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Fahckmylife's Blog
Crap adult, OK human.

A Long Awkward Chat

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I’ve seen lots of talk of mental health stuff recently – with articles being shared all over the place about things – BUT I think they’re mostly very abstract with very little connection to the real world.  Also, I think most people that aren’t affected by any of these issues – either directly or with people super close to them – don’t really give a shit or want to learn about them.  Now, I’m no expert by any means about any of this, but I have a fairly extensive history with a few different elements of being ‘cray cray’ over the years (I’m 100% not saying this lightly) but maybe I can help make a link the reality of things and the theory and garner some sympathy, if not empathy for your friends that might be going through some crap.  Again, this is only my own experience and I am sitting here in bed at 8.30pm listening to Elliott Smith with the view of mostly shutting myself in on my own for the next few days – bar what I absolutely have to do.

Without trying to be super heavy or self-indulgent I have amongst other things (I’m not 100% on what they are yet but I’ve finally decided to find out what they are) pretty bad anxiety as well as other things that contribute to me not being able to regulate my feelings like a ‘normal’ person.  So when I feel something – I really really feel it.  I feel it to the extent that it paralyses me or kind of forces me into some maladaptive coping mechanisms (not so much in the last year or so though anyway, which is good).  You probably can’t tell by looking at me, but it’s the truth.  I’ve spent years trying to even myself out and this is partially why I’m tired all the time and get drunk really fucking easily.  I’ve been medicated several times and at certain points probably should’ve got help but up until recently I kept it very hidden and secret because I was ashamed.  I mean I’m pretty sure I had at least one breakdown and lots of other serious shite happened that nobody knew about because I didn’t think anyone gave a fuck or because I didn’t want to put my crap on anyone.

This has been ongoing since I was a kid and I used to stay up nervously at night pulling out chunks of my hair and eating it.  I was a super duper sensitive child – happy – but nervous and then as I grew and developed into a teenager became angrier and more of an asshole.  I mean, my head wasn’t right, nobody listened to me, stopped eating, cut chunks out of myself and came home bruised (that’s a loooooong story) but being angry made me more of a badass when actually I’m very very soft.  I kind of learned how to protect myself early on and only in the last few years I realised how fucked up this was.  I had nobody to rely on.  In 1997, triggered by a series of unfortunate events I attempted suicide – which would be the first of three failed attempts – and before anyone says ‘it was a cry for help’ I didn’t really ever tell anyone till after they happened.   I’m only saying this to prove a point that not a lot of people knew.  I only really thought about these things again recently when I was talking to a friend about it and they were shocked about a few of the things that I’ve encountered over the course of my life and I was kind of surprised by their reaction.  I hadn’t given it much thought until recently – but I’m starting to think about how I’ve learned to cope with things through that kind of prism.  I’ve come a long way since then though.  I swear.

A lot of the time when I tried to talk about things, before I found a good therapist, I wasn’t listened to or dismissed.  There is nothing more disheartening than trying to tell someone about what’s going on and open up, leaving yourself all vulnerable to meet either radio silence or be dismissed.  So I stopped talking and just wrote and wrote and wrote.  Or got shitfaced.  I lost my voice.  I know not everyone knows what to say to someone about these things but to be listened to is a fucking glorious thing.  Like not just hear the words but actually listen.  To grab your hand or be supportive.  I know our mental health system is a fucking joke and focuses too much on getting us to talk to each other instead of professionals and nobody should be used as a crutch but how can you open up when you’re pretty much told to stop making a fuss.  So I think because of that I was subconsciously a selfish asshole well into my 20’s (debatable) and learned for a series of serious disappointments that I was the only one who could be relied on.  At some point in my 20’s I copped on and started to throw myself into college and work (to a degree like) and tried consciously not to repeat the mistakes that I had made.

