Happy Saturday, friends! Another lovely day in the Shattering Stigmas event and I’ve got another amazing blog post to share, yay! In case you missed it, Shattering Stigmas is an event that will take place from October 6th to October 20th here on Drizzle & Hurricane Books.
Three years ago, Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight launched the first Shattering Stigmas, a blogging event dedicated to posts about mental illness to address and challenge the stigmas against it. Through book reviews, discussion posts and lists, Shattering Stigmas has continued conversations around mental illness for the past three years.
You can also enter our INTERNATIONAL (Book Depository) giveaway! TWO winners will be able to win the Mental Health book of their choice at the end of this event. Don’t forget to ENTER HERE!
Today, I am welcoming the amazing Morgane, writing a fantastic post about her own experience with mental health, her struggles and her journey overall. I hope you’ll enjoy her writing as much as I do and as always, feel free to share your thoughts in comments!
Trigger warnings: This post deals with panic attacks and anxiety.
( disclaimer: my 22yo self may have hazy memories, but I’m not sure what day it is so. 😶 )
I don’t really have a green thumb when it comes to plants– they all meet a tragic destiny. Never ask me to water your flowers. I master the art of gardening book (space) worms, though! Only, when one already lives on a different planet, and one has the social skills of a mushroom, the art of reading is often seen as a way to disconnect with reality and keep its head in the sand. We bugged me for a while with my tiny-duckling worms. I was infested by stories, surely that wasn’t a good thing? With the many demons I’ve swallowed, I was going to slip in the gaps of reality itself! 😱
It wasn’t totally banana to think I wished to slip in the gaps, but not only. Thing is, people think they have the magic solutions to anything, but they forget to ask if that’s okay to cast the spell. More spells were cast for me than I wish I could say. I was then left to fix what we broke. It so happens that book worms have a sweet tooth for demons. 😬
In what witchcraft are you in? 😶 Oh, I like speaking in hallucinatory imagery, it makes things weirdly fun and fairy tale-like. You have to keep up!
It’s a thing my mom says, that I swallowed demons when I was a kid. It’s not the same as swallowing the devil– demons whisper to kids that it’s scary to sleep without their ladybug nightlight because monsters hide in the shadows when the devil says it’d be fun to switch the light on / off and mimics the bhooo~ of a ghost.
When demons whisper to kids that sleeping in total darkness is scary, we don’t ask them to say goodbye to their ladybug lights, they can keep it, but when it whispers that school is a terrifying place? It’s not a good enough excuse to miss class.
I was 8 yo, then. I’m not sure why I was so scared, but I broke my voice screaming on the way to school. I started having psychosomatic reactions ( like pneumonia or chronic heartburn ) and hysterical panic attacks. They are quieter now than then: my lungs forget how they work, I’m disoriented*, feel nauseous, have trouble talking, they are also less frequent, although the aftermaths are the same.
* It’s less scary than it sounds. I may have no clue where we are, but my legs do, and they’ll walk me home ( even if it’s necessary to go through the forest while it’s dark. 🙃 they are not that smart. )
My mom was told to kick me in the butt, and that it’d fix it. I was also locked in classrooms, pulled in the stairs or told to stop having tantrums. My mom knew better, though and she sought help. I was diagnosed with extreme school phobia and anticipatory anxiety soon after. It’s as surprising as the melting heart of a chocolate-lava cake! 😱
I missed a lot of school days up to high school, but I didn’t watch cartoons as everyone else thought. I was taking naps mostly ( read: collapsing in any place ) and did my homework. I also wrote an illustrated book, AND IT’S GOLD, KRAKEN! I did my best to keep up and going to school, but eleven years ago there was less help, it was less known and, in the eyes of many, it was tantrums.
It did not really help my case w/ everyone that I’m smart. I was using « my fragility and small size to manipulate her world. » 🤓 The demons keep whispering that to bug me, and it’s been way past 10-years.
You can have a lot of troubles if your kids miss school, I learnt that the hard way. We were sent a letter and not the Hogwarts letter I was waiting for. It said that my home was not a good place because I lived in a cocoon. What? We didn’t lose me enough in the forest with just crumbs to find my way home, basically and I was too ‘Gilmore-girls’ w/ my mom. 🙄 We were given 3 months to fix it, or I’ll be sent to psychiatric care*. Fool of themselves to think that demons can be scared away like that.
* I’m taking shortcuts because there were many, many letters.
Instead of psychiatric care, we took my parents’ guardianship and placed me in a kids home. I’d like to say: we are not crocodiles. Kids should play hide-and-seek and ask their mom/dad to save the day. They don’t have to be their own superheroes yet. They don’t have to learn how to do laundry*. « What will you do when your mom is gone? » is a thing we said to me all too often. Laundry is the least of my worries, I can tell you. WHO WILL LISTEN TO ME FOR TWENTY MINUTES AND TELL ME ‘IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE SPEAKING MARTIAN.’ In all seriousness, I should be allowed to love my mom for more than laundry.
* I totally forgot how to do laundry, btw. 🤣 I learnt mathematics by myself, I think I can figure laundry. l o l
ANYHOW! The first few days in kids home, I dehydrated myself. I was so terrified to go to the bathroom. It’s when the demon started to whisper outside of school ground, and I swallowed many of its friends. It’s funny when you know I actually swallowed only ONE demon at first and all the spells within the magic solutions just created more demons, really. 🙃 I was so helpless I was hospitalised the third nights for depressions and ‘maybe-anorexia*’.
* Anorexia is a thing that was here all my teen years, not because I’m anorexic, but because I’m small in all way. It really damaged how I see myself– at times, I feel like I see all my bones.
I stayed for a while in psychiatric care, but all I know are things that are in my file and glimpses I have. I was allowed to see my family only on Sundays for a few short hours, and though I was really happy, I shied away when they wanted to hug me. That’s the saddest part because I can’t seem to fix what they broke here.
I went back to kids home eventually, and I was promised that after 3 months I’d go home. I went home when I was 17yo. 🙃 Their ‘ magic solution ’ didn’t cast out any demons, it made them bigger and my oldest friends. I have generalised anxiety now. I have trouble talking to people, going grocery shopping or walking my dog, I can’t sleep and have nightmares. I’M OKAY! ☠️
Yeah, my happiness wasn’t really the number one priority. That I didn’t sleep or that my anxiety literally was eating me wasn’t really important as long as I went to school. It’s awful, but that was all my social worker cared about. I don’t think she ever really spoke to me actually?
It may sound like I did not have any help, but I did. Someone told me to build a toolbox and put all the tools to make the demons less scary and busy in. They sought with me spells that works and also told me that I did not have to hurt myself casting these spells too fast– it’s better to focus on the long ways than the shortcuts. They didn’t push me or shake me like a tree to get better.
I wished that in all those years when magical solutions were created for me someone told me that it’s okay to ask for help, but it’s also okay to say when it makes it worse. If it sounds like an Avada Kedavra to you, don’t allow them to cast the spell. Tell it won’t help! It can be for something as small as your best friend tricking you to stay at the train station for a few minutes alone when they promised they wouldn’t. If that’s an Alohomora that can help you, ask for it!
I knew stories save my day so I keep asking for books with ghouls, ghosts and apocalyptic worlds. I was infested by stories, surely that was a good thing?? After all, it made me slip in the gaps of reality and shape me into my own superhero to help fight the dragon. That was my Alohomora. Ask for yours. 💛