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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.

(Breathes deeply)

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.

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the room above the garage Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 6:06am

Oh Marydoll, the pain and the frustration!! Not to mention your holiday... I hope your ankle is feeling a little better? When I broke my wrist a few years ago, I found old coloured and patterned tights of my youngest daughter still in the back of her wardrobe. Thick woolly ones, pink or spots. Cut off a length and they made a fabulous change of 'sleeve' for my stookie! I changed design once a week as a countdown...anything that helps!! I've heard if you can 'exercise' both limbs together you can help reduce the muscle withering too. May be too soon but it might help at the other end. It won't be an easy few weeks.
I so agree with your message ex-partner didn't really acknowledge my illness and it made me ashamed. Living without him has made me much more accepting of me and, whilst I'm not yet ready to tell people in a big way, I do sometimes let a little slip out. I agree that less stigma starts with us. Great message there, and thank you, love ratg xx.

Tina Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 2:10pm

great message today. Hope you get well soon. This is just my 2nd day on Moodscope.

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 7:15pm

Yay...welcome, Tina x

LillyPet Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 7:40am

Morning Mary,
What a shame not only to have suffered the injury, but for it to have spoilt your holiday too. The stress and inconvenience of dealing with things like insurance is on top must have been draining as it's usually not quick or straight forward.
I've never really thought about our part in perpetuating the stigma by feeling ashamed and hiding our illness. So much of what I have suffered with anxiety has been about negative interactions thought and feelings involving others, often people that I wouldnt share personal formation of any kind with! Still, in general, it's a good idea for us to take any opportunities to change the stigma, be proud of how we manage with our illness and of the positive attributes that we have that go with it.
I have been treated badly by management at work for having been on sick leave in the past in a way that would never have happened if I had broken a limb. I have spoken out, but it has all worsened my ilness.
I certainly will take any opportunity to enlighten management about attitudes in an inspiring way.
Thank you for a great blog Mary! LP xx

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 7:17pm

Hi Lillypet...maybe you should introduce your HR department to Moodscope and spread the joy!

LillyPet Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 11:48pm

Great idea!! :) xx

Hopeful One Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 7:50am

Hi Mary-commiserations ,I do hope you will be out of the plaster soon.I was in a plaster for 12 weeks after an operation for a ruptured right Achilles tendon. I recall the sheer frustration and the difficulty in going upstairs with two crutches.

But you make a good point. As someone put it to me in another way- always let out the cat yourself before she has kittens.

Onward with today's laugh. I would love to have some feedback from fellow Moodscopers as it is one thing to tell a joke to someone standing in front of you but something else when one is doing it across cyberspace.

The boss of a big company calls one of his employees about an urgent problem. He dials the number and a small child answers the phone with a whisper "Hello?" The boss asks, “Is your Daddy home?” "Yes", whispers the small voice. "May I talk with him?" To his surprise the voice whispers “No " The boss asks “Is your mother there? "."Yes", comes the answer. "May I talk with her?" Again the small voice whispers, "no". "Is there any one there besides you?” "Yes" whispers the child, "A policeman". "May I speak with the policeman"? "No, he's busy", whispers the child. "Busy doing what?, asks the boss. "Talking to Daddy and Mummy and the Fireman", comes the whispered answer. Growing concerned and even worried as he hears what sounds like a helicopter the boss asks, "What is that noise?" "A hello-copper", answers the whispering voice. "What is going on there?” asks the boss, now alarmed. In an awed whispering voice the child answers, "The search team just landed the hello-copper", "Why are they there"? Still whispering, the young voice replies "They're looking for me"

Another Sally Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 8:26am

Hello HO, feedback on jokes. I love them. Just made my husband laugh at that one. If I do make time to read the blogs, I always make sure I check your contribution for a joke. It lifts my day. Another Sally

Maria Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 1:47pm

Hi HO! I love your jokes and starting my day with a chuckle...please keep them coming. Thanks!

Mary Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 4:21pm

I love them too. even when they make wince!

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 7:19pm

Sheer joy HO...don't you just Lurve the liddle kids??!!

