Will you sit beside me
It's #mentalhealthawareness week and the theme this year is kindness. I've been thinking about the times when I've found it hard to be kind to myself and the same moments kept coming up. The times of real darkness, when I've been so depressed and anxious that I can't feel the sun when it shines, when I feel so low that I forget what it is to smile or so anxious that I forget how it feels to be steady on my feet.
I have had periods of time off work due to my mental health and those are the times when I feel doubly shit - like I'm properly nearing the end of my sanity. When you're in the middle of a dark period it's easy to believe that you're not nice to be around, you're annoying, irritating, frustrating to be with and it can lead to shutting people out. When I'm not okay I go inwards, I don't talk to people, I ask people not to contact me and to understand that I won't be in contact with them. I can go off grid for months. And then return bright and shiny once the episode is over.
I'm realising more and more that this response is rooted in feeling unworthy when I am ill, it's about me not feeling enough and essentially being scared of being too much for my friends, family and my partner.
It's hard not to feel this way when society tells you that you're only worth something if you are "productive", "contribute" or are "happy". It means I hide away when the pain is at it's fullest and return when I am feeling more "normal". I know that when I am ill all I really want is to ask those I love to sit beside me, to stay while I feel all sorts of upside down. And I just don't. I don't ask for anything. I forget that my friends are the family that I have chosen, that they don't base my worth on whether I am happy, I forget that my partner can sit with my pain and doesn't think I'm over the top. I forget that all of what I am feeling is just another side of my humanity, that it is a side of normal to have these dark periods and that people all over the globe from the beginning of time have had the same feelings and thoughts as me and that I am not alone. So I've made a pledge to myself to be more #kind and ask those I love to stay next time the waves rise.