How Indirect Hate-Speech Has Brought Back My Anxiety

I’ve suffered from anxiety in the past, mainly when I was in my mid-late-teens but not really so in the past couple of years. There have been times of course where I have been a tad “on edge” or more self-aware than usual and it has gotten worse with time. If you know me or met me, then you would obviously be quite surprised considering I seem like a really outgoing, extroverted sort of individual. However, this usually involves me doing something when I’m the focus of attention when I was in a band, the anxiety would definitely become a major part of why I stopped performing. The pressure to perform, the pictures and videos that got posted where I was making a strange face or I was sweaty. I was definitely incredibly critical of myself and my appearance but I had got a lot better since then by focusing on my studies, playing music for my own enjoyment and also blogging in itself has been quite therapeutic for me (along with the occasional smoke). I had felt a lot more comfortable going to events, doing interviews etc and I genuinely felt in a much better place mentally, but the past month has definitely had an effect on me.

In the past month, not one but 2 *EDIT: 3* terrorist attacks happened in Britain, one in London, a place which I spend a great deal of time and the other in Manchester. The Manchester attack shook me a lot, probably because of how spontaneous it was and how close to home it was. There had been no attacks on this scale since 7/7 in 2005, that was 12 years ago, I was only 12 years old and when you’re that age you’re aware of what’s happened but it doesn’t really register as much. As a schoolboy in Glasgow, London seemed like a million miles away but when you get older the world seems an awful lot smaller.

I remember being out the full day then arriving at my friends, and while she was making us some food I was browsing Twitter and I had to do a double-take. I was watching the news basically unfold and I was trying to comprehend something like that happening, and then remember if I knew anybody there. I was drunk and tired so my brain wasn’t working as it should but I managed to remember who was there and luckily I managed to get a hold of them and they were alive and safe. I got an Uber around 6 am and he hadn’t heard the news and I was the one to tell him, he told me his friend and their kid was at the show. The panic the poor guy felt was awful, I had to tell him to pull over and try and get fresh air and give his friend a call. He did receive a text from his friend before I got out to confirm that they were safe, I’ve never seen someone let out a long sigh of relief, it was incredibly emotional time for him and me.

I got home for about 6 am laying in bed and endlessly scrolling through my social media, news channels, everything on my phone was more updates about the attack. A terrorist attack, Isis, death toll rises, interviews from witnesses and emergency services, video footage, theories and hours were passing by like minutes. However, it was the comments on Facebook that I spent most of my time reading over. I find whenever something like this happens it really does bring out the bigoted scumbags on your social media. When you have people agreeing with Katie Hopkins and sharing Tommy Robinson’s videos of absolute filth it’s worrying. The videos were bad but the comment sections were worse bordering on encouragement for mass genocide. Although I’m not a Muslim, I had a Christian upbringing, went to Sunday School and of course the Boys Brigade – Football Player of the Year, 2 years in a row (just saying) – I am now Agnostic. However, that does not remove from the fact that I am mixed-race, courtesy of a white mother and a black father I have brown skin so I am aware that I may draw some similarities with a “traditional” Muslim based on my appearance.

After spending many hours of reading through a lot of hateful comments, I had to go to the doctors where I got diagnosed with tonsillitis and had to go to a chemist to pick up my medication, this was fine. I then wanted to go to the supermarket round the corner for a bottle of water because I was thirsty and this was when I became incredibly anxious. Even though all I had was a small prescription bag from the chemist with 2 packs of antibiotics in it, I was worried how people would see me, whether they would avoid me, give me strange looks. Even when I got in the supermarket and headed to get my water, I was incredibly self-aware about little things such as how I was walking, whether I looked suspicious, was I walking differently, am I drawing attention to myself and even though I looked about and everyone was just going about their day I still felt self-conscious. Even while waiting at the self-service checkout I didn’t even know how to stand, hands in pockets or out? arms folded or unfolded? Pull out my phone and start texting or does that look suspicious? Completely irrational thinking somehow had taken over. I did manage to pay for my water and leave but it was truly awful about how much I was overthinking about silly little things and panicking about how I’m standing.

I kept a low profile for several weeks after, usually venturing out to my local shop or going to see my friends and family but in those weeks, I often did nothing but watch the news and scroll through stuff on my laptop. The internet can be a great place but it can be a horrific one at the same time. London got attacked, more hate-filled videos were posted and more horrific comments were posted, it made me feel very uneasy. However, I was fine, I can’t not leave my house, that’s silly, right?

