You know you’re a super good writer when your work comes directly from the most recent conversation with your therapist. Yeah I’m the best at ideas making!
In spite of the tenuous birth of this post don’t judge it like an ugly baby just yet. It could grow into a perfectly average looking post of you let it mature and unmonkey (ever noticed that almost all newborns look like monkeys, turtles or really ugly old men?? Something to think about.)
Monkey babies aside, this post is about talking to people and how it can make you feel better and perhaps help maintain your sanity on a daily basis. Sounds like a cheesy ‘inspiration’ poster I know but hear me out.
Anxiety is a lonely place. It’s boring and it’s dull and it’s isolating. I have often felt like I’m the only weirdo taking so much time and effort to cope with what I believe to be normal life challenges; supermarkets, buses, meetings, awkward conversations with someone who is way higher on the work ladder than you and you just keep thinking ‘keep it breezy Lucy, don’t make a dick of yourself’ but instead you start telling them about a boil your Nan had and the last time you dressed up as Batman etc.
Over the many years I have invested in professional brain shrinking I’ve been told on numerous occasions that people often felt better once they had realised they were not alone in their mental illness. At the time I’d find myself thinking ‘I don’t need some thoroughly painful looking group therapy or support meeting. I’m a bad ass, a wide eyed loner who plays by her own rules. Your medical books can’t tell me what to do man!
I didn’t really get the need for the ‘you’re not alone’ line until I sat down and thought about how it might come up in my own life. I realised this seeming limp diatribe was in fact true but had just been worded very poorly. Perhaps a newer and better advertising campaign? With some hot girls in bikinis on fast red cars would help?
I agree that for some people the idea of talking about your experience of mental health may seem like the worst possible thing in the whole wide world. Worse in fact than Swept Away (the movie starting Madonna). When you suffer from anxiety and the stigma that comes with it, drawing more attention to your struggles may seem like a terrible idea but talking to another person may not turn out to be the worst thing that could happen to you.
Yep, just talking and making contact with someone can make you/me feel more like a human being and perhaps a little less like an alien with far apart eyes and glowing belly.
My anxiety will often mentally put people on a pedestal. They seem so strong, so together, so breezy but when you talk to them you might realise they feel just as so-so as you. Even if you’re not ready to talk about yourself, just listening to another person help you realise that they are just as messed up as you. They might be suffering from heart break or depression or grief or pet death or illness.
This all sounds a bit schadenfreude–esk but I’m not inspiring a round of ‘be happy that other people’s lives suck too’. I’m talking about understanding that we are not abnormal or cursed by the Gods. Everyone has issues and has to deal with those issues at work, at home and in public. Getting out and hearing about them, can make you feel closer to someone and them to you. It can be as good for my mental health to know I’ve supported and listened to their problems than having them listening to mine. Listening takes the imagined weight of burden off my shoulders when I feel that I am always taking.
I am very open about my anxiety and assorted disorders. That doesn’t bother me at all, I’m not afraid I will be judged for being anxious because I know I can’t help what disorders I have. What I can do is help other people to understand why I act the way I do.
I have a reason damn it! I deserve a badge!
I hope that if I tell my work mates, friends, pets that I suffer with anxiety/agoraphobia, if I make it a fact and not feel awkward about mentioning it in general conversation then they may eventually come to understand that it is an illness not a choice. By making it a causal part of my everyday life and talking about it, I’m taking the awkwardness, the shame and the sting out of it’s tail. I’m denying my anxiety of his power over me. At work I just want people to understand that I don’t need help or a special chair (but a special chair would be pretty sweet) but perhaps I could be afforded a little time and space to work out my emotions then react and on occasion have a professional business cry somewhere private.