Take a step into the unknown

How did I get here? Why am I lost while others have found their way?

I see no road ahead. Just darkness I’m afraid to walk into. The sea of unknowns I rather not cross. My mind bubbles with terrible imaginations. The what-if-I-took the step. So, I mark a line of chalk between me and everything else that is a wall of darkness.

I don’t know about you but, this is where I have been. These days blurred with a constant guilt. Mixed in with a BAM of anxiety. And no, I’m not just talking about hiding in from the trick or treaters which is a pretty hard job in itself – with all the lights off apart from the TV. In fact this week – the scary thing was not the amount of painted skeleton faces or Frozen costumes, but just how far my anxiety went. It took over me. Overwhelmed me.

You know just how horrible, confusing and all scary this can be. Especially when it is like your whole body is control of you and no thinking can change it. Well, I mean in the short term. I had become scared of myself in a way. This overshadowing doom that kept on creeping up on me. It was the constant thought of something bad was going to happen – something to be feared. Lets face it – it isn’t nice. And although, I was taking steps forward it was like I was also taking steps back.

I will tell you one thing. I don’t want to bore you with my many weeks events. This story involves handing in my first CV ( a job – an experience that I am petrified of) into a shop. When I first walked in a sudden and almighty dread eclipsed me. Suddenly, I wanted to run away. To escape. So, when I had gone around the store – up and down the stairs figuring out who to ask because I was so nervous. I finally did it. To then be stumped with ‘we now only take CVs online’. I was gutted. I had worked hard on my CV. I made something also that they wouldn’t be able to see online. So, you could guess I was frustrated.

However, my dad encouraged me to ask someone else. Again after I had fidgeted – hummed and harred and basically got some balls I went to ask someone else. Thankfully they went to give it to the manager. Although, this may seem not so hard – it was for me. I did do it. But, I still felt tormented with anxiety.

My anxiety at the moment has become a bit of the unknown. I can’t reach out and grab it. Tear it up and put it in the bin. But, I have gotten somewhere. Writing down my thoughts. Yes, it sounds so patronising. Although it does feel a bit cringey at first it demonstrates all those thoughts you didn’t really take notice of. How they cascade and gain momentum i.e. I didn’t write today so therefore I am a failure becomes that means I am always a failure. Then ecalates to I am worthless – I can’t write anyway and on and on.

Writing it down allows us to see if we are telling the truth. And honestly some thoughts when written down seem silly and not as bad as you think. So, try to write thoughts down and see what you think? Are they really true – probably not? Are you exaggerating? You know you are thinking a yes.

We can see the road when we have become less clouded with these false anxieties or depressions. But, the main reality is – is that sometimes we have got to take that step into the unknown. You might just end up somewhere truly amazing.

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On the waiting list for the NHS


You know the feeling. It’s the I have waited so long in this queue and then sent to the back feeling. The labelled feeling like the sell-by-date on food.

That’s what ‘it’ makes us feel like. And what is this ‘it’ exactly? One word NHS. If you have dared to ask the NHS for help – like moi by now you should know how le crape it is. The acronym may as well stand for ‘Not Happening Soon’, because of the crazy amount of time it takes to be referred. Now I’m not disregarding the good work NHS people do – but seriously the waiting times *Cough government? (By the way I’m on round #2)

Calling the clinic was hard. Why? Because, I got so nervous (as per) that I had to write down what it was I needed to say. Nervous that I could feel my heart picking up and my palms begin to sweat. But, I did it. The reason. I had been screened. Unfortunately not a ticket to the cinema – but of those of you who have gone through the system before will know it is when you lardeedar about ‘what’s wrong’ and fill in the same questionnaire, 1-10s and all that. Which is fine and well and good. But, that must have been over 3 weeks ago and I hadn’t heard a peep out of them since. So what were they planning to do with me? They had left me out to dry.

So, I had to call. I want help. So, I did – to then be told to ring another number (which is the worse news for someone with social anxiety!). Eventually I made myself do it. Not only was it annoying to hear clear gossiping in the background (I could hear every word), but that I would have to wait 4 months till I can get therapy. I am on a waiting list, among other people and would have to wait until I get to the top – which let’s face it could take longer. It was like I was another body slung onto the heap.

This is not good enough! Not just for me, but for everybody. People can have downward spirals in a matter of hours, days – not months. You will know this. They need help. We need help. When we decide we need help or can get help (which lets face it can be a pretty daunting set of steps) – we do it because we feel as if we need help now. For a lot of people getting help feels like the last resort.

The harsh reality is that people are not getting help quick enough. Like I said it is not necessarily a matter of months, but more hours, days, weeks. I will be able to wait that long. However, I can’t say the same for others. What happens if its too long and someone commits sucide, hurts themselves badly or gets themselves in a heap of trouble? Not only does this potentially cost the NHS more? And also the legal system due to consequence – gosh even social services. It has a domino effect. Not to mention the distress of loved ones who may not have even have known someone suffered mentally.

