Mental Health & Wellbeing

A mental health epiphany…

I think a very important friend of mine is upset with me and I’m in danger of losing her.

It made me start obsessing in my head. Which is why at 1am, even though I’ve been exhausted all day, I’m here, typing this. Thoughts are trying to unravel themselves. And I realised I am controlled by three things that I generally don’t talk about. I don’t really even talk about them with Hubby, although I have. To a degree. Plus he knows me better than I know myself.

I try not to talk to myself about them either. They are traits that I don’t want to reconcile to myself. They are not the person I want to be , after all, I’m a strong, independent, opinionated , modern woman right? Also I don’t know if my reactions are ‘common’ or just plain ‘mental’.

They are mental behaviour manifestations that are irrational and have an irrational control over me. I pretend they haven’t and I make a million other excuses in my head instead. But the fact is these three irrational reactions are having an impact on my life and its only just (and I mean, as-I-am-typing-just) dawned/dawning on me.

Way back when before LW, I had what I can only describe as a ‘breakdown’. After which I became almost phobic about a ringing phone. I’d have a panic attack on occasion. I stopped, except for work, using a phone to make calls. I’d put off making calls to family and friends. Fortunately most of this is hidden thanks to social media and email. All these years later I still have this irrational reaction to phones. I answer reluctantly because home is also my business so the phone has to be answered, but sometimes I simply don’t. And I very rarely phone someone. I plan to often. Then I put it off, or distract myself. I make excuses for why I haven’t in my head and generally I don’t. I rarely phone my parents. I almost never phone a friend. And sometimes I don’t phone even if I should because of work related matters. The result is I let people down. My parents. An elderly neighbour. This particular friend.

Shortly after moving to LW I had a second ‘breakdown’. When we moved here it was with the knowledge we could have an easy (albeit lengthy) journey to see family and friends. Since this second breakdown I have an irrational attitude to driving. And for long journeys I don’t even like being driven. I particularly dislike driving alone. The result is I often don’t go to places I want to go. But because I don’t admit this weakness, I make up all sorts of other scenarios in my head for why I can’t do the journey. Often I trick myself into pretending that I’m going to do the journey even though my brain is already also coming up with the excuses why I’m not going to. The result is it’s not until the last-minute that I admit I’m not going.

Quite often these battles in my head result in my being extremely tired and the result generally is I couldn’t drive even if I did want to. On the build up to that second ‘breakdown’ I was having regular panic attacks, poor Hubby had no idea. I was suffering from anxiety and that anxiety would manifest itself in me being instantly overwhelmed with tiredness the minute I got in a car. To the point of having to pull over and cat-nap. It got to the stage where to go to work I had to allow double the time. I’d get in the car and nearly be asleep by the time I was off the drive. I’d get out of the village and pull over. I’d get onto the Epynt and fight to stay awake playing loud music and shouting in an attempt to do so. Opening the windows wide, thumping my leg. It was a frightening journey. I nearly came off the road on several occasions. I’d get off the Epynt and have to stop for a 15 minute cat-nap and a coffee. The journey home was the same. Sometimes I’d have to stop and be sick. Often I’d get home with a migraine.

Even now if a journey is time critical I won’t sleep the night before. I often get car sick, even when I’m the driver!

Also , quite often I don’t like to leave the house. I also don’t really like being away from home. So sometimes I’ve planned to go out with all good intention. Then on the day or even days before , I start having battles in my head thinking up plausible sounding reasons why I can’t go. At the same time, in my same head (!) I have arguments ensuring that I definitely am going and why I should. Usually the not going wins. Often right up until the last-minute I am battling in my head to make myself go and I simply can’t do it. Sometimes its something as simple as popping into the village for a coffee or beer. Sometimes its a party. Sometimes its my friends further away. Occasionally its work. Never mind family who live in Essex and Surrey. Or going on holiday. The result is I let people down.

It’s a funny thing the mind. We’re all complex creatures. We all battle at times with the quirks and idiosyncracies in our personalities. I suspect many of us have personality traits and behaviours we dislike within ourselves . Or ones we struggle to recognise as part of our makeup.

