All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…

I Forgot to Remember to Forget

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victimblaming

For the last several weeks I have been considering ending my blog for a myriad of reasons, most notably because I am tired of being told that all I need to do to rectify over twenty-one years of mental health problems, trauma and abuse is to simply ‘get over it’.

Over the years I have done my best to describe the difficulty of living with mental illness but in recent weeks I’ve come to realize that my writing is not good enough to explain the complexities of these conditions and the challenges some people face in order to live more contributing lives.

Living with unsupported (not by choice) and un-medicated (again, not by choice) mental illness is beyond difficult – especially when that ‘living’ is done in abject poverty and isolation.

In recent weeks the ‘get over it’ mentality that has been thrown at me has caused tremendous distress and self-hate. It has fuelled my descent into alcoholism, my withdrawal from the world, increased self-harm and confirmed my belief that I am a failure; that I am simply weak because I have been unable to move past the (multiple forms of) abuse I received.

I am all too aware of what I need to do. I am not an idiot. I am not stupid. I am not lazy and I am certainly not someone who doesn’t work for a better future. If it was as simple as just ‘getting over it’ I would have done this years ago.

All I have done for six years is work myself to the bone for a better future (my years of fighting to get off the streets, my years of battling for support and mental stability, my years of trying to break free of social isolation and poverty, my years of combatting the trauma of abuse, my years of trying whatever therapy option I can get my hands on, my years of trying to improve my education and employment opportunities, my years of trying to raise awareness and help others who are suffering to realize they are not alone in this war) when it would have been all too easy to give up and drink myself to death.

But telling someone to just ‘get over’ trauma is naïve, pretentious and deeply insulting. It is akin to telling someone suffering from depression to just ‘cheer up’ or a victim of rape to ‘forget about’ what happened to them. A counselor I saw a few weeks ago described it as victim blame mentality, for it shows a complete lack of understanding of mental illness, abuse trauma and how these two issues feed into each other. It minimizes the effort someone is making to overcome their illness and blames them for not being strong enough to just ‘get over’ whatever is happening to them.

Three days ago I woke up following one of the most visceral dreams of my life. A dream so vivid I thought I had Quantum Leaped back into my July-2007 self! Upon waking, the pain I had relived was so intense – so real – I promptly vomited over my bed, bedside bookshelf and books. I haven’t slept since because I’m too scared to do so.

I cannot control my subconscious dreaming any more than the next person can, and no amount of telling me to just ‘get over’ these events is going to stop the constant parade of nightmares that constantly hurl me back into those times, especially without support or distraction.

Many people struggle to fight issues of mental illness, abuse and homelessness when surrounded by friends, family and professional support – let alone someone who has spent almost every minute of the last six years (bar six months in 2008) completely on their own.

So if this failure to just ‘get over’ my illness and trauma makes me weak, useless, pathetic, lazy, selfish, worthless and someone who isn’t working hard enough – all things people have called me for not being able to fix myself over the years – then I guess that’s who I am.

Personally, I prefer to see myself in a different way.

But I would say that, wouldn’t I?

Postscript:

I haven’t decided whether or not I will be ending my blog yet. Although the reasons are real and valid (in addition to the above: I’m a bad writer, I have nothing original to say, I’m effing tired of life, there are many people who raise awareness far better than I) with all I’ve been through over the years I am more than aware my current depression is the central voice beyond this thought. I have made irrational decisions based on my mental health in the past – such as the instigation of my suicide plan in 2006 – and do not wish to make a firm decision whilst lost in this state. Until I’ve made this decision my blog will remain and I am going to try to post more frequently than I have of late.

As for other areas of my ‘life’:

  • I have made efforts to begin dealing with my current alcoholism (however much I hate to use that word, I can no longer deny it, for I have consumed more alcohol in 2013 than I have in the five years between 2008-2012 combined! Hmmmm? Does that mean people will now begin accepting me as ‘Australian’? :p)
  • I am also trying to seek psychiatric care but have been told an appointment will not be available until March/April at the earliest as I’m not in ‘crisis’. Yay the mental health system in Australia!
  • I have also begun working with a new therapy called ‘Mindmapping’, which I will explain in a post later this week (hopefully).
  • My internet connectivity is still buggered. I humbly apologise to people who have emailed me over my lack of reply. I am not deliberately avoiding doing so. Sorry.
  • This is the first time I’ve logged into my blog for weeks, so more apologies for not responding to comments that have been left. I will endeavor to get to them soon.
  • Current 2013 smile count = 3½  (upon receiving a Christmas card, listening to Amy MacDonald, upon waking following a dream about Stephanie and whilst watching the Doctor Who episode ‘School Reunion’ – although this was a bittersweet sad smile upon seeing Elisabeth Sladen (RIP), hence the ½.)