So, even the idea of saving ‘money’ hasn’t fazed the government – the very heart of politics. There needs to be change. Suicide, self-destruction, panic, the feeling of doom can all be prevented with help. It doesn’t have to get that far. People shouldn’t have to hurt themselves to get attention or to be prioritized (in some cases). You and me shouldn’t have to feel insignificant by being added to a ‘list’ of people and made to feel as if you are competing. Everyone deserves help. You do.

The real ‘trew’ is that there should be nothing last minute about the mental health system. Everybody should be allowed access if needed. If people were educated about it earlier or if people were offered help earlier it could prevent a lot of occurrences (crime, injuries, loss, waste of money). People should be allowed help on the day no matter how big or small the problem feels like. We all need support at some point.

Together we must take a stand!

Labels

Hello Anxiety,

Whether they are sellotaped onto a gift, one of those annoying stickers you can’t get off a DVD or a pinned name badge, the word label has seemed to have adopted a far more metaphorical meaning. Now you’ve got people saying I don’t want to be labelled as… such and such or talking about how ‘labels’ are another form of stereotypes.

So, why am I chatting on about labels? Well, I have been thinking (as one often does) about the words or labels people put on anxiety. When you really think about it, and I mean really think about it. The amount of labels it gets are confusing. For once I’m not talking about ‘ignorant’ views or people who don’t have anxiety. Really it is how all of us choose to describe it differently. 

Some will call it an illness. Perhaps a disorder. Maybe even a disease. While others will explain it as something conditioned. An overly anxious person. A trouble. A problem. Generalised anxiety. Social anxiety. Agoraphobia. Depression. Introverted. The thing is we’ve probably used all if not most of these words to define this nerve jingling thing. But, really what is it? 

It’s all a bit mind boggling. If I say is an illness, does it mean I can be ‘cured’. Or perhaps I labelled it as a disease, does that mean I believe that there is no hope of getting better that it is simply something I have ‘got’. But, somehow being labelled ‘overly anxious’ doesn’t give us that medical jargon that seems to justify us. So, how do we define ourselves?

That just it. Today I can’t seem to get my head around it. However, what I can say is this. We weren’t born with this extra anxiety. Anxiety has come from experiences and events that have impacted our life in some way. Then they become bigger and bigger until perhaps we can no longer remember the original reason. So, today I don’t forgot my book of answers. However, it is definitely something to think about? How do you define or label anxiety?

#Tip 4 To find a path we first must climb a tree and see the view

Hello Anxiety,

“Hmm decisions…decisions?”

Life is often made out to be a list of decisions, stacked high and ready to be ticked off. Even the word itself “decision” has become as monstrously daunting and heavy as trying to go to sleep after watching a horror movie (which you told yourself not to watch) or hopelessly attempting to carry all your groceries (which you know you can’t) by running madly to the door before the weight keels you over.

As a teen, ‘decision making’ has been thrown, stuffed and flung down my throat **cough university. Not only that, but now there feels as if there is more pressure to make snap (couldn’t resist to click my fingers) decisions. It’s hard. And lets face it social expectations for not just us bubbled up teens, but for kiddies and the grownie ups too, seems to be coming to a boil.

Here is where you get your violin out… no I’m joking. What makes my decision making so hard for me personally is my anxiety. Which I hold my hands up and don’t doubt has affected everyone at some point. Whether that be trying to avoid that certain someone that has awkwardly blocked your path. Knowing whether to go for it and just ‘smile and wave’ or to quickly shuffle your butt out of there before they have a chance to see your face.

For me throughout my life so far there has been a clear line between my ‘aspirational decisions’ and my ‘anxious decisions’. How I see it is that you have the things that you would ‘in theory’ like to do if it were not for that tedious anxiety. And then pretty much all those anxious decisions that build a wall of avoidance we hide behind.

For sure anxiety has clouded my path. Now I can’t see the sign that should point me in the right direction. Perhaps others have passed me on this path, but I have been too scared to ask for their help so I am left here.

Feeling anxious of being judged has left my brain “confuzzled” (yes I like to blend words). It is mainly the bad narrator of my mind that makes me procrastinate, make excuses, literally doing anything, but come face to face with that decision.

It is like I’m or we are lost in an endless wood. We are tired, confused. We are all scared. What should we do?  The answer is this… to find a path we first must climb a tree and see the view.

#Tip4

#Tip 3 Be Harry Potter. Defeat those dementors with positivity.

