I am a very curious person, always asking questions and wanting to know more about the world around me and the people in my life. I never used to ask the questions that popped into my head, but now, I can’t stop asking questions.
I was with my nephew one day in town. He must have been about 4 or 5, and from nowhere he pointed to an elderly lady in a wheelchair, and said (very loudly and very clearly) “Kez, look at that lady in a pram, she’s too old to be in a pram”. I felt so embarrassed at first, but as I started to explain to him that it was called a wheelchair and she needed it for whatever reason, I realised that it was just because he’d never had that explained before that he misunderstood. He saw the wheelchair, mistook it for a pram because that’s what he knows these ‘things’ as; prams and wheelchairs actually do the same thing and the only difference is that prams hold kids while adults have to use wheelchairs. At this time, my mental health problems were just coming to the surface. But as I’ve gone through the last few years, I’ve realised that asking questions is better than not knowing and being ‘ignorant’. That’s what it is in my eyes, to me, ignorance is not knowing about something. My nephew was ignorant to the fact that adults needs wheelchairs. But once I’d explained that to him, he didn’t need to point it out in the future and it became an ‘acceptable norm’ in his world.
Where was I? Feel like I’m losing focus a little. Questions! Throughout my years of living with a diagnosis of mental illness, I found that people were always hesitant to ask me questions. Maybe they were frightened of offending me, coming across as nosey, triggering something in me, upsetting me etc. But to me, if they’d asked me those questions they had in their mind, I could then explain my perspective to them and hopefully help them to understand it a little more. Through the self-harm support I set up, we did training sessions for professionals, and I wanted a feature of those sessions to be a question and answer session so the professionals could ask us those burning questions that they’ve always held back. They always fed back to us that this was their favourite part and it really ‘opened their eyes’ or ‘felt they could relate more easily’. Those who have met me only in the last few years will probably have had those questions that people don’t usually like asking. Those who have known me forever will also have had my open questioning at some point. It’s not me being nosey or wanting gossip: it’s me wanting to try & make an effort to understand more about you. Trying to let you know that I don’t mind you being open with me about a ‘taboo’ topic. It’s me trying to prevent myself from misunderstanding you. Sorry that was a bit off topic, but I’m really tired. Just to let you all know, I’m so tired because I did a 5K run yesterday. Haha had to drop that one in!
One thing I used to do in training was to ask all delegates to stand up. Everybody would look at one another too scared to stand up first, and after a second or two they’d all start slowly standing up. Next, I would ask them to sit down if they had ‘ever exercised so much it hurt them’. Usually a couple would sit down. Next question, sit down if you have ‘ever drank so much alcohol they were sick or ill’. By now most of the room would slide back into their chairs, guilty looks everywhere 😳☺️. Then there’d be usually no more than 3 left, and with 1 question left I’d pray they’d all sit down if they had ‘ever eaten that extra bit of cake, or those extra few mouthfuls even though they knew it would make then feel or be sick’…
PHEEEW thank f*ck they all sat down in training I did. I used this as a way of helping them relate to some of my ‘theory’ of self-harm. There are 2 words that link these and self-harm; instant gratification. We do those things for instant relief of some kind of uncomfortable feelings, which can include cravings for drugs/alcohol, sugar/something sweet/something delicious, feelings around body image etc. So, what comes in next? If you’ve been following the blog you’ll know what comes next is my……… SPECTRUM! 😂
Once again we can relate to each others behaviour, because we behave the same way but with varying extremes. Self-harm is in us all, we have all “self-harmed” at some point. We will all land on different parts of the spectrum (ohhh I love that word). And even if you’ve ‘never’ self-harmed, you’re on the complete opposite end of a very long spectrum!
Once again I’m now going to have to revise my current title which started as “mental illness: FAQ. And while I started out well, I once again completely diverted onto something else. Ahh well, hopefully it’s all interesting for someone out there!
PS gonna change the title to “Ignorance in general & understanding self-harm by relating to it” 😕