 

However, on the 7th June my friend, Ryan calls me up and asks to go shopping because he was off on holiday for 2 weeks with his girlfriend and I needed to buy my mum a birthday present for the day after so I agreed to meet him. I grabbed my trusty rucksack like Bart Simpson and headed for the train to meet my friend and I felt okay when I got him. It was a quiet confidence knowing that I had my friend there – whether it was because he’s my friend and/or is white, I definitely felt more comfortable with him there. We went to Glasgow’s St. Enoch shopping centre and decided to get ourselves a little snack before we parted ways. However, on our way up the escalators we noticed a guy and a girl making eyes and smiling at each other, the girl passed by him, looked and stopped and the guy pulled out his phone, wandered closer to her and then bottled it. We then had 2 people who both clearly fancied each other and me and my friend were curious as to what was going to happen and we both watched in anticipation this couple clearly wanting to speak to each other but neither having the bottle to make the first move as they awkwardly shuffle around each other. We managed to reach the top of the escalator and we had to follow this couple from the top floor as they forever edged closer to each other with both their phones out. My friend and I stood at the barrier of the escalator and looked on from the balcony so we could follow the 2 potential lovebirds. I had turned to face my friend to talk to him about the ongoing situation while he continued to keep his eyes fixed on the subjects. At that moment, security came up to me and asked what I was doing – not my friend who was stood next to me. I simply explained the story and that I was with my friend and that we’re just regular people just being nosey little guys. This was deemed an unacceptable reason by the security because we now look “rather shifty”. Bear in mind that I’m wearing a “Movies Nachos & Naps” sweatshirt and carrying a Lush bag that says “protect animal Lives” and my friend is 5’6 white guy from X Factor. The bottom line is fair to say, we weren’t welcome in the place and were basically made to leave – I never even got my KFC! Since then I couldn’t help but think if I was white would that situation have occurred, maybe, maybe not but it definitely made me feel even more subconscious about myself and my skin tone. I went back a couple of days later with my mum and we saw a group of white teenagers looking over exactly where my friend and I were. Never seen them get moved on though…

The main thing is, I’ve 2sat on this for a few weeks, thinking, trying to make sense of it all. am I overreacting, is it just one of those things”? I honestly don’t know. However, one thing I know for a fact is I’ve never felt more anxious or self-conscious about my skin colour more than right now. The sad thing is, I’m not even a Muslim and my anxiety has increased ten-fold by all the hate that I’m seeing, I can’t imagine how an actual Muslim must feel, anxiety doesn’t affect everyone but I can guarantee there must be actual Muslims who must feel anxious going out in public for fear of being targeted, avoided, shamed for what a select few of their religious group have done. I know, emotions run high whenever things like Manchester & London happen and emotionally-fuelled comments aren’t always the best ones. It’s easy to point fingers and blame whenever something like this happens but divisive comments help no one. The Mancunian spirit especially has been heart-warming to see, especially that young guy who blindfolded himself and offered free hugs to the public.

I was going to post this but since I wrote this an attack on Muslims outside a London mosque happened, the attack was awful but what’s worse is the justification for such an attack. Now, I don’t know much about the attack and his family have come out and said that he’s not racist in the same way a football manager comes out at the end of a match and says his player isn’t “that sorta player”. Even though said player has left a member of the opposition with his leg hanging off. The thing is though, it wasn’t a “race” attack, it was an attack on a group of people based on their religious beliefs. But, it’s not as if this guy got out his van and enquired about their religious beliefs. He simply saw people outside a mosque and targeted them.

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I know many people on here, will look at this and assume I’m being melodramatic or being a bit of a “drama queen” but I can’t help how I feel. This is my place where I get to air my own personal views, opinions, and feelings. I know most of this article has been Islam-related and I have zero ties to the religion myself, I have several Muslim friends (I mean there’s literally billions of them, it would be odd if I hadn’t befriended at least one of them, right?). I just wanted to share my views about how I’m feeling and why I’m feeling the way I am but also to make other people aware of their comments online, especially when emotions are running high. If I, a non-Muslim guy with brown skin has seen his anxiety rise to the surface for the first time in a while due to hate-filled comments not even necessarily about me then it’s impossible to imagine how someone of the Islamic faith must be feeling if they also suffer anxiety and reading those same comments. I don’t care how big or strong someone is, but if you see someone with the platform of Katie Hopkins encouraging the British public to take matters into their own hands in aid of a “final solution” against people similar to you based on your beliefs. It’s a scary thing.

If you have been affected by recent events, and feel anxious and worried for the future then try and remember for every Tommy Robinson there’s a Jeremy Corbyn. The vast majority of people want peace, there’s just a minority of each group that wants to mess that up. Don’t let hate divide us as a country and continue to share and preach messages of love and equality to all regardless of your religion or beliefs.

Have you also been affected directly or indirectly by recent events? Can you relate to the article?   I know this is quite a heavy article than what people have come to expect from me, but it’s one that’s important to my current state of mind. Any questions about my article should be sent to enquiries@pookiepopblog.com.

 

 

Jay Carrington

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