As someone living with mental illness, I’ve often been encouraged to “express myself” as a means of lightening emotional tension. And trust me, I’ve given the arts the good ‘ol college try. Drawing, painting, coloring. Writing, dancing, singing. The problem I face with self-expression is a belief — a false one at that, I’m a work in progress — that what I have to say matters less than what anyone else has to say.
I was bullied all the time as a kid. Not the “stuff-in-your-locker” kind — verbal & excessive teasing. I didn’t fit in & I was quiet. Even though I got upset and fed up, I got over it and always showed up to school the next day. Actually, never missed a day a school — maybe once.
The excuses my teachers and principal had made me not believe in them. At one point, my dad had to come up to my school just to make the principal do something about a student breaking my glasses. I had teachers say that I’m a bright student but was too quiet in class. I even had someone tell me that can’t be black. I have to be mixed because I “talked white”.
In high school, I learned 2 things. That being quiet was a form of me being an introvert. Plus, any nervousness or light pain was from anxiety. However, I felt like I was by myself so I kept it that way.
Now as an adult, I’m looked at as a person who talk to much. When was the last time I had a “friend” really support me. I still don’t have a support system when it comes to my anxiety, depression and chronic pain. I still do everything like everyone else and more.
I am always told to shut up like I don’t deserve to be heard. I feel as though I need to have it all together every minute of the day. Anyone who experiences anxiety knows how difficult it is to get rid of the overthinking, over-analyzing, over-worrying feeling. “Calm down,” “don’t worry,” or “don’t think about it” feel like empty phrases; they can’t get someone with anxiety to really calm down, stop worrying, or just chill. This might sound irrational to a lot of people — worrying while knowing there’s nothing to worry about — but that’s the way anxious brains function.
Oftentimes, my worries take the form of “what if?”
• What if they don’t like me?
• What if I put myself out there and they reject me?
• What if he/she doesn’t forgive me?
• What if I fail at this and have to start over again?
• What if this doesn’t work out for me?
• What if I take my shot and miss?
What if, what if, what if?
I currently have my coping mechanism. Bathrooms breaks are one of them. Yes, it sounds strange but I’m talking about the private stalls. This is the only place cameras are not aloud. This allows me to think and clear my head. Tell me what you think?
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