Anxiety is a subject which ironically, I feel worried to talk about.
When it comes to discussing mental health it’s so important to distinguish between long-term mental health disorders such as generalised anxiety disorder, depression or bipolar disorder and periods of mental struggle which we all go through. I know that I probably throw around medical terms for mental health more than I should and so do most my friends – some of my mates are genuinely crippled by anxiety at some periods and sometimes we are just stressed but we use the same language.
This isn’t completely bad. At secondary school it was incredibly hard to talk about mental health and it wasn’t something discussed properly which really caused a lot of issues with people being extremely misunderstood for mental health issues outside their control. I think that in my social circles at least it’s much easier to discuss things, although there’s always more to be done.
The key thing is everyone deserves to be able to talk openly about their feelings, but some people require further medical support. The whole reason I am writing this is because lockdown is gradually ending, and I’m filled with lots of excitement and relief, but also I’m often filled with anxiety.
Normal scenes such as tables filled with laughing groups of friends and queues outside of shops now seem sinister in my mind. I know the virus has not disappeared therefore it’s important to still be cautious with how we socialise but that doesn’t mean we should be filled with fear at the sight of other people also just going about their lives. We’ve been fed a message of alarm and hysteria for a health crisis that could have just used facts and knowledge to make us change our behaviour to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The effect of the last year is that I’ll feel ridden with guilt for doing perfectly reasonable things such as visiting my parents outside for a cup of tea.
We need social lives – real ones, not just monotonous online motions – and we shouldn’t feel like the world is crashing in because we actually enjoyed ourselves. Hopefully these feelings of alarm at unalarming events subside and I end up without that weight in my mind in time. I think talking about it and how ridiculous it is helps. When I’ve seen friends recently, I know they’ve said they feel it too. There’s freedom by admitting that your normal bus journey to town now fills you with dread because so many of us can directly relate and then you can laugh at the irrationality of it all, support each other and hopefully by the bus ride back it doesn’t feel as severe.
We all experience things differently so it’s important to have empathy and remember that not everyone has the same responses. Obviously if you are filled with anxiety from normal situations all the time anyway then reaching out to someone such as your GP is the way to go. But a lot of us are going through a wave of fear and stress and it’s good to talk about that too.
Have a good week, and hopefully allow yourself to enjoy it.