Another Sally Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 8:32am

Hello Mary,
I am sorry to hear about your accident and hope you will soon be physically fit again. I'm glad you met with such kindness from the people you came across on holiday.
I don't suffer too badly with the black dog, but I do have my off days. Your post is salutary in making me think that, if someone asks me how I am, I can admit to feeling sad or lonely. Thank you.
Another Sally

Another Sally Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 8:32am

Hello Mary,
I am sorry to hear about your accident and hope you will soon be physically fit again. I'm glad you met with such kindness from the people you came across on holiday.
I don't suffer too badly with the black dog, but I do have my off days. Your post is salutary in making me think that, if someone asks me how I am, I can admit to feeling sad or lonely. Thank you.
Another Sally

MaisyG Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 8:56am

So perfect Mary. Your blog, not your break...
I spent an hour last night with my therapist talking about having a need to feel acknowledged as being depressed/anxious/scared but not feeling recognised, or knowing how to communicate these feelings well. My therapist encouraged me to admit I was feeling scared/panicky about something in front of her and it was surprisingly difficult and emotional! I will persevere!
PS Hope break heals well. My tip, get a trolley...

Mary Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 4:22pm

how apt! ~I have just been looking at trolleys!

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 7:20pm

Oh no! I now have visions of you Mary, in a shopping trolley with legs hanging ver the edge!!

Anonymous Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 9:55am

Oh, Mary! That definitely wasn't meant to happen... I knew from the start that you had to be the author of this brilliantly written, insightful blog. For a variety of reasons but in particular the stubbornness of my OH, I have struggled to keep my "shameful" mental health condition under wraps for many, many years. Apart from one friend and my children, no-one has known the extent of my illness and until recently, even my GP was not informed. Why? Why indeed hide one's injuries? Go well.

Lex Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 10:00am

You ARE a writer. You ARE an artist. This proves it. Glamorous writer falls off horse - make good art. And that's what you do and what we love you for - whatever happens, you make good art from it.
Awesome. L€x... and if I may be so bold as to talk to your bones, "Heal well!"

Rupert Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 10:28am

A great post Mary but sorry to hear about your ankle! I do agree with everything you say but in some ways it answers its own question. As an analogy on the tube this morning there was a lady acting in a rather strange way who I am guessing had some mental health issues. Everyone's reaction was to keep their heads down and try and ignore her because they didn't know how to deal with it or what assistance they could give. Now if she had got on with a broken ankle and crutches the immediate response would be to get up and offer a seat. I too am as guilty as the others because I wasn't sure what to do and in a way that is the problem. I guess what I am saying is people aren't conditioned to deal with things that aren't visible or easily resolved?

Rats Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 12:34pm

Hi Mary, thanks for your insightful blog. I hope that your ankle is healing well and that your bi-polar is well managed. I am currently on long term sick leave from my job. My close friends and family know precisely why I am off, and I have tried to be as honest as I can about how I feel, but I can see that they struggle to put themselves in my position. Anyone can empathise with breaking a bone, because they can imagine that, but being so anxious that you feel like you've stopped breathing? Being so low that getting out of bed is too much?Being so overwhelmed that you have no idea what to do next? Unless you've had that experience, you'll struggle to magine what it's like. Then there's the invisible nature of it all. You can't see the turmoil in my mind, but it's there. Even if you asked me; I don't have to share with you. The big challenge is removing the stigma associated with having a broken mind and putting it on a par with having a broken bone/body.

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 7:26pm

Oh Rats....'even if you asked me: I don't have to share with you.' It is a sad state of the times we live in that we feel we cannot share our illness with people, because in most cases we are met with gasps or sympathy or we never hear from that person as much as previously and I think Rupert hit the nail on the's because people who have never experienced any mental health problems, don't know how to react when presented with someone who has it and needs empathy. I do hope you are passing the days being kind to yourself. Bear hugs x x x

Anonymous Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 8:29pm

I think this is similar to how the blog post hit me. While I try to be honest with the people close to me when I can, there isn't the same understanding of my mental struggles as there would be with a visible physical ailment. There's still a lot of "oh that's not a thing to feel anxious about" or "you'd feel better if you pushed yourself harder" or whatever other pop-culture solution that comes to mind. It's a relief when I find someone who understands and offers real support, but I do hold back in a lot of cases because the flippant responses cause a lot of damage.

Maria Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 2:16pm

Dear Mary - What an awful way to spend your holiday :( I hope your accident happened a while ago and you are now fully healed. I always love your blogs and wanted to thank you for such witty and wise contributions. I have recently started sharing that I have bipolar disorder with others and it's funny that I find it easier to do with acquaintances and newer friends vs. older friends. I'm constantly surprised by how positive reactions are when I come out. They often share about friends or family members that have a mental health illness and discussion ensues. I usually ask them to let me know if I seem to be acting "off". My city is hosting a series of community discussions for Mental Health (wonderful isn't it?!), and I am coming out in a public way when I man a resource table at the kickoff event. I feel really good about this especially since I will be promoting moodscope :)

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 7:35pm

Well done you Maria! Where is Your City? Maybe some moodscopers can come and support!

