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    News — mental health awareness week

    Social Anxiety and Relationships - Laura

    Social Anxiety and Relationships - Laura

    This week is Mental Health Awareness Week which is a campaign set up by the Mental Health Foundation. This year the theme is relationships, so we're going to be posting comics we feel are helpful on our Social Media and will also be discussing and sharing our experiences with mental health and relationships. 

    Laura is the other half of Sad Ghost Club. She does most of the business and social sides of the company. Here she's written about her experiences with different relationships and Social Anxiety. 

    Although I've always suffered from it, it took eleven or so years for me to be diagnosed with Chronic Social Anxiety and I only started going to therapy when I was 24. Due to this, my Illness manifested into other forms, such as Dermatillomania, food phobias and physical illnesses that still affect me to this day. I had quite a lonely childhood and teenage years due to the people and relationships I was surrounded by. I feel it’s incredibly important to have supportive and encouraging people around you for a more healthy mental state.

    Acquaintances
    These are usually a no go for me. Meeting new people causes me terrible anxiety, which I’m able to manage better now. When I was younger, however, it would often get to the point where I was so anxious I would throw up. I now approach new acquaintances with caution and am usually the one sitting in the corner not speaking and people watching, which I am usually quite content with.  I do enjoy being in social environments most of the time, I just don’t like the attention being on me.


    Friendships

    I’ve had amazing friendships and awful friendships. I can’t even tell you the amount of times I’ve been called “crazy” or “mental” by people who I thought were my friends.  Thinking back to when someone said to me “Just cheer up, you’re boring when you're sad” fills me with rage, but at the time I was consumed by guilt and just wanted to please them. It’s only been during the past couple of years that I’ve realized the effects of people’s words and what they did to me. I now have friends that respect me and don’t look down on me. They celebrate my achievements, like going to one of their events, or eating dinner at their house, which are both things I have really struggled with in the past.

    Family
    My Social Anxiety is a taboo subject within my family. Since mental health has become a big part of my job it’s become much less of a taboo, but the subject of conversation is usually changed quite quickly.
    My family dynamic is an interesting one. As I’m quiet, I get talked over a lot and talked down to. Being brought up around this, I thought this was completely acceptable. It wasn’t until an outside eye pointed it out to me, that I then realized how it affected me.

    Partners
    I'm married to an amazing man called Brendan. Before him, I’ve had several mentally abusive relationships and partners that have just not understood my illness (I also didn't understand my illness at the time).
    Brendan’s the one that encouraged me to go to therapy and has seen me at my best and worst. He respects me for who I am and has helped me grow and become the person I am today. Things aren't perfect though. I was always told once you find your match, that’s it. You've made it and you’ll never be alone again! This is not always the case. I’ll always have social anxiety and no matter how much Brendan tries, there will still be times where I feel alone. There are also times where he can’t be there for me; he has his own emotions and his own struggles that I need to support him through. It’s tough – but we’re learning something new about each other every day and am grateful to have someone so wonderful in my life.

    There are still times where I let people take advantage of my anxiety and everyday is learning curve but I have come so far and am so proud of where I am now. I'm not always perfect but how do you grow if you can't learn from your own mistakes? 

    If you want to share your story or explore more around relationships and mental health, search #MHAW16 

    Mental Health Awareness Week - Lize

    Mental Health Awareness Week - Lize

    This week is Mental Health Awareness Week which is a campaign set up by the Mental Health Foundation. This year the theme is relationships, so we're going to be posting comics we feel are helpful  on our Social Media and will also be discussing and sharing our experiences with mental health and relationships. 

    Lize is the illustrator at Sad Ghost (amongst many, many other things). Here's her experiences around mental health, well-being and friendships. 

     

    Since I was young I've never really had a hard time making friends. When I was growing up my wonderful Grandma always signed me up for courses and activities over the holidays which, with hindsight, I think really helped. Arriving at these events I was thrown in at the deep end and had to make conversation with other children. I think this was really beneficial for me in terms of creating new friendships. The thing I've had trouble with, however, has been knowing how to maintain, and end, those friendships.I find it really easy to spend time with people and be their friend when I'm with them, but as soon as I leave they're just gone from my brain. This is obviously pretty tricky when you're a hermit who prefers staying inside than going out.

     

    Growing up I found it really hard saying "no" to the people I called my friends, I felt I had to do everything they asked for fear of being a 'bad friend'. I was so focused on working hard and working all the time that I had to say no to a lot of events and I always felt guilty about it. I thought the entire fault was with me. This just meant that I was missing a lot of events, feeling guilty about it, and then avoiding the friends I thought I'd let down. This turned into a vicious cycle which resulting in me constantly feeling  as though I had something to prove to friends that I had let down.

    This mind frame can lead to being walked over and there are a lot of negative situations I found myself in that wouldn't have happened had I just been able to say "no". It took me a long time to learn I could say no to my friends. Making new friends, ones who were understanding, really highlighted how toxic some of my past relationships had become and how they had affected me. I had begun to view my own self-worth in the same way that other people did, and because all my friends thought I was a flake who didn't care about them, my view of myself became pretty negative. 

     
     
    Looking back I wish I had been more frank and told them how I was feeling instead of making up excuses. As I am getting older I have no qualms telling people that I don't want to socialise because I'm working, or because I feel like I can't leave my room. As I began to be able to do this I felt pretty lonely, working all the time and never seeing anyone. As much as I felt like that was what I wanted, I still missed being invited to stuff, and going when I felt I was able. As time went on though I found solace in like-minded friends who understood and had their own things going on. I slowly cut out the people who only ever made me feel negative and invested my energy in the people who built me up and respected my decisions, especially regarding work. It's hard feeling like you're missing out, and I spent a lot of time torn between working or socialising, especially a few years ago when my job wasn't really what I wanted it to be. I felt like I'd made all this sacrifice for nothing. That was a pretty low point for me. But I persevered and my job actually did turn into what I wanted, and for that I am so thankful and very lucky, and I do not regret one decision I made. Letting go of the friendships that only ever made me feel bad has completely improved my mind-set and I no longer feel an overhanging guilt for not being as good as other people expected me to be. 
    If you want to share your story or explore more around relationships and mental health, search #MHAW16