“I didn’t want to text you because I did not know what to say”
“I knew you were feeling down, so didn’t want to bore you with my inane chatter”
“I didn’t arrange to meet you because I am not sure what to say to you”
“I was worried my chat would cause you to feel worse”
These are all things that people have said to me (quoted with permission). For each of these friends it took 5 minutes of explanation for them to realise that their “inane chatter” was just what I needed. One friend admitted that he thought I would be a mess, walking around with a box of tissues and a tear stained face. But after two lattes, it was him who was in tears, pouring his heart out about his latest dating disaster.
The thing to remember is that most people who cope with any form of anxiety or depression look “normal” in public. The struggle is often hidden behind a good tinted moisturiser, carefully blow dryed hair and well ironed clothes. A lot if us coping with anxiety will make sure that, as far as possible, we do not show it on the outside. Inside we maybe screaming to get into a baseball cap and hoodie with sunglasses firmly clamped over the eyes but on the outside you will never know. Most of the crying and high anxiety happens under the duvet where no one can see! We will only do what we can cope with when the anxiety is severe.
So what do you say? What do you do?
Well, if you know someone dealing with any form of “mental health” issue the best thing you can do is to be you! Remember that your friend’s life may be a struggle for them to cope with but you can be the constant with a load of good gossip and a bitch through Hello magazine. Most of the crap that is going through our heads is being dealt with in therapy or counselling so it is a welcome break to just sit and catch up. In my case, it is important that I am not treated any differently, I love the silly texts and the chat on social media platforms because even on my worst days under the duvet, it was a link with my “normal” world. Most “anxious” people will know their own limits and can tell you what they can cope with, so a meet for lunch might be out but a text or online chat may be right at the moment. I have one friend who emails me daily quotes or silly photos she has found online. Some of them got me through some dark days, I have another friend who openly admitted that she could not cope if I broke down. It took an email explaining what I was going through and twenty minutes later she arrived and took me for lunch.
The moral of the story is do not be afraid to talk or keep some form of communication open. Support is vitally important to us all in any time of crisis, no matter how small the gesture it all counts. If the call is not answered, the text not responded to or the invite to dinner not immediately accepted, it does not mean that it won’t be. It just means that today is not the right time but I will cash in that rain check!
Like the lady once said about a well fitted bra, “good support keeps me in place and makes me feel good”. Keep talking people, you will never know how important it is!
Please note that if you know someone dealing with extremely severe mental health issues, it is often best to check with their family or closest friends first.