Here’s a fact for you.
“One in four people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.”
Consider that for a moment.
Think of your closest friends, the small group of you that go out together regularly. The above statistic means that it’s highly likely that someone within that small circle of best friends is suffering from a mental health issue. Maybe you know about it. Perhaps they’ve come clean about it, as an explanation of their behaviour sometimes, and, as good friends should be, you’re fine with it and you’ve accepted it. Or, maybe they’ve not said a word, and they are fighting a silent battle. Maybe, perhaps, it’s you. Are you the one suffering in silence?
a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.
‘he felt a surge of anxiety’
synonyms: worry, concern, apprehension, apprehensiveness, consternation, uneasiness, unease, fearfulness, fear, disquiet, disquietude, perturbation, fretfulness, agitation, angst, nervousness, nerves, edginess, tension, tenseness, stress, misgiving, trepidation, foreboding, suspense, butterflies (in one’s stomach), the willies, the heebie-jeebies, the jitters, the shakes, the jumps, the yips, collywobbles, jitteriness, jim-jams, twitchiness, the (screaming) abdabs, Joe Blakes, worriment
strong desire or concern to do something or for something to happen.
‘the housekeeper’s eager anxiety to please’
synonyms: eagerness, keenness, desire, impatience, longing, yearning
Before I go further with this blog, I want and need to express something.
I have never been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Nor am I qualified in any way to give medical advice or professional opinions. I do, however, feel very deeply and over think everything to the point of worrying.
I also get anxious over certain situations, I have triggers. Irrational thoughts about situations out of my own hands which cause me to tie myself up in a tangle of invisible , unbreakable knots.
Something I have only ever told one person is this:- shortly after my husband left me, I went to the doctors as I was feeling out of sorts. Understandable, I guess, given the circumstances. Who wouldn’t, right?
I was signed off from work for two weeks.
I didn’t take the time off work.
To me, being at home, alone with my thoughts, was the last thing I needed. Being lonely and stuck with my paranoid , over thinking brain would’ve caused me more harm than good.
So I continued to work. I battled through. Perhaps I’ve done myself a dis-service, by not taking the time off, perhaps I didn’t really deal with or resolve the underlying issues I have.
I guess what I’m trying to put across is this.
One in four people have mental health issues in their lifetime.
Every single one of us has triggers that set off stress, anxiety and depressive moods.
The way I feel, the way I get when triggered, is absolutely nothing compared to someone with a full blown diagnosis, trust me I know that. One of my very closest friends fights a daily battle with anxiety and depression. I know the difference.
That doesn’t mean I don’t relate to some of the biggest signs.
Over thinking is my biggest problem. Teamed with paranoia, these two traits barely scratch the surface of what people diagnosed with anxiety suffer from, but does that mean that we should dismiss people feeling this way just because they haven’t got a diagnosis?
Knowing how I often feel, I think it’s important that we should all take more time to consider what someone is going through, before making assumptions about their behaviour, or their responses, or their moods.
Someone once described anxiety to me like this.
Imagine being stuck in a room with no windows or doors. In that room with you is everything you dislike and every sound you hate. You want to get out, but you can’t. Trapped.
How would that make you feel? Can you even begin to comprehend that someone you know might feel like that more often than you realise? I can. I can because my mind goes there sometimes. A scenario plays over and over in my head, to the point that I make it into something far worse than it is, and it spirals, out of my control. Bigger and bigger. I can’t get away from it even though it’s unpleasant, bringing me stress. I have to stick with it until I’ve mulled it over and over until it’s more than it ever was. More than it ever should be.
I go one of two ways when I feel like this. Sometimes, I don’t want to talk to anyone. I want to walk away and sit in a quiet room with my unreasonable thoughts. Lying on my bed, staring at my phone for hours seems a reasonable place to want to be. If I tell someone what’s playing on my mind, they’ll try and tell me it’ll be fine, not to worry, try to find explanations for why what’s happened has happened but the truth of the matter is, I listen, but I don’t believe them. I won’t and can’t stop worrying about it. Then other times, if I trust someone enough to speak about it, I go over and over the same thing, justifying myself, trying to explain to them why I think my world will end if “this happens” or “I say that” or I act “that way”. I reason the unreasonable.
