In the past few months the personal has suddenly become very much the political. The #MeToo campaign has filled newspaper columns and nightly reports everywhere.
Back in November, I started one-to-one therapy for the first time since this particular mental health episode. It’s been good but hard.
But the stress of processing what comes up in those fifty minute sessions is further compounded by the omnipresence of the #Metoo campaign.
I’m sure I don’t need to give any examples of how huge the coverage is. It’s unavoidable. And I know, because part of me has tried to hide away from it.
'In response to the #MeToo disclosure I’ve felt inspired and empowered'
The issues around sex and power at the heart of the #MeToo movement are central to why I struggle so much with my mental health.
I could have written a different #MeToo story from my life every single day of advent and still have some tales left untold.
The groundswell of voices speaking out to support #MeToo reinforce what we secretly knew: that rape, sexual harassment and abuse are widespread, more so than we dare to admit.
I want to be part of this movement
In response to the #Metoo disclosure I’ve felt inspired and empowered.
Despite the apologists, accusations of too much sensitivity, claims of an anti-men conspiracy and predictions of a backlash, it’s amazing to see the movement gain momentum.
What was once whispered about in nightclub toilets is now headline news, breaking the taboos that have kept us mired in shame for far too long.
Suddenly it is possible to talk not just about inappropriate behaviour but also cultural change and actually believe that it might happen.
I want to be part of this, adding to the campaign in the hope that it helps us as a society reach the stage where we no longer accept rape and harassment as a sad inevitable part of life.
Hearing accounts that echo yours
At the same time, it’s really hard to handle the emotional response that #Metoo provokes.
'It’s particularly difficult when you’re hearing accounts of events that closely echo those which have devastated your life'
I’m sure that this is true for plenty of others as well, regardless of whether they’ve had similar encounters or not.
But it’s particularly difficult when you’re hearing accounts of events that closely echo those which have devastated your life.
You can be sharing about something in therapy at 4.00 then hear it repeated back to you on the news at 6.00. It’s like having already heightened emotions stretched further still by every media outlet you encounter.
I strongly doubt that my response is unique. I wonder how many others showing up for therapy are also affected by so much news about rape and harassment?
I’ve talked about this mental and emotional toll with my psychologist over a few sessions now. Intellectually and politically I sincerely believe that #Metoo is an important and much-needed movement.
Not only do I want it to succeed but I want to help it do so.
Yet on a personal level, and it breaks my heart (and my feminist conscience) to admit this, I feel it is making the difficult task of addressing my issues even harder still.