Firstly, thank you to all of you wonderful kind-hearted people that have been messaging, emailing and tweeting me. I am so grateful for your support, you guys keep me going!
Friday and Saturday were hell but on Sunday, I woke up feeling mildly better, I had to take Miss 8 to a birthday party so I showered, dressed put on make-up and drank 3 coffees and a can of Mother in quick succession to try and give me enough false confidence to be around a bunch of my kids friends parents that I don’t know that well.
We live on a farm near a tiny village, the kids go to school 45min away in a bigger village that is probably almost big enough to actually be classed as a town. The school there has a stack of children from farms spanning a 50km radius that bus in and out each day – this includes mine. Of course, my kids always seem to become friends with kids that live 40km in the opposite direction, so regular playdates aren’t really practical and I haven’t really had a chance to get to know many of the other parents, we tend to only see each other at birthday parties.
So, coming out of the bipolar closet and having a deep and meaningful about the state of the *local mental health unit was certainly not how I was expecting the day to turn out!
We arrived and the kids ran off and played. I was making general chit chat about something or other to a few of the Mum’s when a Dad turned up to drop off his daughter. He knows one of the Mum’s that I was chatting with quite well and she asked about his Christmas, he commented that he had spent 2 weeks in hospital in the town where the Mental Health unit I was in is located.
I had indirectly picked up from past half-conversations that this man had dealt with depression before and so when he said ‘hospital’ my ears pricked up and then he made a few other comments and I realised that he was talking about the Unit.
Having barely spoken two words to this guy in my life, I found myself really wanting to say something but I wasn’t sure how to approach it and so I asked if Dr C was still there and made a few snarky comments about dodgy food and never wanting to colour in ever again. It was enough for him to realise that I had been there too. Then he asked me directly why I was there, and in front of all the other Mums and Dads I said out loud “I have Bipolar”.
I looked up at him for a reaction and he smiled and said “Me too”.
At that point, I was shaking and starting to disassociate mildly due to my revelation but also trying desperately to hide that fact and just own it, because you know, End the Stigma…
I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone else for ages and just ended up having a huge D&M with this Dad about our incarcerations in the psych ward as though nobody else was even there. I think we were both kind of shocked and relieved to have found a real-life person with a shared experience in this small community.
Also, he told me that you are now allowed to have phones in the unit! When I was there they were banned and it’s one of the (pathetic, I know) reasons I have avoided hospital like the plague even when I probably needed it. Having a phone would mean I could message my family, still blog and have access to the amazing online support that I need to keep going but in a safe environment. That knowledge changes everything.
Eventually he had to go, and I ended up talking about mental health with some of the other Mums for a while, they asked questions, nobody shunned me, nobody told me their kids could no longer play with my kids. I don’t know what the fall out will be long term, I don’t know if down the track my daughter’s birthday invitations will go unanswered or who will say what when I’m not around.
The Dad from the conversation sent me a message on Face Book this morning saying “Hi. Sorry I feel like a talked too much yesterday” I replied “don’t ever apologise for talking from the heart, I can’t tell you what a relief it is to know there are other people out there that ‘get it’!
Opening up in the community you have to live in is a whole different ballgame to anonymous blogging and I have seen first hand that the smaller the town, the bigger the talk, but for now I actually feel cleansed, I hope he’s okay.
*By local, I mean 100km away
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Struggling with mental health, I was sat on a psych ward and inspired to start my very own blog! So here we are, welcome to life’s in the eyes of lauren where I’ll be tackling difficult topics and sharing my personal experiences, mainly focusing on mental health but also social services, the care system, living away from my biological family, school struggles and just life in general! i am writing to help poeple, if that means ive helped one person, ive achieved my goal. I hope you enjoy reading, Good Vibes Only xoxo