Hello Anxiety,

Yep that little cloud has caught up with me again. I’m pretty sure that if I let it I would receive a proper drenching. It’s days like this when all you want to do is stay in your misery coma (at least that is what it’s telling me). There is nothing else my body seems to want to do, but drown in it – bask in array of the poor-me’s in the hope that guilt which stirs in my veins will go away.

Here’s a metaphor for Harry Potter fans! The lowness is like a dementor which feeds off sadness. In a way it’s like the dementor has a grasp of our soul or rather our true selves. And although, Harry was cured by some sweet tasting chocolate which most of the time can help with the blues. A square or two too many can leave us with a guilty food baby or rather ironically back to square one which was feeling low to begin with. That is what JK was getting at. I have heard many a time that dementors were symbolic of depression, and you can definitely see why.

But, chocolate was only a temporary cure like comfort eating or the bad habits we end up in. Bare with I’m not a Potter buff but have watched the movies. How does JK have Harry overcome these demons? With positivity, of course. Now, I know such a word has been used many a patronising time, but it is true. We like the character Harry have to make a decision to either let ourselves be leeched by anxiety and depression or we can realise the power that we have and give them a shove off. At the end of the day Voldemort was really defeated by love. A love that he didn’t have. All he had was fear. A power run by fear is know true power at all!

So, how do we stop those dementors or cloaking darkness from attacking us? Well this tip is simple. Though perhaps harder to follow. The sooner you realise that you hold all the cards in your life. No one else. When you look at what you have rather than what you don’t (it doesn’t matter how big or small it is – as long as it is important to you), be thankful. You are loved. If you don’t feel that way then here is a virtual hug (   ) we love you! Remember all those times where you did something you never thought you could. Look back and hold on to that proud feeling. You can do anything. You can achieve anything. Don’t think, I am not like that person so I can’t become a famous painter or whatever it is you aspire to be. They had their troubles too. You just didn’t see it. I’m struggling with writing my book. I can feel crippled with self-doubt. But, I got to keep telling myself I can do it! Keep going. Aspire for what you want to do. 

Those people that you want to be like or have been jealous of or simply inspire you. They were people who felt the fear and did it anyway. Simply they were the ones that didn’t give up.

So neither should you. And although, I wasn’t expecting to do such a long Harry Potter metaphor. Here it is #Tip 3 Be Harry Potter. Defeat those dementors with positivity.

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Throw away those thoughts

By the time I think of how to put this into words I will have finished the tube of Smarties that are sitting at my desk. Perhaps it’s my kiddish side thinking that with each time I’m not typing or thinking about thinking that having a ‘smartie’ will give me a smart idea. I can’t quite decide whether this ideology is right or wrong, either way I’m typing this down.

Yep the Smarties have now officially gone – I’m sorry you should have asked if you wanted me to save you one. Anywho, I have shredded my anxiety. Literally shredded. Like it has been torn into little tiny shreds in a monster machine that has gobbled them up. And I’m not going to lie it was a bit of an anti-climax. There was no-one singing or a rainbow shooting over my head, but it still felt pretty darn good.

So, it all came about when someone decided to give me a message in the form of a little reading. Believe what you will, but it felt like there was some reason that it caught my eye. Funnily enough it talked about casting off your anxiety, do you see the irony now? Well, not only did it talk about throwing away your woes, but seeing your common worries as if they were an annoying mosquito. And what do you do when you see that mosquito? You normally slap it off as soon as your brain has registered the beady little thing that it was you were staring at. It told me, this is how we should view anxiety. When in the scenarios such as the mosquito or in fight and flight, we don’t spend time doddling about in our thoughts, we deal with instantly. Just like when we touch boiling water, our instinct is to jump away – not to think. Therefore, that is just how we should treat anxiety.

Too often we tip-toe around ourselves in an obvious game of hide and seek. Too many times do we try to shove what we fear to the corner of our minds like quickly closing the doors of a wardrobe that has too many clothes in – then running away. We know what is going to happen. That the clothes are going to fall out and everything is going to be a mess. But we choose not to face it. We say not now and do not look back. However, now you realise if you had dealt with the wardrobe in the first place, if you took some of the clothes out and dealt with them, you wouldn’t be faced with the seemingly bigger problem later.

I suppose it is like the time when you know something is going to fall out the fridge when the next person opens it. But, you don’t have to deal with it – so you close the door quick. On the day this happens to you, you are the one who has to clean it up. Just like with your mind. If you keep putting your worries aside. If you keep giving them fuel by not dealing with them straight away. Then you, yes you are the one who has to clean up. That milk carton has spilt everywhere and now instead of putting it somewhere else you have to clean up and perhaps bin some of the food it has leaked over.

