I want to talk about the after of a mental illness. The after when you are medically stable or not in need of therapy. The after when everyone around you, your friends and family, think that you’re back to normal, as if normal is something that either exists or something that should be aimed for. Funny thing is, most of the time, the after of a mental illness means learning to live with it, not living with its absence. It means learning to accommodate for your brain in ways that people who have never experienced mental illness don’t have to. Some mental illnesses can ‘go away’ so that you aren’t bothered by them ever again. You might have a brief bout of depression or an episode of anxiety that never bobs its head over into clinical illness again. Most times that isn’t the case, not really, and we don’t talk enough about learning to live with a brain that is chronically unwell or has the potential to be so, for the rest of your life.
The funny thing they never really talk about having an eating disorder happens after you get better. Whatever ‘better’ means to you. They don’t always make it clear that there will come a time when you will miss your eating disorder. That you will miss being sick.
I love Christmas, and I love to love Christmas. I love the fact that the entire month of December means Christmas. I love that every house has fairy lights up, and that makes everywhere look more welcoming and homely. I love that the dark is less dark, that we let a little bit of light in at one of the darkest times of the year. I love that it becomes okay to stay in with blankets and watch telly. I love that the TV is 90% reruns of everything that is good in the world.
I haven’t written in a while, for several reasons, mainly because A) I was writing about other stuff and my brain has a habit of getting obsessed with things and running with them and B) because nothing felt real enough to form sentences about. The whole ‘not real’ thing is something which I carry around with me and have done for a long time now. There’s no clear cut day when I remember waking up and feeling that the world had changed but I can’t remember the last time I woke up and felt that the world was real. So a while. It has a name if what I have described to you sounds crazy (and yes, it really is a lot of the time) – I deal with depersonalisation and derealisation. For me, they both interact and have their tentacles wound around each other so tightly a lot of the time I can’t distinguish which one is worse then the other, and I think that’s true for a lot of people who live with this too. There’s a lot of us out there – around 1.3 million people in the UK, or 2% of the population – about the same percentage of people who have green eyes (so also me).
This is almost as late as it could possibly be but September was pretty darn busy for me and I finally have the time to really sit and go through the stuff that happened this September.
10th October 2017 is World Mental Health Day. I started writing this article about 3 hours ago, and it turned into a rant about how awareness isn’t solving the mental ill-health of the population and we need to change the way we treat mental health, stop under funding it and actually give people the help they need and deserve. But just writing about how angry I am about the way mental health provisioning has been chronically underfunded and is insufficient for people’s needs isn’t going to help anyone so I deleted all the anger (apart from that bit there) and wrote about the things that help me with my mental health in the hope that they might help someone else.
August definitely just came and went and I can’t quite believe that it’s September, the schools are back in and Halloween is basically just around the corner.