Back to the drawing board

I’ve spent a lot of time reading the blogs of other people who have similar difficulties and challenges to me and I’ve been amazed how many of them there are, and how many have struck a chord with me. People seem to blog for all kinds of reasons – for some it’s about therapy, for others it’s venting and for some it’s about reaching out for a little bit of old-fashioned human kindness. The obvious question to ask myself now is ‘why am I really blogging’?

When I started my blog a few weeks ago I decided I was going write about my attempts to live well and overcome depression. I knew I wanted to record my journey, and that I maybe wanted to share it if anyone was interested but above all else I was determined that the daily ins and outs of my mental health were going to be something of a side issue: I wanted to keep my writing upbeat and positive – this was going to be about progress and recovery and everything else was getting left out. I still think this was a noble aim, but after almost four weeks of writing I’m starting to wonder if my approach is a little too rigid and perhaps, unrealistic. My rules allow me to say I suffer from depression, that I had a bad day, that things aren’t going well, but they don’t allow me to spend any time explaining or analysing what any of that feels like or what it really means. And those things, are probably the biggest part of my story.

I live with the day to day impact of depression; It’s a big part of my life and in banning myself from writing the truth about it I’m leaving big parts of the story out. I don’t want to change tack completely, and it’s still really important for me to focus on achievements (one of my little aims in life is to make sure that the word ‘depression’ is never bigger than the word ‘achievement’ in my tag cloud!)  but I called this blog ‘how do you eat an elephant’, not ‘the elephant in the room’!

So I’ve decided that it’s important that I allow myself to recognise the reality of being me in my writing here. I don’t necessarily want to turn this into a mirror image of the depths of despair that my mind can come to, but I don’t want to pretend that stuff isn’t happening either. After all, the real achievement is that I carry on – getting little things done and getting slightly better every now and again – in spite of the reality of being me. What I think I’m saying is that ‘me’ is important even if ‘me’ isn’t always pretty.

As I’ve already said, nobody is ever going to want to shout about mental illness from the rooftops, but if someone like me (who has even gone to the lengths of setting up a blog just to write about depression) isn’t willing to acknowledge the truth of it then mental ill health seems destined to always have the quality of a dirty little secret.

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