All this has started today because I've been feeling ill. Anyone who has read my post about my phobia will know that I'm afraid of being sick. The last few days I've been feeling really ill and started panicking about being sick. I know I'm not as bad as I used to be but it still worried me. The problem is that the worry seems to spiral and I project the fear into every other aspect of my life. I can go rapidly from worrying that my children are now going to be ill too, to stressing about my finances, to deciding I've got a serious illness (I can be a bit of a hypochondriac). I wonder if I'm good enough; I replay conversations in my head and worry that I've said the wrong thing to someone, or that I was too loud, or too quiet.... the list goes on.
I wouldn't say that I appear to be a worrier to other people. I think that most people see me as being quite confident, and I've even been called 'hard' by a certain member of my family. I've always believed in self-fulfilling prophecies, in that if you tell yourself something enough, or if you act a certain way for long enough, then you eventually become that way, but even though I may look that way on the outside, it doesn't reflect how I'm feeling on the inside. Though, I am confident in certain situations. I've worked in my day job for so long that not a lot bothers me. I still don't like confrontation, and being a manager it's something I can't always avoid. If there's something I've got to deal with in work I go through all possible variations of the conversation before it actually happens. I do my own head in.
As I work in mental health I'm more than aware of the physical effects that anxiety can cause. I get palpitations sometimes, and recently I'm sure I brought on visual problems because of stress. I got to the point where I convinced myself that I was either a) going blind b) had glaucoma or c) had a brain tumour! I had constant migraines and I could barely see out of one eye. I eventually went to an optician and it was only when he told me that there were no signs of any problems or diseases that I relaxed a bit and all the symptoms subsided. The effect that stress can have on the body is amazing. Sometimes we don't even realised that we are stressed because we keep so much in. I think it's a British thing. We're expected to be able to just get on with it, whatever is happening in our lives.
Do you ever get that feeling where you feel so much emotion that you think you're going to burst? But most of the time we keep it contained because it's not the done thing to show our feelings. If someone is having therapy for whatever problem, then they must have something wrong in the head. Anything to do with mental health is still such a taboo subject. Have you ever thought that if it wasn't, then maybe not so many people would suffer? If people felt they could talk about what was worrying them then maybe they could get the help they needed before they sink into that deep pit of depression. And I'm not talking of the sort of depression that we all say we feel from time to time. This is lying in bed, not washing, dressing, afraid to leave the house depression. The one that separates you from the rest of the world.
The statistics surrounding mental health are unbelievable. 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year. That's just in the UK. What's shocking is that statistics show that around 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time. That's just scary, but something we need to be aware of.
I apologise that I've jumped around a bit in this post. It's been very much a free-flow process and I'm just typing whatever I feel. I don't want to go back and tidy it up, or make it more organised because I feel that defeats the purpose of the post.
What I really want to say is that we really need to talk more. It sounds pretty basic but it's the first step to admitting how we feel, or if there's anything that's worrying us. Keeping it in won't make it go away. I know I'm a fine one to say this as I find it really difficult to talk about my feelings. I hardly ever cry in front of anyone, even my husband. It doesn't always matter who you talk to. Sometimes I find it easier to talk to someone I don't know as I feel they're less likely to judge me. You may find it easier to talk to someone who knows you well. It could be in an anonymous online group, a specialised mental health service such as Mind, or your best friend or partner.
I'm going to stop writing now because I don't feel that there's much more I can add at the moment. I'm aware that even though I've mentioned mental health, I've only really brushed upon it as there are many different issues and conditions that come under it. But whether it is anxiety and depression, an eating disorder, or schizophrenia, one thing we need to do is break down the barriers and make it less of a taboo. We are all human beings; all equal but different. We need to start learning to accept others for who they are, not condemn because of an illness that can't be seen. We all think we can empathise with others but have we really thought about what it would be like to live for a day in their shoes?