I honestly still cannot comprehend how I managed to get such an incredibly supportive and lovely group of friends, especially when taking into account my social difficulties and rather embarrassing habits. I genuinely couldn’t have had got through high school without my ‘Misfits’. My other friends used to talk to anyone at school and could hold a ‘normal’ conversation, despite their status in the hierarchy of popularity. While I was teased. However, I still always knew I had someone to turn to – a real life place nobody could take from me. Forgiveness was a huge part of our friendship and it seemed we were all very forgiving and it was hard to be removed from the group. Plus, we trusted each other and no one (to my knowledge) broke it.
My friends and I were always supportive of any challenges that any of may have been faced with or were facing. Our strong bond and appreciation of diversity meant that I installed a great deal of trust in them. I didn’t ever anticipate the attitude they would have had towards my deteriorating mental health…
At first I got unimaginably positive and loving support from my friends when my struggling became a lot more obvious to them. The frequency of bad panic attacks and longer periods of anxiety increased to a terrifying degree and, while I felt out of control and desperate for help, my friends started to view my struggles and presentation as rather annoying. This is the point my friends gave up on trying with their more supportive and loving attitude.
I felt much more of a pressure to ‘stay calm’ and avoid any even slight public displays of anxiety. My friends frequently told me about the significant difference between my moods and they were constantly telling me about how they preferred the loud and excitable ‘version’ of me, which I tried to take as a compliment, although these words struck me at the core as this ‘version’ was another physical representation of my overwhelmed, anxious state of mind. Simultaneously, as I laughed and shouted my mind was screaming Can’t you see something is wrong? HELP. I could never tell anyone or describe this feeling to anyone.
In my experience (which isn’t very much), friendship has phases. At school, friendships are often either on one end or the other of a very short spectrum. This placement on the spectrum is interchangeable and can crack very easily. The two ends (if you were to label them) would either be strong or weak bonds, but one slight crack in this bond can make the density go from a brick to the consistency of a sponge. Hindsight can be a wonderful thing, especially when deliberating what the appropriate route/plan of action would be in a similar situation to one that may have happened in the past. Nevertheless, it can quite often be hard thing to put into practice – particularly when you need to quickly assess a certain scenario. This problematic situation can occasionally be the ‘make or break’ of a relationship.
Having friends used to be a priority for me and my academic experience, but in the end it became competitive. This competitive attitude amongst friends often affected my mood and hindered my overall academic performance, as the anxiety and pressure to perform (ironically) made it all the more difficult for me to work. Eventually, I internally made the decision to separate my school life and my social life. Realisation that I was becoming hurt by the impressive intelligence of my friends then came. It became apparent that some of my friends were only interested about the academic side and not anything that was happening in the world and prioritised their studies over everything! (On reflection, this was obviously due to the heightened status of getting qualifications, which is not as important as school makes you believe it is.)
Knowing that some friends cared more about letters on a piece of paper than the people they surrounded themselves with (not just myself) allowed me to know who my true friends were (and are) and who I should trust more. Connections with closer friends went further than the school gates and we started to arrange days out. On the other hand, some friends I would only ever know as friends at school (some could even say they were just ‘peers’ who called themselves friends). This is when I truly bonded with people, sharing opinions, interests and sometimes more personal feelings that would otherwise have been hushed and laughs that would have been stifled. There was no holding back – we were ourselves
Laughing, smiling and joking,
But there’s a fire burning within me,
Consuming me and smoking.
Turning my brain into ash,
Then I am a shell of a man,
With anxiety creating a rash.
I want my life back,
I want people to see
That my mind is truly black,
And there’s nothing left in this life for me.
It’s hard to tell people the truth,
Claiming you’re completely fine,
When you want to jump off a roof,
And trespass the railway line.
Popping pills until it goes away,
But none of it will ever numb the pain,
Days spent praying that today will be the day,
Then the forecast is eternal rain.
Fighting the inner torment
That yell all through the day
So why doesn’t it cease?
Even when you’re trying,
But using self-harm as a release,
By the end of the day you find yourself crying,
Exhausted and tired of being awake,
And obsessing over thoughts of dying,
But every memory is like an earthquake,
And my weight begins to plummet,
At the bottom of the mountain,
Never to reach the summit.
