Welcome back to A Jackals Voice.
Since I started this Blog back in January, I've shared a lot of my own experiences in regards to Mental Health and how it has effected my life. In fact, since I was made unable to work I've done more writing and research than I did at university (To be honest, I did most of my essays the day they were due so not really much of a comparison). Especially in terms of the topics I have been writing about. So today I just feel like sharing a bit about what has happened since I became ill.
At this point it's been almost ten months since I stopped working. There was a short period early on when medication enabled me to work a little, but eventually the pills couldn't keep my symptoms at bay anymore. To be clear I'm not just talking about my anxiety here, mainly about my still un-diagnosed condition that I now have. If I knew back then what I'd be spending my time doing now I doubt I'd have believed it. I don't know what prompted me to think about it, but I think it's very strange how quickly things can change.
Before all this, I was a bit of a workaholic. I loved my job and the people I worked with. Given that I worked in my favorite bar, I spent most of my days off there too. I'd go in early just to see my work-colleagues (However, I think both my friends/employers would argue I had a different idea as to what early meant) and I did little odd-jobs now and then. Sure I got paid to do it, but I didn't care about the money, I just really liked my Job.
Then there was my social life. I regularly went out drinking with friends in town, or I'd journey to Chester for the occasional night with my university friends. I suppose I should have spent less time drinking and more time studying, but I had a good time.
Not to say I didn't have any ambition. Back then I wanted to run my own bar, or buy a 'Bed and Breakfast'. I'd fallen in love with the service industry and I dreams of running my own business. Sure it wasn't a big dream, but that's what I wanted to do.Considering I went to University, you'd think I'd have wanted to aim a little higher, but I was quite happy being just another person. However that was my life. It was simple yes, but I enjoyed myself and for the most part I was happy. Then I got ill, and all of that stopped.
I couldn't go out drinking like I used too. My job became something that I dreaded and made me feel exposed. My anxiety had hit new heights, and with my stylish new symptoms popping up everyday, I slowly retracted into myself. To sum it up, I went from being a very talkative barman, to a recluse. Sadly, I think those last couple of shifts I spent more time watching the clock than doing my job. I know it was just a job, but it really upset me when I lost it.
Initially I was rather disappointed. I felt like everything I'd done was for nothing. I couldn't do the things I enjoyed doing anymore, and when I did attempt to do it, I would pay for it the following day. I think that first two months were the hardest, because I wanted so bad to be the person I thought I was supposed to be, but I couldn't. My body started doing things it wasn't supposed to do, and I began to repeat words back at people, some of them being words one should not be shouting in a bar full off dining families. As time moved on and I slowly came to terms with the fact that my illness was not going to get better, I started to relax into it. Well, as much as one can when they experience irregular muscle spasms but I think you get the point.
So after feeling sorry for myself and completing a few video games that I'd neglected, I got bored. Incredibly bored. I wanted to do something with some sort of value. So I started writing. If I haven't said it before, I love books. I love them so much I wanted to write one, so I started piecing together a story that I'd been thinking about. My thought process was something like; 'I don't know how long I'm going to be ill, so I might as well do something I've always wanted to do'. However, not long after that initial burst of enthusiasm I grew tired yet again. I've said it before;'Boredom is a killer.'
During this time I still attempted to get outside when I could. I pretended that my visits to the beer-garden where so I could write outside, whereas really, I just wanted some company and a drink. However, disregarding a few close friends, every-time I went out, I'd end up answering the question; 'What happened to you?'. To be fair, I was pretty open about it, even back then. As far as I knew, I'd had a panic attack and something had happened which resulted my symptoms. The thing that surprised people the seemed to be that I'd even had a panic attacks, especially due to social anxiety.
In the end I think it was all of those people asking me that question that made me want to write about Mental Health. I found it strange that many of the people that were just now finding out about my mental state had known me for 3, 4 or even 5 years.
I expect much of a response from the blog, and it was more of a place for me to rant when it started. Out of fear I had decided not to share it on my own Facebook page, lest people reacted negatively. Then again, I never hid my real name, but I thought it unlikely that anyone would even find the blog, let alone connect it to me. The decision to finally share my blog publicly wasn't an easy one. I didn't want to be judged just because I was mentally ill. Of course, that line of thinking was a bit of a contradiction in terms of my agenda, so in the end I shared it. The response I got was so positive I actually sat in my front-room and cried for almost an hour, and I'm not really one for crying. The relief was staggering, and the support from friends and family was overwhelming to say the least. With that little boost I started writing more frequently, I tried to network myself a bit more. Over time more people began reading my stuff and I felt like I was doing something worthwhile again!
Sure it wasn't bar-work, but by this point, I was kind of glad I wasn't working in a pub anymore. As much as I enjoyed my job, I had begun to realize how stressed I was getting at work. Not to mention the evil that is good customer service. Short version, the customer is Not always right.
So that's it really. I write because it gives me a sense of purpose. I want other people to feel the way I did when I shared my story. Mental Health is only invisible because people don't talk about it. I think that's where most of the stigma comes from, a lack of communication. Either you're a sufferer and you're scared, or you're not so whats there to talk about? To be frank, before I started this blog, I rarely heard anything about Mental Health. With that lack of knowledge, how is anyone supposed to get better?
One problem with Mental health is that you only ever hear about that bad people. Not to say I'm against villians portrayed as having a mental health condition. Frankly I'm a massive fan of the Hannibal series, and he's nuts! The reason no-one talks about the others is because, well aside from having a Mental Illness, they aren't that different. I like to think we are quiet normal actually, relatively speaking.
Anyway, I apologize for my ramblings, but hopefully this will shed some light as to why I felt I should write about Mental Health. If we don't talk about it, nothing changes. Look at any movement for equality in history and you'll find that things only changed when they we openly addressed.
Over to you now. Is there something about your condition that you'd like people to know? What do you think causes social stigma? Please leave a comment below or visit my Facebook page or Twitter and share your thoughts there.
If you like this post or any others please share them as it helps me out a lot and lets me know what you want to read about.
Until next time this has been,
A Jackals Voice.