TW: mentions of strong emotions & sexual assault
Sorry about the lack of posting for a while. It’s been a complicated few weeks. It really has. And, actually, complexity is what I’m going to talk to myself about and get to grips with in this blog.
One thing I’ve learned from being ill is that very rarely are things simple when it comes to real, human situations. My compassion and patience towards others and myself has grown over time, though I still often slip up, due to my increasing acceptance of the complexity of certain situations. That said, my attempt at tolerance is tested most of all when others try to over- simplify things, in fact, it is probably the thing that irritates me most as I go about my life each day, but I am not immune front this either.
Here are some of the things, both general and personal to me, to which I feel this applies.
‘Suffering is relative.’ Now, I definitely believe that, as a result of our personal experiences of life events and different genetic toleration levels to stress, things affect each of us differently. Different things trigger distress in us and we each cope differently. That said, there are some things, I feel, that cross that line: grief of a loved one, serious illness, rape and violence. These are all examples of things, which I believe, should be universally accepted as another level of painful. I can’t help resenting the person next to me who’s crying about being told off by a teacher when I feel my life, and the lives of people I love, are being torn apart by illness and when I have struggled with all I have to get out of bed, and stand tall that day. That anger is understandable but so is my neighbours reaction to her situation. It’s complicated.
Similarly to this ‘everything is a spectrum’- ‘there is no such thing as normal.’ Just because we all have some traits of autism- it does not mean we all have the right to light-heartedly throw around use of Autistic Spectrum Disorder- it is a life-changing neurological disorder- not everyone is on the ASD Spectrum because it is a disorder, therefore we do not all have it. BPD and Depression have been causing me pain, like I’ve never experienced before, causing multiple hospital admissions and generally twisting my life- just because you have mood swings and are occasionally low it does not mean you have a mental disorder. I also do not invalidate your pain. Lows are real and challenging but a disorder is a disorder once again. You are not ‘a bit OCD’- on BBC Free Speech Jon Ronson bluntly stated ‘are you in Hell? Then you have OCD’ and I feel this is justified from the people I’ve seen who have this illness. Yes spectrums are necessary but all our cells mutate, that does not mean we have cancer, we all have natural obsessions and compulsion we do not all have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Similarly we all have our quirks but normality does exist- eccentricity can be fun, isolation from the daily ups and downs of a normal-functioning life is not.
Mental illness, so far as we know, is never entirely biological or entirely psychological but a mix of both individual to the case. Even illnesses such as Schizophrenia are now recognised by the British Psychological Society as having crucial psychological elements. Stop using the ‘it’s purely a chemical imbalance’ approach to feel like it’s not your fault. Its factually incorrect for ANY illness, almost all physical illnesses are also regarded as having psychological triggers. Being unwell is not your fault regardless of cause. Whether triggered by the death of someone you laughed or by low levels of seratonin and dopamine your hurt should be respected by everyone, yourself included. The causes should not be the factors that play to your self-invalidation, all pain is real human suffering, it is valid and should be accepted whether social, psychological or biological because actually the likelihood it is a mix of all of them. But due to what our society values, it is understandable you’d like to simplify it with a purely biological explanation. It’s complicated and that makes it difficult to accept and deal with.
In this same way, I do not believe ‘recovery is a choice.’ But there are important decisions that need to be made within recovery to help yourself- we as humans are never free from some responsibility in my opinion. You will recover when the time is right- that does not mean you should be passive. Recovery, if you genuinely have an illness in not a choice, otherwise it is clearly not an illness. That said, giving in to your illness is a choice- whether physical or mental, and it counts. There is also a difference giving in and looking after yourself, resting when neccassary. But it is a complicated line which every unwell person has to figure out for themselves. These thing take time and mistakes will be made but they are proof that a person is trying and opportunities to learn.
