Mental Health Awareness Day
Some days are easy. You wake up refreshed and ready for the day. Maybe you have a busy day at work where you do the things you enjoy about the job, and your co-workers are in good moods. The day moves quickly, you are surprised by a little thing like having time to enjoy your lunch, a positive e-mail or someone wanting to meet you after work for something fun.
Those days, being a positive influence, thinking the best of people, and enjoying where you are is effortless. You have no problem holding the door for a stranger, leaving a big tip or helping out a coworker with a difficult task. It’s almost effortless and you feel happy to be a part of the world around you.
Not every day is like that.
Some days you wake you feeling as if what you do has been a waste of time. Your job is, at best, a treadmill where no matter what you do, you are not getting anywhere. You’re overwhelmed, tired, lonely, and feel as if no matter what you do, things aren’t going to get any better. There’s a reason the movie “Groundhog’s Day” is still popular, because we all get that feeling of going through the day and doing the same things over and over again.
There doesn’t have to be a reason for it. Maybe it’s an anniversary of something crappy that happened to you, or one that used to be happy that now reminds you of when things were better. Maybe it’s an e-mail from a boss or colleague first thing in the morning about something you messed up, or something you need to fix. Maybe someone you wanted to hear from has blown you off and you feel like you did something wrong. Maybe you have to deal with the unpleasant parts of your job, life isn’t going the way you wanted or…
…you just woke up and don’t feel good about things.
Those are the days it’s harder to feel like helping people or even putting up with them. When I have those days, not only do I not want to help people, I don’t want people around. It’s a terrible trick my brane plays on me: I’m lonely, so to hell with people, I don’t want ANYONE to be around me. Or, if my anxiety hits, it feels like everything is about to fall apart, and my fight or flight response goes into overdrive, making me feel as if everything in my life is a house of cards and will collapse with the slightest breeze.
That person who didn’t get back to you? They really don’t like you and only put up with you to be polite, in fact most everyone just puts up with you because they HAVE to. That job you have? You’re going to be let go. The car? It will break down and make it so you can’t get to work AND cost more money than you have to fix. And so on, and so on, ad infinitum.
I knew someone who had serious narcissism issues, and when they would be stressed, they would demand constant praise and attention. The people in their life were not thought of as actual human beings with lives and emotions of their own, but props in their life to do what they were manipulated into doing. As hard as it was for those people, it was just as hard for the narcissist, who had a deep hole in their soul they could never fill. And dude, the fact that I understood that helped for a very long time, and allowed me to put with a lot of behaviors that, looking back, were pretty damn rough.
Mental health is usually thought of in terms of the Big Things. The addict. The person unable to conform to society. The person needing hospitalization. But there are a lot of people who just struggle to make it day to day, and while they look like they are doing great, are just holding on by their fingertips.
For my anxiety to hit last night it just took a single tweet that stated something like “It’s not that nice guys don’t get the girl, it’s that you aren’t a nice guy.” It wasn’t aimed at me, it was about the whole “nice guy whining about the friend zone” thing…. However, since it’s been a long time since my last relationship, it hit me differently. I saw it as: Well, that proves it. I must be a screwed up abusive jerk who deserves to be alone.
Not exactly a normal, healthy response. I try pretty hard to keep the anxiety from taking over, but some days, man, some days I am Wile E. Coyote barely hanging on at the edge of the cliff and the Road Runner startles me.
That’s why we need to be aware of mental illness, and understand that it’s not something to hide or be ashamed of.
They are right and I deserve to be alone.