Wanted : friend

I think I’m having my first real creative crisis.

It’s come from nowhere. 2022 arrived and there seemed to be a world of ideas, projects and opportunities for me to think about.

My partner is the one who deserves the credit for everything I’m about to pour out on this post. I was telling him about the tidal wave of STUFF that seems to suddenly be happening. MS Teams meetings, Zoom calls, emails, phone calls, texts, posts, wins, losses, selected’s, honesty, chats, virtual friendships, creativity, advice…Noise….It’s back. And it’s made me feel so many things.

I’m lost, I’m shocked, I’m unsure, I’m afraid, I’m proud, I’m amazed, I’m interested, I’m intrigued, I’m creative and I’m no longer alone.

But I’m still not fixed.

I’ve had offers that have passed through my fingers lately. Offers to do things or take part in things that I would have loved to do, but I’m running at capacity, on my own, and I can only manage so much each day. Sometimes I can’t manage anything, because I’ve forgotten to manage my pain and anxiety, i’ve neglected self-care in favour of trying to do everything.

I can’t do that.

My desire to talk, to be heard and to make myself feel less depressed sometimes feels like it’s backfired.

I’ve been lonely, isolated and quiet for years now, having not set foot outside for getting close to 10 months. And I’ve blamed much of my mental health crisis on that lonliness. It’s something I’ve documented in detail. In fact, talking about agoraphobia has been eye-opening and there don’t seem to be many others in my predicament. I certainly feel alone with it.

I’m invisible and hidden, but now I also find myself visible and in lots of places.

So what’s the point?

2022 has already been an incredible year for this hobby, the people who enjoy it with me and my belief in myself. Compare that with 2 years ago, when social media was silent, the phone never rang, everything Royal Mail delivered contained bad news, I was lost with no direction, I was incredibly fat and ugly, I was miserable.

But my mental health was in a better place than it is today.

The problem? I opened myself up so I could try and help other people. If I can’t be well, why don’t I help someone who can be? Don’t get me wrong, I still want to be part of a change, especially for people that have suffered in ways I fully understand. Being the noise in someones silence through grief. Being the help and guidance in a couples awful journey through miscarriage. Being a friend to someone who is lonely and struggling with mental health, sadness or endless worry.

But it’s not a simple thing to do. Just getting out there so people can find me, find this site, make contact and use my knowledge is a tall order. Being heard, gaining respect and building trust all takes time. And while I’m trying to achieve those things, the creative and exciting things that are supposed to help me too, my health is actually taking a hit.

So in a way, I’m even more lonely than before. I feel even lower than before. I feel more isolated than before.

But it’s not all bad, and I think I need a reminder of that now and then. We all do.

The Positives

My writing has improved so much since I took the step to become part of the online writing community. I work hard to create original stories and I enjoy coming up with ideas and feeling inspired. I’m able to do it at times when I would have dipped in to a crisis in the past and, from time-to-time creativity has stopped it happening again.

I’ve met so many new, incredible, creative, interesting, wonderful people that I NEVER would have found any other way. And although social media ‘friendships’ might seem false and forced, as someone living in literal silence, I’ll always value each and every message (probably more than the sender realises).

Little things have made a huge difference in my day. The standard grey sheen gets blown away when someone sends me a message to say they like a picture, or they think I should contact so-and-so. What an honour – to be remembered. It’s unbelievable.

I have hobbies that help distract me when I start experiencing flashbacks. The weight of reliving grief was causing me so much agony, it was impossible to carry. I needed something to try and turn my head away from the memories and, although it doesn’t always work, I have found that if I try to write a story or draw a new picture I might be able to escape the impending sense of doom.

I feel like this is my only opportunity to make my family proud and show my daughter how important creativity is. My dream has always been that my small successes in writing and drawing will one day encourage her to find a healthy hobby or passtime that she enjoys. I hope I can encourage lots of people to do that. I feel the same when I’m being honest and open about my mental health. Even if she can’t talk to me, I want her to know there is other help out there if/when she struggles. I don’t want her to dip in to the same pit as me and have no one to help her back out of it. Again, I hope by doing all this I will be able to help other people too. Lots of them.

The Negatives

I realise that talking about my appearance might seem shallow, it partly is, but hating what I see in the mirror is part of my daily life. I’ve lost a lot of weight and try to take care of myself, but if i’m being honest, I still hate my reflection. That’s something that’s never improved, so maybe it never will. But having an online persona, even just running this blog, means I have to show my face or I can’t build that trust I mentioned. I could just be another spammer. My desire to talk about and encourage body positivity for my child and anyone else who needs it, will never go away, so I still show my mug even though I hate it.

