Well, I went along to my course with the Baptists last Thursday…there were only three of us there! I think the others had forgotten to say they couldn’t come. Anyway, it was good – a Jeff Lucas course, which I enjoyed. I really appreciate having serious conversations with people in real life about faith, and it isn’t something I get all that often. Not that the people I see at church don’t talk about God – its just that I don’t generally see them except on Sundays.
BelieversBrain came up in conversation, as I mentioned I was up for an award (‘cos, you know, I’m quite excited!) so I gave them the web address if they want to come and read.
I’m in a difficult situation regarding the blog, really. On the one hand, I think that I could at least try to get Christian publications whether online or offline to publish some of my writing, which I would absolutely love! On the other hand that would almost certainly mean revealing my full identity. My surname is unusual – there are three or four people in the world with the same name as me. Plus the UK Christian world is rather small. So if I start using my real name, for instance in a piece of writing or if I win this award and Premier use my name, everyone is going to know. Which leaves me with a dilemma.
On the one hand – I am not ashamed of being bipolar, I am not ashamed that I struggle with self injury. I am proud of my work on BelieversBrain, and feel I have something to offer, re the whole being a mental Christian thing. I would dearly love to just embrace it and try to do some sort of activist work to reduce stigma against mentally ill people in churches. My circle of close friends are well aware of my difficulties, and have seen me ill many times.
On the other – the people at church (& the vicar) don’t know. My family, bar my parents, don’t know. Once I have told people I can never put that genie back in the bottle. The two people I’m closest to in church are charismatics, and I have no idea how extreme they may be. (I am wary of charismatics, due to the victim-blaming some indulge in, particularly with those suffering from mental illness). They may reject me, or judge me. So might the rest of the congregation. I might discover people have a whole load of negative stereotypes about people with mental health problems, ranging from the “you just need to pull yourself together” to “you are being punished for being extra-sinful”. They could also treat me like a china doll, assuming I must be protected from anything that might make me depressed. There is an outside chance that they might think I must be violent, aggressive or dangerous.
Really I just want to be treated like a normal person, as I am now. Yet if I am ill I might behave in ways that need understanding, so perhaps I am wanting special treatment after all.
The other concern I have is that I am trying to explore with my vicar a possible vocation to the priesthood. I say trying, because I have not spoken to him (aside from saying hi at church) for some months. I am concerned that if he finds out about the bipolar now (as opposed to me telling him when I know him a little better) that he may simply say that I am unsuited, and that is my future up the creek.
I think was troubles me the most is that I can never take it back , once it is told. And yet I say to myself that I shouldn’t be treating my mental illness with such shame, that it is nothing to be ashamed of. And how can I advocate acceptance by Christians of Christians with mental health problems if I am not open and honest about my own problems outside the confines of the net? But I stand to lose a lot…
I really am troubled about this, and have little time to decide (the decision about the awards is coming soon). I have been praying, but cannot discern a clear answer. It seems like it is just up to me, and I’m scared…
Well, I’m sure I will think of something. Sorry to get serious, but this is something preying on my mind at the moment. I always have the option of using a pen-name for my writing, which I may well do. It just feels like not being honest.
In other news, my cat has spent the entire day asleep on my bed, and she’ll surely grow roots into the duvet soon!