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I look around to see who has made it this far. I look to see the number of people I went to school with who made it this far. How many of them got beat by life, how many of them tapped out.
If we have a problem we are told that the "strong" thing to do, is to keep it bottled up. Keep silent about it and just carry on.
While it is a hurdle we still have to overcome, things are slowly getting better.
It’s starts by breaking tradition.
So lets talk about it.
A friend has often told me that she is only strong because she needs to be. Because their are people depending on her. I hear that and look at the people that are still here. The single mother of two young children. The single father alone and surrounded by people he knows don’t think highly of him- but he is with his son. The one who needs to look after everyone else because if he doesn’t, who else will?
Are these reasons to be strong or are they simply crutches that we us? Does it even matter?
Being able to shut everything out and focus on one single task appears to be a great way of coping.
For me, the anxiety means that I lay awake at night thinking over everything that might happen the next day. I need to go shopping? Okay, in my head I walk every step to the shop. Think of everything that I need to buy while also thinking that people will judge me if I am seen with a list. I think that people are judging me if I buy the unhealthy things. Or am I being rude if I keep my headphones in? Perhaps I can get away with just 1?
Amazingly while I am at work I have never worried about such things. There I have a job to do. There I have people who depend on me and so, I don’t have the option of letting my anxiety or insecurities to get the better of me.
We I stop to think about it, the same tricks and tools I use to cope with my more "lower days" are the same tricks I use to cope with my anxiety and irrational fears.
Clothing and steps.
Clothing isn’t just fabric. It’s like a suit of amour. Jeans and with a nice button t-shirt. Good pair of shoes. In some cases when I really need to feel strong I’ll put on a suit. Even if I am just walking around the home.
I like to call it "game ready." In a suit I feel like I can do almost anything - aside from work in a care home.
The clothes we wear have an effect on how we feel and how we are going to mentally operate that day.
So pick out the clothes you seldom wear. That nice shirt, the nice dress. You don’t have to go anywhere, but you deserve to wear the clothes that make you feel good—even if all you are doing is house work or drinking a hot drink.
Now the steps. These seem somewhat pedantic or even insulting at times, but they aren’t meant to. They are the base line. And every step take is a victory- and should be accepted as such.
Step one—get out of bed. That is the first and often the hardest, but do this and the rest of the day can begin. From then on it’s the small things that mean so much. Bath and eat. If you have a garden go out and just stand in the open air for a few minutes. That could lead onto you leaving your home completely. Every step away from your home is another victory.
Yes there are many people who see it as silly—but they aren’t you. We all have different demons, different goals to achieve. The steps that mean something to you are the only ones that you should focus on.
Much like dealing with grief, it helps to talk to someone. It can be the hardest thing to stand up and “I have a problem. I can’t…”
Allowing the world to see your weakness doesn’t mean that you are weak.
It shows that you are brave enough to show the world you fight this battle.
Strength comes from being able to say, “I need help. I can’t do this—but I want to.”
I’m still searching for that thing that will make me stronger. That formula that I can apply to everyone that struggles. I think the truth is, strength is an individual thing. Our greatest strength is being difference.
In a world that celebrates conformity, be proud to be different. Be you. Because you don’t need to be anything else.
None of these are "fixes." But you don’t need to be fixed. You just need to be.