New year, but not a new me

I appreciate I’ve been a little… Inconsistent posting just lately. A few reasons lie behind that, mostly work and other stuff , time running away with me, and most chiefly, not really having motivation to write anything.

So, we’re now in 2021. None of that new year new me BS though. At least, not from moi! And things haven’t changed too much yet. Not for me anyway. I’m still here, with my terrible jokes and trying to change the world in one move!

But seriously, I’ve already been busy on the poetry and open mic fronts, and of course the Time to Change York voluntary work doesn’t really cease to matter, not while people like me out there are still being discriminated against and stigmatised for something that is out of our control – our mental ill health.

My anxiety hasn’t been too good this past week or so. A combination of somewhat uneccessary stress (an educated guess would tell you the source of that!) , hormones/period, and a nice bit of pain from various sources (fibromyalgia I’m looking at you) plus probably some unknown stuff is probably the cause. Truthfully, being anxious at work does scare me, as the last time I was like that was in 2018, and that culminated in a breakdown and emotional abuse.

Work don’t know the full extent of what I went through almost three years ago now, and neither do any of my colleagues (as far as I know they don’t read this, but if you do, hi guys), and to be honest I don’t feel the inclination to tell them the whole horrible raw story. I won’t add it here either because, I’m obviously aware of the wonders and horrors of the internet, only two people outside my family and therapist actually know the extent of this and are within my ‘safe zone’ of trusted people – that took me a long time to even tell them about the emotional abuse, and before that I had to first come to terms with what had happened to me, start recovering, making the decision to forgive and let go of my abuser (this is a very personal decision to make), and undergo EMDR treatment from abuse resultant cPTSD/PTSD.

Anniversaries are a challenge sometimes too. But sometimes they aren’t. When I passed the first, and a little bit on the second anniversary of having my breakdown (2018), it was difficult, I’m not going to lie about it. A lot of the emotions and thoughts I felt took me right back to the day itself, so I try to keep myself busy or at least distracted if I can and not let myself spiral into tornadoes of anxiety. Different people might say I should do differently but this works for me so I’m sticking with it.

I am, however, putting all my bad experiences to good use, and using them to tackle the stigma around emotional abuse itself and mental health at work, alongside the stuff I’m already doing with Time to Change York and Time to Change. I do think that if you’re passionate about something, you are more likely to enjoy what you’re doing , voluntary or otherwise.

Speaking of enjoying things that you do, I’ve been doing a lot of poetry related things already this year, writing, performing at open mic nights and booking in for more in the next couple of weeks. The thrill of live performance, even if it is over Zoom at the moment, gives me a real adrenaline rush, in a good way. More so now that social anxiety is sat in its naughty corner! (For good I hope).

Challenging the stigma and discrimination that exists around mental ill health isn’t always easy, but it’s not always hard to do either. It can be as simple as challenging a comment that doesn’t seem right or is blatantly stigmatising, for example making out that mental illness is a joke or that someone’s making it up about their mental illness. Sometimes it’s ignorance, maybe a bit of a lack of knowledge (easily solved by a basic Google), but sometimes it is outright being nasty and bullying behaviour. If you feel okay to do it, and see it happening to someone, please try not to stand by and watch it happening, call it out. Imagine someone that doesn’t know you, but knows that you have a mental health issue and that’s the only thing they know about you. They treat you differently and worse compared to others because of that. They blame your mental health for things like work performance or say you can’t do certain things because of your mental health when it wasn’t the case at all. Not the best of examples but being stigmatised is not nice, it hurts, and feels like a slap to a stab wound. Often makes my mental ill health feel worse.

A final thing from me, that I don’t think I’ve talked about much on here – seasonal affective disorder. It’s real and a serious issue. I’ve had it for approximately 8 years now and only started talking about it publicly due to the shame and stigma I felt around it. January is the “worst” time for me but I am affected from around October to mid February, with the classic depression symptoms, low mood, lacking in motivation, increased levels of anxiety in top of my ‘usuals’, that sort of thing. It’s like wearing a heavy old dusty cloak with dark sunglasses. Not great but I get through with vitamin D supplements, special SAD lights and trying to get outside and keep a routine throughout. Music and writing my feelings, including poetry really help too.

Until the next time friends and readers 🙂


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