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We need a new word for ‘anxiety’

Today is a bad day

by Matt Coot

What scares you?

fear

Imagine if you wake up and you’re scared of everything. You’re scared of opening your eyes for fear of what is going to be there. You’re scared of not opening your eyes for fear of what might attack you if you’re not looking.

Your heart is beating faster and faster. You’re scared that something is wrong with your heart because it is beating so fast. Your breathing increases too, and you’re now scared that its your lungs that have the problem. It isn’t normal that your heart is beating this fast. It isn’t normal that your breathing is so fast. You’re not normal.

You talk yourself into finally opening your eyes, because you now you have to get help because your heart and lungs are going to explode, you’re going to die. You need to get help. But then you’re scared of lifting the duvet off of your body. Your body is weak. You can’t even lift a duvet. What kind of man are you?

You’re pathetic, weak, ridiculous. And now, you are trapped inside your bed. Fear has trapped you. Fear of the unexplainable. Fear of the illogical. Fear of the most inconsequential of things. You’re scared and you’re trapped.

This is what it was like when I woke up this morning. Ironically, I was getting up to go see the GP about my mental health. The problem was that I couldn’t leave my bed, so I couldn’t get across the room to the bedroom door, which meant I couldn’t make it to the bathroom, which meant I couldn’t get ready, and that meant I couldn’t do anything else with my morning – such as breakfast, a mug of tea, check the news, check social media, leave the house, walk to the health centre, see the GP – all of that, everything to do with my morning, was now impossible to do. Why? Because of anxiety.

Anxiety

We need a new word for ‘anxiety’. People say “I’m anxious” when they feel slightly nervous. That isn’t anxiety and it gives the general population the wrong opinion of what anxiety is. Anxiety is crippling. It stops you from doing the most simple of activities. I explained, above, what it was like waking up this morning, but maybe people think “that’s just what getting up is like, we all have it”. However, imagine a shower. You get in, the water cascades around you and you wash your body and hair, yes? A simple activity, right? Not with anxiety. The very process of getting into the shower turns into a more complex mission than trying to gain peace in the Middle East. And that’s just the process of getting into the shower. Honestly, simple activities become impossible.  Brushing your teeth, making a mug of tea, drinking the mug of tea, walking from one room to another, going outside, answering the phone, making a call, sending a Tweet, opening a message, writing a Facebook status, checking Snapchat, talking to someone, taking medication, preparing food, anything and everything. Anxiety isn’t just feeling slightly nervous. Anxiety is crippling. Anxiety is ruining my life. Anxiety is a curse.

I eventually managed to get out of bed. I managed to write a list for my mum. The list was calls that I needed to make, but couldn’t do myself. Before she read the entire list, she had a go at me. She was annoyed that I missed my appointment with the GP. She was off sick from work, recovering from a recent illness, and she was mad that she had got up earlier to make sure I was awake. So she was angry. She didn’t know that it was the crippling anxiety that had stopped me. She judged me, my own mother judged me, for what she believed was laziness. It wasn’t until I explained, it wasn’t until she realised I needed help from the mental health team, that she apologised and realised what I was going through. This was one of the people in my life who know me best, and her initial judgement was negative. If my mother can judge me, and – without meaning to – make me feel smaller and weaker than I already was, imagine what my perception of what other people, people who know me less than my mother, would think of me.

Anyway, I love my mum and she is compassionate and caring, but this was a rare moment when she didn’t understand. Please don’t get the wrong opinion because of this rare moment. My mum is extraordinary and has been going through a lot lately. She’s brilliant.

Anyway, proving her awesomeness, my mum contacted the GP surgery for me, and then she called my mental health team. I need help. I can’t keep going day after day paralysed by fear. I need help and my mum was asking for it. A grown man relying on his mother to make calls for him. Imagine how pathetic I felt.

It was when all of this was going on when a couple of things happened:

  1. I vaguely heard something from the TV in the living room about male suicide. I turned my attention to it in time to hear about CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). All those sculptures of men on top of tall buildings in London? They’re the ones leading that project. Anyway, between 5pm and midnight every night, they have phone lines and a webchat available for when you’re feeling low and needing someone to talk to. This was the first time I heard of a webchat being available for people with mental health issues. Not only that, but this was from a charity that was there for men with mental health problems. I can’t talk on the phone, but I can take part in online conversations. This was brilliant. Next time I need to, I am going to make use of the provisions that CALM have in place.
  2. Jeremy Corbyn asked Theresa May about the government’s poor performance regarding mental health care. Her answers angered me. I got onto Twitter and I sent the Prime Minister several Tweets about how she had failed me:

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 12.37.33Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 12.37.21

Anyway, today is a bad day. Anxiety is getting the better of me. I feel pathetic. I feel weak. I feel ridiculous. Today is certainly a bad day.

 

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