You know the feeling. It’s the I have waited so long in this queue and then sent to the back feeling. The labelled feeling like the sell-by-date on food.
That’s what ‘it’ makes us feel like. And what is this ‘it’ exactly? One word NHS. If you have dared to ask the NHS for help – like moi by now you should know how le crape it is. The acronym may as well stand for ‘Not Happening Soon’, because of the crazy amount of time it takes to be referred. Now I’m not disregarding the good work NHS people do – but seriously the waiting times *Cough government? (By the way I’m on round #2)
Calling the clinic was hard. Why? Because, I got so nervous (as per) that I had to write down what it was I needed to say. Nervous that I could feel my heart picking up and my palms begin to sweat. But, I did it. The reason. I had been screened. Unfortunately not a ticket to the cinema – but of those of you who have gone through the system before will know it is when you lardeedar about ‘what’s wrong’ and fill in the same questionnaire, 1-10s and all that. Which is fine and well and good. But, that must have been over 3 weeks ago and I hadn’t heard a peep out of them since. So what were they planning to do with me? They had left me out to dry.
So, I had to call. I want help. So, I did – to then be told to ring another number (which is the worse news for someone with social anxiety!). Eventually I made myself do it. Not only was it annoying to hear clear gossiping in the background (I could hear every word), but that I would have to wait 4 months till I can get therapy. I am on a waiting list, among other people and would have to wait until I get to the top – which let’s face it could take longer. It was like I was another body slung onto the heap.
This is not good enough! Not just for me, but for everybody. People can have downward spirals in a matter of hours, days – not months. You will know this. They need help. We need help. When we decide we need help or can get help (which lets face it can be a pretty daunting set of steps) – we do it because we feel as if we need help now. For a lot of people getting help feels like the last resort.
The harsh reality is that people are not getting help quick enough. Like I said it is not necessarily a matter of months, but more hours, days, weeks. I will be able to wait that long. However, I can’t say the same for others. What happens if its too long and someone commits sucide, hurts themselves badly or gets themselves in a heap of trouble? Not only does this potentially cost the NHS more? And also the legal system due to consequence – gosh even social services. It has a domino effect. Not to mention the distress of loved ones who may not have even have known someone suffered mentally.
So, even the idea of saving ‘money’ hasn’t fazed the government – the very heart of politics. There needs to be change. Suicide, self-destruction, panic, the feeling of doom can all be prevented with help. It doesn’t have to get that far. People shouldn’t have to hurt themselves to get attention or to be prioritized (in some cases). You and me shouldn’t have to feel insignificant by being added to a ‘list’ of people and made to feel as if you are competing. Everyone deserves help. You do.
The real ‘trew’ is that there should be nothing last minute about the mental health system. Everybody should be allowed access if needed. If people were educated about it earlier or if people were offered help earlier it could prevent a lot of occurrences (crime, injuries, loss, waste of money). People should be allowed help on the day no matter how big or small the problem feels like. We all need support at some point.
Together we must take a stand!
Today I was… anxious (as if that wasn’t obvious). Why? Because for once I didn’t say no.
Now usually in my anxietyac ways I would neither say yes or no, sound familiar? I normally can’t say no because I feel obligated to say yes. However, I don’t say yes either because I want to say no. Do you get me? So, I normally end up beating around the bush and coming out with the same tentative if not repetitive lines like: I can do or perhaps.
So a few days a go I finally said yes. My dad had booked me onto a soup course (because I’ve been cookin’ up a storm recently), to go to on my billybob. For once I said yes to make myself have to meet and talk to people. But, that wasn’t enough to stop the hit of regret or the depression seep under my skin. What had I done?
I couldn’t back out now. I had to do it (again I always feel obligated to do things -part of the whole judgement thing I have going on). When I got there. Sat on my own. I honestly felt stupid. Shaky. Judged. I got my mental crystal ball out and started to predict they saw me as this too quiet – awkward girl and I was embarrassed of myself.
Not only this, though today I felt particularly introverted. I had a weird chest which my mind kept on telling me that I was going to get a panic attack and humiliate myself.
Well I survived. Even on small social events an instinct tells us that we won’t survive, that we won’t be able to cope. Perhaps that is just our fight and flight on overdrive. I stuck at it.
