July 19, 2017

"I've exhausted myself trying to cover up how I was feeling and why I was acting the way I was."

Most would agree that dealing with a mental health issue, whether it big or small, can be exhausting at the best of times. From a personal perspective the biggest problem to overcome is the feeling of being understood. How can you expect to receive complete empathy from others when you're in constant battle with yourself, struggling to understand what exactly you are dealing with? On good days I can look back on times where I've let my anxiety get the better of me as if it was a completely different person, a stranger, completely separate to the person I am.

Mental health issues do not define you as a person. Like any other illness or infliction, a broken leg or common cold for example, it is simply something we have to deal with. For me, the most positive contribution to my dealing with anxiety was being surrounded by people who reminded me of this, and who pushed me to recognise myself as who I really am. Not as my anxiety. Do you really want to spend your time hiding what's going on through fear of judgement or lack of empathy? There have been times where I've exhausted myself trying to cover up how I was feeling and why I was acting the way I was. But for what good reason? What was I scared of?

Luckily I have this kind of support from a friend who deals with similar anxiety to myself. As someone who is my manager and house mate, as well as a best friend, we often question whether being a persistent influence on each other is healthy for us. Are we really helping each other or are we just bouncing off each others anxieties? Really though, why give yourself something else to worry about? Surely knowing there is someone so close to you who can pinpoint exactly how you're feeling is exactly what you need. Someone who can sympathise with you at your lowest and highest moments. Someone who makes you feel normal when you feel the least bit like yourself. Someone who can explain to me how I'm feeling when I'm too overwhelmed to realise myself.

This kind of support works both ways between us, there are times when I'm the one picking my friend up from a low point – and visa versa. We can be there to sit and cry with each other as well as pushing one an another to get out of the house and not wallow in our anxieties. We can laugh about how ridiculous we seem sometimes and we can give each other the best advice when we feel at rock bottom. Ultimately, over time, we've helped each other understand exactly what's going on and taught ourselves the best ways to deal with it. There's nothing better than knowing I've got a solid support whenever I need it, but also knowing that I can be that exact person for someone else. In our own little way we're consistently pushing each other further to understand and be happy with ourselves.

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