Being (understandably) Selfish



One of the biggest issues about receiving a diagnosis of any kind it that you find yourself in a very selfish place – understandably – but selfish none the less. Your entire focus is inward looking as you try to get your head round the news, the facts and the future and by doing that you find that you neglect others who worry about you and want to help. The difficult thing is that so often no one outside of the medical profession can help you because often the problem is not something that can be talked, thought or kissed better.

Since talking about the Bi Polar diagnosis on here I have had many amazing messages and kind words and I really appreciate them – but there is a downside to that. While I receive all the positives people still have questions that they want to clarify and the obvious thing is to ask someone close to you; in my case Jill. While it’s not a bad thing, it does put pressure on her because she is also trying to understand the situation at the same time and can’t always answer the questions people ask. Asking questions is natural but we tend not to ask the one person who can probably give you the answer – the person who is, for want of a better word, ill. Her support and strength in helping me is so important and I couldn’t do it without her, but sometimes I need to remember to do right by her in these situations too.

Then with me it goes beyond that because of this blog. These words that I type out each day to empty my head of my thoughts, worries and questions. By putting myself out there and inviting others to discuss, share or ask about things I’m not just exposing myself to others but those around me too. They have their own concerns and perhaps I’m not helping the matter. It’s a difficult one because I have found the experience of writing this blog since New Year’s Day hugely beneficial and cathartic, at the same time I know some read it and worry about me or worry about those around me. That was never the intention and for that I apologise to those who feel they are having to answer or speak on my behalf – and to those I have worried.  Please remember that this is something I have lived with for a long time and for me the diagnosis is a positive that allows me to move on and get treatment – I’m used to it, it is the idea that is new to many of you.

Yes it’s selfish at times and while I’m sorry people have found themselves in awkward positions, you need to understand that I have to do this my way to help me become used to it. I learnt that with the cancer the more I spoke about it the easier it became to accept it, move on and get better. I have to write or talk or rant or wallow at times because that’s part of the illness and also for me part of the “cure” to use the wrong word. And to those that have questions please feel free to ask me anything about the experience – you won’t offend me by asking the wrong thing, neither should you feel awkward to ask about it if you have never experienced it for yourself. I’ve always been pretty forward in asking others about their illnesses or disabilities because I think the only way to learn in life is to ask about things we don’t know or understand. Yes there has to be an appropriate approach but those answers can remove issues like prejudice, ignorance and awkwardness in one moment.

For me this is a long learning curve and something I will probably be living with for the rest of my life. I don’t know all the answers but then the issue with mental health is that even the experts don’t have the precise solutions to the issues. Much of mental health care is based on best guesses and educated progress – for me as the patient and the professionals involved asking questions is key to getting the most out of the treatments available both in terms of medicines and other therapies. I have heard many people say things like “Don’t ask him if he’s okay, it’s the wrong thing to do.” Nonsense, it’s a normal conversational question or a genuine query to find out if someone you care for is okay. That’s not wrong and never should be.

I truly appreciate all the support and generous comments that have been made in the last couple of weeks and I’m sure either through this blog, my Twitter and Facebook accounts or in person the conversation will be ongoing. Good. Talking about it helps me, so ask me questions and if I can answer them I will. If you are worried about a post I put on here more often than not I am letting off steam, or just having a good old fashioned rant. If you couldn’t give a shit, then that’s okay too, this blog isn’t for you and I don’t expect everyone to read or pay attention to these things.

I am being selfish because I need to get everything clear in my head. As the meds kick in over the coming weeks I’m sure there will be a settling in period that might throw up unusual blogs or comments that will worry some and amuse others. I know that people will mean well and ask questions of those around me, and as much as I appreciate you trying to spare my feelings by asking blunt questions, I’d rather you asked me and allow those around me to come to terms with things themselves.


One thought on “Being (understandably) Selfish

  1. Writing helped me too. And I was really selfish for several years since the extent of the illness tends to develop as it progresses. It went far, and to places that I probably won’t survive if I go back to them. But writing helped me get through it all. And then, when I became comfortable with being bipolar and had my rhythms set, I didn’t need to talk about it anymore. The need sort of evaporated and all that energy that I had put into learning how to survive, that insanely high level of intensity to fish it out and manage it, it went into writing novels and short stories and I never looked back.

    In some ways, I think it made me a more productive member of society because I know where that on switch is to survive. But finding that switch requires some selfishness in my opinion. Surviving this illness means being very selfish at times too, sadly.

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