When everyone is anxious...the world is inside out
With an anxiety disorder I’ve found you can’t help but overreact, panic and internalise things as your normal baseline.
When you are open about your difficulties with others, their level of understanding of your daily struggle affects how they react when they feel they have bigger or more ‘real’ worries.
This can mean that even close friends and family just don’t get how overwhelmed you are normally. Certainly they may not know how to react to you, now they are also facing high (albeit proportionate) anxiety about life turning itself upside down as it is right now.
It’s not surprising people want to focus on their own ways of coping and if that’s not openness about their own mental health than that is what can also be behind their reaction.
Those that don’t or won’t entertain the notion we all have mental health and a responsibility to look after it as much as our physical health often retreat with the defence they have bigger ‘real worries’ than you do. This can lead to us feeling ashamed and embarrassed of telling them our worries or concerns, that our feelings are invalid and it adds to already difficult thoughts and feelings.
It seems everyone is talking about anxiety right now there is a ‘real’ reason. For those managing mental illness often with medical and/or psychological support the anxiety has always been real and life defining.
It seems a cruel twist that it falls to us to keep talking about our mental health challenges and coping strategies I f we feel able, even when we feel shut down or our pain is minimised.
Normalising talking about it really does help others see that seeking help, understanding and support for our individual mental health remains the bravest and healthiest thing to do, even in the current Coronavirus crisis.
This doesn’t mean we all try to solve each other’s problems all the time. But imagine if we were all aware that talking about experiences of anxiety, worries, depression and other symptoms of disorder or illness don’t make them worse or catching. It’s often a relief to talk knowing neither of you need to do anything but show acceptance and compassion for one another’s experiences.
Imagine if going forward we all prioritised our mental health as much as we are making adjustments to prioritise our physical health right now?