In the end I settled down. I even managed to hold several conversations and became more relaxed as the rest of the course went on. So, what are the two things I have learnt from the experience. One is that you don’t have to keep pleasing everyone. For whatever reason with my social anxiety I expect others to expect how you should behave. I have made decisions based on what other people think i.e. holding on when you desperately need the loo (you don’t want to be rude) or feeling as if you have to eat everything offered to you even if you don’t want it. And the second is that we fear the anticipation more than anything else.
So, that is my anxious story of the day. Hopefully by taking these steps together and challenging ourselves even though our bodies tell us not to – we can get closer to saying goodbye to anxiety once and for all. So my next tip is the quote to feel the fear and do it anyway (all within good reason).
Whether they are sellotaped onto a gift, one of those annoying stickers you can’t get off a DVD or a pinned name badge, the word label has seemed to have adopted a far more metaphorical meaning. Now you’ve got people saying I don’t want to be labelled as… such and such or talking about how ‘labels’ are another form of stereotypes.
So, why am I chatting on about labels? Well, I have been thinking (as one often does) about the words or labels people put on anxiety. When you really think about it, and I mean really think about it. The amount of labels it gets are confusing. For once I’m not talking about ‘ignorant’ views or people who don’t have anxiety. Really it is how all of us choose to describe it differently.
Some will call it an illness. Perhaps a disorder. Maybe even a disease. While others will explain it as something conditioned. An overly anxious person. A trouble. A problem. Generalised anxiety. Social anxiety. Agoraphobia. Depression. Introverted. The thing is we’ve probably used all if not most of these words to define this nerve jingling thing. But, really what is it?
It’s all a bit mind boggling. If I say is an illness, does it mean I can be ‘cured’. Or perhaps I labelled it as a disease, does that mean I believe that there is no hope of getting better that it is simply something I have ‘got’. But, somehow being labelled ‘overly anxious’ doesn’t give us that medical jargon that seems to justify us. So, how do we define ourselves?
That just it. Today I can’t seem to get my head around it. However, what I can say is this. We weren’t born with this extra anxiety. Anxiety has come from experiences and events that have impacted our life in some way. Then they become bigger and bigger until perhaps we can no longer remember the original reason. So, today I don’t forgot my book of answers. However, it is definitely something to think about? How do you define or label anxiety?
Life is often made out to be a list of decisions, stacked high and ready to be ticked off. Even the word itself “decision” has become as monstrously daunting and heavy as trying to go to sleep after watching a horror movie (which you told yourself not to watch) or hopelessly attempting to carry all your groceries (which you know you can’t) by running madly to the door before the weight keels you over.
As a teen, ‘decision making’ has been thrown, stuffed and flung down my throat **cough university. Not only that, but now there feels as if there is more pressure to make snap (couldn’t resist to click my fingers) decisions. It’s hard. And lets face it social expectations for not just us bubbled up teens, but for kiddies and the grownie ups too, seems to be coming to a boil.
Here is where you get your violin out… no I’m joking. What makes my decision making so hard for me personally is my anxiety. Which I hold my hands up and don’t doubt has affected everyone at some point. Whether that be trying to avoid that certain someone that has awkwardly blocked your path. Knowing whether to go for it and just ‘smile and wave’ or to quickly shuffle your butt out of there before they have a chance to see your face.
For me throughout my life so far there has been a clear line between my ‘aspirational decisions’ and my ‘anxious decisions’. How I see it is that you have the things that you would ‘in theory’ like to do if it were not for that tedious anxiety. And then pretty much all those anxious decisions that build a wall of avoidance we hide behind.
For sure anxiety has clouded my path. Now I can’t see the sign that should point me in the right direction. Perhaps others have passed me on this path, but I have been too scared to ask for their help so I am left here.
Feeling anxious of being judged has left my brain “confuzzled” (yes I like to blend words). It is mainly the bad narrator of my mind that makes me procrastinate, make excuses, literally doing anything, but come face to face with that decision.
It is like I’m or we are lost in an endless wood. We are tired, confused. We are all scared. What should we do? The answer is this… to find a path we first must climb a tree and see the view.
Yep that little cloud has caught up with me again. I’m pretty sure that if I let it I would receive a proper drenching. It’s days like this when all you want to do is stay in your misery coma (at least that is what it’s telling me). There is nothing else my body seems to want to do, but drown in it – bask in array of the poor-me’s in the hope that guilt which stirs in my veins will go away.
