I read a post yesterday from a young woman who believes at this moment due to her health, that she may never become a mother. I truly felt for her, especially as to me, her post came across as almost apologetic for the way she was feeling about it. What is it in this world that makes so many people feel that feelings, whatever those feelings are, need to be apologised for. Grief is an incredibly real and painful thing to go through, and grief isn’t only attached to death, as I said to her, I know that one, all too well. Luckily, she is moving in the right direction and is not only seeking and getting help and like me, has a wonderfully supportive husband. Many are not so lucky and even more, instead of feeling it, showing it and growing through it, hide it, or worse still, dismiss it.
They used to say that the British had a stiff upper lip reaction to everything, if you believe the books of the past, to an extent that was true. It started with our so-called upper classes, who taught it in a slightly different form, through to the white collar environment, to the middle classes, and they passed it down again, to the rest of us. You would think that over time, it would have vanished by now, but there is one huge dinosaur, who has held onto it with iron fists, the business world. Those who have read for a while will know that I had a varied career over the years, but I still remember the feeling that hit me, the first time, I walked into work as a cog in the business world. That was back in the days when a business suit, was required to sit and sell on the phone. That suit meant you didn’t have feelings, and even more importantly, you didn’t have emotions. The occasional quiet laugh, but no emotions. The higher the ladder you climb, the harder that rule is applied. You can’t have emotions, as then, you might have friendships and then, how do you fire a friend. Business is filled with some of the apparently coldest people I have ever known.
When I was diagnosed with my PRMS, I remember going into my bosses office to tell her what the news was. She listened, she made all the right noises, said some of the right things, then told me to go home for a few days, “until your emotions won’t show to the staff”. That is the biggest problem with the business world, granted, you can’t have people crying all over the place, but you can have people, who are just that, people, not machines. Business can deal with broken bones, but it doesn’t have a clue, how to deal with broken people. I took her advice and I went home for a few days, then I totally shocked her by calling all my staff together to explain, exactly what was wrong with me. I felt, it was the best way to deal with it, the honest way, as unlike her, I could do my job and be a person. Mental welfare is more important than anything else, and until they learn that, they will always, be vulnerable to its side effects. Is it any wonder that working in that sort of environment, for those sort of people, means that people mentally breakdown all the time. What is even worse, is the same attitude, often goes home with everyone at the end of the day. Their boss may not be standing over them, but the pressures of the job never let’s go, and living as two totally different people, will break anyone eventually.
From childhood onwards, I had so many things happen to me, that left their scars. I had a major breakdown in my early 20’s, my brain just couldn’t take any more and it snapped. I was given a choice, voluntarily go into hospital, or be sectioned. I spent six weeks in a recently renamed mental health unit, previously know as an asylum. The name may have changed, but the buildings and the care, was still extremely outdated. Six weeks and another 2 years of learning through therapy, to not let the pressure build, or to put things in boxes, and hope they will stay there. I learned and practised that right up until the day I was sent home to compose myself, then I started stacking up those boxes all over again, because, I needed my job. For the next two years, I forgot how to grieve, I forgot to feel, to cry and to deal with everything as it happens. My health stepped in and gave me a reminder, all that stress brought on a major flare. One that landed me up in the hospital, unable to talk, breath, or eat. The mechanism that allows us to do all those things without thought, went. They were muddled up and confused, just as my mind was. Three weeks in hospital, resting and clinging to an oxygen mask, followed by intravenous steroids and another two weeks of rest at home, let me remember to feel. My boss didn’t like it much, but a new me returned to work, no longer the stuffy business person, respectfully dressed but me, with a different attitude and a defiance to be myself. They didn’t like it, but there was nothing, they could do, they tried, they made it hard for me to carry on working, but they failed.
I know that there are a few companies out there, who have realised that a happy, mentally healthy staff are more productive and have taken positive steps. But only a few. There isn’t a single reason on this planet why anyone needs to wear a suit, unless, they personally want to. Work shouldn’t be about control, it should be about cooperation, just as life should be. I know it’s all very well and good saying that your mental health is more important than any job, but when you really need that job, when without out it, life would flounder, it’s hard to accept. That is one of the beauties of being chronically ill and housebound, I can say these things, but I say them with gravitas as I have been there, and, I can also say them with sincerity, with love and a longing to be heard. Our, mental health, is worth more than anything else, as, without it, you truly have nothing and are locked in places where no one wants to go.
Every emotion we feel, is, there for a reason, so feel them. Even if they cause you unbelievable pain, that pain is short lived, if it is felt when it should be. Yes, you can hold onto it until your in an appropriate place to let it out, but let it out, sooner rather than later. No emotion is time capped either. Grief takes as long as it takes, I still grieve for my son who died over 30 years ago, but usually it’s no longer that raw pain, and it’s no longer there, for every second, of every day, it mellows. Why is it acceptable to act like an idiot, shouting, jumping up and down, smiling from ear to ear because something good has happened, but wrong to sit and quietly shed a tear when a painful memory appeared? It’s wrong and the only people who can change that, is us. Our minds matter, take care of them.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 11/02/2014 – The freedom of desolation
I seem to be having some luck with the fluid reduction as my ankles are much improved, as I expected though I have three fingers on which my rings are still stuck fast. I guess they will take a large miracle……