I talk a lot on here about exercise and physical health. As I started writing this on World Mental Health day it seemed only right that I talk a little about some other aspects of health.
I have spoken before about my anxiety (there will be flamethrowers) I am pleased to say that it is nothing like as bad as it was then. It no longer rules my life in the way it did for a while, but it has not gone. I strongly believe it will never go, the psycho in my brain is always there, always whispering to me that I am not good enough, not valued, not needed, not loved. Its a strange one too, as I can be having the time of my life one moment, then one innocuous comment, or even thought, can set me off. It sends me into an inescapable cycle of replaying things in my head over and over again. Either that, or I’ll suddenly stop, in the middle of an activity, and start thinking, does it really matter if I am here. I look at the people chatting and laughing and wonder if I am incidental to their lives. I believe in that moment that nothing I do has impact on anyone, that if I walked out no one would notice or care.
These feelings can vary in intensity hugely, I am slowly learning to talk myself around from these things, to stop the cycle and bring myself back to reality. Sometimes all it takes is a moment others, it takes a lot of secret crying and mental shouting, but it is getting better!
The point of this, and there is a point I promise, is along this journey I have realised a couple of things which help!
The first of these is (for me at least) a biggy, it is one I have to remind myself when I am feeling alone:
People’s capacity to like is not finite. If someone talks to/spends time with/likes someone else, it does not mean they like me any less.
I felt the need to put that in as a quote because it is important! It is not really sensible how often I need to remind myself of it to be honest! It is a valid thing to remember however. People do not have a finite amount of like in them, it is not a sliding scale. To like someone else, people don’t have to take away a portion from the amount they like me. It’s not like sharing out sweets! The capacity to feel things is not like cake, people have an infinite capacity to feel (generally) but only a finite amount of cake (at any one time although cake shops may be available).
I feel I may have got off track…possibly because I am hungry, but I hope you can see the sense through all the cake references.
It is this that I need to remind myself every time I see a friend interacting with someone else. Every time they do something with a different person it does not diminish our friendship. It is one of the most annoying things the psycho in my head tells me. It is completely manufactured by me, it isn’t sparked by anyone else’s behaviour, but it feels real. It feeds into the cycle of feeling worthless and it feeds into the cycle of feeling that no one wants me around. The only way to break the cycle is to keep telling myself, that that the my friendship with someone is not harmed by them having friendships with other people, just like it is not harmed by me having other friendships. Now I write it down, it seems strange to me that I have to actually remind myself of that, but that is the nature of anxiety.
The other thing I have realised is this:
It is OK not to be OK sometimes. Even more importantly, it is OK to let people know you are not OK!
It should be blooming obvious, after all it’s all over the internet on pictures of beaches and mountains …and sometimes just in words
It should be super obvious, but it isn’t. It’s all over the place…but it is super easy to read that and only believe it is true for other people! There is a lot of pressure on people to “put on a brave face” to “keep their chins up” to “Button you lip, don’t let your shields slip, take a fresh grip on your bulletproof mask…”
OK…that last one is a Pink Floyd lyric but the sentiment is right… we live in a society that gives higher credit to people who “keep calm and carry on” than it does to those who admit that once in a while they are not really in a position to carry one. At least not without a cry of a chat or counselling or medication or whatever it is that you need.
In reality it is much harder to reach out and say I am having a hard time. It is hard, even when you know you have friends who will support you and even harder to put yourself out in the public eye and say, “just for now, I am not fine”.
The thing I have realised is not only is it OK to let on you are struggling, but actually it is important to do so every now and again. In this world where social media, like it or not, is a massive part of people’s lives it is important to show the real us occasionally. It is so easy to look at social media and believe that everyone else has a perfect life, everyone else is happy and smiley and “successful”. This can be quite damaging, it can make you feel inadequate and isolated in comparison. So occaisional forays into reality where everything is not so shiny can be pretty good.
Whats even more important is they help you. Just the act of telling someone something can make it feel less rubbish. I have realised that I do have friends who I can reach out to if I need to, and the act of reaching out doesn’t make them hate me. I am not adding to their burdens, just as they don’t add to mine if they reach out to me!
Anxiety tells me that no one cares, that everyone has enough to deal with, anxiety tells me I should lock things up and pretend everything is fine because I am supposed to be strong. I *should* be able to deal with this without bothering people. It tells me I am alone and I have no one to talk to anyway. Recently I have realised that this is not true.
I do have friends that care.
I am not alone.
It is ok to let my m ask slip a bit, it doesn’t make me weak
and the biggest one of all…