A few years ago I thought anxiety was just temporary nerves. I thought it meant someone was nervous about an actual physical event like a job interview or public speaking or medical examinations. They are the sorts of things I associated with anxiety. You fear, they happen, you move on.
Well fast forward to now, end of February 2015 and I know anxiety to be something very different. I don’t have anxiety. I may have had bouts of it in my life, but on the whole, I wouldn’t say I suffer with it. I can’t therefore, go into great detail about how it works and what it feels like because what the hell do I know? Well, I do know one thing, which is not as insignificant as I originally thought: I know that helping out someone who suffers with anxiety is no mean feat. This sounds a bit ‘hooray for me, what a hero I think I am’ but seriously, it’s really bloody important.
Some people very close to me, who I love and see or speak to practically every single day of my life, have anxiety. They’re very different people and feel it in very different ways, but it’s there. That anxiety has come to have quite a bit impact on my life, because for a long time, I just didn’t get it. I got a bit frustrated with people, and started to think ‘why can’t they just snap out of it?’ That sounds harsher written down than it felt in my head, because I wasn’t angry or hurtful about it, I just didn’t understand what the problem was. I wanted them to do more and enjoy things and socialise and meet new people with me and I didn’t get the big deal over things I don’t think twice about.
Now though, I get it.My few close loved ones who suffer from this condition don’t need to snap out of anything. They don’t need to be pushed or prodded or continually reminded about it. They just need time. The best thing you can give someone as a friend is a time. I can’t give them professional help or personal experience advice or much else that I wish I could. But I can let them get on with it, be there when they want me, help out if I can, be a hand to hold or voice on the phone (or whatsapp, because who actually phones anymore?) or a partner in gin drinking OR just let them totally blank me out for a while. These people have helped me with my shit, even if they don’t know it and now I want to do it back.
Seeing what anxiety can do from the outside looking in has made me a much more patient friend and I guess this an apology to those people that it took me so long. This post probably doesn’t make all that much sense and in the grand scheme of things, not many people will read it, but since writing has become therapeutic to me in a really weird time of my life, I felt compelled to write about my lovely friends. Mental health is a weird one, and who am I to write about it when I have never personally been hugely impacted by it? Well mainly I’m a friend who now gets it and I hope that everyone who doesn’t yet can join me soon.