Mental health for any community is vital. A lot of the LGBT people in our lives have to deal with anxiety every day for various reasons and it can be hard to talk about it or put it in to words. One of our mighty minded ladies has fought it all her life and wanted to share her experience of it with the world to help banish the stigma.
Dear Anxiety…(ye bollox.)
‘See you, ya mad bitch.’
I’ve often daydreamed about squaring up to anxiety with this sort of ‘I’ll bate the head off ye’ mentality.
Yet, despite the Nike Airs that don my feet, and my distinct Tallaght accent, I’ve always opted for the more round about approach when it came to dealing with, as a friend of mine coins it, ‘me nerves.’
Like any bully however, anxiety doesn’t pay much heed to the softly softly approach.
Case in point, last week, she bullied the head off me to the point that I became resigned to taking a leave of abscence from work.
Seeing a golden opportunity in an ill family member and the end of a whirlwind relationship, she quite literally decided to sit on my chest, and pound my heart with force.
Stay at home she demanded, you can’t cope!
The world is going to get you, hide!
And scarlet for me in all and anyways, because I listened.
As I sat in my kitchen that first evening, attempting to split a xanax that I had procured from my GP, I quite literally balled.
(I know, I know, scarlet for me…not being able to stomach a full xanax. Dublin 24, I’ve let yiz down.)
I balled for the people I had lost and would lose from my life, and the career that looked to be slipping from my grasp.
And so, for the next couple of days I stayed out of work, devastated, full of fear, wondering how my life had become more tragic than an Eastenders Christmas special.
After all, there is nothing quite as frightening as feeling abject terror in surroundings where you have previously felt so at ease.
Nothing as disturbing as seeing faces which were once so familiar, becoming unknown and distorted.
There is also nothing as shocking and traumatic as a break – up with someone you wholeheartedly love.
However as the days passed, and I spoke to family and friends, I began to gain some perspective, and along with this, a spark of fire ignited in my belly.
I set up a meeting with my boss to speak with him about my difficulties.
This could have gone either way.
Thankfully, he was and has been nothing short of brilliant, and I’m currently on part time hours until I get fully back to myself.
With a more manageable working arrangement in place, I then had time to reflect on what actions had brought me here.
For the previous six months I had pushed myself to the max.
This included immeresing myself in an intense relationship which from the off I had approached from an unhealthy position.
While not the cause of my dare I say it ‘breakdown’ (I’ve had anxiety since my teen years) throw an anxious disposition, regret, Beyonce crazy in love feels, and the unwanted but necessary realisation that neither you or the person you love are right for each other at this time into the mix and this was enough to spark what had been building under the surface of those last few months.
Yet there’s something hugely positive that I’ve learnt from this heartache and trauma,
and that’s to listen to your body.
There is such a fine line between being able to function in the world and not. Nobody should take their mental health for granted.
In hindsight the warnings were there, the shortness of breath, the need to control everything, the insecurity and the fatigue.
I was a car crash waiting to happen, and crash I did.
For years I’ve always wanted an exciting life, and I’ve tended to associate excitment with romance.
This is such a skewed way of thinking.
Looking for your happiness and security from another person is not only a recipe for disaster, but is a disservice to yourself.
While I’m by no means out of the woods with my anxiety, and it’s been a short time since myself and my ex cut off contact, I take strength in the fact that I am, to quote Sia, still breathing (just about – diaphramtic breathing of course.)
I also feel content in the knowledge that despite its difficulty, every action that I have taken and have committed to at this moment is the right one for the benefit of my mental health.
As much as I miss my ex and continue to think of her (f*cking lesbians), I know we’re better off not being in each others lives. It’s a painful concept to grasp, sometimes too painful, but it’s what growing up is all about – doing the right thing for both yourself and someone else.
As for self care, while this can often be seen as a 21st century buzzword, it’s hugely important and beneficial to us all, and something I’m definitely focused on maintaining.
It may be a cheesy concept, but your health really is your wealth.