Sleeves

I was asked to write this blog about two weeks ago. Fun fact about me – I am a procrastinator. It makes life more fun – why give myself two weeks of leisurely writing when I can bake cupcakes and do it all in the hours leading up to the deadline?

Yeah, I thought I’d’ve learned that lesson by now too.

I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to find a topic to write about.

I’ve partially written several attempts already.

But I was finding it really hard.

I want to be ‘real’, ‘relatable’, ‘polished’, ‘mind-blowing’.

I spent ages drafting up a post about my first psych ward admission.

It’s an experience I felt was worth sharing -so people could hear what it’s like and either their curiosity would be sated or maybe the nerves and anxiety about admitting you need that level of help would lessen.

But in writing it…

It felt too forced. Fake, even.

So, I scrapped it.

Then I was going to talk about expectations and how trying to live up to too many is a recipe for disaster.

And I got half way through writing that one.

And it felt too forced. Fake, even.

So, this is my third attempt.

And before I make my point (which will, by now be very brief, I swear) I wanted to touch on the expectations thing. I’ve been stressed for two weeks because I was trying to live up to these impossible standards that I had placed on myself.

I couldn’t move forward until I realised that the only person stopping me was me.

Which leads me to my main (and again, brief) point

I’ve been in my own way a lot recently, in many, many ways. I probably could have decided on a list and explanation of all the ways and I would have had a ready-made blog series for the Project.

But I think my most powerful personal victory (read: the biggest getting out of my own way) relates to sleeves.

I have struggled a lot with self-harm. I am on the road to freedom from it, but that road is long, difficult and full of twists and switch backs.

I’d developed a highly original solution to keeping this problem hidden though: ye ol’ long sleeves.

Which works fine, in winter. When you don’t live in Sunny, beautiful Queensland.

I’ve spent many days near heat exhaustion, scoured every store I could think of for lighter, cooler long sleeves shirts, but in the end, it grew frustrating.

In typical me fashion, I had a slight (massive) freak out about it.

About what people would think.

Because societal expectations are heavy. Were heavy.

But I realised – not only is it nobody’s business what happened to my arm, but the only person who had any expectations of me, and how I dressed, was me.

The first day I went out without sleeves was horrible.

I could see everyone looking at me, feel their disapproval and whispered words about the psycho girl.

But I made it.

And I made it through the second time.

The only person who was in my way was me.

So yeah, this blog is, in part, me wanting to have a little brag about how well I’ve done in not freaking out about someone seeing my arms. But I guess its mostly me trying to say that…well…

You do you.

Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. They don’t know you.

They don’t know what you’ve been through.

And those people whispering about me?

They weren’t taking any notice of me.

I was so focused on what set me apart, I overlooked one vital fact:

Everyone is facing their own struggles, whether we know it or not.

By trying to hide our own struggles, we build up the stigma surrounding mental health.

 

 

Candace

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