Mental Illness Vs Acting: Part Three

Wow this post has been a long time coming! It’s been ages since this actually happened, I’ve just been swamped in other things that I wanted to write about so this has had to wait.

At the end of Part Two I mentioned how my teacher, Kay, had said that she was going to do a session where everyone had to reveal their deepest secrets and talk about all the things that they were ashamed about. She said that she would tell me when this was going to happen and give me the option to duck out of that session.

Well the session happened!

First Kay asked us to close our eyes and visualise on ourselves where our ‘scars’ would be, I put my mine across my arms (self harm) thighs, genitals (self harm and sexual assault), heart (bereavement and betrayal) and forehead/mind (mental illness) she then started to go around the circle and got us to talk about our scars.

There were some things that I didn’t expect, I think it’s easy when you have a mental illness or a history of something like sexual abuse to think of yourself as different to everyone else, you cut yourself off and tell yourself that no-one’s been through anything like that and no-one can possibly understand it… so it was weird and kind of comforting to go around the circle and hear that some people had had similar experiences to me.

I was pretty scared when it was my turn- a few people had asked to speak later, and I asked them if they wanted to go before them because I didn’t want to unload my van-loads of crap and have them feel that whatever they were going to say was stupid and inconsequential. They still declined to I went ahead.

I started at the beginning, I told them about growing up with my Grandma and bereavement, I then told them about my Dad and his anger problems and how that shaped my childhood- I told them about being scared and vulnerable and the things that he’d done.

I then told them about the first incidence of sexual assault when I was eleven and the second when I was thirteen. I then took a very deep breath and told them about my mental illness.

It’s hard when talking about my mentalism because the temptation is always to focus on the depression side of it in order to make people feel more comfortable, but I didn’t this time. It was kind of like ripping off a plaster and seeing as I’d talked about everything else without sugar coating it I just wanted to get it all out… so I told them about the psychosis side of my illness, I told them about the worst delusions I’d ever had and I didn’t hold back. I don’t really know what came over me, I think I was probably over eighteen years of repressing and lying finally getting to me.

And when I finished I looked around and everyone was quiet… and I felt physically sick.

Kay took over and said that it had been a big thing for me to disclose all of that and that I was nervous and frightened about how they would react, especially about the mental illness side.

She asked me what I was frightened about, and I replied ‘that no-one will ever come near me again’ and burst into tears.

Everyone got up and rushed over to hug me- I think this probably made me cry more! I was just so incredibly touched and amazed that they were all okay with me and that they were still treating me as normal.

It’s been about a month since this happened, and no-one’s been weird with me- in fact, I think we’re all much, much closer than we were before and I’m glad that the session happened.

It’s not radically changed my views on anything, but it has made me feel a little more relaxed about telling people and also broken down all the thoughts that I used to have about other people being ‘normal’ and not being able to understand what I’d been through. Everyone has their own shit; it just varies in amount and type.

’til next time,

Wren x

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