We're slowly working on increasing our mental health content here at Barty Single Origin and with that comes more Mental Health Profiles.
Today I am pleased to introduce Georgia. Georgia is someone who is always down to watch a musical, knit or crochet, nerd out about Harry Potter or just hang out and drink tea and eating chocolate. She works in a nursing home as an OT and jokes that she relates more to old people than people her own age.
Georgia's story is similar to Jocelyn's in that she struggled to get help as she didn't feel like she needed help as she was functioning good enough. A year ago though she recognised that something needed to change and she found the courage to get the help she needed. She can safely say that it was one of the best decisions and she's feeling a lot more comfortable in her own skin.
Diagnosis (if any): Anxiety with OCD tendencies/characteristics
Which fictional character do you relate to the most (get creative!)? Margo from Despicable Me is scarily close to what I was like as a teenager – in both looks and mannerisms. These days I think I’m a weird mix of Hermione from Harry Potter and the Grinch (except I love Christmas!).
How do you do self-care? Not very well to be honest. When I get overwhelmed, I will decide to “do nothing,” but that generally turns into actually doing nothing – just sitting on the couch mindlessly scrolling on my phone for hours until I have a headache, am extremely hungry, and feel guilty for not being productive. Then I find it hard to practice self-care, because I feel like I haven’t done anything to deserve it. In the times that I am more able to practice self-care, I go for walks, crochet/knit/sew, or have a bath. I usually make a cup of tea while doing one or all of these activities.
Treatment undergone/undergoing (if any): I take medication daily and also been seeing a psychologist. I have done both of these since last October.
What barriers (if any) did you face when trying to get help? My barriers were mainly about myself, and not wanting to ask for help. I have had varying levels of anxiety for quite a long time, and I always thought I wasn’t “bad enough” to reach out and get professional help. I convinced myself that I was just being melodramatic or lazy – which further fueled my mental health struggles. Apart from that, it was hard to find time to get to my GP to make a mental health plan, as I was working full time and this appointment is longer than normal. Similarly, I needed a psychologist who had openings on a Saturday, which is not something that all do.
Tell us about your mental health struggles? I have General Anxiety, which means that pretty much anything can make me anxious, at any time – I have a few specific triggers, but something can trigger me one day and then not the next, or vice versa. My biggest area of anxiety is social anxiety. Even small gatherings with close friends can feel terrifying, and it can feel easier to just stay at home. I also get a lot of anxiety around being “good enough.” I really struggle to see myself how others claim to see me and put huge amounts of pressure on myself. Often if I don’t have the time to do something perfectly, I will just not do it because only getting part way through feels like failure. But then when I do put it off, I just feel worse because to me that is being lazy or fraudulent. My other big challenge is obsessive tendencies, like checking the locks on the car and front door, checking power points etc. The more anxious I am, the harder it is to stop these compulsions. Some of my thought patterns (such as thinking I’m lazy) kind of fall in this space too, as it’s a repetitive thing I tell myself.
What’s something you wish people knew about your struggles? I wish that there was more acknowledgement of “functional” anxiety. Until recently I didn’t think I was anxious enough to need help, because I could get out of bed in the morning and hold down a job and go to parties. But no one saw how hard that was, or how much I was pretending. There are so many people exactly like me, and I think that if I knew that earlier I would have gone to my GP earlier and would potentially not have needed medication straight away.
Have you received any amusing or unhelpful comments about your mental health that you would like to share? I’m definitely guilty of this as well, but I think we need to be careful about the jokes that we make about OCD versus being an organised perfectionist. People will joke with me about “being OCD” or will purposefully mess with things around me to “break me out of it”, without knowing that I am taking medication to stop those things being such a big issue. It might be funny to you to watch someone be unable to work because all the pieces of paper on the wall have been put crooked, or to laugh at someone who must eat their grapes, M&Ms, popcorn etc in pairs, but for that person it could be the last thing that will push them over the edge into not coping. It’s totally ok to joke with your friends, and sometimes I do find it funny and will joke about it myself but check in with your friends first.
Thanks so much for Sharing Georgia!
Something I just want to point is that both Jocelyn and Georgia felt like they couldn't get help as they didn't meet the stereotypical requirements of having a mental illness. We will be discussing what functional mental illness looks like in a future article and why you shouldn't ignore it just because you're not as severe as someone else.
Want some more support or interested in being apart of this series? Feel free to drop by, just say, ‘Hey Erin’ in strict confidence and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or, do not hesitate to leave a question in the comments below any time.