Some people are born with resting bitch face, some people look so indifferent to the world around them and some people smile. I fall into the camp of being a naturally smiley person.
My default facial expression is to smile. I smile when I’m happy, I smile through gritted teeth when I’m annoyed, I smile when I have tears rolling down my face and I smile when I’m asked if I’m ok even when I’m not.
I’ve written about my mental health before but seeing as its world mental health day I felt like I should write about it again because at the minute I’m not totally ok. And (as the blog post says) it’s ok not to be ok.
Even though I’m still smiling, even though I’m carrying on I am full of anxiety, It feels like I can’t breath, it’s like something is sitting on my chest. A bloody big elephant just sat on my chest. My head is like having 10 radios on all on different stations playing at the same time with white noise on top of it and this week I have had several panic attacks. Something that hasn’t really affected me for about 12-18 months.
I can’t quite pin point yet what set the panic attacks off but the anxiety build up has been a gradual process but this past 10 days I’ve had an overwhelming feeling of being so very lonely and so totally on my own. I feel like a forgotten part. An odd sock you can’t pair up with another. That jigsaw piece that doesn’t fit.
Funny thing is that I only feel like this when I’m at home or on my way home. This feeling lifts when I’m at work. I’m not alone there, I know what I’m doing there, I know my place and I know where I belong. I have a purpose.
At home that’s different. I’m on my own. I mean the dogs are here and I chat to them and even though they do not have the foggiest what I’m on about they appear to be interested and are just happy to see me. But for everything else, shopping, cleaning, cooking, making a brew it’s just me. If I don’t do those things those things don’t get done. It’s overwhelming. And it’s lonely. It can be so lonely.
This is not a delayed Ibiza blues, this feeling started 3-4 months ago and I was managing it with the gym and keeping busy and I thought I was due a holiday as I’d got to a point where my body needed a physical rest because I’d been flogging it so much to try and keep the anxiety at bay but even after that it’s carried on creeping.
I’m so much better now at reckoning my red flags as to when the anxiety is creeping in. So I’m able to self medicate and what I mean by this is gym, meditation and music. Ive even booked in with my therapist because I could tell that even my little quick wins haven’t been as effective as I wanted them to be. Sometimes my self prescription can be a bit off…. That’s the problem with exercise, to much one way and I physically exhaust myself and it wins and not enough to keep it at bay the other way and it wins. It’s a fine balance. And I don’t really have the greatest balance at the best of times.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again I know I’m not the only person living on their own and I know I’m not the only person who lives with anxiety but sometimes it can feel like that. It feels like I’m on an island for one everyone around me has someone in their corner whether it’s a partner or kids or just a friend that’s closer and they’re so busy with their lives that I feel insignificant.
Now I know that’s not true. That’s my anxiety and that shitty voice in my head winning and if those 10 radios I talked about earlier weren’t playing At the same time then my rational objective internal voice could be heard saying “shut up you daft sod, they still love you they just have their own shit goin on”
But at the minute my rational voice seems to be working to rule or something. She’s not quite helping me out as much as she would normally do. I’m in the process of working out how to get her off her arse and start putting the crazy crank voice in its place and back in its box. Maybe she’s still in Ibiza and not quite finished her holiday yet.
I guess the more I think about it the more I realise that this is due to loneliness.
For the majority of it I love my life. I have the best family ever (I know I’m biased but they really are). I may not have a huge amount of friends but it’s quality not quantity. They’re the best group of people someone could ask for; Just the right amount of taking the piss and genuinely supportive whilst taking the piss. I have a job I love. I just don’t have someone to share all of that with. Whilst I’m not desperate to find someone I just don’t want to be on my own forever. I’ve been single for nearly 3 years and the longest I’ve been dating/speaking to someone is about 2 months. It’s starting to feel like it’s just going to be me and the dogs for the next 40 years (yes their both immortal before you ask, they’re called Thor and Loki for a reason)
I know that finding a partner wont fix my anxiety it’s something I need to work on because it’ll end up being about something else when I do meet someone (oh so the rational voice does work)
I guess what I’m trying to get at is people only let you see what they want you to see. Whether that’s in real life or on social media. People may look like they have their shit together, or they have a happy home life, or loads of money, or they’re forever happy and successful at adulting. But that’s not always the case. You don’t see when they’re sat sobbing of an evening in the bath. Or when they wake in the middle of the night due to a horrific night terror that’s so vivid it seems so real. Some of us are good at wearing masks. And how do you explain something to someone you can’t really understand yourself?
Some of us are able to manage our mental health through practice, medication, therapy, creative expression, other techniques or even all of the previously mentioned.
However some of us aren’t able to for whatever reason. Some of us don’t know we’re getting ill, some of us don’t want to admit it, some of us are ashamed of it and in some cases life Is just so painful and so dark that they just want to stop the world and get off.
I know it’s a bit cliche but honestly it’s ok not to be ok. And it’s ok to talk about it. The more we talk about it and make it “normal” the more people will feel it’s ok to not be ok. Ok?
As the great MJ once sang “You are not not alone…”
Picture from Destiny Blue who is an amazing artist that uses her art to deals with her demons through drawing.