One lie, that having poor mental tells you is that you are alone. That no one else feels the way you do. It is a lie that cuts you off. Makes you feel like you are not good enough for anyone who is around. That what you experience, is such a burden on everyone, that maybe it’s better to remain on your own. So you don’t bring other’s down.
Logically, these lies don’t make sense. Having poor mental health, is something that thrives in loneliness. Or that is what it feels like for me, anyway. If people are around, or if I am kept busy (like at work), I don’t often feel so overwhelmed. It does still happen, to be honest, but because my brain is focused elsewhere, I can deal with things better.
But that can be a problem. When I first started having mental health issues, I spoke to people. I reached out for help, I was told to ‘grow up’, that it was ‘hormones’, or was just because I ‘needed the right guy’. This all felt like rejection, as if rather than understand, people deflected with useless fake solutions. So I waited. I hoped it would go away. I made a mess of things, in the hope I’d feel normal. And it hurts. It manifested at a previous work place were I was told, by my manager ‘you have a job, you have a place to live, you have nothing to be depressed about’. I wrote on Facebook, years ago, and was told not to be such an attention seeker.
In the end, it feels like not saying anything helps me. There is only so many times people can ask for help, and for it to be thrown back at them. Or even ignored. It’s easier to not be with people, because then I don’t run the risk of being made to feel worse. So, I spend time alone, which is when my mental health is worse.
This has come into my head, after a recent news story brought suicide and mental health to the forefront of people’s minds. And the same people, who berated me, who called me an attention seeker, expect folk to reach out to them. Say that they can help. But they did the opposite. Or maybe it’s only certain people that folk want to help. I’d never be that person.
Goodbye is hard to say.
It is these days, anyway.
In childhood, goodbye was never really goodbye. There was the promise that it was more of a ‘see you later’ than actually parting ways forever. You’d see the person at the next break, after school, at the play park, or even in a few days. Most of the people you leave, you will see again, and the phrase ‘goodbye’ doesn’t feel negative.
However, as you get older, the promise of seeing people once you’ve said farewell, isn’t always so certain. People start to leave your life, and they never come back. It becomes harder and harder to say goodbye. Because the promise that was once there, the idea you’d always see the person again, has gone.
Goodbye mean last forever. Until the time comes that it does.
This time of year is one where people often complain that they don’t know what day it is. This is mostly due to the festive period being a time where a lot of people are off work. It’s perfectly normal.
There is also this feeling of feeling in between two different emotions. Christmas is a time to show thanks, be grateful for what you have. And New Year is about looking forward to the future, step away from where you currently may be. Or that is how it has felt for me.
The festive period has been really difficult this year, due to a family loss. It has left me between being thankful for what I have, and wanting to move on. I am glad that there is people around, friends and family. But I also am afraid that stepping forward will lessen the memories I have. Honestly, I think every person feels like this with a loss, but Christmas just seems to exaggerate these feelings.
So, I feel like I am sitting in limbo. Time forces me forward, despite my wishes. It doesn’t matter whether I am ready, things move on. Doesn’t make things any easier though.
I remember when I started using social media, many years ago (in fact, 10 years ago), it was a place of excitement. It was new for everyone, it was filled with normal folk, as advertisers hadn’t really jumped on the bandwagon yet. Social media became a place of freedom of expression. Unfortunately, for a lot of people, this isn’t the case anymore. No matter what you express, it feels like there are always people about to try and pick holes in what you say. Like, I try to be kind and advice-like when I write, but people like to jump on what I say to be all ’that isn’t how it is to me, so you are lying’. And these people are usually anonymous profiles who seem to spend all their time hating other people.
It is important to look after yourself in an atmosphere that can be so destructive. So, I thought up I few things that I use, when social media gets to me.
1) Block button. Every social media site has the ability to mute or block certain users. This is good. You might have a friend who is posting annoying rubbish for a TV show you hate, you can mute them for a while. This means, you are still following them, but you don’t see their content for a while. Blocking means that the person is unfollowed, can’t see what you post or anything on your profile. This is a good way to cut out people who may be harassing you.
2)Take time out. Go for a day or so without social media. I usually simply put my phone on airplane mode for a few hours, like when I am studying, so that I can focus without the constant pinging of my phone. If that isn’t enough, and you want a few days away from the distraction of your Facebook timeline, delete the app from your most used device. A lot of the time, we check social media constantly because it always seems to be there. And it not being there, can free up a lot of time.
3)Don’t read bad comments. Sometimes, you could post a picture of an apple on Instagram, and it would attract bad comments. If you see this happening, try not to feel down. These people seem to get some kind of thrill of bringing people down. You can disable comments on many social media services, as well as make it so only your friends can comment. You will find that people are a lot less confrontational if they know you, or have to share their identity.
4) Just laugh. Try not to take social media too seriously. A lot of the content that you will be shown on sites like Facebook and Twitter are there to get a reaction. So they will either be content you agree with, or content you massively disagree with. For example, I would say I am ’left-leaning’ when it comes to politics, so the stuff I get shown is either supporting that stance, or is wildly opposing those views. So, try not to take everything as gospel, and just laugh when people do. It also can defuse a situation building up within yourself, as laughter does make you feel better.
5) Be kind to yourself. If you find anything on social media to be causing any kind of negative reaction to yourself, then step away. You are the only you there is, so it’s important you look after yourself. If there is too much BS happening, then go and read a book, play a computer game or whatever social media is distracting you from.