People who know me may well be surprised about what I’ve written Of course people only see me when I’m not controlled by these things! Plus, because I don’t like them and don’t want to be that person, I try not to acknowledge them. And even though I know they exist and I recognise them from time to time, it is only now, as I type that I have had the realisation of how they are affecting my life.

When I’m not dealing with these irrational traits I’m my usual outgoing, slightly off whack self. Even when I’m dealing with them, in fact, I can also be my usual outspoken, gregarious self via social media; I can still be my at peace by myself in my studio, garden, or cwtched up on the sofa. When I’m in these places those traits become irrelevant.

So it dawned on me, as it does from time to time, that we all only ever know some parts of the people we know. We only know what they are prepared to reveal. We never know what’s deep inside their heads. We all have our hangups and self doubts. We all interpret our surroundings in our own personal way. That’s how misunderstandings occur. Even in the closest relationships we don’t know everything. How can we? Sometimes we don’t even know ourselves.

I always promised myself that this blog would be the warts and all version of me. I wanted everyone to realise that just because the others look like they’ve got their shit together, it doesn’t mean that in reality they haven’t got the same self doubts, fears, and oddities as everyone else. What people might well be real but it most likely is not the whole story. If like me, you do not always know the whole story of yourself then how can you assume to know the whole of anyone else.. We are creatures of many facets. We are all ordinarily extraordinary.

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(12) Comments

  1. I know exactly what you mean. I had a breakdown 6 months ago. I thought I was doing a good job of hiding how I was feeling and hiding it just got too much. Until it happened, no one knew anything was even remotely wrong. I hope you can find a way to make things a little easier for yourself.

    1. Berni Benton says:

      Ali, I’m so sorry to read this. I hope you are recovering and getting the support you need. Be kind to ourself. Its tough because the tendancy is to hide it so well you don’t even realise your true state yourself. Quite often I feel I’m fine and doing really well and then something happen ans i discover I’m not at all, or I’m not any more!

  2. Anxiety is such a bitch. It makes you think you are losing your mind and can have such a strong hold over your decision making. Being honest on your blog is a great way to start tackling it because there are so many of us out there going through the same thing. #bloggerclubuk

    1. Berni Benton says:

      absolutely. I often describe my blog as my sanity. I also love to share my crises because I think it makes people realise just how common and normal feeling abnormal actually is

  3. Tracey Carr says:

    Oh wow I can’t believe I am reading this today – it couldn’t have come at a better time. I finally today went out to a few clothes shops after putting it off for almost three weeks and I knew it was purely down to anxiety. It stops me from doing a lot of things at times. And I completely understand what you are talking about when it comes to the phone – I feel exactly the same way at times. I avoid it a lot and as a result family members get annoyed with me too. You’re right, we really don’t know people at all. Only the parts that they want us to know. Very well put. I hope you continue to write about this on occasion, it is such an important topic to highlight #bloggingclubuk

    1. Berni Benton says:

      Tracey, thanks. Anxiety is such a sneaky little bitch, the way it creeps up on ou and knocks you off kilter

  4. Back from #ABloggingGoodTime … remember this, it’s ok to be exactly who you are!!!

  5. I think in truth we are careful about what we choose to reveal in personal blogs. And so we should be. For self-protection but also because people are interested in our troubles only when presented in a certain way. Or with eloquence or humour. And, again, that’s ok

  6. I can totally relate to this, especially the going out part. I try not to ever make plans because then I just obsess over how I can politely break them. It’s much better for me to do things at the last minute–or spend so much on a concert ticket that I can’t justify not going!

  7. Yes sometimes you have to explore and grow as a person X #abitofeverything

  8. The fact that you recognize these traits in yourself is a big first step. I hope it leads to you learning how to take care of yourself. I think that in many ways we are all fighting a secret war in our heads #lilbitofeverything

  9. Tracey Abrahams says:

    Oh Berni, these are things I know only too well. They are increadably common side effects of anxiety. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to talk about it more. Talking helps twofold. Firstly it helps to verbalise what your feeling and second you will find plenty of people actually get exactly how you feel because they feel the same some of the time. Sending huge cyber hugs, and please dm me if you need to 💕

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