many others, have a drive to change that. If by sharing my experience I can help someone in any way at all, then I will continue doing so.
I’ve got stronger, but I’ve definitely had downpoints. A bit like a soundwave really. Since the end of April I’ve not been right back to rock bottom, but I’ve dipped, most of the time because of my fibromyalgia pain getting the better of me. At the moment I am on top of my pain control, due to medication tweaks, which plays a role in having good mental health for me personally.
Having writing and poetry as a way to cope has really helped in 2020. I’ve been able to get things down when I’ve been unable to physically articulate my emotions and thoughts and it’s provided a release for me. I did have one final EMDR session in between the two UK lockdowns – June, which once and for all got rid of a lot of the remaining PTSD memories and flashbacks lurking. The Time to Change York stuff helps hugely too as there is knowledge that Champions like me know or have experienced similar feelings.
The poetry community is one unexpected and wonderful surprise of 2020! I don’t think without the pandemic, that I’d have done as many open mic performances , made as many connections and friends, or even dare I say it, progressed in my poetry had I not been able to connect with other poets across Zoom this year! I’ve already booked myself in for several open mic nights etc in 2021 so if you want me act fast haha!
So I guess, yeah that’s me for 2020. Peace and if you’re struggling, please know that the shit horrid feeling will not last. Honest. Keep holding on. ❤️