Anxiety is such a fucking bitch though.  I’m scared of so many things – sometimes specific and sometimes vague – that if I said them all out loud it seems like I’m a wuss.  I suppose if you want to imagine anxiety – well at least how I feel it – I feel like I’m constantly waiting to get punched in the face.  I watch everything and everyone and although I don’t inherently believe that everyone is bad I feel enough bad people that seem to gravitate towards me for me to hardly ever relax.  I try very hard to calm down a lot of the time but my stupid inner monologue literally never shut up, reminding me of behavioural patterns that I’ve seen before and warning me to be wary.  I mean that sounds rational enough though, right?  Based on past experiences, particularly older and less clear ones, all this has been adapted into your personality and how you cope with things, right?  I mean it makes sense.  You’re protecting yourself because you feel things too much.  But imagine your brain not allowing you to be happy for extended periods of time because you’re just waiting for it to all fuck up.  Imagine not being able to ever live in the moment or getting freaked out when you feel like people are getting that little bit too close too quickly.  Because in your head most people are dicks.  And, perhaps, because you don’t feel like you deserve it because it’s never really been a stable element of your life.  It’s an absolute pain in the dick let me tell you.  And imagine not knowing whether your instinct or your gut is right or whether you’re just being crazy?  Because at least half the time you’ve not been crazy when you’ve had a bad feeling about things.  People say trust your gut and if I did that I’d never leave the fucking house.  So you can be close with people – just not too close – like a cat would be – so you can remain suitably detached at all times to most of the people that you know.

That’s not to say that I don’t have closeness in my life.  I do.  I most certainly do.  But that has come with time and the handful of people I’ve come to that point with that I know for many years.  Still, though I’ve kept the majority of things away from them and try to compartmentalise things.  And tried to not burden people with my stuff because once the floodgates open it could very well be too much for someone.  I learned to work things out in my head for the most part… well because I had to…  So, again, to reiterate if someone does open up to you be nice and try and don’t sweep it under the carpet.

Generally, I’m pretty good at getting up and continuing when things have to be done – but now and again I can’t move.  I literally can’t move.  I’m completely overwhelmed by normal tasks.  TO be fair I can only work super hard or not at all – there is no in between with me – and I need to work on that.  There have been times where I’ve stayed in on my own for three days without talking to a soul to the point that I actually started to love it and I could see how people became recluses.  I have to disconnect my feelings and approach everything rationally, but that puts me on the other side of the scale – which is completely numb.  I may even do that now for a few days because I can’t really face much – but I’m OK like – this too shall pass.

Here is some advice for some ‘normies’ to take on board that might help ya dealing with peeps that are dealing with similar stuff:

1:  Be an active listener when people tell you stuff.  Remember they are opening up to you.  It’s OK to say ‘I don’t know what to say’ and just listen.  It’s OK to say ‘thanks for telling me you feel this way’ or ‘I’m sorry.’  It’s good to ask questions.  Advice might not be the right thing – we might have obstacles in our heads that you.

2:  Figure out what makes people you care about panic and what anxiety looks like for them.  It’s not all panic attacks – it could be super quiet, it could be a nervous tic – whatever – check in with them.

3:  If you haven’t heard from them in a while text them or something to see how they are.  If they’re being mad reclusive try your best to get them out of their rut.  Actively approach them instead of saying merely ‘you know where I am.’

4:  Be as reassuring as you can to them.  The closer you to them – the more reassuring the reassurance is.  Tell them positive things about themselves, talk them through things and don’t laugh at their worries no matter how insignificant or wrong to you they seem.

5:  Be available to talk but also set boundaries.  If you can’t talk tell them when you can.

6:  Try and distract them if they’re getting wound up.

7:  If you’re super worried about them contact their family members (depending on their relationship with them).  Again if you’re super worried about them make sure they’re not on their own.

8:  If your friend is in an abusive relationship do not abandon the friendship because it is hard to watch.  Set boundaries and keep a line of communication open.  Even if it is emotional abuse.  Isolation can make people super suicidal in these situations.

9:  Watch out for sudden changes in mood – like extreme happiness or giving away lots of their stuff.

10:  If they like physical contact give them loads of hugs.

I mean there’s only so much you can do for people but letting them know that their feelings as well as them as a person are important to you can work wonders.  I’m serious.  As far as I’ve come I’m still a bit of a nervous paranoid wreck hiding under the guise of an independent booze loving lady.  I am a human contradiction!

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