The secret is I’m struggling.
I went to my GP a few weeks ago and said, “I’m not doing okay. I think I need help.” Of all the things I’ve accomplished this year, I’m proud of this moment the most.
The secret of struggling is that it’s not independent. For me it’s been an accumulation of moments that have impacted me physically, mentally and emotionally. Connected like domino – over days, years and even decades.
The secret is I’ve struggled with my body since I can remember. I disliked not just the way it looks but I always felt like it let me down. Since day one I’ve had things wrong, things that don’t work, things that hurt, bits fixed and fixed again, then other parts broken and others unrepairable and what’s left behind are scars and problems that lead to other problems.
As a child and young adult, I hated my scars. I never once wore a bikini at the beach. In recent years, I hated my body in different ways. I no longer hated the external scars, but the internal scar tissues, causing far greater problems than anticipated. Scars leading to more scars.
I hate how sometimes my body struggles to walk and move. I hate how much it costs me, and I chastise myself for being shallow over finances, but the truth is I can lose an entire pay-check over one minor medical issue. And like many people in the library profession, I primarily go from contract to contract, forging a career of liminality, sustained by hope labour. For the most part of this year, I’ve worked four paid jobs, volunteered for the ALIA New Graduates Group and have done more public speaking than I ever thought I would. I’m burnt out, and I’m tired. But the fear of not being able to support my medical expenses and the fear of not being employable keeps me going.
The problem about having chronic problems that aren’t noticeable to everyone day to day means that you can hide it a lot of the time, and others don’t realise what you’re going through day to day. I think people often forget that finances and job stability play a part in these struggles, sometimes even more than medical issues do. Struggles are often connected to other struggles.
I no longer mind my scars. After all, scars are just tattoos with better stories. I’m trying to look at my body in a different light. It hasn’t let me down. It’s been through a lot and is still going. I’ve quit two of my four jobs, so I’m back to down reasonable hours of work. I still volunteer and public speak, and there’s an immortal passion inside me that’s always there, regardless of the soap-opera circumstances that occur in my life. From a young age, I’ve learned to appreciate the yin and the yang, the light and dark, the good and bad.
The secret of struggling is that you don’t struggle alone. I think the concept of independence is a myth. No one accomplishes or goes through anything alone. We all need help, support, love and kindness from those around us – and I’m so grateful to everyone who has supported me this past year.
The secret is your kindness has meant the world.