Sunday, 10 June 2018

My smile's there just to fool the public

Reporting on suicide of the rich and famous is so often crass and wrong headed that it is hard to find anything positive in the press about the two events this week. \One thing that was common in both of these sad news stories was in the reported statements by loved ones that the person seemed happy and content shortly before they took their own life.

However I have learnt with my anxiety and depression that a period of elation or good carefree life can bring on a dip in mood which unchecked can quickly spin out of control. Those particular mood swings have been fairly nasty to me over the past couple of years. I now try and anticipate those downturns and find a way of not letting the morbidity take hold.

I still have such a sense of shame over it though

A recent example was when visiting with friends, we had a long day out of eating , shopping n boozing (not me but them) but on going to bed I found that I was really on edge for no apparent reason. When I put my head down to try and sleep all I could hear was the blood pumping in my ears, my inability to take my mind off my breathing with my attempts to keep it natural just increasing it's shallowness.

All manner of panic was rising in my head and the only way I could do something about it was to go to a different place, crawl up into a ball and ride the feelings out. Despite my friends who are totally aware of my condition being footsteps away I simply could not bring myself to ask if they could sit with me and perhaps make the experience less intense or head it off completely. The shame and helplessness that takes you over (even thou it is totally within your control) makes you regress to childhood. Your mind has all the information you have read in books, learnt at CBT sessions and been told in internet forums but sometimes anxiety and depression slams through all that. It grabs you by the throat, chokes you and all rationality is gone.

I should have just said something to my friends but I felt at that moment they would be annoyed, frightened, disgusted and ridicule me even thou in the cold light of day I know that they would have been caring, kind and understanding. I know the shame and guilt over my inability to cope is something we are told it's lessening the more people speak up about their conditions but its not easy to shake. I stayed there balled on the floor until I felt calm enough to climb back upstairs and sleep which I was able to do after what felt like all night but was probably an hour or so. I tried not to let it get me down and for the most part I hope I was able to stay pretty positive. I wish I could be more open about it with people but when it comes to the crunch I guess it is still a dirty little secret.

So when I read a lot of messages this week in response to the sad news events saying that it was important that people know that they can reach out and ask for help - we know. We know we can but all those voices telling us that we're pathetic, that we are pitied more than loved, that we will be resented and shunned are so hard to ignore when you are in a flat spin. We know people care but our inner shame and lack of self worth is tearing us harder towards keeping it hidden and letting it build until it breaks or we do. 

The only way forward for me is to be as kind as I can and look out for people at all times, not just when they are down or hurt but reach out just to say 'hello mate, how are you?' in some other way than a tweet or other social media way. Let people know that you are thinking of them. It really does make a difference to how people feel about themselves to get a friendly pat on the shoulder. Sometimes it can be a matter of life and death. 

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