Friday, 20 May 2016

I am Me. I am Free. I have Mental Health Problems. And I am not Ashamed

It's my dad's birthday today.  He has a form of dementia and is in a very well run care home in Sussex.  It's great that he's there and I know he's being very well looked after.  He used to be in other homes and his care, or lack of it at times, was a constant worry.  It's just a shame that he's so far away but he's as well off where he is as he would be in any home up here.

On Facebook this morning I wrote a post wishing him a happy birthday - which he won't ever see - and expressed my regrets that due to my mental health I haven't been able to get down there and see him in a long time, far longer than I'd like.  Hopefully he'll enjoy the big box of chocolate, liquorice and bubbles I sent down.  They don't make up for me not being able to be there but unfortunately that can't be helped just now.

Someone wrote this comment:

Mental health, Claire....? You have freed yourself to be what you are!

She's written comments like that before.  They annoy me and if it happens again it'll be a sacking offence.  Bye, bye, my life will not be diminished by losing you and your comments.  It's not enriched in the slightest by having someone who is a bully about my mental health - as a friend put it to me in the last ten minutes.  I don't like the phrase toxic friend.  But she is being a toxic friend.  I don't like unfriending people.  But my friend is right: I don't want to be bullied either.

I have responded to the latest comment like this: 

As a friend said of you this morning, "That woman really doesn't get it, does she?"

I'm autistic dear. It's hard. It's bloody hard. Every day. It always was and in some ways always will be no matter how well I learn to understand myself, accept myself, and deal with it.

I also have comorbidities that if they don't have a biological root have a root in four decades of having to live as someone else and being ashamed of who I am. And hey, things are so much better than they used to be. Pretty much every year until a few years ago my wife would not know if I would be alive by the end or whether I would have committed suicide. Even at the best of times when I smiled and got on with some enjoyable things there was a shadow of darkness. The worst shadows faded with self acceptance.

But self acceptance also brings knowledge that although in some ways I am very able, in others I am disabled and that my disability is lifelong. There is no fix. Because I am autistic.

Mental health issues can exist side by side with being who you are. I hope that one day you can come to understand that instead of jumping in to question the fact of someone's mental health when they're just trying to say happy birthday to their father.

Some of the most free people I know also have mental health conditions. They just do. And it's nothing to be ashamed of.

Anyway. Happy birthday dad. That's the important thing today. To wish him a happy birthday.

I felt cross so followed it up with this little addition:

By the way - if you could learn to spell my name before criticising me for having mental health issues that would be great. It's written there for you at the start of every post I make so there's really no excuse for you to continually get it wrong is there?

I think that's fair!  I don't always succeed but I try to be fair.  And I wish my dad a happy birthday.

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