mental health awareness

Real Anxiety

How my anxiety affected me producing a short film about anxiety

I have struggled with social anxiety since I was in kindergarten.
Now I’m 18 and still struggling.
But things have changed.

Now I’m able to speak up and raise awareness about what I and a thousand others suffer from.

Therefor I decided to produce a short film about anxiety for my 2-year-school-project.
Well, being in front of the camera I recognized I’m even more uncomfortable than I want it to seem in the video.

Most of the anxiety scenes in the short film are staged, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t anxious doing all this.
A whole bunch of the raw material is just me awkwardly talking to the person behind the camera, jumping up and down doing weird stuff with my hands and not being able to think because of the panic in my head.
I have more than 1 hour of material that doesn’t show anything besides me sitting on my bed dissociating and staring at the ceiling the whole time.

But none of this is included in the short film.
It’s raw, it’s real, it’s personal and it’s embarrasing to look at. I look horrible, I do not have any control and I’m an open book. I’m hurtable.

BUT THESE SCENES ARE THE MOST REAL ONES. I want the world to recognize the ugliness of anxiety attacks, I want the people to keep an eye on their family and friends, I want them to know the signs.

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mental health awareness

A regular school day with anxiety

5:30 am
Ring ring.
My alarm clock. Oh no, please no. How long have I slept? About 2 hours? Or less?
How am I feeling? Am I sick? Am I gonna get sick? Why did I have to wake up. I’m so tired. I just want to sleep. What if something’s gonna happen today? I do not have the energy to deal with anything. Can’t I just stay in bed, I’m never gonna graduate anyways. I won’t ever get a job. Am I just lazy? I can’t. I just want it to be evening already, so I can sleep.

6:30 am
Did I really stare at the ceiling for 1 hour already? I need to catch my bus today or else I’m gonna miss so much because I’m too afraid to walk in late. But I’m not ready. I’m sooo tired. I can’t move. Why can’t I even get out of bed, it’s not that hard. I’m a fucking failure.

7:00 am
My bus is here in 15 mins and I’m still in bed. I’m gonna look like a zombie and I won’t have the right materials in my bag. I NEED TO GET UP NOW. Only 9 more hours until I’m home again. 9 fucking hours. Damn. GET UP NOW YOU DUMB FUCK.

7:16 am
Oh is that the right bus? What if it isn’t? Am I halluzinating? Do I stand in the right place? Don’t move to fast or everybody will stare at you. Don’t walk too far right, the busdriver is gonna think you’re too dumb to get into a bus. Oh no everybody’s gonna think you want to punch them to get in first. Well, now I’m the last one. Please let me get a free seat, I’m unable to stay on my feet the whole ride, I absolutely do not have the energy to do that. Oh god where is a seat, I take too long, everybody is staring at me, they think I’m too dumb and too slow. Just sit down somewhere, anywhere. What if that person doesn’t want me to sit there? Am I taking up too much space? How the fuck am I supposed to survive this?

7:45 am
Oh please let this be the right room, don’t let me be the last one. No why am I the first one, what if it’s the wrong room, I won’t get in first, I’m not able to talk to the teacher, I’ll just wait here until someone goes in first. What are they gonna think of me, like “is she too dumb to see that the door is already open” or “why doesn’t she go in”. I can’t do this. I want to go home. I need to get out of here. I’m trapped. I’m gonna die.

During class
Am I sitting weird? Is there something on my back or something wrong with my hair? Please eyes stay open. Okay I need to listen. I need to study. Oh god I’m so silly, I won’t ever graduate, I won’t ever get a job I like, I could die by now, it would be totally okay, I’m never gonna achieve the things I dreamed of. I’m so tired. Why can’t I focus? Stop thinking. Listen. Read that fucking text. Why can’t I identify the letters, please eyes, all I want you to do is focus on the letters. I’m holding my pen in a weird way. Oh god someone’s laughing, they’re talking about me. The teacher probably hates me and thinks I’m dumb as fuck. Please don’t call on me, no please no, my brain doesn’t work, I can’t answer. I need to look away. FUCKING EYECONTACT. This is too much. I need to get out. I’m always making a fool out of myself. WHY am I so dumb. I want to die.

