Silent Poison II: Behind the Smile

What am I doing in life? Do I even know where I’m going? Why am I in Uni? What am I doing wrong?!

Sometimes, it just all gets a bit too much you know. Feeling like life is coming at you so fast – so much to do but no idea where to start. Seeing your mates doing their ting and thinking why yours is not the same. “Maybe I’m just not good enough!” 

It’s so easy to think yourself into a bad place (trust me I know), overthinking is a killer!

It doesn’t take long to fall into the routine of bottling your anxieties and hiding your fears behind a smile. Especially when in the situations of being the ‘strong friend’, oldest sibling or being the one that’s always smiling. Falling into any the above categories makes it easy to find yourself not wanting to be selfish or living up to the perception family and friends have of you. For the mandem (lads/blokes) I know personally how this can be a big one. The underlying perception for boys to be mentally sound, pushing the best whips and generally being well put together doesn’t help the minority that suffer in silence. The stigma of being a “successful black boy” is a involves an array of issues in itself.

According to a recent YouGov study, one in four students suffer from mental health problems. Of which 77% of have depression-related problems, and 74% have anxiety related problems. 

Behind the parties, link ups and other social activities – uni can be a very lonely place. Quick fix coping mechanisms are habits that develop in times like these. Smoking, drinking, doing balloons and other things just to “take my mind off things” can quickly go from bad to worse.

What about me? Sometimes you just have to be selfish. What are people gonna think! Sometimes you need to break the stigma – were all human. Bottling your thoughts and forcing yourself into the identity that people believe you to be does not do you any favours.

“We are all human and we a have emotions. The pallet of emotions does not stop at happy so let’s not pretend it does.”

Will Young – Mental health advocate

It’s ok to not be ok. Asking for help should never be seen as a sign of weakness, rather a strength. Though this is always easier said than done, but talk to people. I find that confiding in people you trust outside of your immediate circles helps a lot. Allows for a more objective opinion to your circumstances and a relief from the fears of being judged or looked at differently. Being independent and facing things on your own are great, but at what cost? Your pride? A reputation? It’s not worth it. There will always be someone that can help and you won’t know unless you take the leap of faith to open up.

What makes you tick? Knowing what sets you off is a big step in the right direction. To defeat your enemy you need to understand him. Not sure who said that but the premise of this holds true in this case. Being aware of the things that will trigger the next panic attack or force you to roll another splif are essential to the road to recovery. That way you and those around you know what needs to be done to prevent this.

Stay positive! As cliche as it sounds; it will get better. Think yourself into a good place – couldn’t emphasise how important this is. The New Thought philosophy of the ‘Law of Attraction’ understands that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, people can bring positive or negative experiences into their life. Let that one sink in. Words and thoughts of affirmation will get you through it. You are strong, better days are coming!

What if you’re sitting on the other side of the fence here, what does this mean for you? Be a good friend. Be aware of the situations of those in your circles. Pick up on the little things. “Are you OK? ” – probably the best thing to say to someone suffering in silence. Silence does speak volumes, you just have to be willing to listen.

Some things aren’t better left unspoken.

Love always,

The RealTalk Team

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