I’ve been sat around this evening wondering what to write for today’s Blogtober update, despite having planned many of my posts already, today has sat blank in my notebook, waiting for a flash of inspiration.
If I’m honest, I’m still not entirely inspired, but time is getting on, and so shall I.
Today is World Mental Health Day. I could talk to you about everything from my darkest moments to my brightest but I’m not entirely sure my story is interesting enough to tell. I’m privileged to say that I haven’t really experienced what it’s like to suffer from mental health issues, but that is not to say I don’t know anyone who does. It surrounds us, even if it doesn’t always immediately affect us.
What I want to touch on right now is understanding. I know it’s incredibly difficult to comprehend something that you aren’t feeling yourself. However, something that has hit me hard in recent months is that some of those who do understand, those who actually suffer, don’t necessarily empathise. I don’t have depression, or anxiety, or OCD, to name a few of the crippling mental health issues that so many people suffer from. I don’t really suffer often, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own issues.
Most of you readers won’t know me, which makes it a little easier to share truths. It’s hard to pinpoint the reason for such difficulty when admitting something that I shouldn’t be ashamed of. Something that I cannot help, something I was born with.
I want to share a little story, something that happened to me a while ago, something that I no longer feel bitter or upset about, but something that is important for people to hear.
A big part of autism is the inability to deal with change. It overwhelms me, it stresses me out, it makes me incredibly upset. Someone I used to be close with cancelled dinner on me. I explained that, although small and insignificant to them, this change can be unbearable in the wrong circumstances. Yeah, I’m stressed and upset because you cancelled dinner. But that plan was in my head, and I’d regimentally structured what I was going to do that evening, and the sudden breakdown of those plans had sent my head into chaos. I know it sounds stupid.
Unfortunately, despite the explanation, and the tearful request to be more sensitive next time, where possible, it happened again just days later. This person suffered from anxiety.
I’m not trying to be accusatory or controversial here, I can’t sit down and say that they made these choices deliberately to throw me off, but it surprised me that someone who knew how it felt would so quickly do it again. Of course, it could have been anxiety itself causing them to cancel plans, and by no means do I want another person to suffer just so that I don’t. I guess I just wish that instead of brushing these things off, they’d have made an effort to empathise.
I find that people who don’t really ‘get it’ will tiptoe around you, they’ll be as inoffensive as possible and then probably be thinking ‘that’s a bit odd’ in their heads. I like it when people don’t tiptoe, but I also like it when they make the effort to help make life a bit easier.
I’d be lying if I said I wanted to be treated like normal, because that’s not what I need. I don’t really suffer, but I do need help every now and then.
Mental health isn’t a competition, nor is it a game. It’s important that people know this. It’s important that people look out for one another.
I don’t really know what I’m trying to say, because I can see two very clear sides to my story. I don’t want to upset or offend anyone, I just think people need to know, they don’t go through these issues on their own.