Things that make me anxious, part 5: silence.
Having been a fairly nervous lil pig all my life, I can totally see how people with anxiety can end up avoiding people, places, things and situations. I think about agoraphobia fairly often. When I'm anxious about work, travel or a social occasion; and feel that crippling hug of fear, it's not a big leap to see how anxiety can lead to a total fear of leaving the house at all.
Most people who suffer from anxiety (which is 12% of ALL OF US) are lucky enough to be able to make it to work, to travel relatively unhindered and to keep up with their social life. That's brilliant - but it doesn't mean it's easy for us.
A lot of the time, the only thing that stops me cancelling is the fear of upsetting my friends or family. My closest friends know that I am anxious, and I am very lucky to have them, because when I text my posse to tell them I can't make it the response I am most often greeted with is "Don't worry. I'll come to you." - Because they know in their hearts that I want to spend time with them. I. Just. Can't.
It's so refreshing to have friends and family who I can be open and honest with. There's not a person in my life who I couldn't turn to and talk to about my anxiety. And in return, they get to talk to me about their anxieties, their depression, their stress, eating disorders, relationships problems or vices (because I am yet to meet anyone who has never had an issue with their health - whether physical or mental). So yeah, we're a judgement-free bunch! But I know everyone isn't so lucky.
I try to imagine sometimes how much more difficult it must be to face these issues in silence.
How much harder must it be for people who don't have my friends? How much harder must it be for people who don't have a Nana who cuts out newspaper clippings about panic attacks and keeps them to discuss with you? How much harder must it be for people who don't have a dad that they can call at 3am because they're worried about the future? or space? or who lives in numbers 1-9 Downing Street (turns out 1-8 don't exist)? How much harder must it be for people who don't have cheery colleagues who have open minds and sing Disney songs all day?
I have a very vivid imagination, but I can barely imagine it. Not really. And when I do picture it, all I see is gloom and darkness. But mostly I see loneliness, and nobody should have to try to deal with their health issues alone.
People should be able to say that they're feeling anxious. You should be able to. You don't think twice about telling someone you have a migraine, do you? You should be able to turn to the people closest to you and say "I'm not feeling well, I'm anxious." and if they think that you're making it up, or weak, of self indulgent or being dramatic, that doesn't make it true. It makes them a cunt.
The world would be a much better place if it was filled with people like my Nana.
If you know someone who is anxious, or you think someone is struggling; SAY SOMETHING. But for heaven's sake say something kind. You will be surprised by how much it means.
Be more Nana.