There are days where I think keeping this blog is probably foolish, and will negatively impact the way people perceive me, but then there are days like yesterday where I receive emails from people I haven’t heard from in a long time who support and praise me for being brave enough to share my story. Personally, I don’t think it’s brave. For me, it’s just living authentically. For years, I kept the severity of my mental illness on the down low. I didn’t want people to look at me differently. People knew I was ‘crazy’ but they didn’t realize how sick I actually was because I downplayed it or made light of it. But the last few years, between OCD and it’s Psychotic features, it’s been harder and harder to disguise. I honestly didn’t know what kind of reaction I’d get in response to my very candid confessions about my journey with mental illness. But so far, they’ve all been very positive. I’ve had the pleasure of helping half a dozen or more people figure out how to go about getting a Mental Health Care Plan from their GP. I’ve helped them search for therapists who specialize in particular fields or geographic locations. I’ve felt privileged being let in on the secret they’ve kept of their own mental illness. In some cases, it’s even inspired others to come forward with their stories of mental illness or addiction. Being able to touch people’s lives as intimately as that, makes this all feel worthwhile. It makes all the embarrassment and shame I feel after I hit Publish fade away when someone tells me that my post resonated with them personally, or has pushed them to seek help for themselves or given them an idea of how they can support a friend who’s unwell. I can’t begin to tell you how good that makes me feel and what a push it is to remain honest in telling my own story.
Writing my story has also helped me realize who my truest friends are. They’re the ones that support my vulnerability here, check in on me, give me feedback, or take the time to message me on tough days. Go figure, it’s mostly the people who’s businesses or causes I’ve championed over the years who haven’t given a single fuck of support. I know writing about mental illness isn’t glamorous, like a small business might be, but I’ve always been the first to ‘like’ the efforts and causes of my friends. At first it hurt me, but now I’ve realized it’s a good thing. It lets me know exactly who’s in my corner and who isn’t, who I should invest in personally and who I shouldn’t bother supporting anymore. The other day, someone I really don’t know very well asked me to let them know when I was in hospital because they wanted to drive the 4 hours to visit. Are you serious? Eight hours, back and forth, driving to come and visit me? I was so touched I cried. I certainly don’t expect this person to go to that amount of trouble, but it was such a sweet gesture that it really put the efforts of other ‘friends’ into perspective. From now on, I’m going to be more selective about who I support along the way which kind of makes me sad, because I’ve always enjoyed celebrating other people’s successes and ventures.
I’m beginning to get nervous about the ECT. I deliberately haven’t watched any negative youtube clips about it, but it’s hard to avoid finding negative perspectives of it when you do a google search. Someone even left a comment here yesterday with their own story of ECT reducing their IQ, robbing them of years of memories and the ability to form new ones. The whole memory part doesn’t worry me as much as the loss of IQ points. I have plenty of shitty memories that I’d be happy to be electrified away, but I worry about a loss of perspicacity and overall wit. I’m trying to remain positive, but even just seeing people’s WTF faces when I tell them I’m going to be having ECT is awkward to deal with. Even my granny was shocked but agrees that if it’s my choice, she’ll support me. I’ve had others message me and ask if it’s really necessary, which I totally understand. And to them, it may not seem like a risk that’s worth the potential cost. But for someone who’s been Depressed for 20 years, the idea of a clear mind that isn’t bogged down with sadness sounds incredible. A friend told me yesterday an anecdote about their friend who had ECT after years of Depression and is now living an an amazing life because the results were so successful. I think they’re the kind of things I need to focus on. Maybe I should even write a list of things I hope to be capable of doing after my ECT finishes, like getting back to work in some capacity, to have my own place again. Nothing outrageous. Just normal, average things that a 35 year old normally does. I’d be happy if the break in my depression lasted even just a few months. Even if I have to go back on a regular basis to have maintenance ECT, I could happily live with that. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to recover and live well.