I’ve been looking back over my blog, trying to summarise it for collaboration with another blogger. It’s been quite a journey from writing almost exclusively about fashion, to the content I write now. I don’t share absolutely everything about my life with Bipolar type 2, however I do lay myself bare to criticism and scrutiny. Most people who get in touch are supportive and welcome my honesty. There are some who’ve taken umbrage to the blog, but I’m ok with that because I don’t expect everyone to like my work. However, in my more insecure moments, I wonder what good can come from me carping on about my mental health?
I write about life with Bipolar because I feel that if something good can come from my mental illness, then somehow it was worth it. The nights in, wracked with anxiety and too afraid to leave my flat, and the nights out when I drank to numb the pain – they didn’t go to waste. The time that I lost to suicidal ideation, self-loathing and self-harm will be useful in some way, and not just to me. I suppose one could argue that those experiences shaped who am I today, and without them I might not be doing this. My friends have told me I’m strong, and I guess I must be to have survived it all. I don’t feel particularly strong most of the time but I believe strength, in part, comes from the willingness to make oneself vulnerable.
Sometimes it feels odd to write about fashion in tandem with the often difficult subject of mental health. I was walking down the street a few nights ago, on my way out to meet some friends, and I realised that my clothes act like a suit of armour. I had been feeling anxious during the day and I was considering cancelling my plans. I put on a dress that made me feel confident and it gave me the fortitude I needed to leave the house. I know it sounds trite, but sometimes taking care of the little things, like doing your makeup and wearing something you find pleasing, can give you that extra ounce of courage necessary to get on with life. I’m now attracted to more grown up looks; gone are the days when I’d wear voluminous PVC skirts or towering high-heels in a blizzard. What I wear now has got to be comfortable and preferably machine washable. Anything that makes me feel exposed, self-conscious or uncomfortable is a non starter. Equally, I don’t want to wear clothes that make me feel drab and dowdy. This shirt-dress is from Whistles and I love the snake print and the simple shape. I’ve worn it with a vintage sheepskin coat that I bought in Amsterdam and boots from Kurt Geiger. This is how I manage my mental health – I’m sure there are people who will have negative thins to say about that and I don’t mind. However, I always encourage my readers to try to find the little things that improve their mood – even if the improvement is infinitesimal, it’s still a start. Making the tiny but consistent changes, step by step, can move one closer to feeling better.
If you’re reading this and managing a mental illness, I understand how hard it is. It’s important to fee understood, even if it’s just by a stranger on the internet. There’s a serenity that comes with the assurance that someone else has also been in that very dark place. You will get through it, no matter how tough it may be right now.