Here's a post I put on my Facebook page today, following yesterday's 'confession': It's amazing how liberated I feel now I understand it. One of the good things to come out of my son's eating disorder (and my battle to help him overcome it) is that it helped me understand mental health problems, raise awareness of them and recognise that stuff I'd battled with on a personal level for decades and felt 'weak' about and 'to blame' wasn't my fault, just as it's not my fault that my eyes are blue. The sense of liberation, the more I accept all of this, is truly incredible. I have also been very fortunate to have excellent support from NHS mental health services over the past 18 months, on and off.
You see I was always a very strong person in the sense that I always fought for what I felt was right. I was very strong-willed, from a very early age, right from the time I decided to walk out of nursery school because I didn't like it (thankfully somebody found little three-year-old me walking down the road and brought me back).
So the episodes in my life when I've dipped deep into what I now know was depression and anxiety, starting with a particularly nasty and lengthy episode when I was about 15 years of age, puzzled me. Because here I was, essentially a very strong willed person, and yet seemingly so incredibly weak that I'd ended up in this mess, unable to find a way out. Not surprisingly, I used to punish myself about it and feel I'd failed massively, and that I wasn't this strong person, I was a total fake.
But now I know that far from being weak during these episodes I was actually extremely strong, especially as on each occasion I managed to pull myself through by one method or another, not always the most healthy methods, but sometimes, unknowingly, they were. Lately, I've had excellent support from the NHS mental health services, been able to draw on the knowledge I already have as a result of my son's eating disorder, and obtain some exceptionally useful self-help books and articles, thanks to the Internet, all of which have led to a greater understanding of why I have felt like I have on occasions over the years.
I also recently read Ruby Wax's book Sane New World which gave a superb insight into her own struggles with mental health and offered some useful, easy to understand CBT and mindfulness tools. I am so pleased that, increasingly, mental health issues are coming out of the closet. They are no longer brushed under the carpet, are taboo or something to be ashamed of.
So not only is it incredibly liberating to be able to understand all of this and accept it for what it is, not for what it isn't, it's just really nice to know that I always was a strong person even when I felt convinced and disgusted that I was weak.
And this is really, really good to know.