Pride is not evil. We all have qualities and value and strength. High self-esteem is not necessary but a lack of self-compassion is damaging and can have very troubling consequences. There will be things that you have done that most people would admire and respect but you will also have messed up at points. Pride, like all things is healthy in moderation- appropriate pride. Stop punishing yourself for being human. But you are only human. It’s complicated- a balance we can learn in time.
I find ‘motivational quotes’ also, very often, over-simplify things. They are a pet-hate of mine. However, I believe, there is a certain level of maturity when that is what people turn to for a while, it helps them-and that should not be disrespected. Personally, my thoughts are that they can work for less tricky situations but are quite often simplistic and immature and that once someone has known a certain level of suffering, one of those universally complicated and emotional times they realise this. That is only what I have observed in others and myself though. But, all the same, keep your positivity quotes away from me- every day is a battle and my nights are often incredibly dark to which there isn’t a simple ‘dawn.’ There is real pain, real suffering and grief and but also real slow and complicated change that can very rarely be summed up in a simple statment. And if that personal statement is found hold it near, don’t push it on others. Stop telling me to ‘keep smiling’- smiling isn’t always appropriate, happiness is not a choice- it, as an emotion, has its place in the ups and downs of life.
Finally, and I suppose, most pressingly for me at the moment is the fact that I was sexually assaulted a few weeks ago. This is making me feel physically sick to writing always helps me. I understand it is in people’s nature to simplify things to an understandable and bearable level but some things can not be handled in that way. The people I’ve talked to about the fact that I was recently raped have all responded with a desire to protect me, wrap me up in cotton wool as they are horrified this could have happened to someone close to them. I appreciate that actually- I feel indescribably vulnerable. They then go on to analyse it. For me, I am fed up, I want this to stop- this doesn’t feel like the massive life-changing event that it would be for many because it just feels like another ‘thing’ that has happened to me on top of being ill, as a result of being ill. I’m ready to walk on, and I will hold my head up, because I believe I have courage and that is something I should be proud of. I’m also, though healing from a traumatic event that has humiliated me in damaging my dignity and that will obviously, I suppose result in occasional inappropriate remarks or angry outbursts. I’ve had people tell me not to worry that this fits the criteria for my illness- ‘self-harming behaviour, and by that, frankly, I am offended. It makes it sound like I had some control, some desire to be violated in this way. I have been left feeling disgusted by myself- my privacy violated in the most hurtful way. I can say with all certainty there was no underlying wish for my harm in this case, I am not impulsive in my sexual behaviours. And it is important for me that others know I set out the day with good intentions and, in a BPD high, I was taken advantage of. Others say- this is unlucky. Its completely separate to your illness, it just happens to have coincided. This, I also, don’t feel is correct. The fact is, if I hadn’t of been ill- I would be having a ‘normal’ life in which I would have been with it enough, not incapacitated by my highs and lows, to have taken neccassary steps to, in my case, to avoid the situation in which control was completely taken out of my own hands. I am not saying it is the fault of people who aren’t ill, it’s just the situation in which I was assaulted was enabled by the fact I wasn’t myself and walked into what was a perfect situation for a person who desired to take advantage of me and force himself on me. Furthermore, I believe my attacker wasn’t well himself. This has been rejected by some as me wishing to blame myself and make excuses for the man who manipulated me so, and this maybe partially true, but I also believe a person is very rarely either the ‘victim’ or the ‘perpertrator,’ I do not believe in innate evilness. That does not mean, as someone told me that I, being mentally unwell, am like the man nor does it mean to say he is completely excused and that mental illness does this to people. I just mean things are messy and complicated and, in this situation, painful.
And that is my general message: things are complicated. Stop over-simplifying them, at least in front of me.
I’ve been quite blunt and critical in this post- I’m aware of that, so also forgive me if you feel I am being arrogant but I am hurting and very angry right now. This is me doing my best, to make sense of what has been happening with me and subtly, mention the circumstances which have led to me being on my blog and Twitter less and in contact with friends who read this less. I also know there is a place for laughter which I embrace fully, but I am reflecting here- so it is more intense.
Take care x