It was like a shot to the stomach. I was standing outside chatting to my friend when she said ‘it’s so lovely to be spending time with the real H’.

All of my fears had been realised in that one sentence… I was no longer the real me.

Following my reaction to the statement she retracted the statement rapidly and tried to justify what she had said. But that one sentence really did clarify everything that I had been thinking.

I don’t feel like ‘me’ the majority of the time. I don’t even feel like a reflection of me. I worry that I’m not the person that people may expect me to be, because they have known me for some time.

Deep down I know that this is the real me at this moment in time, on this course I guess you could say (following on from yesterday’s blog Different course… different par…) but that doesn’t mean that it stops me from feeling that it’s not the real me.

But I’m also not sure if I’m fully willing to embrace or accept the real me yet. If I’m not, then can I expect others to? Most days I will see things about mental health on Facebook, and I do realise that that relates to me at present but it wasn’t until I was with my friend that I realised I hadn’t necessarily fully accepted the reality of it.

Whilst we were chatting and she was trying to retract the statement, another friend was trying to build me up, and started calling me a lioness (there may have been some alcohol consumed). There was some relation to courage and strength but also to my hair! Once my hair was mentioned I said to my friend again ‘if you see me around school can you remind me to take my hair from behind my ear’.

What’s my hair got to do with mental health? I scratch my face. I don’t know that I do it, it is often through anxiety, but it can become a bit of a mess. My hair, because of the thick curly mane that it is covers it up – unless I tuck it behind my ear because I’m not thinking!

The thing is… I’ve just spent a couple of weeks telling all of my new classes about my epilepsy. What to do if I have seizure, what causes it, what I look like, the damage I’ve done to myself etc… I’m brutally honest about it – there’s no point in hiding. If they have questions I will answer them – including two new ones this week from year 10 boys of ‘can you die from it?’ And ‘would you say yours is low medium or high level epilepsy?’

When I had bruises and cuts all over my face last year from the face first plant into the concrete step whilst having a seizure – no problem in explaining. Similarly when I had the sewn up lip and teeth missing. But when they ask about the scratches on my face, which a couple have this week, heaven forbid I should be honest. I automatically put the defences up ‘what’s it got to do with you?’ Or something along those lines.

What example is that setting to the amazing young people I’m working with. They are awesome when I tell them about the epilepsy, which I always used to be scared about, why would this be any different?

I may get upset about not being the real H, especially if those fears are confirmed by a slightly inebriated friend, but I also need to fully accept the reality of where I am and who I am at this moment. If I can’t accept it then how can I expect others to?

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