Again I find myself humbled by the voice of others, today a blog post I read spoke to me. It pertained to the comparison of the dealing with mental illness as war, the use of words that convey a fight. I, myself am guilty of this, often using the metaphor of a fight to convey my feelings. Today I was forced to rethink this mentality and consider my words, my choice of language.
I have included the link to the post in question and I hope that you take time to read it, I have now read it three times. In making me think about how I convey my feelings, it has led me to think about my purpose. Whilst I write this blog for my own needs I am aware that it is read and therefore I must take some responsibility for what I write. I never intend to speak on behalf of others, but I am aware that sometimes I do, with or without their consent.
For those of you that follow my blog regularly (thank you) you will be aware that I am very open about how mental illness affects me, and how I deal with it or not as the case may be. I also have a tendency to drift into a mental health revolutionary role especially when I feel the system has let me or others down, my very use of the word ‘system’ implies that I see it as an entity rather than the free service it is. I guess it is very easy for those already suffering from a negative state of mind to point at the health service and say “why have you let me down”.
I have been accused in the past of not taking a stronger stand, that I fall short in my criticism. This hurts me a little because I have the utmost respect for the NHS and the mental health service. I know that they are under staffed, under funded and over whelmed. I just think that they could benefit from listening to us, use us to help each other. Peer support is a big buzz word at the moment, but buzz words don’t help, only action will do that. It is here that the article I read today has caused me to stop and think.
I enjoy writing, I like to help others, one day I hope to do so as my career (forty isn’t too late to change paths one hopes) and I find they help me in my recovery. My pause for thought today is; what am I doing? Just speaking openly about my experience I know is important to me and I intend to continue, but being open and having little ideas is that all I can do? Rather than having a quiet rant from behind my keyboard should I not change tact and do more, change my stance from ‘us against them’ to ‘us with them’ .
I am very aware that for every one of us that speaks out there are many that can not. I know that to be so open and forthright about mental illness is not for the majority, I know many read my words and they get something from them. I do not see my voice as one for many but one of many. I guess I don’t know if I should just shut my mouth or keep talking, can I do better? Can I use my ability to be open to help more? I know that I am just a man with an illness, not a fighter, not a hero, just a man who writes. Maybe you can help me find a direction, help me understand what could be done.
I had a meeting with my CPN today, I enjoy talking to him and as I trust him. I am very open with him, not only in how I feel but also how I feel about the care I am receiving. I told him today that during our last meeting, my first with the psychiatrist, that She did not gain my trust and therefore I felt the meeting was worthless. I feel that giving honest feedback is important, how can they change if we don’t be honest? I told him how much I have come to rely on peer support and how much I gain from being a part of a ‘community’, this gave me yet more insight into myself. How many people are open enough to help the MHS effect change to meet our needs.
As I read today, we are not different, we may have arrived at our ailments by different routes but our symptoms and experiences are oft the same. We are not special, in fact by thinking of ourselves as special feeds into the very stigma we hate so much. It is fact that the mental health sector is not as good as the physical health sector but can we do anything to help? Do we need fighters or thinkers? Warriors or diplomats. should I just shut up and keep it all to myself? I like that this new me can be stopped in his tracks by something and rethink, the old me would never have read it anyway.
I would be very interested in the thoughts of those that read this and anyone with experience of mental illness. In my organised little way I have created a little survey, completely anonymous but inspired by the above, and hopefully it will give me an indication of which way I should move. I would be most grateful if you could take 2 minutes to complete it for me. I already have an idea for how I can do something more than talk, this survey will enable me to judge if my idea is worthwhile pursuing.
I apologise that this is a bit of a disjointed article, but maybe you get a sense of my reasoning. I want to do more, I want to help but whilst I have been humbled in my approach I wish to know how to best move forward.
Inspired by Morethanmydiagnosis/Are we warriors