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Guest Post: On putting a face to mental illness

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Something that I really had to think about when writing a blog was the use of my own identity? Do I hide behind an alias? Am I ashamed of an illness that I live with? I wrote my first post mainly as a therapeutic way to deal My Black Dog. I never really intended on showing it to anyone other than those close to me. For a long time, I thought about giving a talk to my peers in school about depression because a lot of them thought that I just skipped school because I was deadly and my parents were sound out. No one knew what I was dealing with at home the days I wasn’t in school. I thought some enlightenment might help but it’s something I never went through with.

So I decided, yeah I’ll post this as a blog. I’ll share my story and tell people about what I go through. I then thought about the time I broke my collarbone. I had looked up how to recover faster and what can I do to speed things up. I came across blog posts and people’s opinions and I realised, well with their blog posts they spoke about an illness of some sort and they weren’t trying to hide so why should I? That’s when I decided I’ll be me. I guess it makes my blog a little more tangible. I know most people will only read it out of nosiness more than anything else but they may feel down sometimes and feel hopefully less isolated.

Writing this blog has upset many around me. I think it’s more the shock factor of seeing how I feel written down and not just seeing me upset and going “it’s a bad day today”. They’ve become aware of the things I go through. I understand that it can be embarrassing to be associated with someone with a mental illness, I mean people rarely admit to being associated to an alcoholic or a drug addict seeing it as a flaw to the family so why is mental illness any different? Even people with a physical illness such as cancer try to go on while keeping it private. As a private person, this is the part I’m finding most difficult about my little blog. I don’t particularly like people knowing my business or much about me. My hope is someone is benefiting from this and it’s not just something I’m putting on the internet for the parish to gossip over after mass.

My other worry about writing this blog was how it would be received. I mean you put something up on Instagram and you keep checking it so see how many likes you’re getting. Is it a slow day or are the likes coming in fast? Well I was worried about what people were saying about this and me and my family. You know the Irish way of “and did you hear now about the youngest in that family? The family was always odd she must’ve gotten it from her. And did you hear its contagious?” as if you coughed without covering your mouth you’ll spread your mental illness. I was worried about what the girls in school would say, what my work colleagues would say and what would I even say back? But luckily it’s been okay. No one has condemned me to hell, well to my face anyway. I don’t get weird stares and I’m yet to hear whispers like “that’s your wan I was on about that’s a little fucked”

But hey, if I don’t help anyone else I’m helping myself. (I’m trying positive thinking. It’s a load of bullshit but it’s supposed to help)

Ash x

You can read more of Ash’s posts on her blog here.

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