August 8, 2016

Jo's blog

Anxiety is a strange thing.

It affects so many people on so many different levels, but as a man in his 30s, it's exceptionally hard to admit and talk about.

Us men can handle anything. We don't cry and we certainly don't talk about our feelings. That's how I was brought up. Take all mental and physical problems on the chin and walk on by.

But it's not as easy as that, is it? We do need to be able to pick ourselves back up, but in order to do that, we need some help, guidance and support from people around us. 

I was suffering with what I thought was depression for decades, but again, as a man, I felt I had to 'just deal with it' on my own. In 2015 I was prone to some serious work related stress, and I knew it was something different. My coping was nonexistent and my behaviour and thought processes were very hard to deal with, not just for me, but for everyone around me too.

I booked myself in to see my GP, who referred me to a specialist and the said I had OCPD(obsessive compulsive personality disorder) and was at 'a high level of anxiety.' When the words came out of the doctor's mouth, I was mortified and confused. Anxious, me? But I'm fine, I can deal with things the way I always do, I'm not walking around a nervous wreck like Tweek from South Park. I'm fine... 

Nevertheless, I went to see the specialist once a week to do some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and the more she spoke to me about the way I'd been feeling and acting, the more it all made sense. I felt so stupid. My silly little 'jo-isms' were the result of anxiety and the way my brain is wired.

Have you ever been in town and out of NOWHERE thought you lost your keys? I'm sure most of you have. But have you ever literally stopped and began to frantically freak out? Throwing your bags down and arguing with your partner about where you had them last. Thinking over actively about how you're going to get into your house, who you're going to have to call to change the locks, how you'll get to the dogs... all in what feels like a split second? These are the kind of random intrusive thoughts my brain creates on a daily basis.

It's such hard work to live like that. The constant, intense fear and worry about everything, all the time. The worst thing is, it's so hard to explain unless you've experienced it, lots of people worry about things, but it's not the same somehow. Being a man, it's especially hard, it's not the kind of thing we talk about or even acknowledge. It's not easy, I felt stupid for so long and still do sometimes. But I'm doing it because I don't want anyone else to feel alone, to be stuck feeling like they can't get the help they need out of fear of what people think.

I'm a man and anxiety affects me every day, we can't be afraid to talk about that. 


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