Six Cats and a Black Dog: The Blog for Mental Health Pledge
For some time I’ve been planning on writing more about my own mental health experiences. Thus far, with the exception of a very open post on Terri Giuliano Long’s blog (Notes on Depression: The Darkest Day), I haven’t really followed through. Why? Well, I suppose that mostly it comes down to this: despite gradually becoming more able to talk about my experiences, I still can’t shake the feeling that other people won’t want to hear them. That it’s going to be perceived as wallowing or self-indulgent. That I’m somehow going to be considered to be ‘bringing it on myself’. And, if you’re reading this and you have/have had mental health problems, you probably know exactly why I face these worries because you’ve probably encountered this kind of stigma and these kinds of attitude.
So when I saw the Blog For Mental Health Challenge, it was the kick up the proverbial that I really needed. So I will – as the mood takes me or as I think of something that seems worth sharing – share some of my experiences.
This is the pledge:
“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2015 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”
Six Cats and a Black Dog has long been a title I’ve had in mind because as much as I owe to my friends and family for their help, understanding and patience during troubled times, I cannot overstate the role my cats have played. Their intuitiveness, their loving natures, the fact that they love you just as much on good days as bad, all of these things have made my furry friends my constant cheering mascots in good times and bad. The black dog is a cunning adversary but my six beautiful beasties fight just as hard as I do to keep it at bay. Therefore, this little set of posts is dedicated to them.
I’ve already far exceeded the ‘brief’ introduction I planned so I won’t embark on a brand new post. Instead, let me share some words from a piece I wrote two years ago. Two years on, much better, much more positive, I don’t look back and feel shame at my words or consider them self-indulgent. Instead, I look back and realise how far I’ve come, how dark the place I’ve come from was and how great the journey. There is a long way to go but I am determined stigma won’t be an added weight on my future travels.
In the 13 years since I was originally diagnosed with clinical depression – hospitalised, medicated and then after two weeks returned home as if nothing had happened – I have never found a way to explain depression that sums it up more completely than the absence of normal feeling. Intense anger will rise up, or intense self-loathing, intense sadness or overwhelming loneliness. Extremes. The feeling of satisfaction from a job well done or vague pleasure after a chat with a neighbour? Gone.
I was honest with my husband, Dave. I told him: I look at you and I feel nothing. I know I love you but I don’t feel it, any more than I can touch gravity or the sky. To his credit, he simply nodded, held my hand, thanked me for my explanation.
Are you taking part in Blog for Mental Health 2015? Let me know your site link!