I didn’t want to write this post. I’ve been avoiding it for days in fact, both literally and psychologically.
I feel so lucky that I’ve been able to use writing during the last couple of years to work my way through my mental health issues (and everything else in life!), and even more fortunate to have hopefully used that tool to help others to find some comfort too. I love helping people, it makes everything I’ve been through with PND and Anxiety somehow worth something. It gives me extra purpose in my life and brings me peace.
And I’m lucky that people have listened. People have listened and read and subscribed and shared and sent unbelievably kind messages. Unfortunately, the downside of this is I now feel a sense of responsibility to those people. I’m very aware that there are vulnerable people who are maybe very unwell right now and come to this page looking for hope. After all this time, I feel responsible for providing that hope.
So when I experienced an Anxiety recurrence a couple of weeks ago I felt all the more devastated. This is the second relapse I’ve had since I began this blog but unlike the first time, where I was new and barely anyone was reading, this time I felt like the outlet I’ve used in the past, this space, to process my feelings, to be honest and vulnerable, was somehow no longer fit for purpose. How can I admit a failing in my own mental health when I’ve written countless posts telling people they can recover and filling them with hope? That pressure, that feeling of failure and of letting people down has only exasperated my current anxiety.
Anxiety does funny things to our thoughts. I’ve been literally afraid of my blog. I’ve barely been able to bring myself to read my own old posts, which would no doubt bring me a lot of comfort and relief, because merely clicking on the page felt like a stab in the chest from a knife emblazoned with the words “You’ve Failed.”
But, as always, I’ve seeked wonderful counsel from the people who support me, the people who have been through this themselves, and they have all said the same thing. You haven’t failed. You have an illness and sometimes that illness takes hold of you again and no matter how strong you think you are or how long you’ve been well or how many other people you’ve offered hope to, it can still recur. And that’s okay. You can forgive yourself for that.
I pray that I’m not taking away people’s hope by sharing this. Because everything I’ve learned I still know. Everything I’ve shared before is still the truth. I can never have the same experience I had that very first, terrifying time. I’m still filled with hope in a way I never was when my son was nine weeks old. Because I have tools and support and hard, undeniable facts.
And this Anxiety has not recurred for no reason. There have been some stresses in my life, I’ve tried to spin too many plates and I’ve gotten lazy with my self-care and this is the result. I’m recovering. And as with every other time, I’m learning.
And I hope what I learn I’ll still be able to share with you. And that you’ll still want to listen.