“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”
I came across this my very first day blogging and have been meaning to officially take this pledge ever since. My main purpose in starting this blog was to raise awareness of mental health and erase the stigma of carrying a mental health diagnosis.
When I am in the therapist’s chair, my clients often say things like, “You wouldn’t understand” or “I wish I had it so together like you!” I usually respond with something similar to, “I understand you feel so alone and isolated” for the former and, “Everybody’s got something to work on!” for the latter. On the outside, my job as a professional is to create a safe, one-sided relationship for my clients so they can achieve whatever goals they are in therapy to achieve. I am good at this. I am good at putting the attention on others, and I am very good at redirecting clients. I have even become a star at answering the mandatory personal questions (ie. “What’s the most difficult thing you have ever experienced?” to which I often replied while pregnant, “Making it through this therapy session without peeing my pants!”) while playing therapy games with clients. My clients have no idea of my diagnosis, and that is ethical and professional. At times, my heart breaks at their feelings of isolation, but it is not my job (on the contrary, it would be quite unethical of me to do this) to share the personal information they would need from me in order to realize that I understand them on a deeper level than the books I studied in graduate school.
But I do understand them on a deeper level. At times, I am struck by their ability to verbalize the feelings I have been working to verbalize in my own therapy for months. I actually sometimes type out what I want to say and bring it to therapy with me, in a desperate attempt to not shut down or dissociate in session. After work, I pull off my professional mask and put on my mommy mask. This includes homeschooling my almost four year old, breastfeeding a five and half month old at all hours of the night, and making half-assed dinners that at least one person will not be interested in consuming. I do my best to keep my mask on until the kids are in bed for the night, but this does not always happen; my son has found me, on several occasions, hiding in the dark bathroom as I struggle to pull myself together.
Finally, I pull off my mask and what is underneath is ugly. There are scars. There is blood. There are tears. There is anger. There is hurt. Hatred. Need. Desire. And there is sin. It is officially labeled posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is a world that it seems nobody wants to acknowledge. There are deep secrets that, as someone said to me recently, “Our family tends to forget.”
This is why I am writing a blog. It is wrong to forget family secrets. Family secrets strengthen generational cycles so that more and more children are consumed by darkness. I have shared this blog with my real world, and many in my real world are unimpressed. Most have quietly ignored my loud proclamation from this rock I have climbed upon. I am shaking as I make this proclamation, but I am shouting as loud as I can. I am scared to speak out, but I am. I shout louder with the more courage I have, and with the more healing I have experienced. Inside I am weak and bloody, but I will not stop shouting. People need to stop quietly ignoring family secrets. Family secrets need to be exposed and changed… and healed, so that the cycle will stop. If this blog leads just one person to speak up about their scary secrets in attempt to make healthy change, my goal has been reached.
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them… . When anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light” -Ephesians 5:11-14.