Here’s a metaphor for Harry Potter fans! The lowness is like a dementor which feeds off sadness. In a way it’s like the dementor has a grasp of our soul or rather our true selves. And although, Harry was cured by some sweet tasting chocolate which most of the time can help with the blues. A square or two too many can leave us with a guilty food baby or rather ironically back to square one which was feeling low to begin with. That is what JK was getting at. I have heard many a time that dementors were symbolic of depression, and you can definitely see why.
But, chocolate was only a temporary cure like comfort eating or the bad habits we end up in. Bare with I’m not a Potter buff but have watched the movies. How does JK have Harry overcome these demons? With positivity, of course. Now, I know such a word has been used many a patronising time, but it is true. We like the character Harry have to make a decision to either let ourselves be leeched by anxiety and depression or we can realise the power that we have and give them a shove off. At the end of the day Voldemort was really defeated by love. A love that he didn’t have. All he had was fear. A power run by fear is know true power at all!
So, how do we stop those dementors or cloaking darkness from attacking us? Well this tip is simple. Though perhaps harder to follow. The sooner you realise that you hold all the cards in your life. No one else. When you look at what you have rather than what you don’t (it doesn’t matter how big or small it is – as long as it is important to you), be thankful. You are loved. If you don’t feel that way then here is a virtual hug ( ) we love you! Remember all those times where you did something you never thought you could. Look back and hold on to that proud feeling. You can do anything. You can achieve anything. Don’t think, I am not like that person so I can’t become a famous painter or whatever it is you aspire to be. They had their troubles too. You just didn’t see it. I’m struggling with writing my book. I can feel crippled with self-doubt. But, I got to keep telling myself I can do it! Keep going. Aspire for what you want to do.
Those people that you want to be like or have been jealous of or simply inspire you. They were people who felt the fear and did it anyway. Simply they were the ones that didn’t give up.
So neither should you. And although, I wasn’t expecting to do such a long Harry Potter metaphor. Here it is #Tip 3 Be Harry Potter. Defeat those dementors with positivity.
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2. Spotted features – I have a nose
3. Frowned at yourself in an attempted Harry Potter move to become (waves wand) Invisiblo.
4. Labelled yourself as something or other i.e. tall – lanky – short – stubby and the list goes on and on.
Today I took a step. And not just out in the rain that seemed to endlessly pour out of the heavens. But, a real step forward to getting myself out of Anxietytown or several if you are talking literally. Now, although I still have plenty of steps before I reach the border between Anxietytown and Freedom with every step whether that be crawling, running or hopping I will get there. And if I can, then so can you.
Picture back to a few weeks ago. At this time I had a really bad few weeks. As we do, when things feel particularly worse. I just felt pretty crap. I felt tense all the time like I couldn’t relax my muscles. I had lost some of my appetite (which I will say is completely unlike me) – my digestive system decided it would be fun to play a bad game a Tetris. I was getting anxious a lot. Well a lot for me. And it kept on stacking higher and higher. Not to mention the thoughts and other lardeedars. It just wasn’t fun. Still isn’t – though it is better.
At this point, all I wanted was help. I knew I needed and I wanted it as soon as. So, if you think you need help or if you say you don’t but you know that you do, get it. This is my 2nd time I went to my GP and also 2nd time I have been referred. Lets face it, it is a loonngg process and I understand scarily so for those who need it most. Granted it has come around quicker than last, but it just seems so difficult to get help. Something which is just wrong for so many reasons that I know many of you know.
So, as I came just by the minute on time, having being anxious on top of anxious because my Dad took a while to get ready, I finally took my step. A few days ago weirdly enough I was looking forward to this. This felt like my hope to getting better for good rather than for a while. So, as I took my hood down went in and waited while the nerves still bubbled in me.
When my name was finally called in the way that it always is in a clinical environment, I got up and went. Why I am bothering to say this? Well, that in itself is a step. A step you can also take.
When I sat down on those rubbish uncomfortable chairs and the same doctory (yes I made this word up) cold wall colour, every thing was put in a new perspective again. It always happens that you have to sieve through all the problems you have faced, perhaps feeling as if we have to prove ourselves that yes we are anxious people. Always thinking or regretting that we failed to mention a very important point. Once I had talked for a while and filled in that same form I had become familiar to, I began to feel it all hit me. I wanted to cry, but felt I couldn’t. It just felt so emotional and it is.
So, I said I would give you some tips on how to get better. And as I went home I was bewildered at what it is I could say to help. Now, it rings as loud as ever. Tip#1 If you haven’t already got help get it! Ask for it! Talk about it! Then you will be one step closer to the mighty land of Freedom.