There is a common misconception and stereotype that people with mental illnesses and/or chronic illnesses are always depressed, unhappy, miserable and hopeless. Of course, there is the other stereotype that when we are quiet, it is because we are plotting our next mass stabbing because we are all psychopathic killers.
Needless to say, in real life, this isn’t the case. We can be happy and there can be times when things are going well, making you feel more positive. I am definitely guilty of not acknowledging the good news as much as I should. Part of that is out of fear. The good times don’t last forever and it can be really hard when they cease or diminish.
At the moment, things are going well. There. I said it. Just over a week ago, I had major surgery and I am recovering well. I was dreading surgery due to previous experiences of being very unwell post-operation, however this time it was all a lot smoother, aside from me being the patient from hell and screaming for more morphine at 3am. Not having surgery coming up, hanging over me, is making such a difference to my overall well-being. That’s not to say that my body is behaving and is suddenly free from all things EDS. I saw a friend for lunch earlier in the week and ended up needing a five hour nap to recover from actually doing something. Those days when I could be out doing stuff all day are long gone.
Last week also saw me having my first therapy session, something I have that I have needed since about the age of 17, but only been emotionally ready for since reaching my twenties. There is a level of sadness because of how awful adult mental health services are and the general lack of treatment options in my local area, forcing me to go down the private therapy route, but I hope this will be the start in addressing some of the crap that has happened in the past. I have become a pro at compartmentalising and putting things into there boxes, although these things frequently tend to explode out. No doubt, I will end up freaking out about therapy at some point soon, purely at the thought of taking things out of their boxes and exposing them and myself to the world. I’m moving on. That isn’t something that I ever imagined saying. I’m not better or recovered but I feel stable within my self and I’m learning about my abilities and capabilities.
I’m also at a stage whereby I am able to use my own experiences to help others. In September, I will be speaking at a Body Pride even in Ireland, something that I wouldn’t ever imagine doing a few years ago. I’ve been approached by Huffington Post to write some articles for them and there have been a number of occasions where I have been able to educate people about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
There bad stuff is still there, it isn’t going to disappear overnight, but I think maybe, I’m finally starting to learn how to see the good, even during the not so good times. I’m finding that things are hard in terms of anxiety, to the point that leaving the house to do the smallest of tasks results in anxiety attacks and my dismorphic body views are getting a little out of hand. It’s not okay, but I am coping.
To quote Helen Reddy “I am woman. Hear me roar.”