I’m writing this about 11pm on Friday night, for the second night in a row I cannot concentrate on my book (a really good book, I’d like to add). The problem I have is that right now I am full to the brim with self-doubt.
This self-doubt started a little while back. I had applied to take part in a one day Story Camp run by Time To Change, it’s purpose was to help people who want to tell their story to it right and do it well. I was turned down “due to an overwhelming demand” it stung, and made me realise my writing isn’t good enough.
I’ve also had a number of mental health articles/blogs turned down by the likes of Huffington Post and The Guardian who a number of bloggers I deeply respect also write for.
About the same time, I was really starting to notice how the media only focus mental health coverage on teenagers and young adults. Forgetting that mental illness is a lifelong illness. I started feeling irrelevant, realising that part of the reason nobody wants my writing, or for me to be involved in projects is because I’m too old, past it, an empty voice in the ether. Who wants to listen to my opinion when they could have a young photogenic twenty-something?
These feelings of self-doubt have been bedding in, over time. My bipolar has been getting bad, I was pretty high for a few weeks, with really bad psychosis seeing things, hearing things. My meds are just about handling it at the moment but then this week I got struck by a cold/virus and have been really sick, pulled down mentally into a negative place where self-doubt has been fuelled by physical weakness and inability.
The Story Camp ran yesterday and all the pictures I saw on social media had young, photogenic, twenty-something’s in…and wham, just like that I got hit by a mental truck. I really AM irrelevant people DON’T care what I have to say. I’m absolutely wasting my breath, my time, my effort.
Let me be honest here. Lots of people say they blog about their mental health for them, because they find it therapeutic. Yes I find writing therapeutic but I journal my feelings for my mental health, that’s not why I blog, it never has been. I started my first blog in 2002 talking about my mental health, then it was for the same reason as now.
I blog about mental health because I want to help. I want to make a difference. I want to change stigma, people’s opinions. I want to get people to understand mental health more fully, and to feel more confident talking openly about it. I don’t like baring my soul, I’m actually a very private person, but I think it helps others. I decided to combine my blog part mental health part book blog because it opens up mental health to a whole different audience as well as giving me something enjoyable to write about, because yes I LOVE to write!
So yesterday feeling that everything I was striving for was a waste of time. That I wasn’t achieving my goals it hit me hard, and by this morning I had reached the point that I tweeted this:
I was ready to pull the plug on the mental health side of the blog and make it fully book related, I was also going to close Mental Health Voices the rotation curation account I had set up for the mental health community.
The combination of my own self-doubt, self-loathing, my illness, and being physically sick culminated in defeat. As far as I was concerned I was a flat out failure. I feel like a failure in my career, my business went under, and now I can’t even do this right!
After I posted that tweet though a few things happened, I’d like to think fate felt the need to step in, but in reality I probably just opened my eyes and stopped seeing with my feelings.
I received an email from Rethink asking me if I would like to write a blog for their website.
Two lovely people responded to my tweet and reminded me that there are people who “lurk” in the blog world. Those people who read but say nothing, people I may be helping but know nothing about. My blog stats well and truly support this! *Hello*
Someone tweeted about the post I had put up today to say how relevant it was to them.
I had a long cry over Hubby who reminded me of everything I did with previous blogs, everything I’ve done since this one went up. How I put my health on the line day after day to help other people, how he has to stop me from looking at my phone sometimes because I’m helping someone or answering questions on Twitter and getting upset or stressed.
He reminded me how I’ve formed connections with people younger than me who come to me for advice, and friendships with those my age and older who can offer mutual support.
He reminded me of a tweet one of my closest friends sent recently, one that moved me more than words:
And so my mind is now buzzing with the realisation that anybody can feel self-doubt, but combined with the ingredients already rife in my brain it was a recipe for disaster. The opportunity for me to concoct conspiracy theories and make myself completely invisible was too much for me to turn down. And I’m not invisible, not quite.
The media may have young adult tunnel vision, and this probably explains the demographic of story camp. My writing may also suck, given jobs I have had in the past though I doubt it sucks that bad…a little maybe!
Normally I am quite good at catching these small hiccoughs when they start, and CBT techniques are excellent for eliminating them, putting them in their place. I’ve basically done my CBT on this one here in this post not as a demonstration of any skill but to say it is OK.
It is OK to doubt yourself, it is OK to feel like the world is against you. But don’t let it consume you. At some point, sooner rather than later, let it out. Because once you do, you start to see the goodness the world is sending your way aswell.