I’ve kept far too much to myself over the last year or so. I’ve had no other choice with some issues – for example, whatever difficulties I was going through in my last relationship I could never have discussed them on my blog because both the man himself and some of our mutual friends read it, and it wouldn’t have been fair. But this seems to have led to a similar problem to one I encountered while living in halls of residence, when I was too scared to tell anyone about my history of mental health problems. Since my eating disorder and other illnesses were the whole reason I was a mature student and had spent the previous several years flailing about trying and failing to complete a degree, it was quite difficult to make small talk with students I didn’t know – their first question was always something to do with previous study, work or reasons for time out. I didn’t want to start friendships with a discussion of my entire life history, but it also proved impossible to make friends by avoiding the subject of mental health entirely and just talking about the weather. It is hopeless trying to make meaningful connections with other people when you are hiding an aspect of your life which affects every other so deeply.
For quite a while now I’ve felt that way about my blog. I haven’t been able to talk about what’s been going on, even though I could have done with the support, out of respect for the other people involved. This has made me feel like there’s no point in blogging at all, when I’m writing vaguely, euphemistically, metaphorically, hypothetically or just superficially. I was so open and honest for the first year of writing, and then suddenly I couldn’t be, and it drove me crazy. I still can’t really talk about why that was the case in the past, but from now on I’m not subject to the same restraints, and I hope that means feeling a bit more enthusiastic about and connected to my writing here.
I’m a complete mess at the moment what with one thing and another – on top of ending my last relationship I’ve also given my manager a note explaining that my job is making me unwell and that I need to speak to her about it and I’m waiting for her to get back to me, there was some highly distressing drama on New Year’s Eve which not only meant that 2012 got off to an awful start but also pushed my poor nervous system right over the edge, and now I have bloody toothache just to top it all off. I feel like I’m in a constant state of panic, and I only have myself to blame. Other people might have caused me a lot of stress and pain but I have put up with it in several areas of my life without saying or doing anything. I can’t change the actions of others, but I can change my reaction, and that is what these last couple of weeks have been about. I’ve discovered that I am absolutely hopeless at letting people know when they have hurt me, instead excusing their actions even when they are clearly damaging my mental stability. How are they supposed to know what effect they are having on me if I don’t tell them? And it seems that when I do finally try to change the situation I end up making more excuses and placing all the blame on myself again, when really the situation is very different to the version I’m peddling to make other people feel better. So I first take the stress of coping with unhelpful behaviour on board and put up with it as long as I can, and then when I finally can’t cope any more I tell them it’s all my fault and then – then I end up horribly resentful and angry and in a complete mess, because I’ve been so wired, so anxious, trying so, so hard to be okay for so long, and then my reason for pushing myself to those extremes disappears and I fall apart.
I’ve survived worse. I’m not okay by any means, but I’m always the woman with the plan, and I am determined to make 2012 the year that I put my mental health well before the needs of others. Other people can take care of themselves. I need to stop asking myself how I can make myself useful to other people and start asking what I want out of my friendships, relationships and other acquaintances. Not that I plan to be entirely selfish – I’m training to be a counsellor after all, and I have no problem with helping friends in need of support – but I can’t keep getting myself into the situation where I try to be everything to someone and get very little in return. I can’t keep being so desperate to put others needs before my own that I tell them lies to spare their feelings at the expense of my own. It’s not healthy and it never leads anywhere good.
No more. Here and elsewhere I am going to be completely honest from now on.