Other Stuff, Personal

#justanxietythings

I had an actual blog post about the links between music and writing planned and half-written…and then this happened.

(I’m assuming that everyone’s familiar with the ‘justgirlythings’ meme?)

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I’m trying to be much more open about my mental health, hence…whatever this is. I think it’s so important to talk about the problems we have to abolish the stigma around mental illnesses and make sure that people aren’t afraid or embarrassed to get the help that they need.

I remember reading something once that argued that you don’t blame someone who has broken their leg. You don’t tell them they’re making up how much it hurts. And if they need to take painkillers to alleviate the pain a little then that’s not shameful at all. Why is it any different with mental health?

While in theory I subscribe to this entirely, I still find it incredibly difficult to talk about my mental health face to face with people, even those closest to me – often especially¬†those people. But I’m working to change that, and I hope anyone else who also suffers feels that they can do the same.

So yes, I have anxiety, I have depression, and I’m currently getting help for other problems¬†I haven’t got a name for yet. I have mood swings, hallucinations and psychotic episodes, and those are things I have to learn to deal with. But with the right support and a maybe a little help from medication I can live a normal, productive and healthy life. I’m still learning how, but aren’t we all learning really?

Other Stuff, Personal

Lessons from 2016

Ignoring the complete shitshow that 2016 has been (because what else can you call the year when ‘President Trump’ became not just an idea but reality), it’s been quite a year for me. Yes, I am going to use this post to be self-centered and pretentiously introspective.

It’s been my first year living away from my parents, resulting in a fairly…bumpy ride for my mental health, to put it somewhat lightly, although for the first time it feels like I’m making real progress in getting the treatment I need. I met someone who is so kind and patient I struggle to believe that he’s real sometimes. I’ve made new friends in a new city and had some great times visiting old ones. I’ve made some fairly major mistakes, but I’ve also learned how to pick up the pieces and keep myself going.

I don’t know if I could exactly claim that it’s been a good year, but I can definitely say that I’m proud of myself, and that’s enough for me.

So now that I’ve got all thoughtful and broody on you, I’m going to pretend that I’m in any way qualified to give life advice from the things that I’ve learned over the past year.

  1. Adults really don’t know what they’re doing either. Entering the inner circles of the adult working world is great, because you learn that everyone is making it up as they go along, just like you. You just get better at hiding the fear in your eyes.
  2. Independence is terrifying but ultimately wonderful. Yeah, it’s really weird the first time you have to pay bills or get a P60, but then you realise that you have the ability to buy a huge chocolate cake and eat the entire thing and no-one can stop you, and it’s all uphill from there.
  3. The world sucks a lot of the time, and it’s okay to step away from that every so often.  It’s important to remember that you can’t focus intensely on everything all the time; it’s exhausting and ultimately achieves nothing. You shouldn’t have to feel guilty about taking time for yourself sometimes.  Just appreciate that you are privileged enough to be able to step back from these situations and have some tea.
  4. You’re going to hate your job sometimes. Yes, even if it’s the ‘dream job’, there are going to be days when the last thing you want is to drag yourself to your desk and do whatever it is you’re paid to do. You’re an adult now, you just have to do it anyway. That’s what coffee’s for.
  5. If you want something, you’ve got to ask for it. People aren’t mind readers (fortunately). If you want something, it’s no good sitting quietly and just hoping it’ll happen without your input. I really struggle with this; my anxiety and my general upbringing have taught me to try and get in the way as little as possible, so asking for things is a big no. This is definitely something I’m still going to be working on in 2017.
  6. Tinder does work sometimes. Speaking from experience here. I know it can be disheartening, wading through the weirdos, cultists and dick picks, but one day you might just find a guy who asks you out using movie quotes and then takes you on a personalised tour of the city because you mentioned you were new here and shares his umbrella with you when it starts to rain. Just keep swiping and you might find him. Maybe. No guarantees though.
  7. Your significant other is human, just like you. Your partner is going to mess up sometimes, and you can’t resent them for that because you’re going to mess up just as much, if not more. Everyone has their bad days, but it’s wanting to be with someone even during those times that makes a relationship work.
  8. Tea is actually magic. I drank a lot of tea through my teens (I’m from Yorkshire, it comes with the territory), but I never truly appreciated the medicinal properties of a steaming mug of English Breakfast after the most stressful day at work, or a cup of chamomile while you read in bed.
  9.  It’s okay to not be okay. It’s taken me a long time to figure this one out. Still working on it.
  10. People are good. I’ve always taken the attitude that people as a group are awful, but most individuals have at least the potential for goodness. This year has kind of proved that for me. As scary as things may seem right now, surrounding yourself with compassionate, generous people makes life seem just a little brighter.

It’s not much, but it’s kept me going this year. I hope that 2017 is a wonderful year for everyone, and that things won’t seem quite so hopeless after a cup of tea.