After class
I’m so sorry, ex teacher, I wanted to say hello, too, but I’m too shy. I’m not rude, I’m sorry for not saying anything. Please don’t hate me. I don’t want to come back to this place ever again. Am I walking weird? Is there something wrong with my face? Oh god everybody’s looking at me, talking and laughing about me. My friends are probably lying and don’t even like me. How could anyone ever like me? I would never wanna be friends with myself. I need to get out. I wanna go home. I wanna sleep. I’m so tired and everything hurts.

At home
I’ve been sitting on my bed and staring at the wall for like 2 hours, I really need to do my homework. I have to study, I have to get good grades or I’ll never be able to get the job I want. Oh what the fuck am I thinking, I won’t ever graduate, I’m gonna end up homeless under a bridge if I’m still alive by this time. Do your fucking homework or you’ll regret it later. It’s not that exhausting to get on your desk, it’s literally two steps away, get up and start. Damn you’re so dumb. MOVE! Everything hurts, I’m so tired, I want to do my homework but I want to sleep, I want this to end, I can’t carry on, I’m too weak.

In the evening
Well, I haven’t done a single thing. I hate myself. I won’t ever get a job. I’m a zombie, a snob. All I did was sitting on my bed for hours doing nothing, like every day, and I’m still soo tired. I want to sleep. Forever.

In bed
Oh god I did everything wrong, I dissappointed so many people. Doing stuff is so easy and I’m still too dumb for it. Everybody I know is able to do that shit, so I am, too. I’m just lazy as fuck. I want to sleep. Dear mind, please stop overthinking. No that thing I did 5 years ago is so embarrasing, someone kill me please. I’m not gonna get any sleep today. Tomorrow’s gonna be even more horrible than today. If this is what my life is gonna look like I don’t want it. I’m such a loser. Everybody can handle life, everybody but me.

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mental health awareness

Fear vs Phobia

 

People often tend to use the word ‘Phobia’ when they’re actually talking about fears.
Well, not trying to talk down your fears, but telling someone you’re suffering from a mental illness called “Agoraphobia” or “Emetophobia” and having someone say “Oh yeah, I have that too, I’m afraid of this and that, too.” is literally the worst.

Being afraid of something doesn’t equal having a phobia of something.

When you fear spiders you might not want to go downstairs because there might be spiders or you might go a bit crazy when there’s a spider in your house.
But having a phobia is something completely different.


Let’s just say someone has a phobia of headaches.

They’re waking up and the first thing that comes to their mind is “How does my head feel? Am I having a headache? Is there any chance I’ll get a headache today? What if I get a headache today? Maybe I should just stay in bed, maybe I won’t get a headache then.”

They probably still start their day just like you, but whilst getting ready they’re most likely to think things like “What clothes should I wear today? Not these, I got a headache the last time I wore them, if I wear them today, I’ll probably get a headache again. Should I wear these? No, they’re to pretty; if I get a headache today I won’t be able to wear them ever again. Maybe I should wear this, but if I look like that people will think that I have a headache.”

When they finally found something to wear and sit down for breakfast, usual toughts might be “Can I eat this or am I gonna get a headache from it? I need my coffee, so I won’t get a headache, but if I drink too much of it, I’m gonna get a headache. Am I having a headache already? I don’t know if that’s the beginning of a headache, maybe I should stay at home today. I need to drink something or else I’m gonna get a headache, but I can’t drink this water, because my brother touched the same bottle when he had a headache and if I’m gonna touch it I’ll get a headache, too. Oh god I already feel it coming.”

Finally out of the house shit is getting real. “Does anyone around here look like they have a headache? Oh no, this boy just touched his head, probably because it hurt, I need to get away from here or I’m gonna get a headache, too. Look at that womans face, she looks like she’s in pain, probably a headache, everyone around here has a headache, maybe there’s something in the air causing it, I need to get out of here.”

And on the bus. “Why are there only a few people in here? Did everyone else stay at home because they had a headache? What if there’s some kind of disease going around that’s causing headaches? I should probably take an aspirin now, oh my god, where are they, did I forget them, no, I have an extra package. Oh no, I have no water, I need water, I need to take these pills now or I’m gonna get a headache and die. I need to get some water, now.”

At work / school. “What if taking aspirin when you’re not having a headache causes headaches? What if I get a headache in class and can’t get out. What if I’m not allowed to drink something in this class, I’m gonna get a headache. Where’s the teacher, isn’t he here today, did he get a headache and am I gonna get it, too?”

