I often write about how clothes make me feel, in the context of my mental health. Sometimes I worry this is a little trite, given the severity of my bipolar and various other disorders. After all, putting on a dress is no substitute for proper treatment. However, I find that that I use my clothing as a way to disguise my vulnerability. There have been times when I’ve become too focused on materialism and using it to create an illusion, because I was desperate to camouflage my inner turmoil.
I have learnt that being honest about my mental state is actually rather usedul. I recently did some a couple of speaking events for Grief Encounter, a wonderful charity that provides grief counselling for children who have suffered a bereavement. On both occasions I was incredibly nervous, which is odd for me as I’m usually comfortable speaking in public. I suppose my nerves were due to my mental health, which hasn’t been great these last few months, and the prospect of speaking about my dad, who I miss terribly. Rather than trying to pretend that I was cool and composed I told people around me, most of whom I had not met before, that I was feeling anxious about speaking about my dad. Their response was kind and compassionate and they didn’t seem to mind my honesty, in fact they appeared to appreciate it. Naming my feelings made them much easier to manage because I wasn’t trying to suppress them or ignore them.
Emotional honesty is hard, especially if you’re in a situation where you don’t feel secure and supported. It’s helpful to not to care about what other people think; I’m a strange mix of being hyper-sensitive about some things and impervious to others. I wouldn’t be able to be as open and honest on this blog if I worried about every little thing that others might think. However, I would suggest being as open as you feel comfortable because letting people know how you are feeling gives them the chance to be supportive. Nothing bad has ever come from me telling the truth about my mental health, if anything it’s only brought good things.
I’ll still dress like a peacock to shield myself on my vulnerable days, but I’ll also dress up to celebrate a better mood. This dress from Teatum Jones SS19 collection makes me feel joyful and exuberant, but also safe, in a strange way.