My name is Karen. I am a wife, a mother, I work part time. I knit, I like to cook. I like to eat. I like to read. I like to watch police documentaries, when I can’t sleep. I have a family and friends who love me. I like to run, when the mood takes me. I sing in the bath, I have a naughty sense of humour, I have two cats but would have more, and intend to end up being one of those slightly dotty old cat ladies, living in a cottage by the sea with a few cats. I am slowly getting my act together to write not one but two books. I have been to some amazing places, and met some fascinating people. I have eaten things in the name of “try everything once”. My life’s desire is to climb a live volcano. I love my life, and the things and people in it and around me.
In all of this, I also deal with a diagnosis of anxiety, and a long term mental health condition.
I live with that daily. I also will not apologise or hide that, or pretend I don’t.
Mental health conditions are still taboo. We are still supposed to just put up and shut up.
Apparently my talking about my anxiety and how I feel, how I cope, how I manage, and that I am not “better”, makes people unhappy and uncomfortable. They would rather not hear about it.
You see, having a “broken” mind, that processes things at a harder and more complicated pace than other people’s is something I should be ashamed of and hide. If I had cancer, or a long term chronic illness that had physical manifestations, it would be more acceptable (although that is also debatable, I have friends with long term physical illnesses who are also treated like second class citizens by society) for me to talk about it.
Me sharing my struggles with a part of my body that sometimes has a problem, ie MY BRAIN, is something that needs to be hidden, not talked about, not mentioned. It’s dirty, shameful, annoying and embarrassing.
It’s a sore point.
But here is the thing.
This thing, called anxiety, I have lived with all my life. I have learned it’s tricks and it’s habits. I have walked a path to a place where I can mostly see it coming and I handle it. I still have very bad wobbles, in fact I have just emerged from one, but it isn’t really going to go away just to convenience others. I work hard daily to manage my emotions and not let anxiety break me. I have had therapy, taken medication, I hold myself accountable to people who know me well, when I can feel the black tunnel approaching.
But I am NOT ashamed and I will not apologise. It’s not something I asked for, it’s not something I want to have. It is not something I have done to deserve. It is just there. It is part of me.
I will not shut up and stop talking about it just to make other people feel comfortable. When someone makes it clear that they feel my mental health is more of a problem for them, than it is for me, who lives with it daily, then it really is them that has the issue not me.
I won’t let my mental health break me. I fight daily, weekly, and monthly. It is a part of me. I would love to not have anxiety, and struggle with the dark thoughts, and pain it brings but I do.
This is me. I won’t say sorry. I won’t hide it to make others feel better.
I am not broken….