In her most recent post, ‘Your Strength is in Your Struggle‘, Queen TalkMH, Hannah Rainey – who, by the way, is feautured in the new issue of Blogosphere magazine – talks about how her struggles with mental health have changed her as a person – for the better.
When I look back I sometimes think what was I actually like before all of this? Who was I, really? I wasn’t as strong, compassionate or mindful. I didn’t think to look after my mental health. I didn’t really think about how my actions could affect others. So I’m proud of who I am as a result of my mental health struggles. I’m a better person for it.
This resonates with me.
Firstly, because I know Hannah; I have met her a few times, talk to her a lot: she is one of my favourite bloggers and people and I recognise all the qualities in her that she lists.
Of course, I couldn’t say what she was like before all this, because I have only known her since. But, for the record, I have no doubt that she wasn’t a wonderful person who i’m privileged and proud to call a friend before all this.
Secondly, because I too have changed. The battle I endured with depression and the bleakest of thoughts last summer, triggered by a catastrophic breakup, has significantly altered who I am as a person.
One difference – more annoying than anything else – is my energy and sleep pattern. I used to someone who would both stay up late and get up early. Sure, in hindsight this obviously wasn’t the best routine for my health, but it was my routine. I would stay up late writing, and wake up early with a spring in my step, make myself a cuppa and read for at least an hour before I began my day proper. And I was so happy: I was satisfying both sides of the creative coin. But I can’t do this anymore. I’m simply get tired so much more easily and, even with earlier nights, I very scarcely get up at 6am or before like I used to. However, I’ve got a new job, so perhaps I’ll get back into the early morning I used to love so much. And, if we’re honest, sleep is so important and none of us get enough of it. So, hey ho.
On a more positive note, I definitely take other people’s feelings into consideration a lot more: I put myself into other people’s shoes regularly. I don’t mean to suggest that I didn’t before all this – I think I’ve always been a friendly- and thoughtful-enough person – but now I am constantly thinking about how, for example, the language I use could effect others. Now this is almost a self-selecting attribute; because I now surround myself (albeit online in a brilliant, beautiful blogosphere) with people to whom any number of words or actions could be triggering, and I love all of these people and do not want to do that – so I think and act accordingly. I began blogging not just to work through my own shit – “Everybody has their own shit”, Hannah reminds us – but also to offer some light at the end of the tunnel to people who may be going through similar things. I am now, as Lady Rainey puts it, much more “aware that I don’t know what [other people are] going through”. This is something Hannah has personally dedicated’ herself to, as she so beautifully phrases it in ‘An Open Letter to Depression‘:
I know what it’s like to have you in my shadow and because of this I work every day to stop you from destroying other people’s light in the way that you did mine.
But furthermore, with regards to myself, I think about what they might be going through, or might have gone through, and how incredible they are for how far they’ve come. As Hannah wrote back in November 2016,
You can go on and you will. … Anyone can recover. You can and will.
Indeed, these days – every day, in fact – I heed her advice and
Think about others who have recovered or who are in recovery and let them inspire you.
That I do; and to all those who inspire me, I thank you.
Finally, I am still prone to bouts of unhappiness and lethargy seems to rear its miserable head more frequently than I can remember fit having done so before all this. That lethargy came around recently when I really didn’t think it would. I’ve moved away to the capital and had been excited about doing so. But, as Hannah encourages us in ‘Change and Mental Health‘:
Be brave enough to make a change. Better yourself. Always try to be courageous and, importantly, be proud of yourself for it.
I learned the meaning of love, friendship, support and companionship and it gave me life. . It made me want to live.
Whenever she writes about mental health, she imbues the topic with an optimism which I would have never thought possible. That is a remarkable gift and, to anyone who can relate to her words, an invaluable and inspirational source of strength.
I hope she knows how amazing she is. I am regrettably confident that she is unduly modest in this regard. With any luck, this post might go someway to convincing her – because I love Hannah Rainey.
If anyone reading this is to take away just one thing from this post, let it be Hannah’s words.
Do you realise how strong you are? Let this be your focus – you owe it to yourself.