There was a story doing the rounds a few years ago that a certain ex-government minister had three diaries. The first was full of public engagements that everybody knew about and the second contained engagements that his team purposefully leaked to the press. The whole point of the second diary was that nobody thought to look for the third. I’m beginning to realise that I have three diaries.
In keeping with the ex-minister, my first diary is full of things that everybody knows about me. I’m called Kate, I’m a writer and I adore my niece beyond all reasonable measure. The second diary is full of things I choose to share with people that other’s might choose not to. It’s predominantly full of mental health issues and this blog is very much a part of it. But I’m realising that this openness and honesty is very heavily edited and designed to stop people – including myself – from looking any deeper.
When I told my therapist about the three diaries, I said that I had no idea what was in the third but I think I’m beginning to get a taste for what it contains. It’s full of memories and feelings that are so raw I can’t even begin to welcome them into my mind. So I keep them shut away, for most of the time at least. This past week the third diary has occasionally fallen open and I’ve had to experience what’s in there. It’s full of shame and utter self-hatred. It’s full of pain around how my husband ended our relationship and of nightmares I have from abuse buried deep in my past. When that diary opens I’m completely overwhelmed, I can’t function at all.
When it first opened, I was thinking about how other people see me and how they might see me as being nice or kind or good company. I went to pieces. The third diary reminded me of all the times I’ve been treated cruelly and that if I was nice, I would have been treated differently. I’m not nice, I’m just something to be used by other people. The diary told me that those people didn’t want to treat me badly but I’m so difficult that I left them with no option. Their behaviour became my fault. Yet again I wanted to die, I had to die to stop me doing this to myself and to others.
Mercifully, I got in touch with my therapist and we spoke on the phone. He tried to help me understand what was going on and said that understanding it would help. Apparently I’m so used to being attacked by others that I’m always on the look-out for the next assault. When it doesn’t come I simply attack myself instead. Knowing this didn’t bring immediate relief, it took the rest of the week and the entire weekend, but now understanding does help. I’ve located that elusive third diary.
I thought I was aware of how much I hated myself but it seems that I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. I thought I was OK with some of the distressing things that have happened to me but in reality I haven’t started to deal with them. I’m absolutely terrified of what will happen next. I have an awful feeling that to move on with my life things are first going to have to unravel even further. Spending days hiding under a duvet is incredibly unpractical for a start, never mind the amount of pain I’m about to unleash on myself.
I wish there was a nice easy way to recover from mental health issues – one that didn’t involve unraveling and hiding – but I’ve seen the path ahead of me and I won’t shy away from it now. Now that I know the third diary exists and what’s in it, I won’t let it stay locked away any longer, it’s having far too much control on my life.
I’m ready, bring it on.