With the upcoming annual Let’s Talk (Bell’s campaign on mental health awareness and breaking down the stigma), I can’t help but use this time of the year as a personal check-point. They picked an excellent time of the year for me – Christmas is now over and seems far away (even though we have yet to take down our decorations – today, I promise) and the days are still at it’s darkest. The new year is ahead of us which can be a very scary thing for those who suffer from depression and anxiety.
Looking back this past year I admit I have not done a great job in trying to keep my mental health in check. I have allowed myself to get overly stressed at work. I have been moody to my family. And I have not allowed enough time for myself, you know, to do a variety of little things which gives me small moments from this world – like reading or blogging!
(Both these two things I have gotten back into during December and I’m hoping to continue as long as I can).
My awareness of myself, however, has been steady. I am as honest as I can be to myself.
I was never ‘medically classified’ as having anxiety and depression. I never went to some clinic to do a series of test. But I have been to therapy and I know that what I have is not normal. And it simply comes down to this…
I have to WORK at being happy. It is an everyday obstacle for me. Sometimes, it’s even an every hour or every minute obstacle. Some days I succeed – I’m able to make myself happy for maybe an hour or two. Sometimes a few hours! That is a lot. At least for me. And other days, I never can bring myself up to happiness. There are weeks where I give into depression. I just get so exhausted trying that I need a break. Or, I’ve been feeling numb for too long and even an evening of crying and then walking around all day with a heavy heart is better than nothing because at least I’m allowing myself to feel… something!
“Let’s Talk” also lets me open up about myself to friends and family. About a month ago, I promoted it on Facebook. I even talked about it through my own personal experience! A couple of people ‘liked’ my post. Most either did not see it, felt uncomfortable to react or just read it and moved on. It’s weird. Only a handful of people know I went to therapy. And now I’m opening myself up on social media! Probably not the best way to open up but it’s a step. It’s a quieter way, maybe.
I’m getting closer also to talking to a friend who has always enjoyed really teasing me in front of others. I don’t mean the every-day type teasing we all do to one another when we’re in a small group. I mean the really embarrassing type teasing that mortifies me so much I feel like I can’t breath, my heart rate goes up and I literally just want to die right there and then!
Relentless teasing – of the same things over and over again.
I use to get so angry with him but I never knew how to bring it up! I want to shoot him down in front of everyone right there and then but worry what people will think of me. They might think, “Hey – Calm down! He’s obviously just joking!”
The fact is that he does not know what I have been going through. Or know what I’m still going through. And there are certain anxieties surrounding public situations that I don’t know how to handle. And a bigger problem – if I want to see some of my good friends whom I love, I sort of have to live with the fact that he’ll always be around.
So, it’s a big step. I basically have to prepare myself in talking to him before our next get together. And I have to do it in a way that lets him know that I’m not trying to lay blame. The hope is that he will understand I’m just dealing with my own stuff and all I ask is that he remains gentle towards my situation.
I believe he is a good enough friend to understand this. It’s just not an easy conversation to have.