I was at my writers’ support group on Tuesday and during the check-in I mentioned my mental health appointment and satisfaction that I had managed to get that far in understanding myself, though I am not sure understanding is the right word. It took me a great effort to go from admitting my depression, asking somebody for help in dealing with it, exploring its meaning, and then following through on that exploration to get an expert opinion on my mental state. I have found a certain peace in following through that path and in some sense a need to celebrate that journey to this point. I feel uncomfortable celebrating though (anything really) and since people don’t seem to get why I am doing this (though since I don’t encourage a discourse on my mental health I guess I wouldn’t really know), that celebration is a rather muted affair of me not pushing myself to do things.
One of those things though is writing. I have notice a distinct lack of interest in writing since my appointment and that bothers me. I thought at first that maybe I need to be in a difficult place to write or at least have the need to write. If I am content then things don’t bother me as much so if I am not bothered, then that frustration, possibly anger is not there to drive the writing. It seems a rather bleak place to be though, do I really need the struggle to write about what is going on in my life?
Well I suspect it ties into my lack of wanting to celebrate my achievements which I have written about before and if memory serves me right, tied into feeling boastful and other negative associations. But I think there is more to it than that. I know from experience that if I have to say something (anything) then the best thing to do is to talk about the feelings I am going through right in that moment (anxiety over not having anything to say, anxiety over having to talk for five minutes, etc) because trying to express that experience leads to an exploration of other unexpected things. I believe writing is the same. If I start writing about the state I am in, then other things will come out of that which will be of value in themselves (value in the sense of interesting to me at least).
Feeling okay doesn’t often change how we are underneath, I think in my case “feeling okay” means that my external persona if feeling pretty strong and capable of brushing off the things that might cause me greater difficulties at other times. “Feeling okay” means I behave more normally but I don’t fundamental think I am really any different inside. “Feeling okay” means that I am ignoring that internal autistic like person and that can’t be good for my mental health.
One of my fellow writers was describing how she decided to stop her therapy sessions because it took too much time to go the appointment, and that she was feeling okay about the issues that were being discussed. To me it sounded like she was avoiding looking at the ending of the sessions which might indicate that actually the okay-ness might be a pretence and the opposite might be true. It wasn’t appropriate to challenge her about this, but I wonder if what I was seeing was a reflection of what I was feeling about my own situation.
It sounds rather negative to me to use words like avoid and pretense which suggest unfounded judgement. I know that one way of dealing with difficulties is to ignore them for a bit, to give oneself time to build up the strength to tackle the issue and that is okay. It is a standard coping mechanism we humans employ particularly in times of grief. It is okay to say that I am in a good place about counselling and want to stop even if perhaps the opposite is true (I am on the brink of feeling overwhelmed by the issues). Equally it is okay to say that I am celebrating reaching my goal in my path to understand my mind and not write for a bit.
In the long term though, I think it is better to keep exploring, keep looking for answers because the difficulty in avoidance is that depression is never far away. So I will keep writing, even if I don’t think I have anything particularly to say and I will try not to be so judgemental about what I write about. Writing is enough in itself.