Over the Summer, my emotional resilience was questioned. Some people who didn’t know me, made judgements on my emotional capacity to deal with potentially stressful situations- and they decided that I wasn’t up to the task.
That decision hurt and I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
And it hurt because it was wrong. It hurt because the decision was made on incomplete evidence and that felt very unfair.
Being a psychiatric patient has meant that for years my ’emotions’ have been subject to other people’s judgements, decisions and prejudices. Not just from professionals but also from amateur psychs who often feel they have the right to comment on ‘how well I’m coping’.
I am regularly encouraged by those who tell me how much I’ve ‘improved’- which in my mind of course implies that my previous state of being was ‘weak’ or ‘failing’. ‘You’re coping so much better’ is of course not only hugely patronising but also an indication that my previous responses were not ‘quite up to socially acceptable standards’.
To be honest, I’m so accustomed to it that usually I don’t even notice and certainly never comment. But this particular judgement had real implications for my future. Wonderfully the decision has now been reversed and I have now been deemed ’emotionally resilient enough’… but in the months between the two decisions I’ve made some good realisations…
I am beginning to realise that I am one of the most emotionally resilient people I know. Based on the definition that emotional resilience is the ability to pick yourself up after negative events… I could be a world champion! I challenge any one that sees my ‘mental issues’ as weakness to live in my shoes for a week sometimes and see how well you do. Yep- I’m feeling cross. Bloody cheek. I’m cross that people feel they can make judgements about me but also I’m cross because most people have absolutely no idea what Ive been through in my life or what I face on a daily basis sometimes.
So actually, the original decision did me a favour. It enabled me to step back and say ‘really?’ What does anyone else actually know about me… Why do we assume that seeing a therapist is a sign of weakness/ needing support… let me tell you DBT is not for the faint hearted- most weeks, I come out feeling like I’ve done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson…
If I cry… so what… if I laugh… so what… sometimes my reactions may even surprise me- but one thing I do know, is that I will pick myself up and get back on track. Sometimes it takes me longer than at other times. Sometimes I’m not always sure how I will be able to recover- but up until now, I always have.
Today is the first anniversary of my brother passing away. I have felt physically really poorly the last few days so that always impacts my emotions, but I’ve survived the year. I remember the day after his funeral I cried and cried with my beautiful friend Carol, and I could not imagine how I could keep going. Things looked really bleak. But I’ve done it. I’m sad today, I’m writing with tears in my eyes- but I’ve done it. My brother died- but I have managed to stay alive.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, for me, is Emotional Resilience in Action.