Updated: Aug 5
Don’t worry, this isn’t some sort of intense piece about whether I’m spiritual or not. Not my type of thing. No this is a piece about the Netflix show written and produced by the wonderful (in my opinion) Ricky Gervais. As I was watching the series in bed the other night, I was hit by a tonne of bricks by some dialogue.
As he was sat in the cemetery talking to his friend, he said:
“I feel sad all the time, I’m not the person I was… Lisa dying, it’s like I lost most of me, all the good stuff all the happiness, any joy I had…. I feel like I’m nothing. People think that I’m sort of ok… I’m getting on with it…I’m snarky now and again and that this is a lapse. But it’s not. This is me all the time now. Everything else is the front. I’m not well, but I remember what it was like to be normal, so I do an impression of that, but this is what I really am, and I want to be normal again, but I’m weak.”
Now obviously he’s talking about the loss of his amazing wife, but this entire feeling ran very true with me once I started suffering terribly with my anxiety, which rolled into depression. Particularly the comment about remembering what it was like to be normal and replicating it, so no one would judge me or think I was strange or different. I wanted to feel normal naturally, and no matter what I tried it just didn’t work. I have changed and if my friends didn’t want to hang out with me because I was a little quieter or anxious, then we probably shouldn’t be friends to begin with.
I’ve had to leave countless events because of this constant underlying fear (and not just because the people were awful and the crab cakes were a little off). I would feel too anxious to converse and consume a god awful amount of wine to numb the underlying thought of ‘they’re only talking to you because they have to be polite, they think you’re weird’. Only to be so hungover the next day you write it off and feel guilty because you didn’t do anything productive and start thinking you’re useless (honestly this anxiety thing is exhausting).
The events I didn’t bother going to, I would end up thinking ‘they don’t even notice you aren’t there, no one cares about your existence’ or ‘they’re talking about how flaky you are and are saying bad things about you behind your back’. When you have an anxious mind and you’re in despair, it doesn’t matter how you handle the situation, your anxiety will make you feel crappy about it REGARDLESS. It cares not for you, it’s only there to drag you back under the water and make you feel like you can’t breathe.
All the above leads me to the couple points I want to make.
On the days I feel like the whole world is going to swallow me whole and I’m never going to win, I honestly let those feelings take hold and ride them out. Fighting them doesn’t help but I promise myself that tomorrow I’ll make myself feel better and I’ll book a massage first thing the next morning to give myself something to look forward to and feel good about. The fact is, the only person that you know 100% will consistently care about you, is you.
The sooner we stop giving a fuck about whether Jackie called us flaky at the summer BBQ party or has an issue with your high-waisted pencil skirts she deems provocative (Fuck you Jackie), the better. Instead think about how great that afternoon was that you didn’t go to the party you didn’t really care about, instead you sun-tanned, read a book and made some muffins that you’re boyfriend loved so much he gave you a half hour back rub for… I mean… we would probably be much happier for it. It’s ok to be anxious and occasionally it’ll rear its head, and it sucks, BUT it’s not permanent and you’re responsible for your happiness. Do your best to remember that muffin baking light at the end of the tunnel.
EVERYONE, I repeat EVERYONE is battling their own demons. I was so good at masking my anxiety I was making new friends all the time and invited out and about to more events I couldn’t physically go to. Only those closest to me knew about this battle, and I did a good job of covering it up even with them. Even that pretty girl on Instagram that always has the perfect clothes, skin and somehow is always in shape even though she posted that she ate an entire pizza the night before… chances are she’s going through something we would never want to be going through. Not only do we use social media to portray the positives and the ‘normalised’ version of ourselves, we also do this in real life.
Think about the last time you actually had an in-depth conversation with your best friend and asked how she REALLY was (mind you, more people are checking in at the moment during lockdown which we’re all grateful for). Although some people make it VERY difficult, try and be nice to everyone. You don’t know the pain they’ve gone through and are currently going through. We all struggle and that small smile or compliment you may give someone could make their day or even their week, who knows?
Just spread the joy and see how far it can go (except for the people who keep their rucksacks on when on the tube, you don’t deserve my smile… go home).