What if everyone experienced mental illness during their life? I think most have and either remained blissfully ignorant, unwilling to deal with it (it is confronting after all), quietly sought help but never disclosed to anyone, loudly enjoyed their mental difference or are wonderfully resilient and live a life of great balance. Balance is a key word. You can’t be happy all the time. You need rain for a rainbow so to speak.
This stay in hospital is very different from my many previous admissions. I always came in during crisis moments in my life. It was like I waited until I hit rock bottom before I sought help or help was thrust onto me. I have never been involuntarily admitted but I have been in a locked ward for my own safety. I am happy to say those days are long behind me. Making the choice to admit myself for intervention is quite a revelation and I am very proud of myself.
So this stay is different because I am relatively sound of mind. Yes I was feeling quite depressed but the root of the depression was more physical than emotional. So I am here in a mental health facility with some genuinely very unwell people. They are all very social and friendly but also very much focused on wanting to engage in conversations about where they are sitting with their diagnosis. Without meaning to sound like an arsehole, I just don’t want to have those kind of conversations. I have been there, done that. It’s more for self preservation than anything else. I am not better than them and don’t for one minute think that way. I am just at a different stage of that journey now.
I was looking at all the group activities available and there certainly is a plethora of choice. I might even go to a couple tomorrow and Monday. The best thing about my current admission is the growth of the hospital and the facilities on offer. There is now a cafe on site. I am sitting here and listening to barista sounds, music in the background, people chatting and feeling like I could be at a cafe near home or in a shopping Centre. It’s very comforting and ordinary.
So I am feeling appropriately upset about the silence from some close people in my life. Please don’t read into this thinking this is you or any certain person. This is an observation coming from lived experience. Either parenting an autistic child where you are avoided or people say “Oh I am so sorry” or having a mental illness meaning that some people you thought you could count on immediately drop out of your life. Learning that it’s them not me is a painful conclusion to arrive at. I am not also trying to make anyone feel bad or judged. I just want to write about it. Approaching a friend who has had a death in the family is difficult, or who has had a miscarriage or who has lost their job or some other kind of catastrophic even. The thing is; you can’t really say anything that will make them feel worse. They don’t feel awkward at all. They are incredibly grateful and understanding that you have stepped beyond your own comfort zone and come to sit with them even in silence and be their rock.
It is inevitable that one day whether you are in the midst of a mental health crisis or some other terrible event in your life, you will need people to be there for you. You will hope they can overcome their understandable fear of saying the wrong thing and come to you and sit with you. Solace is not a solitary experience it really should be endured with another.