This isn’t a particularly easy post to write, but with it being Mental Health Awareness Week (at least, it is in America), I thought I’d give it a go anyway.
Mental Health, particularly my own, isn’t something I talk about much. I have family and friends with much more serious problems than mine, like Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and they’re likely to be taking medicine to counteract the worst effects of those conditions for the rest of their lives. Not only do I have to be mentally strong enough to sort my own life out, sometimes I need to care for them too.
But I do, now and again, have problems with anxiety. In particular this raises its head when I’m required to do something out of the ordinary, even if it’s something like seeing friends or going out for dinner that’s otherwise actually enjoyable.
The general pattern goes like this. 2–4 days beforehand, I start worrying about it and begin to fixate on some potential negative aspect of it, something that could go wrong. Somewhere between 2 and 12 hours beforehand I often start feeling physically sick, and contemplate using that sickness as a reason not to do whatever it is I’m anxious about doing.
90% of the time, I ignore the feeling as much as possible, go do the thing, and enjoy it once I’ve started. Because screw you, brain.
But not everyone is lucky enough to be able to do that. Many people have much worse anxiety problems than I, and many others have more significant mental health problems that stop them enjoying life at all.
If that sounds like you, whether there’s something major going on or you just get anxious sometimes, talk about it. It might help you, but even if it doesn’t, by talking about your own problems you help to normalise and destigmatise discussing mental health issues in general—and that helps everyone.
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