Warning. Longer post, it’s story time.
When I realised I had mental health issues I made a choice. I’m not going to keep quiet about it. I’m going to speak up. I wanted to break the stigmas, the taboos and all the other shit keeping people from being open about their issues. Doing so I hoped to show people who haven’t experienced mental health issues what it can feel like and what it does to you, but most importantly to try to normalise it so that other people who might suffer from similar issues don’t feel so alone and isolated.
Up until now this decision and me acting accordingly has only been something I’ve done for myself. Being honest about how I feel helpt me stay sane and I ressurected my blog to write down my general thoughts and ideas as well as the feelings, emotions, sensations and thoughts I have/feel right as I have an anxiety attack or (lacking a btter word) a depression spiral as a way do deal with them. The hope that someone would learn something or feel better from reading my blog or hear me talk about my issues was always there but never something I seriously considered. Little me teaching someone something? No way. Me having a positive impact on someones life? Never in a million years. Those admirable goals of being a positive change in society were only pretentious excuses to not wear a mask quite as often as I would have to otherwise.
At leat that’s what I thought up until last weekend.
In highschool my mental health (or rather, the lack there of) forced me to change classes from natural sciences to humanities since I was unable to keep up with the pace. I was very open to my new class about where I was coming from and why I still didn’t have the energy to show up to class every day. My classmates were understanding and even though I never really become close friends with any of them I got along well with most of them and actually hit it of quite well with a few (can you say ‘hit it of’ without it implying dating?).
Even though the less intense courses had a slight improvement on my ability to study it was far from enough. After struggling for a year and a half I decided to drop out of highschool having achieved next to nothing. I went on with my life barely sparing a thought to the classmates I left behind, up until last weekend when I ran into one of them at the bar.
After a meeting with a political group we decided to go to a bar and as the evening progresses it gets more and more crowded. Several groups come and go at the table next to us until I notice one of our latest neighbours waves at me. I recognise the face but who is it? I wave back and we both return to the discussions at our respective tables. Of course. Highschool. Now I remember.
Eventually there is some breathing room and we get together at the same table. We exchange plesantries. Ask each other what we’re up to nowadays. The usual. Then they get emotional and tell me how me being open about my problems, talking about it in class and then later writing about them here helped them deal with their own problems.
I know this was exactly the effect I hoped my decision would have, but this was the first time someone told mr about their experiences regarding to my decision. It was overwhelming and beautiful to hear. Even if my decision only helped this one person it has been worth all the strange looks I’ve gotten from people who aren’t used to talking about mental health. All the comments about it not being something you talk about in the public. Because if I don’t talk about it, who will? How else will they get used to it? How else do we normalise mental health issues?