In the evening. “I need to go to bed now, staying awake for that long is causing headaches. No phone, no laptop, no light. Darkness is better for the head. Why are there so many cars outside? Are they all on their way to the hospital because some peoples headaches didn’t go away? I hope I won’t have a headache tomorrow. What do I do if I have one? Please, I don’t want to get a headache ever again.

Sleeping at night. *NIGHTMARES OF HEADACHES*

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mental health awareness

I wish you knew

“You can’t tell just by looking at someone, what they are dealing with inside.”

I wish you knew… how many things there are that I wish you knew.

I wish you knew I’m not trying to be rude, when not saying hello.

I wish you knew that I’m not phone addicted, it’s just my safe space to hide in and to seem busy.

I wish you knew that “the little things” I’m stressing about aren’t little to me.

I wish you knew why my body looks like this and why I have all of these scars.

I wish you knew that I’d love to just simply go to school, but it isn’t that easy to me.

I wish you knew that not having my homework doesn’t mean I’m lazy, most of the time it means searching for reasons to stay alive was more important that afternoon.

I wish you knew that I’m not as stupid as I seem, I just keep forgetting everything out of nervosity.

I wish you knew that when I’m making cynical comments about myself and about how I want to jump out of the window, these are probably the moments I’m being the most honest.

I wish you knew that not answering your texts doesn’t mean I’m ignoring you, but rather not wanting to bother you.

I wish you knew that just because I’m out of hospital doesn’t mean I’m fine.

I wish you knew that taking my medication regularly doesn’t just make my symptoms disappear.

I wish you knew there is no cure, there’s just learning how to cope with my illness.

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mental health awareness

“survive to thrive”

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Mental Health Awareness Week of 2017 will take place from 8 – 14 May

For too many of us life is a constant battle between trying to stay alive and our body trying to convince us we’re better off dead. So the arrival of mental health awareness week is no different than any other week: our ongoing battles, struggles and fights with our illnesses are the same as it was last week.

But MHAW is another way for us to reach out, speak up and raise awareness of what we call our daily life.
You may can find us posting a lot of information online, making visual art to show what we feel like or create informative content to show what it feels like to be trapped in your own body.
The last thing we want to achieve with things like this is attention, neither positive nor negative, some of us might even be afraid of it, so please, if you don’t have something useful to say, just keep your mouth shut, it could prevent a lot of overthinking, mental fights and misunderstanding.

So why do we even share these things?

Well, not everyone has a mental illness, but everyone has a mental health and we need to take care of it.
1 in 4 people discover some kind of mental disorder in their lifetime, and many of them won’t ever get the treatment and support they need, because they’re afraid to reach out and tell someone.

Be strong enough to know when you need help
and
be brave enough to ask for it.

Even though society is becoming more tolerant and open-minded about mental illness, it is still surrounded by a shit ton of stigma and there is still much work to be done to educate people and raise awareness.

Maybe you don’t have mental health problems, but you for sure know someone who does, maybe they’re just not telling you. It could be your mother, your uncle, your cousin, your sister or your child, but if they don’t grow up or live in an environment that educates them of mental illness just as physical illness, they’re more likely to suffer in silence and end up not getting the treatment they need.

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Photography

Photographer: Laura Hospes

Laura Hospes, a young photographer from the Netherlands, is one of my biggest inspirations. She’s only 21 years old and is described as one of the 50 best emerging photographers 2015.
She has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital for depression, anxiety and disordered eating after a suicide attempt and documented her stay there in a series of black and white self portraits. She published the striking work in a photobook called UCP, which is the name of the hospital she’s been admitted to. Laura said that she felt overwhelmed and confused when she first entered the hospital, and decided to rediscover herself through self-portraits.

“At first, I made this complete series for myself, to deal with the difficulties and express my feelings. After that, I want to inspire people who are or have been in a psychiatric hospital. I want them to see my pictures and recognise themselves in it. I hope they feel taken seriously, less crazy and less alone.”

 

All of the following work is © Laura Hospes


Just as I do, Laura Hospes uses her camera to express the feelings she can’t explain; and her perception of social media only showing the happy moments and not what’s happening behind closed doors reminds me of my own. She’s been one of the biggest inspirations for my own photography and she definitely will always be one of my favorite photographers.

She might have convinced me to publish my own self portraits one day.

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