I agreed to write a post some time ago and sadly lost the faith. Faith in myself, faith in my abilities and the faith that actually people wanted to hear anything from me at all. Not an uncommon feeling and something I feel most people can relate to whether they have mental health issues or not, however for me it can result in extreme lows and lack of any kind of activity. I’m bi polar and this lack of faith as I call it is a regular and recurrent theme in my life.
Why is that important?
Well, because it is a common feeling, just about everyone will admit to having felt like it at some point or another, maybe not in to the extremes that I have or for the same reasons but still they will have felt something similar. They can relate to it – something that is often difficult to do when people start talking about mental health and as a consequence to anyone who admits to having a mental health issue. So frequently I hear that people don’t get it, don’t understand it or tell me that they feel like that and you just have to get on with it, that’s life and deal with it, and I have struggled and struggled over the years to express to them why it’s not the same, why in fact it is a huge problem. I still do and in part that is why I started writing, to find a way to express myself and be understood, a way for people to relate to how I feel. I have found that it was simply not enough to tell someone what it’s like, but that I had to engage with them about how they felt on their worst day and ask them to believe that this was worse and far more frequent. Sadly I doubt that I’ve had very much success but as previously mentioned I have trouble believing that I do anything of any note. But in connecting with things that they too have experienced I have some common ground to work with and this has made understanding each other easier.
In writing I found a release, a way to express things that in life I found very difficult if not impossible and it is to my writing that regardless of it’s popularity I return some of which is posted (here www.fictionalmadness.blogspot.com). I do not necessarily set out with a goal but let things flow, let go of my internal controls and write what comes, what appeals and although it is difficult to imagine it I learn from it. The clarity of thought that goes into writing opens my mind to possibilities that in daily life I would normally shun and shows me how I see the world and how it could be seen by others, something that can be very difficult in person. It broadens my horizons and allows me to take a step back which in turn gives me a freedom to do something different and more importantly lets me feel differently about things.
But there is another side to this and that is of the reader and the question I’ve always had about whether people let go, let their guards down and indulge in the fictions as experience learning exercises. In this article (http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/exptaking.htm losing yourself in a fictional character can affect your real life) they report that there is good reason to believe that people do but only in so much as they see themselves as similar to the characters in question. This presents a world of opportunity to writers which can both positively and negatively affect the attitudes of those who are reading their work depending on how things are presented. Obviously we can all site instances where bad portrayals have affected people but the growing trend of sympathetically portrayed characters is increasing. We only have to look at Eastenders, Homeland, or Emmerdale to name a few to see that more and more characters with mental health issues are being portrayed sympathetically, however there is much room for improvement.
In a society that does not openly talk about mental health this is a medium in which people can connect/ experience without fear of stigma if only these stories, plays, pictures and programs were there to be seen. It has never been so easy to get your work noticed than it is today. The ever increasing e –market place and the increased openness to all things related to mental health means that anyone can contribute. And whether that be, the written word, music, or pictorially it can all make a difference.