I’ll admit to writing this whilst in the foulest of moods; I’ve been in this mood for the best part of a week. The reason? For the first time in a long time I’ve been suffering from a series of anxiety attacks, crippling anxiety attacks, that have rendered my weekend a write off save for Saturday, which, thankfully, was a great day. Last night was a good one, too; that was once I extracted myself from the couch. In reality, all I did was mask my anxieties with alcohol, but it was a fun night shared with one of my best friends. We ran 4th in the trivia competition held at an Irish pub in Kings Cross: The 2 French & 2 English back-packers were appreciative of our generosity in sharing the bottle of red my friend & I won for our efforts.
I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to admit to these anxieties. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to admit to the depression I’ve suffered for, quite literally, half of my life: I do not give 2 fucks what people think. That said, I’ve a happy knack of surrounding myself with people who don’t make a habit of judging others.
The reason I make these “admissions” at all, though, is because I know it’s perfectly OK to do so regardless of what people think: I am not beholden to the stigma or shame so often associated with mental illness. If someone has a question of me & my experiences then they can ask, I will happily oblige their curiosities. I might even throw in a joke or 2 at my own expense, in trying to keep with my “it is what it is” attitude. Also, I’ll happily take a phone call from anyone who is suffering & feels in need of a sympathetic ear. On the flip side, it’s not a subject I raise over the dinner table in an effort to bring others down to my level; that’s inappropriate & selfish in the least. Nor will I ever offer it up as an excuse for poor behaviour; I defy anyone to suggest otherwise.
Speaking of poor, selfish behaviour, my continued moodiness has its roots in one of the most selfish, condescending & grotesque displays of grandstanding on the issue of mental illness I’ll ever witness. Never in my life have I felt so spoken down to. If not for the fact my phone was already pretty well fucked with a screen that had been smashed to pieces (technical terms), I would have given it a big what for on the coffee table when I came across the Twitter thread that, ostensibly, was an avenue for people like myself to share their experiences. My next best option, given my rage, was to inform the curator of the thread that he was a cunt. So, I told him he was a cunt.
I realize that not everyone is of the same attitude, that not everyone feels that they are able to speak about their experiences, however, I take exception to people waving the flag for speaking up on social networking sites. I especially take exception when the curator of such a thread goes about it in such a way as to be insulting & then rubs our noses in it by openly bathing himself in the glory of a job supposedly well done. Social networking sites simply are not the place to instigate such discussions, for it ultimately degenerates into a dick swinging contest: “I’ll see your depression & raise you with OCD….” “Oh, OCD? Is that all you’ve got for me? I’ll re-raise you with self harm & owning a Celine Dion record….” and in the end, who benefits? Quite simply, it’s not the job of self interested individuals to try & raise awareness, not least for the fact that most people, those who suffer especially, will see through it as being the cheap, ego-maniacal stunt that it is. I’ll happily leave the job of raising awareness to the likes of beyondblue & the Black Dog Institute in conjunction with those who wish to speak out with the genuine aim of helping others. And what a job they do.
That Twitter thread did do me one favour, though, as did this blog post of a friend of mine: it gave me a reminder of how far I’ve come on my own journey through illness. I’ve since found myself thinking back to my weekly Monday visits to the Royal Melbourne Hospital for my appointments with Sarah, an angel in my life who, despite her relative inexperience at first, was able to unlock & rediscover parts of my psyche & abilities to be compassionate (or at least try to be) that I thought were non-existent or lost. She used to videotape the odd session & then make me sit there & watch them the following week: about 6 months into our sessions I do remember her making me watch our very first session & her commenting, “Have a fucking look at you there, you’re like a scared little dog.” We swore openly in our sessions, I think that’s why she helped so much; I was just able to be myself & comment openly on my feelings. Her experiment of going for a coffee on a crowded Melbourne thoroughfare to see how I reacted? I didn’t enjoy that one so much, that was fucking torture at the time, but I knew what she was trying to do & now recall it fondly. After an initial 12 month period of seeing her weekly, I saw her, on & off, for 8 years until I was 27.
I fully support the endeavours of those who care enough to raise awareness on the issue of mental health & the importance of talking our issues through, whatever they may be. It is precisely for these reasons that I refuse to stand idly by whilst self interested, ego-maniacal pigs cheapen their efforts with glib offerings of support under the guise of being altruistic. That, simply, is so very wrong on so many levels that it defies belief; it is the last thing anyone needs, much less anyone who’s suffering. Of course, this is my opinion only, and I may stand to be criticised, but that’s OK, I can handle criticism. What I can’t handle is the exploitation of the issue at heart.