The Gardener Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 4:02pm

Oh Mary what an example of physical and mental experiences. When I wrote a book on manic depression in the first paragraph I stated that physical injury and illness immediately provokes sympathy and offers of help. Depression provokes avoidance, the 'oh, she's (he's) got the miseries again' - and if it's serious enough to interfere with work or family life it's 'never thought it of her/him'. I gave up horses when I was 37. I always had the difficult ones to deal with in our stables - the last one I rode, fantastic beast called Shihardi, as black as horses come, started trying to get me off however he could after being perfectly behaved. When it looked as if he would do me serious injury I thought of husband and five children I gave up. He was sold on, had an accident himself and had to be put down. They did an autopsy (unusual) and found he had a tumour on the brain. As soon as he felt my weight on his back all he wanted to do to relieve the pain and get rid of me. I had fallen off horses steadily from age 13, never an injury - but ladders, stairs (church) altar steps (church has got it in for me) did everything to foot but break it, broke little finger. Getting family members to say you are acting 'off' (Maria) can be fraught - as depressed people are apt to be pretty snappy you don't like to take the risk - also can be very 'governessy'. I have a major technical problem with my stair lift - have not got to Lesson 2, parking, so it was blocking top of the stairs - had to run along to other stairs, length of shop, get instruction book and yell at it via the remote. Everybody's having fun with it. Mr TG and the weather as gloomy as each other - but, market day, kitchen table attracted coffee and tea drinkers, and gossip. Great. Hope you soon get back to normal, Mary - the frustration is awful.

Mary Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 5:00pm

For the third time..... (I have lost two replies to you already - really long ones both....). Firstly - thank you for understanding the frustration and secondly, may I use Shihardi in my next novel please? Although I think he will have something cureable. I'm sure you wished he did!

Heather Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 4:25pm

Mary, what a fantastic post. I have seen a big change here in Canada over the last ten years, or maybe it is just because I've 'come out' myself as bipolar. The first time I opened up it was excruciating, but the kind, supportive response I got helped me open up to others. It's been nothing but positive support since. I realize I held a huge stigma against mental illness ('It could never happen to me!") but now do my part to normalize it and work for greater acceptance. So far so good, although I still haven't told my elderly parents...

readerwriter Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 5:24pm

I stopped riding recently as I decided it was only a matter of time before the same thing happened to me, so now I feel you've taken one for the team. Out and proud.....oh yes indeedy.....and you're so right, people's responses aren't as much of an issue as the stuff inside our heads makes out. Big love.

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 7:34pm

I have found the last few days exhausting and after reading your blog, Mary, my ankle bones were sore - coining it in sympathy for you!!
I have had to return to my GP to ask for medication once again. Having been 'off' meds for almost a year, I found it really hard to go back, but things weren't going well in the woods here for this liddle Bear.
You have broken ankle, which I hope is mending well, with plenty of rest...I have broken spirit. I shared this with a good friend (who knows some of my history) and she was shocked, didn't handle it at all well and wondered what I have to be stressed and depressed about? Me? Oh nothing then...I tried to explain that there doesn't always have to be a's just - life.
So no visible injury...just a few tears :( x

Rebecca Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 8:12pm

Hope ankle heals soon Mary. I couldn't imagine life without horse riding. I was very naughty many years back as broke my collar bone and got back on a horse 2 weeks later, riding with hand, arm in a sling. Could only walk as hurt to trot and couldn't tack up myself, surprisingly found someone to help. I find with my depression that I am rubbish at hiding it. When I am very down it shows, although if that lasts too long I avoid talking to people too much as don't want them to be thinking "here comes misery".

Mary Wed, Feb 24th 2016 @ 10:02pm

oh Rebecca, almost the first thing my 11 year daughter demanded of me (even before we knew how bad was the break) was "you won't let this stop you riding Mummy, will you?" Silly question. I've already booked my riding boots in for repair (my right one had to be cut off me), and will be right back on as soon as possible! But the expectation seems to be that I won't ride again. People don't say, after a car accident "oh, you won't drive again then. No more cars for you!" do they?

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