Top of the Mountain
After a tiresome journey,
Here I am.
I can see everything:
All from the past that haunts me…
Yet here I stand,
Taller than ever!
A beautiful view surrounds me,
Only beneath, low, is the past;
But the past has ended,
Only the future faces me
And it’s bright,
Like the shining sun!
I know where I am
And I know where I’ve been.
The only thing that’s left to do
Is climb down the other side…
I’m finally going to be on another side,
In a whole new world
But for now,
I’ll admire the view.
Here’s more inspirational side to my journey and how I feel I am finally moving forward. It just starts off the story with a bit of a struggle:
Sometimes I can be looking at a person and won’t understand what they are really saying to me, almost as if the actual words don’t matter and they are speaking in incomplete metaphors. I know this sounds really silly, but that is just how I feel. The words do matter when they are speaking, but I am always questioning whether it is actually what they mean and also the reliability of what they are saying. I am desperate to know what is wrong with me, but whenever I say this to someone, they say something completely insignificant in response. When I first started making blogs the only thing that mattered was getting good ratings, until I realised that I was forcing myself to write about something that didn’t matter, simply to get the likes, but the likes didn’t make me as happy as my own creativity. I am aware that I have repeated myself a little, but I don’t really care, because I know that it matters to me. These words I am writing matter to me, and as I am going to change my life around, I can concentrate on things that making me happier. I think that the further I go the more positive I will become, in this very different journey. I am proud of the little that I have already achieved in such a short space of time, although I know (no matter what) that I will now have further to fall. Last week I wrote a poem about a mountain, and the end of the lines in both stanzas ended in “Eventually we will all stand tall”. I feel that this is an important quote to carry through life. In the poem I talked about the scenery surrounding the mountain and how I felt ready to climb it. I am ready for the journey that I am facing, travelling up the mountain.
Happiness is incredibly important in a person’s life. Without it people can become depressed and experience a variety of mental health complications; having these issues or a mental illness can drive people towards dangerous acts or become very impulsive. There can be reasons for somebody to feel this way (a ‘trigger’) or could have no easily identifiable cause. From experience, people take their happiness (or joy) for granted and may not even realise they are truly experiencing it until it is taken away. You may feel obliged to still feel positive or happy, especially when there is no clear cause for your negativity, sadness or distress. If it makes a significant impact on your life, it may be time to make a change. But if you simply feel down (whether you know why or not) don’t think you have to immediately change yourself. There is nothing wrong with having emotions, it doesn’t make you a bad person – it means you’re human! You need the dark to appreciate the light in your life. But if this darkness is undying and persistent seek help. If this feeling is making you suicidal or you are having suicidal thoughts treat it as an emergency like any other illness or ailment. It’s more serious than people think.
Sometimes people forget the importance of self-care. Not only things like personal hygiene, sleep hygiene, but also caring for your mental health. This doesn’t have to be something to only consider if you are struggling. Having these daily/weekly self-care things will aid you to manage yourself and keep on top of everything, and can prevent relapses. Taking time out of your day and treating yourself have more importance than people realise them. Giving yourself breaks, whether it’s small daily breaks or holidays, it all has later benefits and significance.
Many people have a particular dedication to their work or their house work. And while something like this can be considered to be caring for yourself and environment. There needs to be a balance (‘occupational balance’). While there are workaholics, some people are very ‘laid back’ or struggle to motivate themselves (there are significant differences than a lack of motivation and being ‘laid back’) this can mean both their self-care and work suffer and they concentrate on the life of leisure (or even have none of the three main ‘occupational balance’ sectors). This can all be common for people significantly struggling with their mental health. People need to simply be reminded of the importance of having a balance in their lives sometimes.
Being ‘self-indulgent’ can often be interpreted as a negative character trait, but it is very health sometimes to be a little self-indulgent. It can be a big thing and can give you a boost (even if it is only for a short while); it’s all part self-care and taking time for yourself, taking care of your mind. No matter what you think you are ‘obliged’ to, sometimes taking care of yourself is more important. People should never feel ashamed if they have to tell someone ‘they can’t tonight’ if you need it. There are all types of different treats, as long as it feels special to you and would not negatively impact on your physical or mental health. Even when something bad is happening in the life of someone you love, sometimes you need that time. Self-neglect would not help the person you are trying to help. If you struggle, you can’t help anyone else effectively – take care of #1.
