While I’ve planned to mostly talk about my books, one of the things I do have to acknowledge, and is intimately tied to everything I write, is that I have mental health concerns.
The first thing I have to say is I understand that caring for people is complex and that it’s easy to fall into limiting beliefs when you’re rushed. The NHS is under incredible pressure, and it’s understandable – though not helpful for people in the middle of the situation – that some assumptions might come up. It’s really hard to say that, given what I’ve been through, and I don’t exactly forgive what’s happened because of some actions, but in an emergency setting? Though I’m critical of behaviors, I do want to be clear that I don’t really consider ‘behaviors’ the same as ‘overall care’, and that even though there’s been friction, I’ve always eventually gotten to the treatment I need, with one or two notable exceptions. Unfortunately, given my issues are mainly mental health based, it’s horrible to say that until recently, it was my mental health that both got in the way of, and wasn’t addressed remotely appropriately. And that’s damaged me quite badly, if I’m honest.
Focusing on the changes
For reasons that are too long to go into, I’ve changed from being ‘just’ bipolar (1 or 2, though we’re pretty sure I’m 2, for what it’s worth) to not bipolar, and EUPD instead, then bipolar AND EUPD, then EUPD, anxiety and bipolar traits, and finally, C-Ptsd, traits of EUPD and historic bipolar. The interviening years between being straight bipolar (in 2010, when I was placed on meds) to hitting the first change to my dx in 2014 when the same meds stopped working, to now, it’s been rough. And the biggest thing that’s taken a ding is my identity. And with that, my writing has been killed dead. And for someone whose written since she was four (apparently), it’s been a really hard thing to adjust to. Not only the stigma attached to the different diagnosis changes (and believe it or not, they change based on the dx itself – in my experience so far, EUPD has been the worst. Worse even than bipolar disorder, even 20 years ago, when I was first diagnosed), but the fact that my brain has skidded completely to a halt and I’m in a physical and mental dead end. I’ve gone from running businesses, writing and publishing, blogging regularly and being highly interactive on groups I help out on, to withdrawing into myself and finding that everything is amazingly hard.
Something I’m not used to
Of course, because it’s been hard, and because I’ve always pulled through *somehow*, it’s been a massive adjustment. And now, in the last six months, I’ve been given another new diagnosis, one that’s just coming onto the scene in general (many articles are from 2018, from a cursory google).
Complicated into all of this though is one of my closest friends (a woman I’d adopted as my sister) died in December, which knocked me for six. I’m still processing that grief, but it’s something I’ve never had to deal with as an adult, and, as part of my mental health issues centre around self-soothing and blame, it’s been really horrible to try and process losing her to cancer without being able to write, and how broken it’s left me.
But I’ve always been pretty open and honest about the ups and downs of my mental health. It’s mostly down at the moment, or at least coming up from being down if I’m lucky, but I guess there are bright sides to all of this.
The first is I have a tribe. It’s hard for me to acknowledge that I need help, but there are people there that can help me. My mental health team, my GP, my fiancee (who is an angel), and my friends make up that tribe.
Second, it’s important to acknowledge that I AM in the UK, which means that though I’m facing down cuts in the things I might be able to access (and historically, dreadful care for a period of years), I’ve at least got access to meds, and a psych and a psych nurse who sees me twice a month or so. I’ve got someone trying to lead me back to being better, trying to help me understand that I’m too hard on myself (with the rest of the people around me) and that it’s ok to not manage sometimes. And that I try to do too much – it’s hard not to, given how rapidly I ‘stopped’ everything, and that I need to ‘think smaller’. Not that my goals are unachievable, but that I need to look at the smaller steps instead of measuring myself against the overall goal. Something, again, that’s hard for me to do.
What does this mean for my brand?
Honestly? I’m honest and open about my mental health anyway, so it’s just an update really. Mental health influences my writing in subtle and overt ways. The most overt, obviously is that it’s stopped me from writing for a while. I’m hoping that this will change, and that the #AtoZchallenge might help. Blogging again is something that feels great.