TW: contains mild references to SH
As regular readers of my blog will know, I’ve recently stopped involving my parents in the particulars of my illness and have embarked upon a lone struggle. I try as much as possible to maintain a certain poise around my family. I make sure they see me up, showered and dressed through the day. I keep the house clean and tidy while everyone else is out at work. I join the family at the dinner table each evening. All very basic stuff, but the best I can do at the moment and enough to have me feeling run-down and exhausted most of the time. Meanwhile, I attend appointments alone, keep track of my own meds and use Twitter to vent when I need to.
However, living with my parents, it is inevitable that these two worlds will collide from time to time. Friday past is a perfect example of that. Perhaps due to the scenario described above, my SH has been particularly bad of late…I need to release pent up emotion somehow, right? Having had a particularly arduous double appointment with my GP and practice nurse, which even saw me become uncharacteristically emotional amongst people who seemed to care so much, I returned home to be ambushed at the door by my Dad. To cut a long story short, he asked (in a particularly accusatory manner) where I’d been. It was a rhetorical question and it was clear we were about to address the long-term elephant in the room.
To be clear, I don’t want this post to be an attempt to turn you all against my Dad. I fully understand that his main concern is my safety and that he only wants me well again, but here are some of the things he pointed out/accused me of:
Making a ‘choice’ to live my life like this.
Not trying hard enough to help myself.
He acknowledged that professionals might seem compassionate and sympathetic, but only because they are paid to be so. He thinks they are all secretly fed up with me and probably talking about me behind my back.
He said that just because I have a MH condition, I don’t need to SH. This implies that I use my illness as an excuse to SH, right?
Finally, he said all the standard things about me being lucky enough to have a loving family, how there are people much worse off (starving African children etc.)…
I realise this is known as the ‘cruel to be kind’ approach and he was merely attempting to ‘shock’ me into recovery. But, my God, has he done the opposite. My parents and I have had numerous joint sessions with members of the CMHT. They have been fully educated around my illness, SH, treatments, what helps, what doesn’t. They have been told that, when I already feel vulnerable, the most helpful thing is for them to show me some compassion. Whether that be for them to help me dress wounds, take me to A&E if necessary or just give me a hug.
The point I’m trying to make is that here is someone who has lived with me and my illness for years, and who has been given plenty of help around understanding MH and its symptoms, but who still discriminates, believes I am choosing this horrendous existence, thinks I should be able to give myself a shake. If our loved ones make us feel stigmatised, ostracised, like someone existing only to cause pain to ourselves and those around us…what chance do we have on a National level?