Clear eyes, anxious hearts..

It’s R U OK Day. People are asking each other how they’re doing, hopefully they’re taking a little internal inventory as well. Me? Well, thanks for asking. I’m good today. Really good. I’ve just come back from a cruise spent with old friends, made a new one, made lots of people laugh and came home to my beautiful daughter and handsome husband. Why would I be anything other than sensational?

Because chemicals, that’s why. In my brain lives an evil bingo caller who occasionally likes to pull out random emotions and energy levels and see whether anyone gets a full card. You’d think anxiety, or depression, if you roll that way, would be attached to something. You know – I’m worried about a job coming up, or something specific about my daughter, or Syrian airstrikes, or entertaining 300 people in a noisy nightclub. Nope. I’m all sweet with that. Calm as a cucumber. But whether I have time to get the milk on my way home, how to spell cucumber, or why some people can’t remember to indicate on a roundabout? Chaos. Heart pumping, stomach churning chaos. If its a Tuesday. On a Wednesday, it may not register. I’ll be worrying about my daughter. Or I might be entirely normal for months and have a panic attack sneak up on me like a vicious magpie on a main road (a real one just got me, by the way – no reaction from me other than an impressive impromptu war dance. Whatevs, fly boy).

I’m not sharing this with you for your sympathy. I am legitimately fine. I’ve got modern medicine on my side, a support network and the knowledge that this too shall pass. I’m hoping it might humanise a common ailment, or make you feel like you’re not the only crazy on the planet. I might need you to remind me of that on one of the days the magpie attack feels personal, and universal, or I feel like my body is trying to shake itself apart. Please don’t think of yourself or your friends whose mental health is a little on the shaky side as being weak. Getting through life can be tricky. Getting through it with a chemical sharknado that can come out of a clear blue sky is impressive and worthy of a standing ovation.

How can you help someone in the long dark teatime of the soul, or the short but horrendous morning tea of anxiety? Remind them that they don’t always feel this way.  That they’re likely in the majority – I don’t know many people who would describe themselves as 100% stable. That they’re doing a stellar job of not hiding under the table or climbing the curtains. Talk to them about something else. Don’t tell them their physical symptoms aren’t real. They are, but they’ll pass. Don’t make decisions for them about what they can handle. They’re likely stronger than you know.

 

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