I’m a runner, when things get too much and I can’t face my world, I run.
When I was small shy and anxious were the words people used to describe me. I lived inside my head, reading, writing and drawing. Getting lost in another world meant I didn’t need to face my own.
I still don’t really like facing my own world, though it and I have both changed radically.
You know what I love about compassion? It’s a word I use a lot, and means sympathy and empathy with a desire to help, and is non-judgmental. Along with integrity, it’s a word I treasure and try to embody.
I didn’t show compassion to myself when I was young.
I put myself last, didn’t think anyone would be interested in a shy thing like me, so whatever people asked, I said yes. Saying yes, is not always a good, especially when you’re so young that comprehension of a request is crucially and woefully limited.
Much later at fourteen, I began carving a line across the back of my hand. No one noticed. It was only one line, and lightly scratched. As I got older it got deeper. It healed, and then it would reappear as I scored it again with sharp nail scissors.
At fifteen and sixteen panic attacks were part of me. I had my first panic attack in middle school. A pain so deep and intense I thought I’d faint. I didn’t, but I was sent home. Those pains appeared every now and then, and I had no idea why. Only later in life did I understand the panic that accompanied the need to escape, later in life when I ran.
I ran from High School, before or after class, many times. My heart found its way into my mouth, my stomach churned and my legs ran. If I couldn’t keep it within my head, within my trembling legs, within my body, my feet took it upon themselves to run. Not once was I ever noticed as missing.
That score across my hand, moved higher up my arm, which meant it could be hidden beneath long sleeves. My hand healed, but the scratches across my arm, cut with rose thorns, or the sharp edge of a paperclip, or a safety pin, dug deep beneath my sleeves.
At eighteen I told my mother what caused my panic and depression and she wept. I, in turn, comforted her. Nothing more was ever said. But I did get referred to a PMS (Pre Menstrual Syndrome) specialist, and when that didn’t help, and my anxiety and panic attacks grew, I saw a psychologist. I slipped into a deep depression and breakdown after a failed relationship. I screamed and wept into my pillow and couldn’t work as I was shattered and in a state of panic and high anxiety. I got antidepressants, not a surprise, the first port of call for any mental/emotional breakdown was pretty much antidepressants in the UK. They knocked me for six and I took them for six months.
I was diagnosed with Post Viral Fatigue, (CFS Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and I gave up work. I met my husband and as I turned twenty we married. I sometimes feel he got cheated. He knew my physical state, but I kept my emotional being well hidden. He loves me, always has, and he always has my back, even when I’m gouging pieces out of my skin, or my feet are running, or I’m heading into a panicked meltdown. He’s there. That makes a difference.
I’m grateful to have a supportive and loving family, of whom almost all my children are now adults. They understand and have translated their understanding and compassion, there’s that word again, to others in need.
In my early thirties, I was sexually assaulted again. In my heart I was still that trusting, naïve, shy girl, the people-pleaser and when you strive to see good in all, you sometimes miss the bad. As I ran away, both figuratively and literally, and tumbled into self-destruction hubby got me private professional help. It wasn’t going to appear on the NHS (National Health Service).
Years of chronic depression, post-natal depression, anxiety and panic got talked about and root causes analysed. She was brilliant. Between her, my psychiatrist, my church leader, and another course of antidepressants I pulled through.
Now I’m coming up to my mid-forties and I’m different. The most important thing I’ve learned is that compassion goes a long way, a very long way in the fight to help mental and emotional illnesses.
My chronic depression, severe anxiety, panic and self-harm are small compared to others’ afflictions, but I’ve learned not to compare. I’m not luckier, or better. What I go through is not easier or harder, it’s different. I have siblings with bipolar and other conditions. I don’t measure myself. I’ve heard people disparage medication and tell others to pull up their proverbial socks. I shake my head. You do what works for you. I know my conditions will stay with me, but the best thing I can do is learn to deal and live with them.
Fighting the stigma of mental illness is tough, but can be done. My books have covered these sensitive subjects and I blog regularly on several subjects close to my heart, and emotional and mental illnesses are one of those subjects. I try to understand, and show compassion, and help.
I carry no shame or guilt about who I am and I’m forever thankful that when my feet run, there’s always someone to come home to, and when my wounds reopen there are those who will help me heal.
Be that person for someone who needs you…
Lisa began weaving intricate stories inside her imagination from a young age, but these days her words find themselves bursting forth in the forms of flash fiction, short stories and novels. A love of the ocean and life in West Wales, rich in legend and lore, heavily influences her lyrical and emotional writing.
Lisa is a sensory writer and delves into sensitive subject matters that will lift your spirit and steal your heart.
Lisa is a firm believer of compassion and understanding, and fights for both of these with regular mental and emotional health posts on her blog.
You can find her novels ‘Beneath the Rainbow’, ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ and ‘Beneath the Distant Star’ at www.lisashambrook.com and she blogs under the alter-ego The Last Krystallos.
If you enjoyed this post, please take a few moments to leave a comment, or share with your friends using the share buttons below.