My name is Cate Reddell. I am a forty-something woman living in Christchurch, New Zealand. You’ll find me down the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, to the southeast of Australia. I started blogging because I felt I had something to say. I had already published a book called Infinite Sadness in 2009. It was an autobiographical account of nearly twenty years of living with chronic mental illness. I was severely depressed and had anorexia nervosa. I repeatedly tried to kill and harm myself. The routine of my life revolved around hospital admissions, and at the time I published the book I suspected that this was going to be my life.
I’ve changed my mind. I’ve decided that there is something more than infinite sadness and so I want to share my journey of hope with you.
My mental health revolves around labels such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Depression with frequent visits of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and eating disorders. That said, labels don’t actually mean much to me apart from a way for me to identify reasons for some of my behaviours, thoughts and feelings. I am me, I have a mental illness, and to me, that’s what matters.
Mental illness makes achieving mental health harder than usual. There are extra bridges to cross, there is stigma to face, and there are battles to win. But it is possible.
The mental illnesses that I have are with me for life (BPD is part of my personality) but I view myself as having mental health when I can manage the symptoms and live the life that is important to me. Right now, I’m doing that and it makes me happy. It doesn’t mean that there are no struggles, but it does mean I can enjoy mental health just as much as the next person down the street.
Am I crazy? Probably. Is it ‘all in my head’? Absolutely, that’s where my brain resides. Is it easy? No, it’s damn hard, but living this way is so much more fulfilling than the life I barely existed in over years past.
To add to the mix the last couple of years have seen a dramatic decline in my physical health. In 2010 I was diagnosed with the auto-immune condition Graves’ Disease. This is currently under control but I am still receiving treatment for it, and it will be an issue for me for the rest of my life. It was caused by medication I took for my mental illness. Also I have just been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a cruel condition often brought on by auto-immune diseases and severe trauma (think major earthquakes). It consists of pain, and more pain. And fatigue. It’s not nice, and as I am new to this I am still learning about the condition. Again, it appears it will be with me for life.
Meanwhile it seems important to tell you what sort of person I am. This quote by Ellen sums me up pretty well. Actually I haven’t yet found a way of saying it better. The only thing I would add is that I believe in silliness. Yes, really. What I mean is that in spite of everything we need to be able to resort to the silly things in life. Sometimes laughing is the best thing we can do and I have always appreciated those people I know I can be silly with. You should try it sometimes. It’s not about denying or ignoring the pain. Just taking a break now and then.
Another thing you need to know about me is that I’m a Peace Blogger, a part of a worldwide bloggers movement promoting peace, especially on 4 November each year. You can find out more about this event here.
And finally a few things you just need to know about me:
- My favourite colour is green.
- The best way to start the day is with coffee.
- I have never learnt how to properly tie shoelaces. I have tried and tried but it seems completely beyond me.
Again, if you want to know more? Start reading.
“Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back.
Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can’t build
on it; it’s only good for wallowing in.”
– Katherine Mansfield