Tip #68: If you’re struggling, even if it’s just to one person, be open and honest about it.
The why: When you are struggling with mental health, you can feel incredibly alone.
But not only alone, isolated. Like no one around you can possibly understand what you’re going through.
Like if you said “Sorry, I can’t come out tonight I had a bad panic attack”, people wouldn’t believe you, or would think you’re weak, or would think you’re weird.
There is still such a strong stigma around mental health that it can be a hard thing to talk about, even with those closest to you.
But hiding your anxiety can actually, you guessed it, cause more anxiety.
This is because you’re constantly in fear of people finding out, or worrying what people think of you, or feeling like you’re a bad person for letting people down sometimes.
The truth is, you are amazing, wonderful and special. Anxiety doesn’t take away from that.
I’m not going to tell you to do anything you’re not comfortable with, and if you feel you’re in an environment that wouldn’t be accepting, sometimes it is best to pick and choose carefully who you tell, but living openly and honestly honestly does really help.
It feels good to say:
“Yeah, I have anxiety, but I’m still kicking ass.”
For so long, I didn’t want anyone in the world to know.
Let me rephrase, I was scared of any one finding out.
I was worried my professors would think I was a failure, that my boss would fire me, that my friends would think differently of me, that anyone that had any romantic inclination toward me would run away at 100 miles an hour if they hadn’t done so already.
Then one day, I decide to face my fear of the world knowing how fearful I truly was.
My list of excuses for not going to parties or events was growing thin, I had just made it to “there was an incident with some plywood, a dog, and possibly an ice cream truck” (I had already tried to make them believe I was a secret agent which failed mainly due to my extraordinary ability to trip over literally anything).
So, I decided to be honest.
I started telling my friends and family when I was having a bad day, and couldn’t make it out.
I started telling my professors when I had too much on and was too stressed out.
I started being honest with myself about how I was doing and stopped bottling up my emotions.
I stopped being afraid of anxiety. I started seeing it as a part of my life, but one that could be overcome.
And you know what happened?
My friends supported me, and encouraged me to come out saying “if it gets too much we can leave” or “how about we do something that you can handle today?”
My professors began asking me how they could help, and once even let me miss a lecture because my head was too much of a buzzing mess that day.
I found myself surrounded by an amazing network of supportive individuals and positivity, rather than surrounded by myself and my own negativity.
However one thing that I did not expect was the large amount of people who responded with:
“You get that too?!”
Since beginning the journey of revealing my anxiety, and sharing ways to help combat it, I have been astonished by the amount of individuals in my life who share my experiences.
People I never would have imagined struggling, and people I hadn’t spoken to in years, messaged me to tell me that they had anxiety too.
It made me realise that I was not alone.
You see, no matter how hard or scary it is, being open and honest empowers others to be open and honest too. You suddenly find a whole world of people who want to help each other, be there for each other, to guide each other through this difficult journey.
Now, I know that this may not be the reality for some people, and it may be very difficult to explain and to get people to understand, but even if there is just one person in your life who you think could be supportive, it’s worth testing the waters.
If we live openly and honestly, we allow others to be themselves too, and together, we can start a conversation about mental health that finally breaks the stigma.