It’s going to be one of those ‘do as I say not as I do’ moments in life.

Theres no real advice or rulebook that covers this. I’m putting myself out there, sharing my story, giving my opinion. But what makes it useful or valid? I’m walking in the dark with this hobby. So I often worry overly about what I say. Am I helping with this comment? Could this lead someone to feel negatively about this subject? Does this post have too much sadness attached to it? Have I told the truth and is this factual? Am I revealing too much? Should I make this humourous remark? Could this hurt someone? That over-thinking and over-analysing can be incredibly tiring. Sometimes it feels never-ending.

It’s got to a point where one post could leave me with several days of consideration, editing and refining. I’d assumed at the start of the project that posts would pour out of me daily and it would be a simple process. That is definitely NOT the case.

My final negative is the tsunami that seems to happen now and then, often leaving me confused and struggling to work out what I should see to next. I think it’s common – silence one minute then you’re bombarded with messages the next and have no idea how to prioritise. When I’m overwhelmed I tend to get stuck (something I hope to talk about in more detail in the future) and I don’t know how to move on. It’s a physical and mental quicksand and it can be terrifying. When you get ‘stuck’ you’re fully aware that these things still need to get done and ultimately, that stickiness is just delaying their completion.

It won’t go away on its own.

I still wish every single day that it would.

The Conclusion? The Future Plan?

I have to take some time to work out what it is I want to achieve and what’s important to me with this project.

As I mentioned before, there are many things I’ve chosen to do already because they make sense, they help me feel better and ultimately my involvement in them might mean I help someone else one day. I might make a difference. I’d be honoured to make a difference.

It’s difficult to say no to things when they seem so important and you’ve previously been existing in a world where no one really wants you around. I’ve found it hard to accept that anyone is interested in me or my opinion, and I need to change that thought and project more positivity if this is ever going to help someone.

I research anything factual and review everything I post to ensure it’s safe and correct, but every time I hit that ‘submit’ button I’m filled with dread. Dread of any backlash, dread of any harm, dreaD of any shame, dread of any mistake.

It’s a hobby, but it’s become powerful. I didn’t expect that.

Ultimately I have to choose the path that brings me joy, makes my family proud and has the power to have the biggest positive change I’m able to be part of.

But I still have hope. Hope for something pretty specific…

Eventually I’d love someone to appear who is trying to achieve similar things, someone who wants to be part of a similar journey, and we can help, encourage, commiserate and congratulate each other as we go. That sort of 1-to-1 support is what I miss. Someone to run things by, someone to cast an opinion or have an idea.

Finding a friend would be bloody amazing.

If you’d like to apply to be my friend, there is a comment button below or my email address is stephwrites40@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you.

N.B. I haven’t even posted this yet and I feel like an idiot for asking for a friend. I know, I’m pathetic. But in reality a friend would be a welcome relief, so I’m going to make myself look silly and desperate, in the hope that someone perfect might see it and write me a lovely, heart-warming message.

Finally a note on the accompanying image. I felt like my crisis needed an explosion. It needed to show the anxiety I’ve talked about, but in a fun and postive way, but still make it clear that I can’t quite believe where I am and what’s happened. My mind has been blown, so I did the same to an emoji, only his head turned out to be filled with stars and rainbow glitter, something I can only ever wish for.

Published by stephc2021

Hi! I'm Steph, an amateur writer and illustrator specialising in Mental Health and being a self-confessed Spoonie. My website is home to any successful fiction I create, with stories that have won so far covering difficult subjects such as baby loss and mental health in grief as well as some funny and heart-warming tales when I get the inspiration. Every drawing and picture on my website was created by me. I spend a lot of time coming up with illustrations to accompany all of my posts and pages. I try to create original content across all of my channels, whether I'm writing about my own fiction or just generally musing on mental health or my own issues. I want to be part of the change because I believe the understanding of MH in the UK is getting better, but has a very long way to go. By being honest about my own struggles and symptoms I think others will relate and hopefully it will encourage them to talk to someone and get the help and support they need. Long term my goal is to help children too, help them understand their own mental health and how to help with the mental health of those around them. I live in the UK with my partner, daughter and dog, I swear frequently and I adore a well made, traditional, gooey, chocolatey, delicious brownie.

One thought on “Wanted : friend

  1. I’m not the best reader but I’m around. Not agroohobic but have mobility issues so am at home alot too. Hang in there.

    Like

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