Telling your mum you’re not well

As my mum has just created her very own blog over at Proud Mumma Bear, I thought I would write a post which I’ve been meaning to do for some time: how to tell your mum, dad, brother, sister, other half, friend – anyone – that you’re not well.

I get so many comments, tweets and emails discussing how open I am with my mum about all the issues that I have. I get messages like ‘How do you do it?‘ and ‘I wish I could be that open‘ all the time.

mum

I haven’t always been that way, but I love that I am now. I had a lot of problems as a teenager and if I could disguise them and ‘put on a brave face’, that’s what I did. I felt like I was being silly and I thought it was easier to just get on with it on my own.

These days of course I don’t really have a choice but to tell her about my agoraphobia, because it’s hard to fake leaving the house when I spend a weekend with her, but I do  tell her the rest as well. I tell her about the highs, the lows, the risks I’ve taken and then regretted, and all the other messy bits to my mental health, or lack there of it. I do this because for me, it’s nice to have someone unconditionally on my side.

But parents seem to be the one limitation that a lot of you have when it comes to sharing your own mental health experiences. So often I hear bloggers say that they have to remain anonymous because the fear of their parents seeing what they’ve written is too much, and even those that do have faces are often anxious at the idea of mum or dad discovering their writing.

I’m not here to say whether or not that’s right or wrong. If keeping your problems away from some of the people you love – for their sake or yours – is the best thing to do, then carry on. You know yourself and what is good for you better than anyone else. I also appreciate that not everyone’s mum is like my mum, and some people feel misunderstood and stigmatised in their own homes, making it much harder to be open.

Additionally on the flip side, it can also be damaging towards the parent. I know that my mum loses sleep over me and my problems constantly. She’s always stressed and worried because she wants me to be as happy and healthy as humanly possible, and none of us want to be a ‘burden’, which is another reason we often downplay our troubles.

But what I will say is that if you have a strong desire to tell someone what’s going on in your life – do it and just trust that they care about you as much you do them.

And this doesn’t mean you have to go into vast detail if you don’t want to. I don’t necessarily explain how bad some situations are to my mum. I might say ‘I’m feeling depressed at the moment‘, but that doesn’t mean I have to go into anymore detail than that. What it does mean though, is that I know she’s there, ready to come and rescue me if I need her.

If you want to tell somebody, find a way no matter how hard that is. There is always something you can do to make it easier for you; you just have to figure out what it is.

For me, when I’m sad or scared I find it incredibly hard to speak. When I’m face to face with someone my mind goes completely blank and no words come out. So whenever it has come to telling my mum something important in the past, I have left her a note or a letter.

Sometimes these have been rather amusing in hindsight, like telling her that my boyfriend when I was fifteen had a three-year old child, or that the boyfriend before that was in a youth offenders prison, but I have also told her about family abuse and deep depressions I’ve suffered through letters.

It may not work for everyone, but it works for us.

I love how open we are. It makes my life so much easier to be able to share with my mum. And sure, sometimes I feel guilty because I know it upsets her, but I know she’d be more upset if she knew I didn’t feel like I could come to her.

If you need someone to share your battle with, then take the first step and make it happen!

Fact, not detail.

Every time that I write a post on this blog I get the most amazing and complimentary comments from people. Now I can’t call you strangers because that would be incorrect (you know more about me than some of my friends), but you all exist in the 2D world. Not a single one of my followers have I ever actually met.

That’s a good thing by the way. It makes these comments even more lovely because you’re not comforting me because you have to. It’s not like feeling rude by blanking me in the street, you can just scroll down your reader newsfeed onto the next post and pretend you never saw mine and I wouldn’t know any different.

The comments vary depending on the post (I hate to state the obvious, of course they do!), but often I get this same response. People telling me I’m brave for discussing my disorders and sharing everything about my life.

‘Thank you for sharing!’
‘Very brave talking about having a diagnosis of BPD’
‘It takes a lot of courage to bring things into the open’

I’m not moaning, I promise. I love these comments – knowing that people find my posts useful and that they enjoy reading them makes writing this blog so worthwhile. And these comments are unbelievably sweet, I love that you find me open and willing to talk, because that’s how I want to appear and that’s what I want this blog to be. An open book. Which I am for the most part.

bookk

But I do have a confession.

I find it incredibly easy to write a single fact on my blog, for example: ‘Aged 13 – Sexual abuse, from another uncle‘ stated in a post during my 31 Days of BPD Challenge. 

frankIt’s a fact, a statement. Something which I can isolate from myself. However if someone was to ask me, ‘so what happened?

No. Stop talking about it, I don’t wanna know. No details. Because then it becomes real to me. It becomes my experience. And surely something like that never actually happened to me.

Please don’t now refrain from commenting on my posts for fear that I’m now going to call you out and quote you in a post, but in a very long-winded way I’m just trying to get across that I’m also fragile.

If you feel unable to speak so frankly about what’s happened to you, that doesn’t make you any weaker than me. Whilst I appear to have full confidence in speaking about these things, I don’t really.

We’re as equally strong and weak as each other.

I think I demonstrated this quite nicely in another one of my 31 Days of BPD posts where I tried to go into more detail about things but ended up clamming up at the last sentence, and so I’m going to end this today in the same defensive and blunt way:

End of post.

lovelauren

Day 24: If you could pick one year of your life to give back and start over, which one would it be?

31 Days of BPD

There are quite a few years that were definitely not fun.

At 14 I was panicked everyday.
At 15 I was depressed.
At 16 I was probably in the deepest depression I’ve ever endured.
At 17 I stopped eating.

I could go on. I think it’s fair to say that my teenage years were the worst. They were awful. Everyone hates the idea of turning 20 when they’re 19, because it sounds a lot more grown up – but for me I loved it. I loved the idea that I was no longer in a period of time that I considered so traumatic.

UNL

But if I had to chose one stand-out year that I’d change, it would be 13. Not because it’s the beginning of the dreaded teenage-dom, but because that’s when it happened.

On May 1st this year, it will be 10 years since everything changed. I was a normal 13 year old who was then ‘sexually abused’ I guess you’d call it, by an uncle of mine. I don’t like calling it that though. 10 years on I still don’t think it feels like it should be called something that bad.

Anyway. That’s the year. That’s when it all started. And that’s the year I’d change.
End of post.

lovelauren