As part of our NHC Big Talk Project, we wanted to present our up and coming shop nights with some articles on the website about some very real people, and some of their very real struggles they face every day. The point of these articles, and the shop nights starting in July, is simply to show people that they are not alone, no matter what they face. People don't just need to talk more, they need to love and empathise more too, as that's a world I would truly want to live in. We thought it would only be fair that the man at the helm steps up first to have a chat;
My name is Jamie McDermid.
I'm the guy you can usually find behind the counter at NHC MUSIC whenever you pop in for a record, or a beer and a chat, and I suffer from an anxiety disorder.
The word 'suffer' is something I struggle to write as I put all this down on the laptop (fifth draft by the way, this is probably the hardest bloody thing I have ever had to write, the word 'slog' comes to mind). Should I write the word suffer? Is that how you would describe anxiety, as a suffering?
...And that other word, disorder… is that even right? Doesn't sound right to me. Then again, the word disorder does mean 'state of confusion' too, so maybe aye, maybe it is spot on.
The very start of this article is what was the kind of thought ringing through my head constantly as I type. A series of angry, confusing, self deprecating thoughts that can often smash through the self imposed walls I have erected over the years. Building the walls takes a lot out of me though, so every time the damn thing collapses, I sometimes collapse a little myself too, and then they take me ages to erect again. Brick by brick. Day by day.
Some people think that anxiety itself is just 'the fear'. At least in Scotland, among the young emboldened lads it does. That's what I thought it was too. I just have the fear, that's all. Had a good drink over the weekend, so you get the fear right after a session eh? That's all it is. It will pass.
Every time it visits though, it takes a little longer to leave. Then it starts to happen on dry weeks when alcohol hasn't passed your lips. Some nights it wakes you from your sleep, to a darkened room and paranoid self arguments regarding the day ahead that hasn't even started yet. Some days it just sets your pulse racing, and other days it makes you late to open the shop as you can't stand to walk outside and meet...anyone. Yet...yet you have no real answers to it. Sometimes it feels like it wants me to fail just for the sheer fucking hell of it, and the irony is that having anxiety just brings on more anxiety, and sometimes when I do fail at something because of its hooked talons tearing into my thoughts... I blame myself, never it. The anxiety gets off scot-free every time. It must have been my fault. I was the failure on my own. This is what it does. This is anxiety.
Listen to me, listen to me very closely. You are not the failure, You are never the failure.
The anxiety is the failure. It's important that you know that.
My personal fight with it is so far going okay, well, as okay as any of us can be sometimes. There are most certainly good weeks and bad weeks. If I can honestly say I suffered from anything over and above all else, then it was the inability to talk to anyone about where my head was on any particular day. Talking seemed weak when I was younger. Men didn't talk about feelings and shit, they were harder than that. I had awful thoughts at times which I came very close to acting out on, on one or two occasions. I managed to pull myself back from a very dark brink by opening up (well, sometimes by breaking down, to be fair!) to other people that I trusted. It helped me. It really can help you too. One of my hopes is that by reading this, and understanding that you are not as alone as you sometimes think you are, and that there really is people out there you can talk to in confidence, then you may start to realise that there is a better life out there to be had.
One of the main things I want to tell you is that there is nothing weak or fragile about wanting, or needing, to open up to someone. If you fear opening up but do it anyway, that makes you strong, not weak. It took me years to work that out for myself, and when I eventually started to realise that aye, I did have a problem that needed addressed, I wished I had addressed it sooner. I would maybe be further on with my life if I had, I would maybe have saved some personal and professional relationships from the trash fire of bad decision making that was my mind for a time.
See? That's the self deprecation kicking in again. For me that part never truly goes away so I embrace it with dark humour, for me the humour is just another wall I have built, brick by brick, day by day. I said above that I am doing okay, but that's just because I identify it now, and when it kicks in I tell myself 'that's not me, that's the anxiety'. It's a separate identity almost, one that I am constantly fighting against, but at least now I know my enemy. I have been asked what things have personally helped me get on top of it, well, there has been very few things that worked well enough to mention here. I tried smoking weed for a time to dampen it, but weed just makes me a tad paranoid and anxious, which is very much not what I needed when I already felt paranoid and anxious! Micro-dosing mushrooms was another experiment, I did about 3 months on that and it seemed to work a bit for me, again, working for me is anecdotal at best but I thought honesty, total honesty, was the best way forward for this particular series of articles.
I settled on cbd oil these days to help a bit when the going gets particularly rough and I can't seem to put the enemy back in the cage on my own. That seems to work for now, again though it may not work for others, different strokes for different folks. I hope that you find what works for you, but the most important thing is, don't bottle it up. Don't just go building walls and not talking to anyone about it as I used to. Because even the strongest walls, built brick by brick, day by day, can't weather the really bad storms
Find shelter in other people instead, and we can weather those storms together.