So, 2016 – what are you doing to us? I’m not just talking about losing numerous icons, but also that it’s the 24th April, a month into the Spring Equinox, 5 degrees celsius, I just drove in heavy hail, a song called “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” is top of the UK singles chart, Donald Trump has won the majority vote in the state of New York, and today as the Royal family support breaking mental health stigmatism I read a comment that said “If I were in the royal family, there’d be no need for me to have mental health problems”.
Recently I have become more and more agitated, environmentally, politically, emotionally. I’m genuinely concerned about who will end up responsible for leading the United States of America, and about who currently leads the UK and hereafter, about gender-inequality particularly within the arts industry, about people STILL not getting that mental health problems are SO, incredibly serious and not a choice, about the welfare of my parents generation who evidently need better care and about the drivel in the UK music charts making millions of pounds. Granted, the latter on that list isn’t exactly a Life or Death issue, but I can’t help being passionate about it. I’m not one for publics rants. Not in recent years anyway. But over the last few days I’ve been sorely tempted. I am angry.
I haven’t written for this blog for quite some time now and reason being (I think) is that I fear what will come out. It’s uncomfortable for us to read peoples ‘dirty laundry’ in the public forum. Unedited, careless, unwise outpourings of everything that hurts. I really don’t want to do that and fear the disapproval already…However…
When I started this blog I did so without expectation and without need for approval in the forms of ‘likes’, ‘comments’ and general adulation. When the approval came, naturally I was enormously gratified. But when it dampened, my confidence got knocked. I hate admitting that and I have fought against it, truly believing that I didn’t need other peoples approval to continue doing this. 4 months into 2016 (which is not going wonderfully for me) and I have to admit that I am human. I am flawed, fragile and vulnerable and that means, yeah, I care about what other people think and that impacts my choices.
My husband has been lovingly encouraging me to get back to my writing as recently I identified it as something that makes me happy. As I sat down to do this I remembered that one of the motivators for doing this was to be honest and in doing so, hope to encourage and comfort others. In the last 24 hours I have had a few people reach out to me and tell me that they ‘get it’ and that I am not alone. Well, today, if you resonate with what I share in any way, shape or form, I hope you feel like you are not alone and are comforted by that.
I often wonder where the tendency to baulk at the things that make us feel uncomfortable, are inappropriate or demonstrate a loss of control in any way, comes from. Don’t get me wrong, I am the first person to read a ranty political Facebook status, cringe and, on occasion, unfollow the offender. I’m not proud to admit that. Because when I share an article about breaking stigmatism around Mental Health and it gets absolutely ZERO engagement from my ‘followers’, I get really angry. I share a picture of my husband and I pulling silly faces and get thirty-odd ‘likes’… thank you, it’s lovely and makes my heart warm. But I share a post about what mothers can say to their children to promote a healthy relationship with food and body image and NOTHING. I guess this is the problem with social media engagement functions. We can choose now to ‘love’, ‘laugh’, be ‘angry’ or ‘sad’ about Facebook posts, but if we choose not to click that icon it sends the strong message that we just do not give a…
This is my question today and generally at the moment; What do you do when you really want to change something?
What if you genuinely want to change the state of our planet, societies perception of a particular issue, or political injustice…the list is endless. Today I watched the London Marathon coverage, mesmerised by the millions of people putting themselves through such intense, physical exertion for others and I wept on several occasions. Bravo BBC for very cleverly executed stories, evidently targeted to touch the sensitive hearts of sympathetic souls like me. But I really found myself thinking, if someone did that for me, for the things I have suffered through, even just to demonstrate their loyalty and love, I wouldn’t know where to begin with thanking them.
Often I feel overwhelmed with my ineffectiveness in the bigger scale of things. I would like to have the bravery and motivation to do something radical for others. But I am weak and under confident. I would love more than anything to see a real, significant change in societies understanding and attitudes towards mental illness. But I am too afraid of peoples opinions. I am concerned about world politics and whose hands we are placing our nations in to. But I fear my ignorance and all the things I don’t know and don’t understand. I want to see accomplished musicians and songwriters acknowledged within the public eye, over the heavily branded, synthetic and image-driven drivel. But I need the right opportunity to do so and being a woman doesn’t do me any favours. And on that note, don’t even get me started on gender-inequality.
Then we get closer to home, at the things that are preventing us from pushing towards real change and have to ask ourselves “What do I really need in order to make a positive change in my own life?”
I have this problem. Before I am misunderstood let me make perfectly clear…I am NO martyr. In fact I am pretty thoughtless, inconsiderate and selfish. I hate that. But I also really struggle to recognise my own basic needs. I am talking about sleep, nutrition, emotional welfare, etc… I just don’t ask for stuff and I don’t think to give myself what I need. I tend to say “yes” to everything and it makes me happy to serve others before myself. The issue with this is that (as a few wise beans have told me of late) that I end up with nothing left to give myself. If you resonate with this, is it any wonder that we are angry?
I get really tired of the new rave culture of ‘self-care’, currently parading around social media. Although I absolutely love the foundation of it, for me it sends the message that personal change is necessary and that it is easy. Maybe this is my/our problem – we are so busy trying to change ourselves and change other people and it’s this impossible battle that leads to bitterness, frustration and anger. Right now I could reel off a list of things and people (sorry) I am angry about and with but an endless list of things I am angry with myself about. I am most angry that I seem so stubbornly, irrefutably, incapable of change in particular areas.
My resolutions this year were to be Good, be Kind and to be Brave. Evidently, I’m not doing wonderfully at this. As I sit and write in the local pub, a gentleman who has had one pint too many has just given the staff grief about a tiny leak in the roof and I have the overwhelming desire to scream at him.
Can anyone relate? Have that “Oh my days, WHAT is your PROBLEM?” feeling, but also
“Why do you DO that?”
“Why do you BEHAVE like that?”
“What is WRONG with people?!”
“I’m such a crappy person! Why can’t I be better? Why can’t I do something important and that matters? Why don’t people like me?!”
But how about this… Have you been good to yourself lately? Have you been kind to yourself? Have you been brave enough to face your anger and bitterness and admit your own basic, fundamental needs?
I reckon as human beings we need to just accept our fallibility sometimes and be alright with it.
I’ll let you into a secret. Last week I didn’t get a job I really, really wanted. All the evidence proves that I did great, but of course when the news came, all kinds of self-doubt and loathing came hurtling in. Why? It’s just a job. I am blessed in immeasurable ways. How dare I be so ungrateful as to mope and whinge over an occupation. But the fact is, for me, it was an opportunity to be part of something important. I also saw it as affirmation that everything I have been doing throughout my career was worth it. How very wrong of me. Does the fact I missed out on that job mean that all of that has been wasted and that I don’t get to effect change?
What I do know is that I can’t even begin to make a positive change in the big bad world if I can’t take care of myself. Oh the endless chasm I could unravel in talking about what taking care of ourselves looks like! I’m not going to attempt to go there. But I am going to attempt to do more of what makes me happy and stop denying myself basic, human needs. And maybe, just maybe, in doing so I might feel a little less helpless in doing something toward the bigger agendas.
I’m going to round off with something I don’t normally do, which is to thank you, sincerely, for reading. I don’t like admitting it, but hell, I’m human. I‘m glad you did.