This is my first blog post of 2019 as I have not mentally been in the right place to be able to write, and I have absolutely no shame in admitting that. For me writing is feeling, and sometimes I just need to feel a bit less. But I’m back and ready to get back to it. So I’ve decided to start with this image of what coping or not coping with life looks like. I find a lot of recent that many people are very image conscious that we must always look like we’re coping, and people just love to comment on someone seemingly not coping don’t they? Sometimes out of concern, and sometimes out of (let’s be honest), just being a bit judgemental.
All too often we hear people say such and such in’t ‘coping’, or I can ‘cope’, but what does ‘coping’ actually look like? Is it that our hair is always done and we have our best smily face on? Similarly what does not coping really look like? Do we have to look unkept, are we overly emotional and that is what deems us to be not coping to the rest of the world? My point is, we all cope in different ways and that often looks very different to the the rest of the world that what other people deem to be the socially acceptable version of coping or not coping.
I often think a lot of this perception comes from some aspects of social media and the fact that people only ever post the highlights of their life, not the shit times so we always feel like we should look like we’re coping so to have this ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ type of approach to life. Well, I have to say I’m just not about all that. It’s bullshit and unhelpful. I have no qualms about admitting when the shit has well and truly hit the fan, but that perhaps doesn’t always look like what people would expect.
This week I went to work with my knickers on inside out and my hair was a bloody hot mess. I didn’t actually realise they were inside out or that I looked like I had been dragged through a hedge backwards until more than three quarters of the way through the day. People must have thought I was having a bit of a rough day, but honestly when I finally realised I just laughed out loud. On my own. In the toilet at work. You’ll be pleased to know that (thankfully) no-one came in (that I know of) or that would probably have been deemed that I was totally loosing my shit. But actually it’s quite the opposite, because we all loose our shit in different ways. Although (surprisingly) I am actually doing pretty good you’d be surprised to know!
Similarly, I can put my full face of make up, posh frock and the best suction knickers I own, look pretty good (if I do say so myself) and be in complete internal turmoil and no-one would really know. My point being that we all cope differently and quite often we are so busy with how we are being perceived that we aren’t really allowing ourselves the time to process what is going on in our lives whatever that is.
I have recently started a new job and it really made me realise when you’re getting to know people, we really have no idea what goes on in other people’s lives. We don’t know what their home lives might entail, or what stresses they may have. I often wonder when people don’t know me, if they know that I have someone in my life who is disabled, the stresses I face or the worry and anxiety I deal with every day because sometimes I feel like it’s plastered all over my face. This is why I have always believed that a little kindness goes along way, because you honestly have no idea what’s going on behind closed doors or in someones mind. And if someone is seems upset what does it honestly take just to ask if someone is ok? Because sometimes we just need to feel seen and heard.
I suppose this theme of ‘coping’ also ties in a lot with mental health, and again the notion that we have no idea what battles someone is fighting in their own mind. I think the most poignant example of this is Robin Williams. He was a comedian. perceived as being happy because his job was to make people laugh, yet very few people knew of the battles that he was facing mentally. This is also what eventually lead to his death. I know this sounds like a dramatic example, but it’s far more common especially now where the conversation about mental health is much more heard that it has ever been.
I recently just finished reading a book by Matt Haig called ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’. I got onto this through Fearne Cotton’s podcast ‘Happy’, and at first was very put off by the title because I didn’t want to read something ‘doom and gloom’ when I was already struggling. However, I would honestly recommend this book to anyone whom has struggled with mental health and this ideal that we should always look like we’re ‘coping’. This has really helped me a lot and is a really easy read, so you can pick it up whenever you have time. Without giving too much away there was a part of the book where there is a list of people whom have tweeted their ‘reasons to stay alive’ and the one that really hit me was this one: “@MagsTheObscure- The brother I look after. This is one of the main reasons I remain a carer. He’s my lighthouse in the storm. #reasonstostayalive”.
Remember everyone copes differently. Be kind. Be understanding. Be there for each other. Don’t judge. But most of all stop giving a shit whether people think you cope or don’t. This is a difficult road and it often takes us to our lowest points, but always keep in mind your lighthouse in the storm.