I have been writing and speaking about my journey through mental illness since 2008. I tend to focus on the exciting, heart-warming, and life changing events that have occurred in my journey, though always in contrast to the darkness. Lately, I have been reflecting on the more troubling moments in my recovery.
I tend to be quite pragmatic in terms of how I look at mental health issues. And I can relate my own personal experience as my basis for discussions.
Entering the “mental health world” in 2008, I had my first piece published in a national newspaper. I was invited to speak at the Canadian Mental Health Association National Conference that year. A national legal conference was next.
As I began to feel better about myself, I realized that perhaps, I still had something to contribute to the world at large.
I was invited to speak at an annual conference in my hometown. I hadn’t been out of the house much in several years or talked with many people at that time. The idea of appearing at a conference in front of 600 people was overwhelming. The days leading up were stressful but yet exciting.
I went to the venue the day before to look around and get a feel for the room. I still do that!
As I was roaming the conference room, I met a new person who greeted me warmly and said she had heard about me. It had been years since I had heard that! We chatted and got along well. She was the director of a mental health association. She said she would contact me in a few days because she wanted me to get involved in some mental health initiatives. I was so excited!
The conference went wonderfully, I did my hour on the stage. I have written about this in earlier posts so no need to be redundant.
I was keen to hear from my new connection. Life was going to get interesting. Someone thought I had a role to play.
I checked my emails several times a day, for days, weeks. No email. I was crushed. I wanted to be welcomed in my hometown. I wanted my opinion to matter. I was left alone.
I still haven’t heard and that was in 2009.
To provide me with that false hope was devastating.
Time for a recent story.
I volunteered to write for a website last year. After a couple of articles, I felt I’d been accepted by the site reps and the readers.
One day, I received an email from a site rep. I read it and became quickly concerned, thinking I had written a piece that was horribly inappropriate. The tone and language in the email left me speechless. It was harsh, condescending and disrespectful.
Upon reading it fully, I learned it wasn’t meant for me. I replied, and received a curt response confirming this. The tone continued. I was relived I wasn’t in trouble, but felt bad for the person who would feel the wrath of the email—more akin to the way one might talk to a child.
Such a response from a site with a mission to instil a general feeling of kindness and good will. Oh my!
I have lots of similar stories, but I know you get my point.
Hey, I am not preaching here. I’m aware I let people down. When I do, I apologize, seek amends, and help as I had promised. None of us is perfect. People tend to push against accepting the fact they did wrong and aren’t too quick to truly, apologize which involves a voice being heard…and that voice not taking the form of an email, text, or statement.
Is false hope worse than no hope?
I don’t know. No hope is a mental numbness, a void that may never be filled. Trust me, it is a very dark place.
False hope crushes most feelings of acceptance. It continues the feeling of being alone and that no one wants me.
Perhaps my expectations are too high. In practicing law, the first rule was to trust no one.
I hope this new “mental health world” doesn’t require that rule.
But I am beginning to wonder.
“When you don’t need an answer there’ll be days like this
When you don’t meet a chancer there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit
Then I must remember there’ll be days like this”
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