‘Come on Tay, It’ll be fun!’
Meanwhile my heart is pounding so fast its possible it’ll pop right out of my chest.
Everyone has mental health, just as everyone has physical health, but because mental health can’t be visibly seen, a lot of people are scared of talking about it – they are scared of being judged. But just because something can’t be seen doesn’t mean someone can’t be struggling.
You see that person with a broken arm, you see them right? You can identify what’s wrong with them… You know they’re in an awful amount of pain and you’ll most probably ask them how they are. You understand why they won’t go into work or turn up at a party. They have a physical injury. But that’s not quite the same as somebody suffering with mental health. Is it?
I’ve always had low self-esteem since I can remember. I’ve never been the one to shoot my hand up in class when the teacher asks a question, I have never wanted to go first in any activity or be the centre of attention. I thought it was just me being me, but there became a time when I started to feel certain emotions and think thoughts I never had done before. I became a worrier, my mind would come to the worst possible solutions there is. It started to stop me from doing the things I love, I would cancel plans I had been looking forward to, I would repeatedly call up work pretending to be unwell until it came to a stage where I couldn’t go there any more. I didn’t want to see or talk to anybody. I would feel constantly sick and trembled with nerves about the simplest things. Every day started to become more of a struggle, even to the point where I worried about getting on a bus or ordering dinner at a restaurant. I didn’t think I was ‘normal’ any more. Stress and worry seem to be taking over.
I’ve spent the majority of my life so far helping other people, believing that I wasn’t worth helping myself. How was I meant to tell my parents? My family? My friends? Even my boyfriend. I didn’t think they would want to hear it. I didn’t know what they would think of me, I thought I was just over reacting and they would tell me to stop being so silly. When I decided to be a little more open about how I felt, most people were there to support me, although others not so much. People seem to dismiss depression and anxiety as earmarks of irresponsibility and selfishness. They have the idea that the feeling of sadness and hopelessness is a state of mind you can fend off easily…. Going to the doctors was the best thing I could have done at the time, I poured my heart out and I was then diagnosed with GAD, a general anxiety disorder. This followed 5 months of weekly therapy sessions with ITALK. I learnt a lot from therapy, especially about myself.
There’s a few things I would like to talk about…
We ‘Look Fine’ But..It’s an ongoing thing..
Yes, we do look fine. Our legs aren’t broken. Our tongues haven’t been cut out. Because anxiety is not a physical disability, people don’t seem to take it as seriously. Anxiety is a complex disorder, you can’t smile it away and pretend it’s not there. Undergoing therapy doesn’t mean I’m magically cured now, anxiety is something that’ll always be there, everybody has some kind of anxiety, there’s ways to learn different strategies to deal with it better, and how to not let it defeat you.
It ruins relationships..
This can be any kind of relationship, whether it’s family, a friendship, or a loved one. Cancelling plans can cause all kinds of arguments, I’ve experienced this myself, l it’s horrible. This is something we can’t control; it’s the illness talking not us. Sometimes it’s just the person cant deal with carrying it around with them any more, they don’t know how to help, they can’t keep seeing us like this, and they choose to walk away.
It comes in waves..
Things seem OK. Then they are not OK. The tiny tragedies that make me crumble taper off, then return in a full-force gale.Although we are capable of going to the movies, going out for dinner, shopping with friends, having fun. Some days are better than others, it can even lead to us thinking that maybe our anxiety has gone and wont be back again….But the beast returns and we have our days where we just want to curl into a ball and hide forever.
What not to say..
I didn’t know what to call this heading without being too brutal, but there are a few sayings people supporting the ones with mental health should stay away from…
- ‘Just get on with it’ I’ve been told this a fair amount of times, it’s probably the one I dislike the most… There are people who handle things better than others, I understand that, but let’s put it this way, if there was a person with a broken leg who was needed to play a football match, would you tell them to just, get on with it?
- ‘You’re over reacting’ I know I can be a drama queen, but in my head I am not over reacting. We understand that people think different ways than us, but please don’t tell us we are crazy or being stupid. Our worries do get the better of us and everybody’s mind is different. Imagine battling with your own mind everyday.
- ‘Its ok’ No its not. Its not ok. We don’t want to be like this any more. We don’t want to be trapped and feel isolated from the world. Telling us its ok just makes us feel like you’re not taking us seriously…
We want to say thank you…
We know were a pain, we know we can be difficult but we are so grateful for the people who are there to listen, for the ones who are patient with us. To us it’s embarrassing at times, and it can be for you too. We want to say thank you, to the ones who stand by us during our darkest days, when the others chose to walk away.