My usual internal monologue when people actually ask how I feel is: Well, I’m extremely restless thanks to my burdening anxiety and depression, I haven’t slept properly in weeks and my social relationships are breaking down, which is worsening my fears of rejection. I desperately want and need to tell someone. Maybe I should tell you. I really need a hug. And someone to tell me it’ll be OK. I want to unbottle my thoughts and spill out everything. But what if I tell you that and you get weirded out or reject me? What if you think I’m just after attention? Or think I’m a freak?
So another week or so passes without me alerting anyone to how I feel because there is no way I will tell someone how I feel. My mind adds sharply, I’m repressed, depressed and British.
Believe it or not, that entire repressed emotion thing is a staple of British culture. I firmly believe now that it’s ingrained into all of us from birth. Furthermore, you don’t touch or greet people in the street or anywhere else. For example, if you accidentally grazed someone’s arm you on the bus, you are to immediately apologize or people will think you touched them on purpose. The same goes for talking — there’s no way in hell you would get away with approaching someone on the morning commute who you’ve never met, and go “How’s things?” Yet I have had perfect strangers ask me this on social networks. They don’t know me, but they still care and feel. Something I cannot comprehend. Because it isn’t a familiar experience.