Visible Injury. Wednesday February 24, 2016
So let's get one thing quite clear; I could have happily lived my whole life through without breaking my ankle.
I could have spent my entire holiday in sunny Tenerife even more happily not breaking my ankle.
And I could have especially spent a glorious afternoon in the dusty hills above Playa de las Americas on a horse without falling off and, yes, breaking my ankle.
But I did fall off and I did break my ankle (comprehensively) and ended up spending the rest of the week in hospital and then on crutches and with my poor husband in hourly communication with the insurance people.
But this isn't about the ankle or the insurance. It's about the kindness with which I have been met.
From the husband of the trek leader who picked me up on his Quad Bike and took me back, to the unfailing gentleness and exemplary care exhibited by the hospital staff; from the concern shown by the apartment complex team to the compassion of our fellow holiday makers, everyone has been so kind. Everyone has wanted to help.
In fact, they have been upset when they couldn't help.
And there are two sides of this.
The first side is that I could say bitterly, "Oh yes, people want to help when it's a broken ankle. When I have a broken mind they shy away!"
The other side is that I observe that I am happy to confess my broken ankle. I've posted about it on Facebook, for goodness sake. It's hard to hide a great big plaster cast and crutches anyway. We tend to hide our broken minds, don't we?
How can we expect to meet with kindness, compassion and help, if we try to hide our injuries? How can we expect the world to accept our illness if we ourselves act as if we are ashamed?
I know that since I decided to be "bi-polar and proud", to be utterly open about my condition, I have met with far more acceptance, understanding and compassion than ever I would have expected.
In fact, for the first time today someone actually asked me outright if I am bi-polar. It was my postman.
I can't remember why he asked, when I opened the door, on my crutches, to receive a parcel, but it was something to do with a broken ankle being a visible injury (as opposed to an invisible one) and he just came straight out with it. "Excuse me for asking," he said, "but are you bi-polar?"
"I thought so," he said. "It's in my family and I recognise the signs.
One more person I don't have to pretend with. One more person who understands.
We can't put a plaster cast on our minds, or give ourselves crutches for our mental state. But we can start treating our illness as if it's a broken bone. We can have dignity and pride and we can stop being ashamed.
Although I'm still a bit sheepish about falling off that horse!
A Moodscope member.
Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.