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31 Oct 2020 , by Caroline

The myth of the brave face

How do you break the mindset of putting on a brave face when asked how you are? You open up and talk.

I haven’t written anything for a few weeks now. It isn’t because I couldn’t be bothered and it wasn’t because I was too busy. It was because, well, my mind was blank, I literally didn’t know how I was feeling, what I wanted to say; not even to myself.

You see even though I have been diagnosed with anxiety for a good few years now, and I have seen many fantastic therapists and have talked many hours away, I hadn’t really broken that mindset habit of putting on a brave face and saying “Oh fine, how are you?” when somebody asks how I am.

Things at the moment have been bad. Proper bad, and then along comes another week and the bad turns to worse yet still, whenever friends, family, neighbours asked how are you I would always smile and say “Oh fine, how are you?”. I have been hiding so much with that phrase. Inside, like so many, I am feeling scared, anxious, worried, not sleeping properly, constantly overthinking, and every thought seems to begin with “What if……”.

Yet to anyone who saw me, I looked “fine” because that is what I thought would be the best way to appear. Even after all the therapy sessions I still reverted back to what I thought was best – brave face, carry on, and it will all come good and the bad will just go away and I will feel better.

It didn’t get better of course, and I really should have known. in fact it got to the point I numbed acknowledging how I was feeling so much, I didn’t actually know how to explain to myself what was wrong. But thanks to therapy, and finally accepting this was not the way, I knew what I needed to do.

I told the truth, I told someone how I was really feeling. First to my nearest and dearest relative. I just opened up and talked. The next day, I talked some more, then the next day and the next. Then I opened up to another relative. Then to my closest friends. This was, by far, the best thing I have done for ages.

I know you probably know, but if anyone needs to read this – who is also going through a tough time and keeping everything inside and showing the world their brave face – do yourself the biggest favour – talk. There are so many amazing organisations that are out there for any of us who just need to tell someone what they really feeling behind their brave face. Don’t make the mistake I did, but know that it really is good to talk. You do not have to keep everything inside and deny how you are really feeling.

Talking and being truthful to yourself and to a person of trust is always the best way.

There are so many people everywhere at the moment that are going through horrendous, traumatic, scary times. But we really are all in this together we are not alone, and there really are those out there who do understand and who do get it.

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