Here’s hoping you’ve all had a better start to the year than me :)

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18 thoughts on “I Forgot to Remember to Forget

  1. You are such a brilliant writer. When I read your words, it all seems so vivid. I genuinely hope you continue to blog and allow the blogging community to reach out to you and hear your experiences.

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    • I just nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award :)

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      • Thank you for your wonderfully kind comment and award nomination (which I’ll accept with a post soon) :)

        At this moment I am trying to continue the blog. Although I question myself from time to time, I’ve always been a little proud of what I’ve done with this blog and feel giving it up over depression fuelled negative thoughts and self-doubt would be somewhat silly.

        Hopefully you’ll continue enjoying my blog as I try to get back into more regular posting :)

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  2. bloggers on here have been telling you this? I think you need some new readers. I know that I haven’t seen you on here in a while, but I didn’t know you were feeling this way. Please, stay with us, and block those people saying just get over it. this is the only therapy you have right now. Writing down your feelings is important. Who cares if it is repeatitive. I write about one of my struggles over and over lol. But it is something I need to do. In your situation, it would be impossible to just get over it. I hope that you can find better blog readers and get rid of those that have a negative impact on you. xx

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    • Thanks for your kind words and accept my apologies for taking so long to respond. Internet access is still difficult and I can only get online when I’m able to head to the library or an internet cafe.

      Repetition of events is something I’ve noticed a lot on the blog over the years, but this is purely down to how the abuse has affected me. It’s not just that I’m choosing to repeat myself, but my brain is constantly replaying and repeating those events. So when I look at the repitions on the blog, I realise it’s merely an online reflection of the trauma my mind replays.

      I am trying to blog more regularly again in the hope it will lift me from this episode :)

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  3. When someone tells you to get over it, ask them this question, “would you blame a stabbing victim for bleeding?” See if that gives them some insight.

    Please do continue to write. Not all of your readers comment, but some, like me, seek greater understanding of the suffering of others and find your words illuminating and beautiful, even if we don’t always say so.

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    • >>When someone tells you to get over it, ask them this question, “would you blame a stabbing victim for bleeding?” See if that gives them some insight.

      This is a fantastic analogy and it’s absolutely right. No-one (unless you’re completely devoid of empathy) would blame someone for this, so why do people blame the victims of emotional/psychological abuse for what’s happened to them.

      Although I haven’t been posting as frequently as I once was, I am trying to post more regularly again. Thank you for your kind words about my writing, accepting compliments is something I’ve never been good at (and have had many conversations with counselors about this over the years) but it means a lot to me that you see my writing in this way :)

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  4. Pingback: Very Inspiring Blogger Award « So You Think You Can Think

  5. Oh, my sweet friend. You have been listening to the wrong people. You are not a bad writer. You are not a bad person. You are a good writer and a good person trying to get by in incredibly shitty circumstances. Fuck anyone who says otherwise (not literally). You cannot just “get over it” any more than i can, anymore than any of us can. It’s a struggle, all the time, every day. KEEP STRUGGLING. KEEP FIGHTING. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep drawing deep breaths. Keep writing. i am on the other side of the world but my hands are reaching out to you, my arms are open for you. And i’m not the only one rooting for you, i’m not the only one caring about you, i’m not the only one worrying about you, and i’m certainly not the only one available to you, but i am all of those things and more. i am here for you, always, my friend. i care. i love. i’m here.

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  6. I’m sure what you write in your blog has helped at least some people around the world who read it, felt a connection, and understood the message. It’s very authentic. Your writings tell it as it actually is. No pretences of instant solutions along the lines of “if you do this-and-that, the problem will go away”.

    Having been through numerous bad experiences, some similar to yours, others different, I can relate to the problems you’re facing. Flashbacks and relapses of down feelings still happen when triggered. Guess having a good memory is a double-edged sword.

    Recovery takes time and there’s no magic formula or number. It varies greatly from person to person plus surrounding circumstances.

    I wish you well in your endeavours and may you be able to rise up again no matter how long it may take. All the best!

    (From a silent reader in Malaysia, where awareness about depression is sadly close to non-existent.)

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  7. Dear Addy, your posts have been missed. I am sorry that you are experiencing increased challenges. I recently saw the play Next to Normal and there was a part where the main character was told that she could grieve a death for 4 months and then she had to “get over it”. And her response was “who can put a timeframe on grieving”. And I say how can put a timeframe on healing? It’s one foot in front of the other for each of us. Everyday you are on the planet it’s another step in your healing. I’m personally glad you’re here. I look forward to your increased posts.

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    • Hi.

      Thank you for your beautifully kind words :) I’m not familiar with that play but her response is perfect. We all grieve differently, so just because one person can put their trauma behind them realtively quickly, doesn’t mean the person who can’t is any less a person.

      I am still here, and I am still breathing, which is the most important thing at the moment. Hopefully my posts will continue (two posts in two days and counting!) and I can keep moving forward :)

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