Being a publican means being a full time carer for everyone who works for you, who comes into your pub and consequently there’s little time for yourself so I’m not sure why it has taken so long? A lack of awareness is probably the answer, but for something so fundamentally human it seems bizarre that self understanding has such a decrepit stigma.
It’s the 21st century and it’s only in the last 5 years or so that issues surrounding mental health have become prominent enough for me personally to feel strong enough to make a contribution, even a few weeks after the Mental Health Awareness Week. You see, anxiety is not an easy fellow to live with.
I have never been formally diagnosed with anything relating to mental health but I know I have had 2 episodes of very deep depression (aged 20 and 36) and an ongoing flux with my DNA anxiety. DNA because I know it’s not something I’ve picked-up like a cold - it’s a part of me; inherited and something I live with.
Being anxious is debilitating. Unable and unwilling to do the simplest of tasks. It comes in waves and quite often without warning. It’s exacerbated by alcohol and drugs because you want to be as far away from your real self as possible. It maybe the most fabulous day ever with everyone I love around me and yet I can become the loneliest person in the world, withdrawn with no self esteem and completely unable to function or fully participate.
It’s not always there in fact on a good day I look back and think to myself “Wow! Who was that” coping with just about anything life has to throw at me! The truth is that sometimes I have no idea what happens and that person (me) just gets on with it; becoming someone else; becoming an alter me. A coping me.
Anxiety is stress. Lack of confidence. Fear of being stupid. Feeling like you’re a useless person. It’s not a great place to be and is difficult to overcome when it’s something you have recognisedly lived with since a child. I’m not alone in my family. My father was clearly an anxious man who found freedom by flying; he died before his time. My sister has imploded whilst in self imposed isolation. My nephew is much like me with occasional heart palpitating disfunction. My own tendencies have never knowingly surfaced in public because it has always felt like it should be something you never show; stiff upper lip and all that.
Mid-life crisis? I’m tired and on the return leg of my tenure for sure yet one thing I have embraced is the reality of death and the briefness of life itself. So I’m ok with sharing this now and how it really feels. I have been conditioned over the years (life/family/business) not to show it but I now have a window of opportunity to be honest with myself and anyone who bothers to read this and say that I suffer. I suffer with anxiety that sometimes makes me very unhappy.
Fortunately I have kind people around me and importantly I recently read 3 books that have helped me enormously with understanding what’s happening and given me pointers about being able to cope. I owe a debt of gratitude to Matt Haig, Chris Packham and Paul McKenna all for being in some way the same as me. I no longer feel as bad as I have in the past which is all about the recovery time and your wellbeing. I do dip occasionally and have relapses into self consciousness that require a period of regeneration but that’s part of the understanding and managing.
I will share more of what has helped me later but what is completely obvious and worth repeating is; you cannot change the past but you can change the future - and change it to be a better place for yourself and everyone you touch. You see it’s not all about me, it’s not all about you, it’s all about us.