I always knew I was a worrier but as I've got older, I'm more convinced that there is a huge difference between worry and anxiety. I don't think we, in general, give anxiety the respect or understand the seriousness of what it can mean. I equate it to a phrase which I have come to loathe and which should be banned entirely or forgotten and left in the annals of history - 'man up'.
If someone tells me to 'man up', does this mean that I am less of a man for doing something, or not doing something? This kind of toxic masculinity is extremely unhealthy for any man, let alone young men. I sincerely hope it is not used in schools or colleges anymore but I have a sinking feeling that it still might be. I suppose then, that this post goes against all the facets of toxic masculinity, but maybe that just shows who I am.
So, back to worry, or anxiety. For me, and of course this is just my lived experience, worry is about something trivial (usually) and something that has a clear cause or starting point. Anxiety, on the other hand, is something that may be irrational or hypothetical (or even fantastical). It may not even be associated with any one cause or trigger point. For years I didn't think I had anxiety. I thought the tablets I was taking were helping me to settle my stomach (IBS) - but anxiety is one cause of IBS.
I know I keep going back to this major event in my life, but a lot of things seem to stem from it. Losing my father in 2017 had a profound effect on my confidence and anxiety - going to large gatherings of people was suddenly incredibly scary. I don't think it helped that a few days after it happened, I went to the London Book Fair in the hope of finding some work - needless to say, that didn't happen and I ran away after becoming so overwhelmed.
Fast forward to a few days ago. A little stressed with work stuff and personal stuff going on, I started to get lunch ready - chest pain and a rising fear of irrationality inside. Very scary. A call to the doctor the day after and very likely to have been an anxiety attack. Never experienced anything like it before. So, I've got some new tablets to take if the need ever arises.
So, this has got me thinking and pondering. Am I on the right direction for me? Diversity, equity and inclusion are still all very important to me but can I do enough or do I need to start working in the charity sector? I wouldn't even know where to start, but surely there are some transferable skills for a former English teacher and current writer, editor and consultant? Ideally, an LGBTQ+ charity with potentially a focus on mental health and/or human rights. If you're reading this and have any ideas, do let me know.
There's also the potential for poetry. I've recently revisited my poetry as I find it helps. Intention is to have a small pamphlet or mini-book published - maybe self-published but would be amazing to have it professionally done. Just as a little taste (and I'm sure there are some others floating about):
which m e a n d e r s
p e r m e a t e s
my brain and says
'you might as well
l a c e r a t e