Just like they said in the film “The first rule of anxiety club is don’t talk about anxiety club.”
Well, it wasn’t exactly like that. I don’t remember seeing Brad Pitt with a fidget spinner in his hands but you get the general idea of where I’m going with this blog today.
If I were to follow the ‘…don’t talk about…’ way of thinking my life would be very different. I genuinely believe that if I hadn’t talked to my wife, my doctor or some of my work colleagues I may well have ended up in the long-term care of my local NHS.
One of the big things that I made a conscious decision to do at the height of my struggles was tell people about my illness. Whether that is through my blog, my Facebook page or just anyone who asks. I have had customers at my workplace tell me that they haven’t seen me for some time and I have been honest with them in what I have been through. Sometimes I have left bits of the details out (not everyone needs to know why I have scars on my arm) depending on how they react to my initial statement of having anxiety and depression. Other times I have been open to the point of almost over-sharing. It is this fine line that I have struggled with some days but I know in my head that it’s good to talk (a bit like when Bob Hoskins did those BT adverts in the 90’s) and it all depends on whether people listen to me properly or not. When my wife or daughter ask me how I’m feeling, I tell them. There’s no point in me now hiding my feelings as they will both see right through my act and tell me. For me, honesty really is the best policy.
Obviously though this is not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of illness and there are many different ways for us to talk or get a message out there. If I don’t feel like talking I write my thoughts down in a notebook. Nobody else has access to this notebook but I know in my head that I have done something with the thoughts and I don’t need to do anything with it again. To some of you this might sound a bit counter-productive in the fact that I’m not physically telling anyone what I’m feeling but, to me, I am telling somebody. It’s just that the ‘person’ is a piece of paper. Other times I go to the ‘cafe’ once a month and we can all sit and talk about our month since we last met up without fear of judgment.
I am going on holiday this week and will be meeting up with good friends so there is a distinct possibility that my anxiety will rear it’s fairly ugly head again. There will be social gatherings, different places to eat and drink and new places to discover. However this is going to be a week where I spend the days relaxing in some of the most beautiful scenery in Britain and the evenings drinking some of the best ales in the country too. I am off to the land of the pasty, Poldark and the county where the cream tea is done properly with the jam first then the cream on top. Yes that’s right……Cornwall. I shall be relaxing with books to read and minimal access to social media. The campsite we are staying at has wi-fi at a cost so (in my eyes at least) that is fantastic because as a Scotsman I don’t like spending money if I don’t have to. This will make for a very quiet week for me (or as quiet as it can be with an 11yr old) and a suitably relaxed time away from the small island.
Anyway, getting back to the main thread of today’s blog. What I’m probably trying to say in my usual disjointed way is that rules are really there to guide us. Some of them need to be followed to keep us safe, others can be bent a little to help us along our way.
So maybe the first rule of anxiety club should be that we actually DO talk about anxiety club?
I know I intend to keep doing that…………….