September 18, 2013

BeckyHow often do we still hear that phrase? There are of course many words to describe personality types – loud, extrovert, introvert, shy, quiet, fun, reserved, warm, aloof etc – we naturally form opinions of others when we first meet them.

Some people will suspend these judgements and take time to get to know the person a little more and others will stick with their initial impression. We are obviously all different.

My experience for most of my child and adult life, for some people that met me was I was “quiet”. As people chatted to me they may have found I had knowledge in my interests and liked to talk a little about them but, depending on the situation, I was mostly the quiet one. In groups I would go missing, say nothing until asked then quickly try to go back to saying nothing.

And what other impressions do we, in general, gather about someone who is very quiet in social situations? Perhaps that they are shy, reserved, snobby, not much to her, poor verbal communicator, blank, guarded, no sense of humour, hard to talk to, doesn’t give much away, a dark horse. These are all comments from friends and nursing colleagues I have heard – not about myself but about others who are ‘quiet’ in social situations. They do not realise that if they had met me three years ago they would have been talking about me in that way.

Three years ago I was depressed

I now consider myself to be a happy, confident, self assured person and also a qualified mental health nurse. Three years ago I was so depressed I wanted to kill myself. I would never have done it but the thought did cross my mind quite a bit. The problem? I couldn’t talk!

I was a nurse who was so shy in groups I couldn’t talk. I wanted the ground to swallow me up when everyone looked at me. I could at first just get by but every time I moved new jobs to try again to fit in the problem just kept getting worse. Why could I not feel 100% happy around people? Or at least 40% would have done me! Why was I like this?

I just couldn’t talk

I then found the answer: ahhh that’s right, I’m just a quiet person. I don’t know much about anything other than football and music, my passions. I don’t laugh when everyone else does at jokes because I have no sense of humour. I don’t attract successful good looking men like my peers do I had been on dates and made a fool out of myself because I just couldn’t talk. The words just didn’t ever come I had nothing to say.

So my explanation was set in stone. That’s why. Because I’m dull, boring , worthless and couldn’t possibly look after patients with mental health problems when I couldn’t talk. That was it.. It was just awkward for everyone to be with me.

Thank god I said three words that changed my life to my mum. One night I broke down and let out the words “I hate myself”. At this point all the pain anger frustration and loneliness spilled from me and wouldn’t stop. It’s literally like a flood when you finally tell someone. It was a shock for my mum but from that moment on I have never looked back.

I will always stick up for all the quiet people

Three years later I am still a registered mental health nurse but I am confident and happy. I have a supportive partner (who was someone I never thought would really want me) and a wonderful life (apart from the odd ups and downs that never leave you when you have depression).

But I have learnt to embrace life and live it to the full after I have been rock bottom. I will never forget this and will always stick up for all the quiet people out there. They might be aloof and snobby but, then again, they might be suffering like I was.

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