(some) Reasons why it’s so hard to talk mental health

Something I have struggled with for the last few years of, frankly, very poor mental health, is how to explain the why of some of the difficulties I have with mental health. It’s particularly grated because – as I’ve finally been able to piece together – the problem affects my ability to talk about it to help me work out the issue. As I’ve found with a lot of mental health issues, they are very ‘cunning’ in how they make themselves self perpetuating.

Now I guess I need actually try to explain myself. Obviously, this all applies to my personal experience with depression/anxiety – and no two people are the same, although there’s often similarities.

My issue has been an overriding need to not be noticed – in pretty much every part of my life – at least excepting those times I ‘choose’ to. That means when I do something to help someone, I’m not interested in anything more than a passing ‘thanks’. It’s partly just being Very British™, but pushed to an extreme it never used to be. It’s been most painfully noticeable for me when it comes to the simplest of things – things which I’ve admittedly struggled to do since my brain fell apart, but in a way that’s half the problem. I know they shouldn’t be a big deal, and although they’ve turned into such for me, the last thing I want to be reminded of is that they are a big deal.

An example, in the hope of making some amount of sense. Doing the washing up – admittedly I’ve always been one of the last to think it needs doing, but also I prefer to do a few big sessions than lots of itty-bitty wash ups(?!). Inevitably, summoning the willpower to do this simple task has got much harder due to brain shenanigans, but still possible with time and focus and a good day all falling into place. However, one of the things that often holds me back is a substantial fear of it being noticed in some way. Which is patently ridiculous, but nonetheless a fact of my experience. If I could have a secret hideaway in which to magically do things with no-one any the wiser I would be a much happier man. 

This might not be too big an issue, except I haven’t been living alone, and talking about the need to not be noticed is much harder than just doing the thing at a time when no-one’s around. I think why I’ve finally been able to put the words together now is that lock-down has forced me to work out what the problem actually is to try and work around it. There’s no longer any time when no-one is home but me. Hell, with the house design there’s effectively only one room that’s not a bedroom or bathroom (there’s windows in the wall between living room and kitchen). This means that I often go into shell mode and shut down before getting anything done, or even planning to. 

This need to be able to spend time unnoticed has definitely been a significant wearing factor during lock-down. Made worse by the fact that any attempt to talk about is specifically triggering to the issue at hand. I’m reluctant to even post this, because it’s obviously calling attention to myself in a manner I can’t control – it’s difficult to bring something like this up and then expect people to ignore you, but that’s just what I need. Get this off my chest, and carry on like nothing happened. 

Maybe not an ideal way to deal with it, but given I can’t get therapy until after lock-down (phone/online doesn’t work for me), it’s about the best ‘solution’ I’ve been able to think of.

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