Today is World Mental Health Day, so I thought I’d share something I wrote for Let’s Talk, a day in January when Canadians are publically encouraged to break down the stigma and talk about mental health. I wasn’t ready to share it then, but I am now.
While I haven’t received an official diagnosis of social anxiety, two years ago, I participated in a study for people displaying symptoms, and that has helped me a lot. This is just another bend in that road.
Let’s talk about how my anxiety manifests.
How it makes me stumble over things I said or did years ago that I’m sure has been forgotten by everyone else but still causes me to wallow in humiliation.
How it makes me attack my cuticles with my teeth or my nails. How it results in ragged, shredded skin and grooves on my thumb nails.
How it makes my stomach knot and I tremble and quake when I receive an email or phone call in certain situations.
How it makes me overwhelmingly apologetic when I think I’ve hurt someone’s feelings and how I continue to kick myself inside even after they reassure me.
How I freeze and my brain shuts down when I’m forced to make an unexpected decision. Even if It’s the easiest decision in the world.
How I can wake up in the night and not be able to get back to sleep because my thoughts kick into a fugue that just won’t quit.
But now, let’s talk about how I deal.
How I try to practice mindfulness to quail my inner turmoil.
How I’ll give myself a talking to when my thoughts take a turn for the ridiculous or implausible.
How naming the fear turns it into a concern, and how that makes it easier to deal with.
How I try to be kind to myself and admit to myself that I’m having a flare-up.
How I seek structure and routine. Not enough to be restrictive, but enough to setup a default I can fall back on.
How I can confide in family and friends who can relate in their own ways and listen without judgement or rejection.
How I try to make time for myself, even if it’s just walking a little bit further at lunch or watching tv or writing or doing nothing at all.
How I try to love myself, my true self, because that’s who I am, even when it seems really hard.
It doesn’t always work, but I try.
I’m glad we had this talk.
Copyright Jessica Allyson 2018.