Don’t forget the things that make you, you in your struggle against mental health issues
As I am writing this, I’m already feeling anxious; anxious that I might not be doing this correctly, that it might not be pertinent.
I’m feeling hot, unsettled, restless and agitated, so I have started doing some breathing exercises at my desk to provide a calming space for me to focus – At the moment, I’m uncontrollably inhaling and exhaling around co-workers.
However, there is something I can do to help make writing this piece a lot easier; write this entire thing as a poem.
If I did then I know my thoughts would flow easily from my brain to my hands and then gracefully dance across the screen. I’m not bragging, I have always been able to construct little rhymes and poems with ease; it’s what I’ve always done.
I guess that brings me on to why I need to write poetry, or more aptly, why I have recently started to understand why I do and why I want to write it.
I am a sufferer of depression and recently recognised social-anxiety. Running through my family tree, these issues have personally affected me since I was a teenager for a few different reasons; being gay, being lonely, feeling unsettled and unfulfilled with my life.
After initially struggling to find peace with myself for being a gay man, as many do, and accepting that it was who I am, I didn’t think I would face any other struggles ahead of me. Wrong. Yes, I am an out and proud gay man but it wasn’t until I started mixing with other gay men that my social insecurities crept in; was I handsome enough? was my body acceptable? did I dress fashionably? was I witty (bitchy) enough? and so on and so forth.
However, my circle of friends allowed me to adapt and hone my personality traits and I accepted who I am, but then came another hurdle: sex.
Another huge insecurity for many, adding into the mix my overriding problem of loneliness (I’ve been single almost ten years now) it’s not a sad coincidence these issues are related.
I have never been in a physical fight, but at least there is the promise of a winner and a loser. When you are fighting yourself, however, what are the deciding factors of victory or defeat?
To try and deal with all of my issues I’ve had treatment through medication, time off work and counselling; all of which did do something and although I’m uncertain if I’ll ever be free of my issues I do know is there are things I can do to cope with them better; meditation and breathing exercises, which center me when feeling stressed.
But its my creativity and inspiration as a writer that really works for me.
When things bother me, I first analyse it and then find out the root of the problem. It’s important to see what emotions are arising and how I want to understand them; Is it self destructive? Is it harmless expression? or, better yet, can I make it into something beautiful?
I’ll get myself comfy at my MacBook, power up and just allow my mind to breathe; I simply wait for the words to conjure and start tapping away, constructing a block of feelings and memories I can keep tucked away onto my hard drive, out of my head.
Everyone deals with their issues in their own way, and while therapy and even medication can be very supportive don’t forget the things that drive you as a person; passion, creativity, substance. The things you love will keep you safe in the end.
Rich Harris is the author of DARK, a collection of poems and writing drawn from experiences of love, hate and wishing.
To follow Rich on Twitter, click here.