You can be selective over what you show on social media, and it’s important to remember that. Because everyone else is too. A lot of people show part of themselves, whether it be a nice or a nasty side. So if someone attacks you, then remember it is just what they think they see, it’s not actually you.
Recently I haven’t been sharing at all. Which is not like me, but it’s hard when you are dealing with something that you’d rather not be dealing with.
Unfortunately, life is not that kind. I have been sick, had a major crash with my mental health, had course work due in and the busiest time of the year for the ol’ day job. And it all kind of left me functioning, but that was it. I didn’t want to talk about it, still don’t, because I didn’t want to think about how much stuff was happening all at once. It’s kind of calmed down a little, my coursework is done and Christmas is a week a way, which means no overtime. And it’s allowing me a little time to reflect on why I burrowed myself away from the internet.
For years the internet was where I could let my feelings go, where I could write about stuff that no one cared about. It was very therapeutic and it was completely disconnected from my real life. However, every day there seems to be more merging of both my private life and the one I talk about on line. People who I know in real life, are able to access what I am writing.
Now, this doesn’t seem like a huge problem for some, as they see things being made public, and surely it doesn’t matter who reads it. But… that’s not really how it goes. In my life, I try to put a smile on as I soldier on through whatever the day throws at me. Inside, I may be falling apart, but I don’t want people to see it. I always feel like my mental health issues makes me a burden on others, so I don’t want them to know. That way people don’t feel pressured into being nice, they are being nice because they want to, not because I’m not right in the head. And when these people I share my daily life with can read what I really feel, I feel like I have let them down. I mean, surely I should be able to talk to folk, right?
So, sometimes it is easier to bury my head in the sand. Pretend things are okay, when they aren’t. It’s not perfect. But, it can get me through times where I don’t have the strength to deal with questions about things that I don’t know how to put into words. That’s what writing helps me do, sometimes, put what’s in my head into words that (kind of) make sense.
I have tried to be honest when I write on here. And it has proven to be something very helpful when dealling with my mental health. Because I find it difficult to speak to people about what I am going through, writing into the void seems a lot easier for me. It,unfortunately, doesn’t mean things become easier to handle.
One of the managers from my work is leaving, and people had organised a nightout for him. I was working all day, when this was happening. But, I thought that I might turn up for a bit, and at least buy the guy a beer and wish him luck. Seemed like a good plan, I’d just go up after work, stay for a few hours, stick to soft drinks and drive myself home. It seemed like a good plan. But then, anxiety happened. I knew everyone who was going to be there, I knew the pub, it wasn’t a big deal. There is no telling my brain that, when it starts getting ahead of itself though. I had a panic attack. I ended up struggling to breathe and crying over nothing. In my car. Like an idiot. I had been fine all day, I don’t know why I felt so bad all of a sudden. I decided to get some food and see if I felt better, but I ended up getting a migraine and going to bed early. I felt awful that I wasn’t able to go out. I am trying to go easier on myself, but it is hard.
I feel that I cancel a lot of plans these days, and it is hard. I feel like a constant let down, and it’s a horrible feeling. Like, how are you supposed to ‘be there’ for people, when you physically can’t be anywhere? It makes me feel like such a shit person. And that makes me want to stay locked up in solitary confinement even more. When I speak to people, or try to, I get told to stop over-thinking. I can’t help what I am thinking about, it isn’t like I consciously decide to over-react. That isn’t how it works.
I just wish I could find out how ‘it’ does work. Would make things a bit easier. At least I’d be able to explain it to the people I disappoint.
Have you heard ‘that’ retort, when you actually speak out about your mental health? The one that devalues every little thing that you feel. When someone says that you are ‘doing it for the attention’.
It is the most frustrating thing ever. A lot of the time, for myself anyway, if I am having some kind of anxiety attack, where ever I am, I don’t really need someone scoffing that I’m trying to get attention. It has happened a lot over the last few days. People point and prod at every little thing I do sometimes, and it does nothing but confirm what I am already thinking about myself. It is great.
It made me wonder, the thinks I would do if I wanted attention? I’d probably sing whilst walking to work. Get in people’s way at work. Upload every thought, in a cryptic manner, on Facebook. Shout and make a lot of noise at work, or out of work. But, I wouldn’t cry on the bus, or at Starbucks, or have a panic attack whilst walking down a street. I wouldn’t because it is horrifically embarrassing.
Every person who accuses a sufferer of mental health issues of attention seeking, are simply ignorant. They don’t know what it feels like to experience mental health. Lucky them.
I like my own company. I go for lunch myself, I spend entire days were I don’t really speak to anyone else. It’s good for my mental health a lot of the time, because I can focus on what suits me. But sometimes, you need other people. You need someone to vent to as you fail at something for what feels like the hundredth time.
The problem is, that if people think you are used to being on your own, and pulling yourself through whatever shit life throws at you, they leave you alone. People assume that you are the way you are, because you want to be like that. That you don’t need help. Everything that I do, is something I do to help me cope. I listen to music loud on the bus, because I can panic when I am around that many people I don’t know. I do stuff that occupies my brain, as it stops me from thinking too much.
The more you spend on your own, the harder it gets to speak to people about problems. No one person can do everything on their own. It’s great being independent, but don’t be afraid to ask up. People may assume you are ‘fine’, the only way they’d know you aren’t, is if you tell them.