So apparently it’s World Mental Health Day today – a much-needed reminder that it’s totally OK to admit you have or have had mental health issues, to tell your friends it’s OK if they have mental health issues, and maybe to start some useful or helpful conversations. Those of you who follow this blog will know my own mental health has occasionally been wobbly, and while I (generally) feel much better these days, it’s always a process, not a final result. So, while I am in no way a mental health expert (I’ve listed some resources at the end of this) in the spirit of You Are Not Alone: Most People Struggle, I thought I would share some (just some!) of the things that I have been anxious about over the last few weeks, whether in a minor tweak of existential dread, a 5-minute (or, um, 50 minute) freak out, or a two-hour, two-AM anxiety spiral that’s left me tearful, sleepless and nauseous. Because, my lovelies: it’s never just you, I promise, and it’s really OK not to always be OK.
So: Things I Have Freaked Out About Recently
Brexit and Syria and Russia and ISIS and Donald Trump (but that’s everyone, right? We’re all terrified about that?)
My cab not coming to pick me up in time, so I miss my flight and ruin my holiday to New York so of course I need to google last minute services to Heathrow even though the guy I use is super reliable and has never let me down. Because that’s an incredibly productive use of my time at 3am, a full 7 hours before the car is even due to collect me.
Reverse of the above: my Uber not coming to pick me up from my friend’s apartment in New York so I not only miss my flight, but, as he was going away the same day, I’d be stranded with no money* and no way of getting a car ** and I’d… I dunno, get eaten by dogs*** or something. (I told him this, before we left, and he was kind enough not to laugh and to assure me he would have made sure I got the car before he left. Sometimes owning your craziness and having people reassure you it’s fine, they still love you and will accommodate it as best they can is the only way to work through it). (*I had money.) (**I had a phone. I was in a heavily populated area heaving with cabs. I have no idea where this came from). (***New York dogs are tiny. Seriously, if it came to it, I could eat them first).
Talking too much on a girl’s night out (I mean, I probably did, but they’ve known me 20 years and I’ve always talked too much, so realistically they are used to it by now and they still invite me).
Meeting cool new people, in front of whom I was convinced I seemed fat, frumpy, loud, crass, obnoxiously working class, clumsy, and drunk. (Note: they were all lovely.)
My book sales: What if they don’t pick up? What if I never make enough money? What if people think I’m a terrible writer and are just too polite to tell me? (Note: I have no idea what ‘enough’ is in this context).
My book sales: What if they pick up massively, I become really famous, I become really big-headed so all my friends all dump me, and All My Dark Secrets are revealed on the internet, and the world castigates me and I end up poor, disgraced and alone? (Disclaimer: I really don’t have a lot of dark secrets, I’m kinda dull, but that has not stopped me stressing about this for hours when I should be sleeping)
What if I get bad reviews for my books?
What if I get good reviews for my books, but then I can never write another good book, so I’m always sad about the days when I used to get good reviews?
What if I never get another good idea for a book?
What if I get too many good ideas for books and choose the wrong one? Or get paralysed with indecision over all of these clearly genius ideas and never write again?
What if I get evicted? (I was, as my regular readers know, technically homeless for 6 months so this is a recurring anxiety issue for me, despite the fact that I have a ton of friends who have proven they will put me up if that happened.).
What if my clients all ditch me, I end up bankrupt and homeless? What if I don’t get enough work? What if I get too much work, I can’t do it all, I let people down, they get sick of me, ditch me and I end up bankrupt and homeless? (There’s a theme, as you can see).
What if I’m actually a terrible person and everyone really thinks that but just haven’t told me?
Is that ache in my hip cancer? Is that a headache a stroke? Should I be this tired? Am I more tired than anyone else? I feel like I am. But maybe I’m just really lazy. Should I be less lazy? Do people think I’m lazy? Why am I so lazy? Or maybe I work too hard. Do I work too hard? Am I working myself to death? Do I talk about work too much? Am I boring?
Should I talk about anxiety because I want to be open about it, or does that make me whiny and negative? Will no one ever want to hire me/read my books if I am honest about this? If I try to make light of it, do people think I’m mocking them? Am I being ridiculous? Do I worry too much about being anxious? Am I being self-absorbed when I write about my anxiety when people have bigger problems than I do?
Is this the dumbest thing I’ve ever written?
So repeat: it’s not just you. You’re not alone, you’re not super weird, and you’re not actually surrounded by people who are better, more capable or more together than you are. Honest, we’re all in this together. So let’s be kind – including to ourselves.
Get help for yourself:
Support someone else: