I have been reading a huge amount of blog postings recently about anxiety and how to manage it. I draw strength from knowing that I am not alone. Social media is far from perfect, but it is really helping get messages out there that whatever you are suffering from, you are not alone. And for someone who suffers from extreme anxiety, for me, it is a real comfort and helps me normalise those parts of my life.
With this week’s push on Mental Health awareness and the ‘time to talk’ campaign, I wanted to reflect on my feelings.
It is time to talk. To make people aware. It’s amazing how just the coping strategies that someone with extreme anxiety has to go through to survive that moment are seen by others as unacceptable behaviour or creating drama. I have spent my whole life ‘laughing’ (yep, on the surface and actually dying inside) about my drama queen status. Hell, I’ve made my career out of it. It’s mostly said in jest but with that element of truth running through and ALWAYS said with a not e of negativity. Now here’s the truth. Do I want to be a drama queen and be the person that everyone judges in that way. No, I really don’t. However, it’s that or end it right now. Yes, I realise how dramatic that sounds. But the truth is the tears come to save me. I hate crying and I hate how easily my tears fall. I have had so many moments in my life when I have been in trouble or judged for just that and i HATE HATE HATE it, but it’s my body way of surviving the moment. The trouble is, once the moment has passed and I’m waiting for the next one, people have a habit of (mostly through kindness) commenting on it and then I have to do the whole, hahaha, yes I am a cry baby, yes I wear my heart on my sleeve routine with a big smile plastered on my face but have that knife twisting in my gut just a little bit deeper.
I am not alone in suffering with anxiety. My son does too, and that kills me. I look into his little face so full of fear in that moment when the anxiety takes hold and wish I could get inside his mind and pull it out. His anxiety feeds mine and vice versa and it sometimes feels like too much to bear. There are also so many others out there. And when I have shared, it’s amazing how many people say – me too. It’s time we stop sweeping this under the carpet. We have to build strength and understanding together.
I have recently been ‘attacked’ from more than one side in my inner and outer circle. Judged for who I am with no understanding and no questions. That is not ok. I am lucky that over the past few years I have been able to examine my way of thinking and feel in a place in my life where I stop judging people. Oh, I am very guilty of being THAT person. And I am so very ashamed of it. But no longer. Every time I see a certain behaviour I question what is going on behind that behaviour to cause it rather than judge it has made a huge difference to how I feel. It still sometimes makes me angry that that behaviour has happened and affected mine, or someone else’s life, but rather than judge I have wanted to help. That’s not always possible, but I feel at peace that I am able to feel a certain empathy. It’s certainly been helping over the past few weeks with what has been going in the world.
So I guess what I’m saying is, take the time to talk about that thing that feels huge right now. Take the time to think about what’s behind the behaviour that is hurting or upsetting you right now and take the time to say – it’s ok to that person who may be experiencing something that is taking them to a dark place and just needs some support and understanding to help them through it.
And if you are that person going through that moment. Breathe, know that you are good enough, that you are loved and tell yourself that you love yourself. It’s all going to be ok.