Kind of ironic - on Friday I posted about ableism, not knowing that I would face it on the same day.
Let me give you a scenario, dearest nerdlets.
Imagine you have anxiety problems. Imagine you're having a flare-up, and something that seems everyday to everyone else is terrifying to you.
I don't mean just worrying. I mean terrifying - the kind of terrified you'd feel if you lost a kid at the supermarket or were having trouble opening your parachute after jumping out of a plane.
Imagine you freak out, but manage to gather yourself up. You manage to push through and do the thing that's terrifying you.
And then someone draws attention to your weird behaviour, loudly, in front of a group of strangers.
It would hurt, yes?
Fine, maybe they don't understand why you were acting like that, but surely they can see that you were freaked out - for whatever reason - and maybe, I don't know, not embarrass you in front of random-a*s members of the public?!
I mean, really, is that so difficult?
OK - explanation time:
I had to catch a train.
Trains make me nervous at the best of times - social interaction with strangers plus weird track vibrations plus the fact that I'm terrible at figuring out which one is my stop and what the time is, all add up to an at best slightly awkward experience.
(FYI - I could go on to list more reasons I dislike trains, but this post is about stigma not transportation.)
So, the gap from station to train was bigger than average - it's quite a leap there, and I have short legs.
And, as mentioned, my anxiety was flaring up. And someone had killed themselves a little further down the line less than a week earlier.
So I pulled back, and freaked a little. My breathing was getting pretty hectic, and my hands were starting to shake a little.
Honestly? I could very well have gone into full-on panic attack mode if The Bestie hadn't just smiled in understanding, held out a hand for me to grab, and pulled me onto the train (did I mention I have the best Bestie?)
So, I'm on the train, apologising to The Bestie for being a pain (and her telling me to stop apologising,) and trying to get my breathing back to normal, the ticket conductor guy comes over so that we can buy our tickets.
I'm sure he didn't mean to completely humiliate me by saying that he thought I was never getting on, and thought he'd have to 'bung you on myself' (this guy was huge, so that thought wasn't particularly reassuring.)
I'm sure he didn't mean to nearly bring me to tears by saying all of this loudly in front of a carriage full of people who may or may not have seen me freak out at the station, and chuckling as if it was all one big joke.
But he did.
I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I wanted to burst out crying. I literally felt so stupid in that moment.
Look, I don't blame him for not figuring out why I was acting oddly - I don't wear a sign with 'Has Mental Health Problems' around my neck - but surely common sense should have made him keep his mouth shut?
I could've been freaking out for literally any reason.
I might've had vision problems, and wasn't able to see how to get across the gap. I might've had mobility problems and been worried about how to get across. I might've had PTSD, and been having a flashback.
I might just have been having a real sh**ty day that just got too much.
There are a million things that might've made me act a little weird.
The moral of this story, dearest nerdlets? Put yourself in the other person's position. Would you like it if someone treated you like this?
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