I can feel it.
There’s something different,
Is it the brightness of the lights?
Are the walls softer?
What about people’s faces?
Have they changed?
It’s taking longer to reply to everything,
It’s taking longer to react,
I’m missing information,
Not hearing the full conversation.
I pinch myself,
I can see it, but I can’t feel it.
Walking inside a foreign body,
Sat in a different person’s life.
They aren’t mine.
Distant calls of my name,
They can’t get through,
Reality has gone,
Now my mind has control,
There’s nothing left to do,
Where have I been?
What did I do?
Did I forget again?
I hope I didn’t hurt you…
For as long as I can remember (coming from an eighteen year old) I have had a strong infatuation with soft toys, mainly teddies. I’ve had many brands of teddies too from Build A Bear, Disney to a new favourite of Jelly Cat. There was a time that I found it difficult to leave the house without a teddy and often alternated which furry friend I’d take out, so that I wasn’t leaving them out. It often felt like they were a key to a new world and opportunities, a key to new ideas and a gateway for the imagination.
I had days entirely dedicated to the teddies and making hundreds of concepts and scenarios. Playing for hours and hours. There was always something encaptivating to me about coming up with the story on the spot and being able to instantly put it to life, using both my mind and the props of toys and other random objects we could find in my room. My wildly vivid imagination allowed me to truly immerse myself into the worlds I was creating; I was often caught daydreaming and being completely distracted by my thoughts.
The modern day world is filled with things that my sister and I (despite still being so young) never had access to, things that don’t allow children to use their own imaginations. Smart phones were not as powerful as they are now and don’t have the capabilities that ones that exist now do. Tablets were almost completely unheard of. But now technology has advanced to such a degree that younger and younger children are having access to the internet, YouTube and games that keep them entertained and less annoying for a while. The problem with this is that it distances children from the outside world around them, even when they are stood outdoors! Children are becoming more aware of the life of technology but less aware of the beauty that surrounds them, they are more enthusiastic about the newest update of their favourite game than they are about going and playing in the park. They are relying on the creation of other people to keep them entertained, rather than getting out there and using their imagination, using their own creativity, which children always have within them.
My obsession, unlike most children, never faded – rather evolved. I got new teddies and got rid of others through charity shops and car boot sales. They turned from companions to decoration, but still provided me with a substantial amount of comfort. Names became more inventive and less childlike, one of the many ways that I continued to use my imagination. Adolescents often begin to stray from their previous infatuations or interests and look for something new, but all the interests for me are things that stick with me. Once I become obsessed, I either don’t move on at all, or rediscover the passion later. I would class my more ‘mature’ previous interests as a phase, in some cases, due to the fact that I used them to appear more mature and ‘intelligent’ to my clever peers and friends at school.
The truth is that my ‘Toy Story’ is only just beginning, as my ever-changing and growing collection is. Memories are held in physical items very often. They were so special to me before and they continue to be. I could never imagine not having these ‘friends’ around, even if I pass all of my toys along, there will always be some that stay, that I can simply never part with.
The Reality of Invisible Illness
As humans, there are many difficulties and challenges we face in the course of a lifetime. To phrase it simply, some of the things people struggle with are more noticeable than others. For me, some of my challenges are much more obvious to those around me than others. Unfortunately this can mean that some of the more tasking experiences can be missed. There are visible and invisible illnesses, disabilities and problems; this can frequently invalidate the hardships that sufferers can be faced with. Mental illness can cause perceived behaviours and attitudes within a person, which can be misunderstood and misinterpreted by those around the person affected. Again with disabilities, someone who can’t walk, talk, see or hear could be a lot more easy to notice than, say, someone who experiences chronic migraines, or someone with high-functioning autism. Often, whether they mean to or not, the problem is other people’s attitude of ‘if you can’t see it, it mustn’t be there’. Another common issue is that there is no communication, meaning a person will stay quiet about the problem until it reaches an unbearable degree. Nobody should ever have to have anything alone. I have multiple invisible (or less obvious) problems. This is my voice, these are my words.