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Sunday, 29 May 2016

Conversations can change things

Talking can really turn things around.

I have been at a very low ebb during the evenings lately. I have been fine at work, but when I'm on my journey home, I start to feel as though I am falling apart.

Drawing by me from a few years ago. 

This feels frightening. To feel the things I feel- the fear, shame, overwhelming sadness and loss- and to feel like it's a secret with which I am battling on my own, became a huge weight on my shoulders.

Scribble from my sketchbook. 

I desperately wanted the human comfort of reaching out to someone. For weeks, I thought everyday about who I could turn to and whether it was acceptable to contact them. I held my phone, typed messages and looked through the address book, only to delete or click back to the home screen. I battled with myself as to what was the right thing to do. I worry a lot about how I might be 'too much' for others. I kept talking myself out of reaching out to people with thoughts such as:

- 'I shouldn't need reassurance.'

- 'Once I've told them, I can't untell them' 

- 'What if they find me annoying?'

- 'Why can't I just cope on my own?'

- 'Everyone else copes on their own.'

Drawing by me showing the agony of silence. 

Was it that I was being 'needy', 'insecure', 'attention seeking'? You can see how I have internalised so much of the stigma that shrouds mental health. Was I judging myself too harshly here, and that needing to talk to someone about how you feel is, in fact, a natural human need? Of course it is. But it can be hard to see it that way for myself. 

A couple of nights ago, I relinquished the thoughts listed above. Someone  had told me 'maybe you need to speak to one of your friends?' and that must have given me some sort of validation that it was okay to do so. Should I need this validation? I tell myself I shouldn't. Bur right now, when I am in a tricky patch, do I need it? Yes, it seems I do. Because I feel so terrified and confused. 

So I messaged a friend and asked her if I could talk to her. She is a friend who I can trust not to judge me, even though I felt guilty about asking for her time. I apologised profusely and told her that I would understand if she said no to me. 

She was able to be there for me, another human being, in a time of need. 

She showed me care and compassion by just being herself and she  let me be myself. She didn't judge me. She shared some of her experiences with me in a helpful way. 

I told her how embarrassed I was feeling and my fear about confidentiality, and she told me that it was up to me what I said, but that I never needed to be embarrassed in front of her. 

This gave me a sense of freedom for the first time in a long time, and she let me talk over some problems.

Talking to her meant that my loneliness dissipated like a heavy cloud finally letting its rain out.

She bolstered my confidence and told me lots of positive things she saw in me. I told her about my therapy and she told me that she thinks I am strong and brave. 

I could write reams about the power of friendship and conversation. It's power speaks for itself in my life, because since the conversation I have become aware that YES, I DO have the strength to get through this. 

One of the best things is that she told me she was there and anytime I need to I must pick up my phone. I know that I won't do this on a whim, I will still be worried and reluctant. I think I may have spiralled very quickly if I hadn't had this humanity and compassion from her.

She told me that humans NEED to talk.
Humans are MEANT to be there for one another. 

 It's okay to reach out.  It's okay to need to talk. It's natural to want to talk to people about what you're going through.

My cartoon of what a good friend to talk to looks like (click to zoom). 

I've written more posts about talking. I recently wrote a post called about helpful things for me to hear when I talk about mental health, because it's not always plain sailing when talking.

Maybe you can relate to my experiences of talking about mental health. Sometimes it's really hard and I can't always do it. All of this talking is part of a process of opening up and becoming more accepting of myself and confident in who I am.

Tweet me @TalkingAboutBPD if you want to share your experiences, I would love to hear from you.