When I started this blog, it was with the intention of keeping my mental health advocacy somewhat organised and to hold myself accountable in regards to my recovery. (And to be able to express my tangential thoughts without interruption.)
Then, hypomania got the better of me and I got it into my head that I was going to be a professional mental health writer (alongside the already existing careers, of which there are five on a normal day and at least twice as many when I’m hypomanic.) So, for about a week I was churning out ideas for articles, blog posts, pinterest pins and instagram stories; I was on canva coming up with designs and got these horrendous google ads. When I came back down, I literally forgot the blog even existed.
Well, I still like the idea of keeping a mental health blog. If anyone reading this is also following me on instagram, you know I’m avid and candid poster. But I took the fun out of blogging for myself when I started thinking of it as a “passive stream of income” (yeuch.)
So the blog is staying, but the ads are going. They’re hideous anyway, not to mention they stand for everything that is wrong with the world, and literally the opposite of what I’m meant to be “preaching” on here anyway.
I was having an imaginary conversation in my head as I was walking home from the shop a minute ago, where I was explaining where I stand in regards to psychiatric medications. (As you do…)
I make no secret that I was on meds for quite a few years after my initial diagnosis or that they did more harm then good to my mental and overall health, so the choice I’ve made for myself was to go off them and to try my hardest to get (and stay) stable through lifestyle choices and other coping strategies instead, which I have.
Now, I am not saying that this is the right choice for everybody. I am not saying that I have an issue with or judge anyone for medicating — or self-medicating! I know what that deep, dark hole is like. When you’re fighting tooth and nail to not jump in front of a train and everything is just foggy, numb pain and there’s this persistent certainty inside you that your mere existence makes you a horrible, selfish person and you’re such a burden on literally everyone, including the little lady over there walking her dog… you’ll try anything to keep that shit at bay, even if it turns out to be destructive in the long run, and why wouldn’t you? Believe me, I get it. Recovery is a long and arduous process and I’m not about to judge anyone who’s going through it.
I don’t even have an issue with individual doctors or mental health professionals; I have an issue with the system, and if you want to get really radical about it, with society. Because whether we’re talking about mental health services or education or whatever, all of these systems and especially their flaws, are constructed to fit within the larger, deeply fucked up system that is our society.
Our society is not conducive of happiness and well-being, whether you have a mental illness or not. It just isn’t. Between the hamster wheel that is arbitrary labour and the domino effect of ideals, you’d be insane if you were truly happy… (insane, or you know, financially stable and off the grid.)
And this is intentional. Because if you were actually happy and healthy, you wouldn’t be spending a fortune on pointless products and self-improvement.
And I know that none of this is news. I know we’ve all read the books and watched the TED talks. I have the same epiphany at least four times a year. Yet, the number of times I buy stupid shit from instagram ads or fret about my lockdown weight gain and buy resistance bands and workout clothes or feel a bit low and impulse buy a few books off of amazon, is closer to four times a month.
And I get so frustrated with myself every time I fall back into the trap. But we’re all conditioned to, so I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself…
I am in a good place right now, I’ll have days when I feel a bit low and drained, but my foundation is solid. I’m happy. And I didn’t get that shit from an ad on social media. The stuff that makes me happy and keeps me healthy are basic lifestyle things and doing more of the stuff I love and less of the stuff I don’t. (That is a luxury in itself, I know.)
But also, genuine connections with people who don’t want to sell me stuff. Other creatives who actually just want to discuss ideas without plugging anything (that is very rare — if you’re a creative and you have a friend who is actually happy to brainstorm or catch up with you, don’t ever let them go!) or other mental health advocates who are all about connection and mutual support (without turning it into a business and getting so caught up with generating traffic and engagement that it all becomes canned.)
I guess, what I’m trying to say is that I realise that life is pretty awesome, but we all have to discover and rediscover that for ourselves. No amount of hashtag positive vibes is going to do that for us.