The Little Things Matter: Mental Health… Showing you care

Despite the many years looking for someone to blame, I am so happy that I can now recognise that there have been many people who have reached out to help me, in their own unique way. My life has been enveloped in the trappings of an unruly anxious mind and, even in the face of my own ignorance to their kindness, people have always been willing to step forward and let me know that they care. So many, in fact, that languishing typed-out commendations upon a sole person leaves too many without the acknowledgement they deserve.

Of course, highlighting this person also suggests that my path to recovery can be narrowed down to a single monumental moment; the awe-inspiring words of an omnipotent problem-solver or the life-preserving clutch of an outreached hand, pulling me back from the edge.

As we all know, life isn’t like this. As a sufferer of anxiety, few of my life’s greatest memories could be painted in vivid colour, amongst a backdrop of eye-catching taglines. No, my life has been one of understatement. Equally, it was a moment of understated kindness, that I write of today.

The most surprising and emotionally curative of the backing I have received over the years, came from my mother-in-law. Of course, not a real mother in law, not in the legal sense. Crippling anxiety has ensured that, despite a baby on the way and an ever tightening engagement ring having been presented more than a decade ago, my forgiving fiancé and I still float on in the middle-ground of matrimonial limbo. something that would, without doubt, be a bone of contention were she not instantly forgiving of my many frailties.

But hey, this isn’t about her, this is about someone who has  far less of an obligation when it comes to being so understanding.

In fact, I had never expected any kind of  help from my FMIL (faux-mother-in-law). Please understand, this is anything but a judgement of her personality, she is a delight, caring person who clearly wants nothing but the best for those in her life. But, when it comes to dealing with those of us who have been stroked with the mad brush, I think we can all understand and expect that the ‘norms’ of this world may want to steer clear, in case any of said madness should rub off.

So, what exactly did FMIL do? Nothing more than proving this to be a fallacy. Another fictitious invention of my self-damning mind.

She didn’t need to she frog march me to a GP in search of professional help and a handful of quick-fix meds. She didn’t have to pull the proverbial blade from my hand as I wallowed in a pit of despair. Nothing so forthright was needed. No miracle cure. No words of magical healing wisdom. Instead, what my FMIL did for me was to simply present me with a printout and audio CD aimed at helping with social anxiety.

The audio course certainly helped. It provided some short term goals I could focus on in a time of great struggle. But, of course, it wasn’t the content of this gift that mattered, in was the intent. The intent that changed the way I looked at others in a big way. It was the sentiment and demonstration of care that meant so much more.

Saying we care is easy. If like me, you have anxiety problems, you no doubt find it hard to believe in the good of others. A misanthrope I am not. But I reserve the right to question anyone overtly eager to offer their own specific brand of “advice”. For me, the proof is in the pudding and my FMIL makes a fabulous dessert.

Anxiety isolates, it differentiates, it harbours guilt and it tells you that you are alone.  Sometimes, it is the little things that mean the most. That tell you that someone cares for you, even if they don’t understand your heartache.

I have a lot of thank you letters to pass on. This particular letter is for that small act of kindness that was no doubt carried out with the natural instinct of a good hearted FMIL. But, it meant so much. It meant I wasn’t simply a burden, an embarrassment, something to shy away from.

It meant that I had been given the opportunity to step onto the first rung of a ladder I continue to climb to this day.

Thanks, FMIL. I expect you had no idea…


This post was originally a guest post for the wonderful people at Rethink.Org




The Scary ‘Publish’ Button: Why my anxiety gets in the way of sharing my story

The Scary ‘Publish’ Button

Why anxiety gets in the way of sharing my story

On days such as these, I feel more likely to write a dozen incomplete draft blog posts than to publish a single one. It doesn’t matter whether writing brief thought pieces, with no purpose but to exercise a few daemons through limited literary prowess, or if they are lengthy  posts, backed with images, research and, ideally, the odd piece of insightful opinion. Regardless, I seem to stutter at that final step. But, with this post, I insist upon fulfilling the contradictory irony of ensuring I click that ‘publish’ button.

A bit of a lead. A segway and a signifier of everything that has held me back in life. It’s never been more important for me to identify those triggers that hold my legs as I attempt to take one final step. Towards victory? towards failure? Who knows. I am so rarely willing to take the risk to find out. Whether attending class in my teens, lecture halls in my 20s or blog posts in my 30s, getting over the final hurdle always seems to be said hurdle too far.

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Anxiety, Baby

The Birthing Plan: Anxieties Best Friend or Worst Nightmare?

I don’t mean to complain (I do), but as my partner and I continue our journey towards introducing a new life into this big bad world, there’s just too much to arrange and too many decisions to be made. To make matters worse, each and every bloody last one of them puts my stomach through the floor and my heart in my mouth… or wherever it is said organs are meant to abscond to as the fight or flight response sets in. So, what do I have to feel anxious about now? Well… the birthing plan.. you read the title, right?

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Anxiety, Baby

Socially Anxious Parenting

Parenting with Social Anxiety

Is It For Me? Is It For You?

Can It Be Done?

If you read my very first blog post (some of you did. I thank you for that) then you will know that the decision to bring a child into my anxious world was not one that I took lightly. Despite a cloud of pressure showering down upon me over the family-bound obligation to provide my own parents with a brand new person to dote upon, Social Anxiety would always play a key role in any final decision. I mean, how do you make such a big decision  with the odds stacked so overwhelmingly against any chance of success?

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