One of the things I’ve always wanted to retain on this blog is honesty. It means everything to me that what I share here is the truth, and from the heart. But on top of that, it’s also important to me that what I’m saying is accessible and relatable to you.
Anyone who has been reading my blog for a little while will know that I occasionally share content about my experience with anxiety. It’s not a secret, and I’m not ashamed of it. In fact, by writing about it openly, I like to think I am destigmatising it a bit. I’m a strong advocate of talking about mental health.
Sidenote: I had to Google the word destigmatising *twice* before feeling fully confident it’s an actual word. If The Guardian is using it, then it must be – right?
Anyway, I wanted to share my thoughts on the idea that we have to try and be strong all the time. Spoiler alert: I disagree.
Pretending to be strong when you’re not is exhausting. In fact, I’ve had experiences where trying to put on a brave face when having a bad time with my mental health has been detrimental. When you suffer from anxiety, every day can be incredibly draining because you’re dealing with situations you are uncomfortable with. You have to push yourself through, and sometimes that gets too tough. If you try too hard to be strong, it can break you.
I need to pause here just to say that anxiety is an incredibly broad spectrum, and I know that the levels of which I suffer pale in comparison to others. This is “advice” for anyone in any place on the spectrum. I just wanted to tell you that pretending to be fine is not the same as being fine.
I hope this message isn’t misconstrued, because I don’t want people to feel like they shouldn’t ever try and push on through the bad times. That’s not what I mean at all. I just think it’s important to know when you need to take a break from trying so hard. To just take some time to relax, regroup and then push on. Take it from someone who has had to do this a few times in her life – it does help.
What made me realise I needed that break was this overwhelming sense of being well…overwhelmed. When every decision makes you stressed, when you play out a thousand scenarios in your head, you need to stop. You need to take yourself out of that situation and take some time to switch off. Where the hardest decision you have to make is what to watch next on Netflix, or which flavour of Gu cheesecake you’re having for pudding. FYI, I’m all about the mango and passionfruit.
Taking a break from things does not make you weak. It doesn’t make you less of a person than anyone else. In fact, it makes you pretty damn sensible because you know your limits. You know it’s time to step back, get in tune with how you feel, and move on from it. I promise you’ll come back even stronger than before.