Friday 6 April 2018

Starfish Blog Tour

Hello and welcome to my stop on the Starfish blog tour! So today I want to talk about a topic that comes up in the book that I really related to, which is social anxiety. In Starfish, Kiko suffers from anxiety, stopping her from doing things that her classmates are doing such as going to parties, and making it impossible for her to go to new places alone. Kiko's friends and family don't seem to understand why she can do certain things but not others, and Kiko finds it difficult to explain it to them. I was so happy to find a book that dealt with social anxiety as the mental illness that it is rather than a cute character quirk! Anxiety is not a quirk, it's something that affects the way you interact with the world. It's something that stops you from doing things that you really want to do, and it isn't something that you can just “get over.”

Everyone who has anxiety suffers from it in different ways, and of course have different experiences, but I just wanted to share a little about how it has affected me personally. Some of the things Kiko went through were quite similar to what has happened to me, and I particularly related to the party scenes. Like Kiko, I try to make everyone happy and try to push myself to do things I'm not comfortable with to try to please others. Kiko only has one friend near the start of the book, and she decides to go to a party with her friend who will soon be moving away for college. Kiko sees this as an opportunity to spend time with her friend, and get away from her abusive uncle. However things don't go to plan, and Kiko ends up immediately regretting her choice to attend. Like Kiko, I don't drink alcohol. I shouldn't have to explain why, but if on the rare occasion I find myself in a place that serves alcohol, I get asked why I'm not drinking, often by complete strangers. The last time this happened was at a comic con after party, and I made the mistake of telling them that I didn't like the taste of alcohol, which obviously wasn't a good enough reason, as they then started trying to get me to try various alcoholic drinks to see if I liked them. As the night went on and the people around me became more and more drunk, I ended up being more and more uncomfortable. I didn't want to talk to people I'd never met, I didn't want to try this drink, and I definitely didn't want to dance to nineties music. When I followed my acquaintances to the dance floor, I felt like everyone was staring at me. I felt like I was getting judged and if I danced people would laugh at me. But of course it turns out that awkwardly standing on the dance floor gained me more attention than dancing would have, and when the girl I had arrived with left to go to the bathroom, I had people asking me if I was okay. I wasn't okay, and all I wanted was to go home, but even that was difficult. How did I tell the people I was with that I was going to go home early? What excuse could I give for doing that? What I ended up doing was miserably waiting until the end. Until the bar had closed and the music stopped and my acquaintances were planning on going to get pizza. Only then did I excuse myself and leave.

This was kind of a bi annual thing that happens after the comic con I volunteer at, and the next time comic con came around, no one invited me to the after party. No one wanted me around this time. I didn't drink alcohol and I was probably really boring anyway, and even though I was a little hurt that I hadn't been asked, I was also relieved. Relieved because I didn't have to try to make an excuse for not going, or let myself be talked into going. Like Kiko, there are places I'm comfortable going, and places that I'm not. Comic Con itself is actually busier than the bar I was at, which would obviously make it more difficult for me right? Well actually that isn't the case, as like Kiko with her art, Comic Con is something I'm passionate about. I'm proud to be a nerd, and talking to actors is easier for me than talking to complete strangers. Having something to focus on, a topic I'm familiar with, and knowing a little about the person can work wonders on me. My mum finds it strange that I can talk to actors but not your average person in the street. I can't do small talk. I will immediately let any conversation die, and will do my best to get out of talking to someone. One of the most difficult things for me in answering the phone. Seeing an unknown number on my phone makes my heart race, and I will stare at it in horror until it stops. You would think talking to someone in person would be harder than talking on the phone, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that sometimes anxiety doesn't seem to make sense even to the people suffering from it.

Something that Kiko mentions that I really related to was having to take a break from people to be able to recharge. I think introverts without anxiety can probably relate to this too, but would probably seem really strange to extroverts. There is only so much social interaction I can take in a day, and even if I'm with someone who I love spending time with and am completely comfortable around, I still eventually hit a point where it's too much and I need to spend some time alone. Having somewhere I can retreat to when it gets too much is important to me, and when I'm out in public, sometimes I'll lock myself in a bathroom stall for a few minutes just to try to get a bit of headspace. Some things that I do to try to cope with day to day life does seem strange to any onlookers, but I have things I do to cope, and try to avoid having a full blown panic attack. One thing I wish was that people would understand mental illnesses more, and treat them as an illness rather than something you can easily get over. I have had anxiety for years, and sometimes it feels as if people think I'm faking, or that I want to have anxiety and I'm not helping myself. I would do anything to not feel like I was going to die from calling the dentist to make an appointment or for my heart not to race when I walk through a crowd of people. Things that most people don't think twice about doing can seem like the most difficult thing in the world for someone with anxiety.

There are of course several other important themes in this book that I thought were dealt with really well, but as anxiety was the one that I related to personally, I felt as if I would focus on that! I adored Starfish and will be posting a review on it soon!

The Starfish blog tour is running until 14th April, so check out the posts by all the other amazing bloggers!

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read this but I can appreciate the way the anxiety was dealt with. Nice post!