It wasn’t therapy strictly speaking, but it was an outlet nonetheless. A safe environment to express myself on paper.
I’d been looking forward to attending this event all week. I was quite nervous though as this would be the first social event, in about 3 to 4 months, that I would be going to on my own. It’s that strange dichotomy of wanting the company of others, to be a part of a group whilst also not wanting to draw significant attention to oneself in fear of social interaction with strangers. The fear stems from insecurity, the source of that being mental health issues. This is what I imagined happening:
Stranger notices me, makes eye contact and smiles; I nervously smile back and look away. Stranger approaches me, meanwhile I pretend not to notice whilst focusing on something else (but I do in fact see them in my peripheral vision). Stranger taps my shoulder lightly, I turn around to face them acting slightly surprised but happy to see them (I actually want to run away). They introduce themselves, I introduce myself. Then the questions start (which I hate because I really don’t want to talk about myself). Why don’t I want to talk about myself?
Because I am recovering from a mental health episode and that’s all I can think about because it’s been affecting every aspect of my life for the past few months, I am not working, I am not studying, I’m not yet volunteering and I spend most of my time going to therapy alone, reading books alone, going to the gym on my own and watching Netflix – alone. I used to be an interesting and enthusiastic person and do lots of different things and I used to like meeting new people and making friends, but right now I’m kind of finding that hard.
This is what is going through my mind. Should I actually be saying this to people? I want to be honest, but I am worried how people will react. So I try to keep myself to myself really, in order to avoid situations like these; to avoid the potential awkwardness, the tension, the “Oh I didn’t realise, I’m sorry to hear that” moments.
But tonight turned out to be okay, people didn’t really make much conversation, everybody pretty much got down to creative business. We all sat down amongst the sea of white sheets on the floor with paints, pencils and charcoal in hand. 2 hours passed. No bright lights just the comforting glow of string lights and lanterns whilst Kate Tempest and other poets played in the background played, sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings – no filter. Just poetry and paint …