This post is either very brave or very stupid. Come to think of it, it’s more likely a bit of both because let’s face it, brave needs a bit of stupid just as much as stupid needs a bit of brave. I don’t suppose I’m making much sense yet…….
A couple of things have happened recently that got me thinking. I thought for quite a long time and eventually my thinking turned into one of my infamous little thinks and before I knew it I’d come up with this blog post which is where the whole brave/stupid thing comes into it. If you’re new to WeeGee land don’t worry about it – it’ll all be as clear as mud by the time we get to the end, assuming we get that far together, of course. I’ve never taken my readers for granted.
So. I’ve been blogging for seventeen months now. Some people in the ‘real world’ know about my blog but not too many. I blog as WeeGee but my real name as Gail and the bottom line of it is that WeeGee and Gail are EXACTLY the same person, even though I’ve tried very hard to keep the two entirely separate. Why keep them separate? Well, because WeeGee blogs about Gail’s experiences with mental health difficulties and out there in the real world Gail still tries to keep these experiences a secret, even from some people who know me really, really well.
If you’re reading this and you know me as Gail you perhaps don’t know that I am recovered* from an eating disorder and that I experience both depression and anxiety. Sometimes I’m completely well, sometimes I’m not so well but functioning, and sometimes – well sometimes, I don’t function too well at all, although that’s quite rare nowadays. All of that said, whichever state I’m in I’m still WeeGee, or Gail, or in other words I’m still a human being just like everybody else on the planet.
Mental health difficulties aren’t rare at all, in fact one in five of us will experience them at some point in our lives** but hardly any of us talk about it. Why? Maybe because we’re ashamed, or because we think people won’t understand, or because we think it’s just none of anybody’s business. Or perhaps, and I think this is more likely, we’re still not past the stigma associated with poor mental health and we can’t just come right out and admit that we’re one of those mental people.
A few days ago I recorded a video for a fantastic project called Faces of mental illness. You can see my video here. Shortly after the video went live I panicked. I was suddenly terrified that WeeGee would be ‘outed’ as Gail and that my dirty little secret would be known. And then I realised that even I, who thought she knew better, was missing the point. I don’t believe there should be any stigma associated with poor mental health – that’s why I made the video. And that doesn’t square up with hiding.
So I’m not going to hide:
My name is Gail, but you can call me WeeGee if you prefer. I love my cat, and Frank Turner, and I’m obsessed with Breaking Bad. I like taking pictures of dudes in red trousers and I’m a budding masterchef contestant***. Once upon a time, I starved myself within an inch of my life but I’m better now. Sometimes the darkness creeps in and I get depressed. Sometimes I worry so much that I think I’m going to explode. I take medication to regulate my mood and occasionally I don’t sleep for days at a time. I’m a total geek when it comes to politics and grammar and if I ever grow up I’m going to live in a cottage in Oxfordshire and grow pink roses in the garden.
I’m one of those mental people. It’s important that I say it, but it isn’t even nearly the most important thing about me.
In a moment I’m going to share this little post on Facebook and then my secret will be well and truly out for the people who only know Gail. Some people might think it’s brave. Some people might think it’s stupid. Like I said I think it’s more likely a bit of both. It’s also a small offering from my corner of the world: one of these days, we really will stamp out stigma.
A while ago I posted that I wasn’t sure what would come next for How do you eat an elephant? I think this might be it: a brave new world and all that. What can I say? Wish me luck. I’ll see you on the other side.
I end, as is traditional, with a song. It’s a special little song to me. Enjoy:
Love you all lots, like jelly tots.
Ps. Thanks to the trusted few for their words of advice and encouragement. I love you guys even more than jelly tots but not quite as much as Frank Turner, but that’s still a very, very lot.
*or maybe I’m recovering.
**so the often quoted statistic goes
***although I’m going to need a bigger and better kitchen if I’m going to hope to win. Oh. And I’ll need to get better at sauces too….