In the least I am the rainbow coloured contradiction,
I’m filled to the brim with quiet,
I’m exploding with ‘that’s okay’,
I’m bursting into flames with a submissive smile,
I’m fizzing with subtlety and obedience,
I could kill you with kindness;
But don’t worry, I’ll give you a hug instead.
You can smother me all you want with your loud,
But don’t you know?
I’m simmering with silence
But I’m soaring with the voice inside my head.
I have been told an obscene amount of times that I will ‘grow out of’ my mental health problems.
I find this one of the most annoying common phrases that counsellors, relatives and family friends tend to say to me when they find out about my mental health issues. They try to convince me that as I get older I will leave my depression, anxiety and OCD behind because to them it is obvious that no mature adult could still struggle with such immature issues.
Note to people who say this: you are being incredibly patronising. You are telling someone whose life is consumed by their struggles with mental health that their problems are childish and once they have seen more of the world and gotten older they will simply forget about their immature issues. However much you want to, you cannot dismiss someone else’s valid feelings out of hand because of your own ignorance and lack of understanding, telling someone that what they are going through is essentially just a phrase is extremely demeaning.
Other people have told me “Oh, when I was your age I was shy too but I soon grew out of it”. I appreciate that people who have said this to me were trying to show that they could empathise with me and give me a sense of comfort but it is so frustrating when people think that being shy is the same as suffering from anxiety (social anxiety and generalised anxiety in my case). Equating these two issues and taking them to mean the same thing means that you are dismissing the experience of panic and anxiety attacks, the daily struggle of leaving the house and the constant worry anxious people have to battle about what others think about them, as well as the isolating effect of having trouble travelling on public transport. People who say that having anxiety is essentially just being shy are telling people that they do not believe all of the serious effect which this mental illness can have as well as the incredibly varied experiences people with anxiety have, as it should be remembered that we cannot be all lumped together and told that the way we see and live life is exactly the same.
In essence, I wish people would take anxiety more seriously rather than just dismissing it as a phase to grow out of. How do you think that makes people who are older than my own 18 years of age feel about their own experiences with anxiety? Be sensitive to the overall effects that anxiety can have on our lives rather than just shrinking people who suffer with it to the image of your own slightly quiet self when you started secondary school; it is not the same thing.
These walls are paper thin. Every couple minutes I hear another frustrating slam of a door or ear-splitting giggle of a group of girls or aggravating roar of a drunk boy showing off.
I roll and writhe in this, still, unfamiliar bed. My body contorts into the most intricate positions but none of these bring about sleep. My mind alights with anger and annoyance; I am so tired, so why can’t I just sleep?
All day I have felt like I could fall asleep at any moment – standing-up cooking, sitting down writing, strolling around campus – but now that it comes to the time when I am in bed, sleep seems the farthest away from me that it has been all day. Sleep taunts me, I know how good it would feel to peacefully slip into a deep slumber and wake-up the next day refreshed and energised but every night I am robbed of this possibility. Instead, I spend fitful nights awake, thinking profound and anxious thoughts about the days to come and growing more and more infuriated with myself for not being able to perform this basic human function; sleep.
A mental clock in my head periodically calculates the amount of time I have left before I will have to get up for classes. I know that I will have yet another day tomorrow when I will drag myself blearily from task to task, never being able to give my full concentration as my head will loll lazily to one side, longing for my pillow.