Some days I want to go and stand in the market square wearing a t-shirt and scream "I am Hannah. I am also mental. I am also the local church's organist. And the teacher to quite a few of your kids. I am also the one who wears brightly coloured clothes. I'm the one with the frizzy memorable hair. But I am mental. And that doesn't negate any of my other features."
I don't though.
Feels stupid in some ways. This, in effect, double life I lead. Everyone has things they hide from parts of their lives, but does something that has quite a large impact on everything get hidden? I don't know.
When I am standing in front of a group of musicians, bouncing around, do they realise I'm mental? I don't know.
When I am kneeling next door to a little kid, making myself their height as not to tower over them, whilst we wait for their mother to come and collect them, do they realise I'm mental? Do their parents? I don't know.
When I am standing at the bus stop, stimming like crazy, but chatting happily to my unprofessional, unsupportive support worker, do the people realise I am mental? I don't know. [Side thought, do they think she is mental? More likely...]
When I was standing in the queue at the supermarket buying a range of medication, alcohol and sharp things, did they realise I was mental? I doubt it, I was still served.
Anyway, the quest to not look outwardly mental (whatever that might be) has led me to feel that I don't know the real me. Is the smile real? Is the frown real? Are these (some say, horrifically) bright clothes part of the real me?
Am I actually mental? Or is it just not as clear cut as that?
Am I sane? Or is that a glorified, powerful word which has no clear concept underlying it?
Am I disabled? That is an incredibly powerful word. Which could technically refer to me, as I fall into the categories the system categorises at disabled. And I do have funding for support which only comes because of this "disabled" label. But would someone seeing me on a daily basis outside the home really believe that? I don't know.
In the quest to seem suitably sane (or at least, not unsuitable mental) I've created something. Someone. This thing called "Hannah". I'm confused as to whether this is me, or not.
I'm a few weeks away from leaving my teenage years behind. Aged 13, I wasn't your average teenager. Nor any point after that. I've spent them being mental. And trying to hide that. Failing miserably to hide it at times, when in complete meltdown mode. Succeeding at other times, I am always in a perplexed mode that some people have this wholly positive view of me. It doesn't fit. These people who I let down aged 17 when I landed myself in hospital, who then employed me again aged 19. I didn't ask for my job back, I was asked whether I would do it again, for better money, and more responsibility. How can that view of me still exist? When all this evidence suggests otherwise?
How I perceive the world, and how the world perceives me is a fundamentally weird thing. For everyone. Especially for people who are considered (for better or worse) "mental". Now I'm "recovering" (I hate that word) I'm starting to feel uncomfortable with me. Having challenged my views on everything that was "concerning" to others, how do I know this me is real? I was convinced that I was responsible, I still am, but I've been constantly told I'm not for several years. Maybe I'll get told tomorrow that though this is Hannah, this isn't actually *me*.
When not caught up in my own self destruction, the world is terrifying. And big, and powerful. Full of things which I don't know about. I don't know about me, so how can I know about maths, or music, or this or that? Let alone the whole world. I don't have an average upbringing to compare everything to, I had a wonderful upbringing but I doubt it was average. And I have ended up being classified as mental. Would that have been the case in different circumstances?
Today, I sat with my cat sleeping on the sofa next door to me. Our neighbour's cats were in our garden. I watched them slink along to the bare tree and one climbed up. The other was flapping about trying to catch a fly. Teetering at the top of the tree, one was watching the garden on the other side of us. Not knowing, or at least not remembering, a dog lived there. About a minute of weaving in and out of the branch stumps of this tree, the cat came back down. Probably still unaware of the dog.
I feel like my cat, asleep on the sofa. Occasional twitching, but sound asleep. Oblivious.
I feel like the cat on the ground, engrossed in the fly, getting itself in a frenzy at a fly. Pointless in some respects.
I feel like the cat in the tree, teetering on unsteady branches, peeking at what lies ahead, and deciding that looking at it is enough for today. That I'm quite safe enough slightly outside my comfort zone, thank you very much.
I digress, with some rather strange analogy which took place today. Sorry.
Identity is a weird thing. I've most likely over-thought it all. I'm mental. I'm Hannah. I'm me. Just I'm not so sure on those things...