I think perhaps I just had a minor epiphany and no it didn’t hurt. Only an idea, not a fully formed theory as yet, but bare with me.
I wanted a new justification for frequent, quickly formed posts which inflict upon me limited levels of writing-anxiety. Similar to the medication change diary I wrote when swapping from SSRIs to SNRIs. Quick-fire blurts of anxiety related rawness that may or may not help someone coming to terms with their own issues or accepting their own daily fears.
My idea; just writing out a fully detailed description of an anxiety event I recall from my personal history. Day to day events which, on reflection might be really rather funny but at the time imbued with suffering, panic and sometimes a fully fledged shit-fit (pun intended). Some of these may end up being apologies to anonymous people whom I have wronged with my often weird behaviour but hopefully being really painfully honest about how often I suffer from these attacks and the diversity of the situations in which they arise, I might make someone out there feel a little less awkward about themselves.
What do you think reader-folk?
The first situation I will divulge sprang to mind when I saw this meme
Mannnnnnny years ago when I was in the second year of study towards my under-graduate degree, I had a head tutor whose quiet, stern, no bullshit façade gave me some of the worst anxiety attacks I had experienced to date. He was and still is the total opposite to me as a person; I am a heart-on-my-sleeve, what you see is what you get, loud explosion of a human being. He was measured, cautious and quiet. I didn’t have a fucking clue how to deal with him and that in it’s self scared the shit out of me.
As the head of my department he held in his yellowed hands my capacity to pass or fail the foundation course of my degree each year. At the time he smoked almost constantly. When urging myself not to panic in his presence, I would stare at his hands. The tobacco yellow stains on his first and second fingers, the weathered warm brown leather look of a person who has spent their life up to the elbows in paint, turps, thinners, oils and every other accoutrement of a practising artist sticks in my mind almost 15 years later. The smell of Drum tobacco takes me right back to his sun-room office.
The look I read on his face each day was one of disdain for every thing I was and every painting I made. I was pretty sure he hated me, though I had absolutely no evidence to back up my belief.
I began avoiding school. Not coming in to my studio and creating pretty much no work at all. I stayed home and panicked ever day rather than going in and working through my issues. The more days I missed the more I panicked about my absences. One morning he called me at my flat to ask if I was coming in. I was officially mortified and just jabbered a bunch of crap down the phone and eventually made my way in with my head down feeling like the biggest piece of shit alive.
At the time I was in the very early stages of being diagnosed with GAD, agoraphobia and other panic related stuff but I had no real understanding of what it was or what it made me do or how it made me behave. I didn’t understand how to talk to him about what I felt, or even the name of what I was experiencing. I didn’t understand that my feelings were a genuine disorder, not just my own weirdness about a specific person. Part of me blamed him for not being more forthcoming, something my then boyfriend backed me up on. In defence of my tutor, he had no idea I was a ‘special’ case. He didn’t know that I was anything other than another lazy ass 18 year old with a newish boyfriend whom I chose spending my days with over investing in my class work and practice. My boyfriend at the time was in actual fact a total moron, so looking back listening to anything he said was a foolish idea, disorder or no disorder. Ahh the arrogance of youth!
That year I had begun a series of sessions with a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist and though the lady I was seeing was very good and helped me in many ways, she gave me one particular shit piece of advice; to meet with the university counsellor and ask for a meeting with my tutor to discuss my issues. She also suggested that I bring along my (moron) boyfriend as a personal support.
I think about that meeting frequently; the awkwardness, the guilt, and the fact that it solved absolutely nothing other than to let my tutor know I thought he was doing a shit job. This wasn’t even the case. I tried to explain myself but I wasn’t armed with the right words, the correct terms or even the frame of mind to understand what I wanted from him or he from me. One facial expression he made stuck in my mind. When the uni counsellor suggested that I didn’t feel I was offered enough support. I agreed because I didn’t know what else to say. My tutor’s raised eyebrows said more than enough about my own lack of input let alone being around on a day to day basis to be supported.
Over the years I found a way to talk with my tutor but we never had a real conversation about my struggles. I still see him from time to time and I wish I could sit down and explain what I was going through and how I never blamed him, I just didn’t understand what I was experiencing or how to manage it.
Hiding at home was never the answer. Leaving my house, even on my worst days became my triumph. Going to scheduled meeting with him even though they caused me so much anxiety I would vomit or need to shit constantly before hand, that was my achievement.
When I do see him, I still think he believes me to be mental and honestly he isn’t totally wrong about that. Just a lot more aware of my mental than I ever was then.