Feb 1st is #TiimeToTalk about mental health day.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not the most expressive of characters, and I don’t really give off too much. My favourite description of me is that I “wear black and don’t tark too much”. So yeah, you can imagine writing this ain’t easy.
To be honest, right now it’s midnight on Feb 2nd, and I’ve been putting of writing this all day. I’ve used the excuse that I’m busy, but the reality is that it’s still something that I haven’t quite to come to terms with.
I struggle with anxiety. I still don’t quite know what that means, but I’m certain I have it. In an earlier post where I reviewed 2017, I mentioned how last year I ran myself into a rut. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” was absolutely the case for me.
I first became aware of it toward the back end of last year. One Saturday morning I randomly struggled to catch my breath. Like I legit couldn’t breathe. At that moment I thought I was having a heart attack so I bolted upstairs to my phone. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and God knows why, but decided to stop for a minute. I stared myself dead in the eye, as if to say “Mal, WTF are you doing son”. Suddenly my pulse stopped racing, my breathing returned to normal and I was present again.
I knew instantly what had happened. It’s like the months of having a knotted-up stomach and feeling persistently tired and drained finally took its toll. I stared at myself in the mirror for a good 2 minutes, as it dawned on me that I had allowed myself to descend into this state. I had had my first ever anxiety attack
I instantly called my friend Tee, explaining to her what had happened. Within 10 minutes she was at my door ready to comfort me. I had nothing to tell her other than “I feel like shit” (paraphrasing, of course).
Sadly, the only reason I was able to even have the conversation with her was because I had a drink before her arrival. Had I not, I fear I would have laughed it off and sent her on her way, and so the cycle would have continued. Instead, I broke down. Sobbing, I admitted that for months I had gritted my teeth and just about managed to get through every day. Although I was in a good career and owned a semi successful business (I was ostensibly “successful”) I was hollow inside, and now it was telling. I wasn’t sleeping at all, barely eating and consuming far too much alcohol.
If I am to be completely honest, I’m not a million times removed from the position I just described. Much of what I said I felt, I still do. The only difference now is that I have hope. I am massively optimistic about the prospect of me feeling better and continuing to be successful. I am hugely appreciative of the people I have around me and I have met some fantastic people since. I know I will be back to myself, I just know it will be a bit of a journey.
So at the time I’ve finally plucked up the courage to post this it’s half 11 on the 5th of Feb. I suppose this only goes to show that whilst I may finally be able to share my story, that it certainly does not come easy.
It most certainly is Time to Talk. We need to encourage an atmosphere where more young black men feel able to open to speak about their struggles without it being dismissed or diminished. We need to work harder to cultivate an environment where we don’t need social media campaigns to prompt us to talk about something as vital as the mechanisms of our own mind.
If anything I’ve said here has helped in that endeavour, then I am truly grateful.