I’ve spent more time on nurturing myself this year than any other.
I have felt, at times, that I haven’t been as much as a rock to people as I have been in the past. I’ve spent a lot of my time in the past trying to ‘fix’ things and people, thinking I can solve their issues if I just listened to them, helped them. And, often, I think it did help, it did work – it was worthwhile and the good, best, most helpful thing to do.
But also, it was often detrimental to myself and others, too. Sometimes I tried to help people that weren’t really interested in being helped, who hurt me in return. Sometimes my efforts were just totally misguided and my intervention wasn’t what that situation or person needed at the time.
And, in nearly all cases, I spent myself. I gave a lot of energy and it wasn’t sustainable. My mum mentioned it to me in passing a few years ago that I “try to take broken people under my wing to fix them” or something to that effect. And, honestly, I’d never seen it like that because all I would see were other people doing so much more than me.
I think as an emotional person – hypersensitive, perhaps – I have a lower tolerance for how much I can do, how much I can -try- to help.
This had gone on for years. And I have deteriorated over the years, due to this and so, so many other reasons.
Despite my privilege, my support networks, my luck and my ups, I had deteriorated. My mental (and, sometimes physical) health unsettled and on a knife-edge on too many occasions.
So 2018 was really, truly different.
I really don’t know what it was, whether it was meeting Michael or finding true passions or being more career focused than ever, or focusing on recovery from my injury. Whatever the catalyst(s) or reasons, it remains that I became very selfish.
Not that past years didn’t have their selfishness – they did. But this feels more deliberate.
I’ve been focusing a lot of energy to reflect on my own issues.
In a really, conscious way, almost therapeutically.
You see, I’ve had to spend a lot of time with myself and I didn’t really like myself. At all. For a myriad of reasons – some implanted by an abusive ex, or traumatic childhood memories about friendship, some your basic anxieties about physicality, regrets, mistakes.
I reflected, consciously and unconsciously. I tried to work out why I would just blow up at the tiniest reason, why the smallest of things could throw me into a suicidal spiral (and of course, big things could, too).
It’s been a fuck ton of work, in all honesty. And it’s largely invisible, which I think is important for me, as my feelings about sharing tend to be more reflective than immediate. Though I think the danger is, especially with social media, everything can appear to be so perfect with somebody. I think my own social media has shown a very effortless happiness that is never going to be real.
It is interesting that 2018 is the first year that I can remember that I haven’t wanted to kill myself. Not even once.
And I’m sorry to be so blunt; I know this sounds dramatic but I’ve long had very serious issues with my mental health. It’s not a secret. But it’s been worse than I let on over the years. The times I spent in hospital or talked about it online, or to those close to me, have only really been the tip of the iceberg.
And that’s not to say that spending more time with yourself, and being selfish, is going to fix you. Or that it fixed me. This year may have been a lucky one not wholly credited to ‘magical reflection and facing of issues’ – life and mental health is more complex than that.
This is not a post about a recovery year or being cured because that isn’t how (my) mental health works.
I don’t think I’ll ever be over my mental health issues, they’re too much a part of me to just disappear.
But I’m spending more time equipping myself with the tools to cope with feelings of inadequacy a little better.
‘A steep learning curve’ reflects the year and its stages, for me. It’s rough and isn’t the most perfect it could be but I think that’s the point. I’m tired of thinking I need to create the most perfect thing when all I’m doing is learning.
Putting it together has brought me so much joy and I have just been watching it over and over again reliving moments that were adventurous, weird, difficult, fun. But, I admit, it’s self indulgent. It’s all me. it’s all positivity, it’s my growing relationship, my best moment, my my me, my.
I think I just want to say sorry for being selfish. A big apology out into the world and to those I love, for not being the activist I was in the past, for not engaging as much in politics and real issues, for not wanting to be the healer, the shoulder to cry on, refusing to take on more weight than I can handle (which is something we all have to do, sometimes).
But it’s important for me to know that I don’t regret a year of going into myself, time spent pushing myself and finding out what it is that triggers me falling apart and then the things that help stitch me back up.
I have become more respectful of my body, the way it carries me. Though I do still have ‘those days’ I have become more comfortable facing things that are hard. So far.
I hope that 2019 finds more of a balance. Between the ‘selfish’ and the activist, the solitary and the social.