When a friend of mine is feeling this way, I do know that it’s pointless saying “don’t worry”. I know they will. It doesn’t stop me from feeling like a shit friend though. Because I know how it feels, and I can’t take it away. I’m empathic to a fault, I guess.
As an over thinking observer , I’ve noticed that anxiety sufferers all have a “crutch” to attempt to help them through the worst episodes. Some turn to drink, drugs even , maybe to block out the negative thoughts, eating away at their already fragile and delicate brains. Some choose the “brave face” path, battling behind closed doors for hours before stepping out into the world with a fake smile painted on their face to hide the torture they’ve just endured at the hands of their own mind. Some put themselves in precarious, often dangerous situations as an attempt to feel some kind of power over their mental state, block out the thoughts they are having by taking their mind off it in an often detrimental and derogatory way.
My crutch? Words. I use words. I write and I listen. I write these blogs. I listen to music. I re-read texts over and over. I analyse words to find hidden meanings that can’t be found. I talk to myself, my brain doesn’t switch off. I use words until I’ve run through every scenario and outcome to the cause of my overthinking until only one will make sense..Then, and only then, can my brain be released from its shackles to tackle the rest of life until the next situation arises.
There’s no point telling me to “get over it”. If I won’t listen to myself, I sure as hell won’t listen to you.
I’m an extremely intuitive person. Team that natural “witchy” instinct with paranoia and a need to work things out and I turn into a modern day Sherlock Holmes. I can’t let things lie. If something triggers me, I worry about someone, I have concern about someone, I have to get my facts straight. However, just because 99.9% of the time I’m right, it doesn’t mean that 99.9% of the time is worth the turmoil I put myself through.
Anxiety brings doubt to the forefront of your mind. You question everything, and from experience as well as research, I know that one of the biggest things that fuels anxiety is the need to try and please everyone except yourself, the desire to make sure not to upset people, or let people down. It’s a self destructive cycle that leaves one person’s feelings out of the equation. Your own.
Diagnosed suffers of anxiety are offered medication, although not until you’ve attempted self help or physiological help first. Again, from knowing anxiety sufferers, I know that the medication often has side effects that are similar to the symptoms of a low point during an episode anyway.
My own traits make me want to know more and to be able to help people diagnosed with anxiety. I try and occupy my own over thinking , procrastinating brain by taking on other people’s worries and woes and making them my own. I know I shouldn’t. It doesn’t actually help either party.
Even the blinding fear of my involvement making things ten times worse can’t overtake the need to at least try and make things right.
Even rational thinking doesn’t stop me thinking that my other half hates me when I haven’t heard from him when I usually do.
Even knowledge that I’ve done nothing wrong will stop me stressing when the area manager is due to visit.
Right now, my Mum isn’t well, and my worrying is crippling me, making it hard to face the day to day life that I have to do. My worrying won’t change anything or speed up her recovery. I know this, it’s a fact, but it doesn’t stop me having sleepless nights because my brain is full of what ifs.
Writing all this down, I know I’m a little crazy. It even sounds mental. Although as I’ve said, if you tell me that, I won’t believe you.
The battle is hard.
All we can do is be a little more understanding. The chances are, you are sat reading this right now with around three other people in your close vicinity. One in four people suffer. Remember that statistic.
Have a little more consideration for what someone may be going through.
We can’t make it go away.
We don’t have a magical cure.
What we do have is the ability and capability to try and understand, if we want to.
We can all be happy. We can all help with a little understanding.
Nothing is permanent.
Everything affects everything.
One in four of us have mental health issues.
I just want someone to take my hand each day and say “You can do this”.