Who’s going to be there? What time is the event? Is that person talking about me? I wonder if he’s okay? What if something happens and someone can’t get ahold of me? What if I get in a car accident? What if my alarm doesn’t go off? What if someone knocks on the door and I don’t hear it? Am I wearing the right thing? Did I forget to turn the curling iron off this morning? Did I check? Did I double check? I am not doing enough. I should be doing more right?
Losing control. It’s a persons worst fear. At least it’s mine. Situations we can’t control.
It’s always there – the worry – the stress. I can feel it hitting my shoulders like Tetris blocks. One worry after another until I crumble underneath it all. The funny part is – I used to feel so alone. Until days like World Mental Health Day and the stigma around mental health started to subside. Now it seems like most people are just like me. They worry. They can’t sleep. They have good days and bad days.
But now I have a new worry, I don’t want those people to end up like me.
I don’t want the highly anxious people to explode and fly off the handles. I see fragments of myself in different people. The fidgety hands, circles under the eyes. The “everything is going to be okay – things are just hard right now”. I see the high achievers doing it all and burning out with small crying sessions on the weekend. I see the anxious ones who bury it. They bury it so far down it manifests itself in ways they never thought it could.
So I’ve been trying to bring awareness. I’ve been open and honest with my own mental health. The good, bad and mostly ugly. Anxiety and depression for me is unpolished hair, lack of sleep and self-care.
When I see those things in other people – I suggest self-help books, counseling or writing. Hell even Art Therapy. I ask hard questions that no one wants to ask. I check in. I check in because it matters to me.
They matter to me.
It’s like we’ve been bonded and branded with this invisible stamp that says we’ve been through some bullshit no one will ever know.
You’re bonded even more when you’re all dressed in purple. Behind closed doors. Limited access to the outside world. Each person starving to be normal. You see the sad eyes. You answer questions. You accept whatever diagnosis they give you because with a diagnosis you know what’s wrong. With a diagnosis you can get better. You’re bonded by strip searches and no locks on doors. By medicine in the morning and darkness at night.
But not all bonds need to be experienced – and that one I am trying to help so many people avoid.
So on this day of all days. If it is anxiety, depression, self-harm, OCD, whatever it is – take one step towards getting better. Let that one step be picking up the phone and calling a therapist. If the phone isn’t an option than schedule an appointment online. I promise you it’s the best step you’ll ever take.
A.L.R., founder of Harness Magazine