I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately about the name of this blog and whether it’s a positive or negative thing. I started writing the blog as an outlet when I was in a mother-and-baby psych unit for the first time in 2012/2013 when I was pregnant with Joseph, my final child. At the time I was still incredibly physically ill as well as mentally unwell, and the title reflected how difficult it had been up to that point living with undiagnosed mental and physical illness. Within this particularly it reflected the challenges of dealing with motherhood in this context, because in reality it did and still does make me different, and mean that so many things in life have to be done in an unusual and creative way. This is the blog post which explained how it was named and how it fitted well at the time, especially with Amelie’s (who was 5 years old at the time) assessment of the whole situation: http s://differentblogdotme.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/why-different/?/. Her wonderfully unconditional accepting of our life being that bit more unusual due to my physical and mental health and the limitations we faced/still face because of it was so helpful, as I battled to accept myself in the situation.

So now I’m not sure about the name. What I don’t want to do is imply that myself or others who battle with mental illness are different in a negative way. In fact I want to help to break down barriers of stigma related to living with severe mental health problems and being a mother in this context. At the same time I want to acknowledge and explore the fact that life is different for people like me, but despite that, with the right support, treatment and acceptance life can be good, in fact in some ways there is a richness that you cannot easily find unless you struggle in this way. 

Just a few thoughts, I’m interested to hear what people think on the subject!



~ by jennkeast on August 18, 2015.

2 Responses to “Different??”

  1. It’s a good question to ask Jen. I like to think that being different is also about being diverse, multi dimensional and challenging to the concept of what is thought of as being normal. As you are aware We are the carers for David, he has severe depression that is managed well, high levels of anxiety and clearly learning difficulties, he is totally dependent on others for all of his needs being met, he cannot read or write, is selective mute and so only communicates by very tiny movements that need interpreting. He has at times very odd behaviours that challenge other people that both know him and those that don’t.This makes him complex and unusual and I guess different from other thirty year olds. However there are many aspects of David that are like everyone else. He enjoys going for pasta, Indian food, a ride in the car, getting gifts and chocolates, watching his favourite films and TV. He likes solitude and quiet and also occasionally people and excitement going on around him, he is unpredictable, when you go to get him up in the morning you have no idea what sort of day it will be, a hard and challenging day or one full of smiles that can melt your heart. There is a massive impact of being David’s carers on both of us, we do indeed have a very different retirement to anyone else I know. Some people observe this from the outside and are challenged by what they see, there is occasionally a feeling that we have given up our lives or choices to be with Dave that we do not have the freedom to do just what we want when we want to do it. I many ways that is true, we don’t, but this is only an issue if you desire to do things and these desires are not met, then you live with frustration and discontent. The truth of living as three adults one of whom has very individual and specific needs is different to the perception ( that word again) we have established together a harmony that allows us to be together with Dave at times, separate spaces for ourselves and others and shared time for us both.We don’t make many plans, we live very much in the present and fully value the precious moments we have when we are not with Dave as well as some of the precious moments we have with him. We are all autonomous within this relationship and we respect that autonomy by supporting each other. It’s not easy at all but it is possible. Living with difference from the very birth of David has taught me not to be concerned about it , in fact the very potential for the difference he brought into my life has allowed me and others to embrace challenges we would never have faced and holding on to what we value find a way through together. I am glad that we are different, everyone is, but to accept difference and allow each other space to be who we are within that difference is tough at times. I think we should celebrate the tiny achievements we make and allow people to see that there are many positive aspects to everyone’s lives even if they are not at all like their own.

    I would be grateful if you didn’t share this on Facebook, but very happy to leave it here on your blog for others to read if they want to.

    • Alison, I so appreciate these words, I think the way that you two (and extended family) care for Dave is very challenging in a positive way to me, I am glad to see you enjoying the good times with him and enduring through the harder times. Thanks for taking the time out to reply to my thoughts, much love, J

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