How much personal space should we give mental health?

Identity Crisis by Susannah B on Flickr
This question is one that I struggle with continuously. The fact that I’m actually writing about it now kind of feels ironic. So, how much personal space should we give mental health?

I often talk about MH in the media and Welsh press. I also give talks to various organisations and share my experiences in literature publications and on digital platforms. If I were honest, talking openly about MH has helped me, to a certain extent. And there we have it! It has helped – to a *certain extent.* Depression / Bipolar / BPD – whatever they wish to call it is something that I, like many, live with every single day. It affects me from the moment I open my eyes in the morning to the moment I close my eyes at night. I’m a firm believer in the value of sharing personal experiences openly. It’s one of the most effective ways in my mind of busting MH myths and doing our part in preventing stigma. It’s so important that we continue to discuss it candidly learning from each other as service users.

But, I’ve recently found myself feeling a bit tired. Tired of talking about my own experiences, although I feel I *hugely* privileged in having opportunities to publicly share my experience. But, I’ve started to feel that I have nothing more to give, like I’m dipping into an empty can. Something that doesn’t help me on a personal level. Feelings aren’t facts of course, but they do play a big role in how way we go about living our lives and the decisions we make. I’ve found myself feeling rather consumed by it all. There’s no escaping depression on a personal level – but I’ve come to what feels like a crossroads. I’ve started to find myself declining opportunities to share my personal story publicly. I’m not saying I won’t accept an invitation to share again, but at the moment, declining some opportunities feels like the right thing to do. Writing feels more authentic as does partaking in one to one conversations about MH.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself that MH issues are just a part of me. A small but sure part and I certainly hold no shame about it. I embrace it in every way I can.

But, I have to remind myself that I’ll never grant MH access to my personal identity and that it should never even come close to being granted a slice of my personal identity.

I have to remind myself that I was born to be more than mental health alone. My mother if she was still with us, would surely remind me of this. I try to promise myself in my darkest hours that I  won’t lose myself to MH – although it very much feels as I will most of the time.

I’ve found myself feeling that continuous sharing of past difficult episodes in my life could be stunting my current growth. So, if I decline an opportunity to share, it’s nothing personal. It’s just where I feel I need to be right now. Looking forwards not backwards. However, I live in hope that there are other alternative and subtle ways of making a difference, ways that are equally as valuable.

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