I’m going to talk about something. Something I haven’t spoken about on this blog (or in many other spaces), and something I won’t go into detail about, for many reasons.
In my past, I have suffered trauma.
This is the case for many people who experience mental illness, and for many people who self-harm, and for most people who are female. Between the lines on this blog it probably won’t have been a stretch to imagine. I haven’t spoken about it for the same reasons I haven’t spoken about my recent bout of mental ill-health much: the desire for privacy; the worry about who might read it; and yes, the (undeserved) sense of shame.
One reason I have so rarely (if ever) spoken about it with mental health professionals, is that I am scared. I have noted again and again the stigma and unhelpful treatment that comes with certain diagnoses and the fact is, the diagnosis I am talking about (BPD/ EUPD) is very often associated with trauma. Like the self-harm, it feels like another box to be ticked to label me with something I genuinely don’t think I have. It is sad and unfortunate that this fear would render me silent, but it is a fact. Like everyone, I don’t want to be misunderstood, and the sad truth is that asking for someone to understand would be likely to trigger the opposite reaction.
Another reason is that in the past, trying to discuss it has flooded me with long-lasting distress, destroying my ability to cope and to keep myself safe. At the moment I am actually working through it, and I am trying to do so slowly to avoid such a back-slide. I wrote a little about the feeling of doing so:
Breath catches in throat
over sharp bones
of baby birds, no,
the sharp bones of the words
I don’t flesh out.
Supposing they grew into fledglings.
Little fledglings of stories.
I’d be choked on the fluttering wings
of the things I don’t say.
These little fledglings of stories, though, are what I need- one day- to let fly. At least, this is the narrative we are told. That talking helps. That it’s Time to Talk. So this is what I am doing now- talking, trying to be brave. (By the way I don’t think talking always= bravery. There are reasons for speaking or not speaking that have nothing to do with courage. There is often bravery in silence, too. But this is my attempt).
I feel exposed now, having written this, and I can’t be sure of the wisdom of posting it, or whether I will leave it up. But like my other recent post- about feeling unwell there is something in me that wants others to know that they are not alone.
We are taught to minimise pain, because things are always worse for someone else. We are taught to feel weak when we express it. We are told that we can move past it, get on with it, forget it, sometimes even by those who have been through it. But we are not selfish, we are strong, we are not wrong if we can’t bulldoze our way from past into future paying no regard to the events that shape them.
I tell myself this and will keep doing so until I feel it.