I was so moved by Sinéad O’Connor’s heartfelt cry for help a few weeks ago. And very glad to hear she’s doing better. I listened to Russell Brand’s response and as always, was really touched by how much wisdom and empathy he demonstrates for mental health issues. One comment in particular was very illuminating,
Really what Sinéad O’Connor, like anyone suffering with mental health issues needs, is connection, meaning, purpose, love, and a bit of time
How true is that? If the whole world felt connected and loved, if we all had meaning and purpose in our lives, it would be a very different world. I’m sure mental health issues would still exist, but at a lesser rate, and treated with compassion and empathy rather than fear and disdain.
I give the illusion I’m doing really well. I have moved past the worst of depression and anxiety, and I function – for the most part – really well every day. In the big scheme of mental health issues, I’m doing okay – although I may not be the best person to judge such a thing.
I’m fortunate I have connections and love in my life – I am very blessed in this department. As a child, love was conditional and I felt emotionally disconnected, which had a big impact on me. But I am no longer a child, and now have strong, loving relationships and connections. I cannot imagine where I would be without those connections. In fact, I cannot imagine I would be here without them.
I’ve found in middle-age, meaning and purpose have become problematic. Children grow and leave home, the flush of youth is long gone, career changes, relationship and financial turmoil. Grief, stress, worry. Dreams die. Doors close. Many of us never learned the fine art of managing stress in a healthy manner. It is the collision of an excessive number of stresses in a very short period of time, with a complete lack of emotional regulation tools, that personally brought me undone. While I’ve always had disordered eating and body image issues, I was 46 years old when it blew up and escalated into the major issue I have today.
And now? I’ve nailed connections and love – I’m confident about this. But I’ve got no idea about the meaning and purpose of my life any more. Well that’s not entirely true… I had no idea, but now I’m exploring ideas and hoping something will become clear and inspiring and make sense.
I’m not good with the unknown – I want someone to say, Your future holds this and this and you’re gonna love it! Patience is not my virtue. Like everybody else, I’m going to have to figure out what hopes and dreams I can find for the future, and work out how to achieve them. The tricky part, is finding the desire to look.
I spend a little time most days pondering mental health stuff – how I got here, how I’ll get out of it, am I making all this shit up. I found Russell Brand’s succinct summary really illuminating – it demonstrates how lucky I am with the supports I have. I wish I could easily change the bad habits I’ve accrued and just move on. I wish it were as simple as knowing what to do. In the meantime, I’ll keep up the illusion of improvement. Because the illusion is not for your benefit – it’s for me. The more I tell myself I’m recovering, I’m getting better, it’s all going to be okay, the more I start to believe it.