Many of us have had to come to terms with mental health issues in our lives. However, it is too often misrepresented and seen as a single, insignificant problem that can be resolved easily and swept under the rug. The reality is that mental health is not something that can be “cured” just like that; much of the time our goal is to cope. It is a daily dilemma that seeps into our everyday interactions and activities in many different and often complicated ways. Here are just a few of them.
Anxiety is an emotion I’ve battled with for most of my life. Social environments are ones that are often scary to me, like crowded public transport. Being from London, the sight of a packed tube (underground train) should be normal by now, but the thought of even trying to squeeze in makes me freeze up and grow tense and become panicked with ideas of getting caught in the doors, trapped between people without being able to ask to leave because that also makes me anxious, and so on. It’s just one way having high levels of anxiety impacts me in everyday situations.
I’ve always seen myself as a confident person, I never found it hard to talk to people or step out of my comfort zone. Until, quite recently I’ve lost a lot of my confidence and have become a lot more anxious as well as unmotivated and uninterested in interacting with others. Whenever I go to the shops, I choke on my words and find it extremely difficult to talk to the shop assistant. Even getting off the bus and walking beside traffic-jammed roads has become a challenge. Going to parties or social events frighten me and keep me up for nights on end. People still see me as a confident person, but little do they know that my anxiety impacts me a lot more than just on the surface.
Depressive episodes are something that have only recently begun to impact my life. While I was initially diagnosed in early 2015, random spurts of depression were rare until recently. It was strange at first, granted it's still strange to me how I can be surrounded by people I love or be doing something I love and suddenly my mood completely changes. I feel so powerless when these episodes hit. I can feel my mood changing and there's nothing I can do about it. And some days, there's nothing, not a cloud in the sky of my mind, but other days it seems almost roller coaster like, how frequently my mood changes. And I'm learning to adapt and adjust just like I've done with everything else.
Public transportation is one of those places where my anxiety always grows. It creeps up seemingly out of nowhere and I feel entrapped. Panic attacks are one of the most frightening things to endure and not having a place to quietly escape is even scarier. Getting from place to place symbolizes how mental illness can really hold us back from our dreams. Our emotions can turn so quickly; they can destroy us, suddenly. This little doodle peering into a bus window encapsulates the reality of anxiety, how we are viewed, and how everyday tasks become more difficult for us.
Oftentimes at night I get these shifts in moods where I’m suddenly hollow and anxious. Sometimes, I am not sure why they happen. Nonetheless, the following short comic is a representation of how they occur and what I like to do to relieve it. Messy comics are their own kind of catharsis, in a way.