This past week, “Britain’s Got Talent” 48-year-old finalist, Susan Boyle, was admitted to a London clinic following an anxiety attack and emotional breakdown after her shocking loss in the show’s final episode. After only five days of treatment, Boyle was spotted shopping and it was reported that she presumably decided to leave treatment to return home to see family and care for her pets.
Ms. Boyle is said to be resting quietly and is being cared for by family, and it thankfully appears she’s doing much better. My fear though, is that she may not allow herself enough time to heal. I can’t even imagine how crazy the “roller coaster ride” of fame has been for her these past couple of months, but deciding to leave treatment early to care for others, in this case her pets, seems a risky move – and reminds me of how important it is to remember, or in some cases, learn, to put yourself first.
Women, traditionally the "chief household officers" and primary caregivers for their families, many times seem to find it difficult to put themselves first.
I have this wonderful friend who went through an unexpected divorce and remarried very quickly, but couldn’t seem to find all she had been looking for in the new relationship.
The merged families had five children, all of whom she loved and wanted to love more. I noticed some changes when she didn't return my phone calls, became disinterested when I was organizing a mom’s lunch and even stopped going to the gym.
I finally decided to have a heart to heart, "get the dead cat on the table" talk to understand if I had done something to offend her.
When I got to her house and she finally opened the door, she was still in her robe. I kind of had to push my way in and was confronted by a mood of “it doesn't matter, I don't matter, everything else will survive."
I could sense my own anxiety rising as I realized she had checked out of her life. I tried to get her to take a shower and reluctantly she finally went to the bathroom. I went to her closet to get her some fresh clothes and found a pile of torn up photographs all of her previous husband. I didn't know what this really meant, but knew I was out of my depth.
I sat down with her on the disheveled bed and told her how much I had loved her as her friend the past 15 years, and how I wanted to offer any help I could. I had no clue what kind of help she needed nor did she. I felt so helpless knowing she felt so worthless, while she appeared to have everything.
I knew she had to have a complete break from life to try and gain insight as to why she could not function.
Then it all began. “I can't leave the children, they are more important. I can't leave my husband, he might leave me after this. Nobody can look after the dogs. I don't want anybody else to see my house in this state. I have to help the children through the summer vacation. I have a wedding in two weeks. We have our anniversary coming up. I have to be able to get to my files on the computer. Everybody will know I have deserted my family.”
I could not believe how many barriers she put up to prevent her from taking some time out to try to understand what was happening to her emotionally and mentally. The thought of more shame and the overwhelming guilt of putting herself first were just unacceptable to her. I then realized, that actually, most women are like that. We would rather die standing in the trenches than run for cover.
I also came to understand how paralyzing her fear was. To take time out to have a sabbatical and go on a journey of introspection was just too frightening, and the fear associated with doing so was the answer as to why she could not get out of this maze. Her overwhelming emotional numbness left her incapable of any choice.
So many women think their own emotional needs are not a priority for themselves or others in their lives, but the reality is that if you are not emotionally healthy, everything else suffers, making it difficult to perform even the most menial tasks. It's just walking dead.
Why is it, there is so much stigma attached to mental health needs. We all know history has not been kind to women and mental health. There needs to be more education to ensure that when you experience any trauma, even divorce and an identity change, there is no shame in getting help to manage that change. More and better living and coping skills, along with good life skills is the education that is needed.
Back to my friend: finally, we were able to get her to take time out to undertake a full time program by telling people her she was it was an educational course. Of course she didn’t realize the education was about her.
It’s funny and unfortunate, that while we live in an age of female enlightenment, we are so unenlightened about long term emotional management for women.
This blog was curtesy of a woman named Jaqueline Dawes, who owns and runs the Brookhaven Retreat (http://www.brookhavenretreat.com/)
It was inspiring and very on point, not to mention timely considering the very public meltdown of Susan Boyle so i wanted to share someone else's take.
All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.