I am so tempted to just come right out with the anxiety I experience in public, on social media such as Facebook. There’s a such a pretence there, people tend to just post all the good stuff in their lives, and nothing or very very little about the real truth about how hard it is for them at times just to get through each day. Well not everyone has that level of struggle but we all feel anxiety, and Id put money on it that this is every single day of their lives.
I am so guilty of this. I only show the smiling pictures of me in social fun situations, nature photos I take that suggest endless calm blissful walks in the woods, wisdom quotes I find, successful work projects….Never do I say, ‘I have been finding it hard to cope today’. Well actually until today. I dipped a toe into being more honest. I posted a Tara Brach talk and said it helped me with the stress spike I experienced this week. Okay, it was a hindsight post, not, ‘Im in it everyone and Im freaking out overwhelmed and cant cope’. But its a start of opening up. I also posted a Peter Strong video and said Id been getting mindfulness sessions for anxiety.
My upbringing taught me to show a brave face, to pretend everything is at the very least ‘fine’, that I am managing everything all the time. And then the other side of life that we all experience, the stress, the loneliness, anxiety, depression is somehow called mental health difficulties. Mental illness.
That its somehow considered to be pathological, an illness, when absolutely everyone experiences fear probably every day of their lives whether they admit it or not. It is humanities biggest and most urgent problem, responsible for just about every problem we have. It is common to us all.
My experience of opening up to people – I find we definitely all feel fear, and we all experience various levels of feeling able to cope with it. Some people have higher levels of resilience, those fortunate enough to have had those skills ingrained early. We can all learn to develop our resilience of course.
I just wonder if its time to actually stop calling it mental health difficulties. That has a stigma that makes it harder for people to be honest about their feelings. The fact that we call things like anxiety, feeling sad and low, feeling fear, lack of confidence, self conscious etc as mental health difficulties just shows how dishonest we are in general about our own. These are things that other people have, not us. But we do.
All I keep coming back to is an almighty surge of compassion for us all in this predicament of being alive and experiencing pain. It is normal. I think the sooner we open up about it, the sooner the feelings can be allowed, cuddled up a bit and then they move on to the next, healed, or resolved.