Issues.

I can’t believe how hard it is to forget about things. I genuinely think that anxiety finds joy in remembering previous long ago traumatic/scary/slightly regrettable even if they weren’t significant or real regrets and bringing them up at random points. I find it really really hard to forget things, things that have really fucked me up inside , like the incident I mentioned that majorly triggered off my anxiety – the psychological bullying I suffered while playing rugby from the coach. That put me in a really bad place for quite a while, but with support from family, friends and uni lecturers I managed to pull myself back to a better point. I will say though, that this is also how I found I was high-functioning in terms of my anxiety, as I could continue to go to uni, even though I felt, frankly like fucking shit, and sort of function reasonably incognito. I couldn’t maintain this facade and eventually ended up going to the wonderful wonderful counselling service provided by uni free of charge, seeing both a mental health practitioner and a trained counsellor, who were both bloody fantastic, and although I found the majority of the sessions mentally, emotionally and physically draining, being absolutely shattered at the end of most of them. That said, I think this was something I needed to do, just to talk. To someone who actually got where I was coming from in a professional capacity.

I eventually had to tell my course leader, which was one of the most difficult things I had to do, because (and I’ll address this in a minute) obviously the stigma and anxiety had joyously mixed together and my brain decided that she would obviously be , how can I put it….. less than amused, the old ‘you’ll get over it’ thing, plus I was terrified of her because of her position in uni. Well happily I was so wrong. She was so understanding and even compassionate about me and hell…she actually listened!! I felt a lot ‘safer’ after I talked with her. However, afterwards I was completely exhausted, mentally, emotionally and physically and couldn’t focus, though I was glad I was brave enough to approach her. I’ll always respect her for that.

I found this on Facebook. It gets across the issue so well. Remember you aren’t alone in this.

One thing I did want to tackle this time that I touched on previously is the stigma surrounding any kind of mental health issue. First thing’s first. Mental illness is not contagious – you can’t ‘catch’ it! It’s to do with fucked up chemicals in your brain, just so happens some people’s chemicals are alright and others such as mine are a bit unbalanced and fucked. There’s nothing wrong and no shame in having and suffering from anxiety, depression or anything else. Stigma is plain fucking ignorance, there’s no other way to say it. Same with people with or without anxiety/mental health issues that don’t need medication to help unfuck their brain chemicals, that shame others that do need meds.

Fact is, some of us need them and some don’t. Each person is wonderfully fucking unique in their genetics and chemical make up, and so different things work for different people. There is no shame what so ever in having to take antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication – if you need it then so be it, why is that any bugger else’s business, it’s your life and it doesn’t mean you’re any less of a person. So for pillshamers how about you educate yourselves and stop making people who feel shit already because of their anxiety, feel even worse because of your judgement. It’s not big or clever it’s just ignorant.

Stigma of mental health as a whole frankly disgusting. No one should feel attacked for something that is not a choice. Fact is whether you think I am making it up or causing drama or attention seeking, it’s real to me and I think I fucking know since I go through hell every day with my demons . Anxiety is not a choice and if it was who the fuck would choose it? So quit your shaming, educate yourselves, talk about mental health, ask people if they are ok, then ask again. Sometimes it feels like I have to justify my anxiety and I don’t see why I should and it’s horrendous to try explain what’s happening in your head and sometimes impossible.

Today I have reached a point where I’m just physically and emotionally drained by the battle in my head plus frustration. There’s no real reason why but the effort required to keep the ol’ demons at bay for the day is exhausting in itself. Sometimes I really am just sick and tired of being sick and tired. I also suffer with seasonal affective disorder so it’s wonderfully interacting with my anxiety today and making me feel like shit and my ‘I’m fine’ mask is slipping.

I have however just started reading a fantastic self help book. Now I know what everyone thinks about these and believe me I’m as cynical as they come with this kind of stuff but I was kind of at the point where I’ll try anything. So the book is pretty much from a scientific perspective which is brilliant for me because of my background in science, and is written by Dr Matt Lewis, called “Overcome Anxiety – A self help toolkit for anxiety relief and panic attacks”. So far I can recognise what’s happening to me and actually finally have a reason why this happens! There’s also some really good exercises to do. I’ve started to slowly trial the techniques, and although it isn’t getting any better in terms of anxiety management, I am learning a lot about managing my anxiety and determined to give the techniques a go.

Something else that has affected me hugely in my life is bullying. I was a victim of bullying in primary school starting in Year 4. It was because of my looks and particularly my teeth. I’ll talk about my surgery later, but I had always had my front teeth and indeed my upper jaw sticking out considerably more than ideal! So I was bullied because my teeth stuck out and I didn’t look ‘normal’ , all the insults , with my personal favourite being ‘rabbit’ and rabbit noises in the corridor passing. It didn’t help that I was so shy as a kid so that was like a fucking magnet for the nasty shits that bullied me. Most of the time I ended up in tears as I’m also sensitive, I still am now but am a bit tougher. The bullies changed but the insults were pretty similar. This continued throughout secondary school and college, which did make me laugh as I was just like wow is this what you’re doing with your life? At the age of 18?

Eventually this stopped as people decide they would grow up about bloody time too! The summer after I started uni, just after we’d finished for the year was the time when I had surgery. The technical term is a bimaxillary osteotomy, but basically I had a jaw reconstruction in which the brilliant surgeons broke my jaws in 6 places in total and reset them so instead of the top one being set far forward they bought it back and bought the bottom one forward to meet it and held in place with 6 titanium plates and 25 titanium screws. The rehab, if I can call it that, was painful. Learning how to chew again, being on a completely mushy blended liquid diet for 3 months was no fun. However, the op gave me a lot more confidence in my self esteem and in general because I finally felt that I didn’t stand out and wasn’t as self conscious of my face as I had been previously.

I am still mentally and emotionally scarred by the bullying though, and probably always will be. I did learn how to stand up for myself though.

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