So today I got a piece of paper and wrote numbering all the thoughts and worries I had. Once I had done this – read them aloud. I realised just how silly some of them were or how blinkered I had become. It made me feel selfish and ungrateful to read these things. This in itself made me realise that they were wrong. It put my thoughts in perspective rather than let them grow further. Then at last I did the deed. I shredded it. My thoughts were wrong. They were not me. Now do the same. You might be relieved to get some revenge on those nasty thoughts!

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A story and a little bit about me

Hello Anxiety…

It appears that I can’t get away from you. Even if I cover my eyes with my hands, I can still see you seep in through the cracks.

You see this anxiety thing is like those school kids who jumped out at you in the corridor. At the same time you did and you didn’t expect it. Though you flinch enough as you roll your eyes to give them a laugh.

So to anyone who can hear my voice, however small it may be. Please come close and listen. Now, I shall tell you today’s story…

Today’s story is simple. Yet for me it is far from it! I suppose it’s like acceptance. It should only work in one way, but rather is shown to work in many.

But first I should start at the very beginning – the todays before today. The thing every good storyteller knows about, but is too daunting to approach first (sometimes ironically). So I guess that means you need to know more about me. **Takes a deep breath. So, have a seat and read. Perhaps grab a bag of popcorn. No I’m kidding, it’s really not that interesting – though I’m sure it would be if you imagined some dramatic trailer music in the background with your lights dimmed down. So grab that bag of popcorn. I recommend sweet over salted – salted blah.

I won’t tell you too much. I like the whole anonymity thing I have going on. Makes me feel like a modern Charlotte Bronte (who so happens to be my fave authoress). It also means as an anxious person who normally is anxious to post on Facebook let alone a blog can be as honest as possible.

So, number 1 I have just managed to survive and escape the chaotic jungle that so called adults like to call ‘high school’. Or as we call it ‘Sixth Form’. Yes, as soon as I could dart out those doors, never see those teachers again or have to be worried about nearly being as small as a year 8, I did. And boy am I glad about finally being free (I will save the exams for another story). Number 2, I am a teen writer. Well I suppose those are two things really don’t need much explaining. And lastly number 3 I have suffered anxiety for a while now and done 1 round of CBT.

Now, back to today’s story. Like I said it is simple. I got up and about. I was happy enough then BAM after watching the Emma Watson film The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I suddenly just felt depressed. Again my veins feel as if they are weighing down in me and I am getting irritated at everything (and that is not just because I’m a teenager).

I haven’t really got a conclusion for this today but this. All through these previous years. Where like everyone at some point in high school feels judged. I felt it the most. For me and for you it may be different. But, a lot of my anxiety comes from judgement. I care more about what others think than myself. However, if there is one thing positive I can say about this is that I have somehow managed to conquer that even if it is just a sliver by being able to post this. To where you – yeh you – the world can see!

That Little Rainy Cloud

Hello Anxiety…

I have been nothing but a grump today. Just simply a bag of nerves walking around in a human suit. Perhaps if you could see the anxiety and depression, I would be strolling around with a cloud spurting lightening over my head. Like a balloon it would be tied to me with a bit of string around my wrist to stop it from blowing away. Sometimes I wonder whether people can see it like some Vegas sign saying Look here! Look here! Gosh look how anxious she looks, she must also be depressed. 

However, the majority of the time this is just Anxiety Anne whispering in my ear like a school bully who wants to see me break and cry. Or those days when I don’t feel particularly up to pretending in once upon a times.Although, today it definitely feels more out of my control.

 For us anxityacs it is a constant battlefield of wanting to blurt out everything we are thinking or feeling a million times over or completely the opposite and don’t want anyone to know, but feel as if we are showing it. Like the balloon (SLASH) cloud thing we feel tied to anxiety. I suppose in some ways you can say it feels just about controllable as the weather.

Together we have tied that piece of string around our wrist, and at the end of the day we can be the only ones to sever it. We could take this further by thinking of the water cycle (which is the fuel/reason/habit for anxiety). Now I am not going to embark on a year 8 Geography lesson, but to create a rain cloud the first thing it needs is water. This perhaps is the reason we became anxious, the event or trigger if you will. It builds the cloud up and up until it bursts out with rain – you get the metaphor right? And then we do it again, we make rain from the same sea of anxiety – building and building till we burst again. Like the water cycle it repeats over and over again till we develop, traits and habits we feel we can’t get out of.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not into my summer days and sunshine – unless that it is cold enough to wear a hoodie. Though there was something about the sky today that made the sense of doom as I walked to the doctors even more foreboding. In honesty, I don’t  know what I expected to happen. I was still afraid.

You see to get better, we have to believe we are in control. Yes, anxiety can feel like the weather. It can come and surprise us, make us feel drowned and windswept. That doesn’t mean we can’t control it. Sometimes we choose to say it is uncontrollable, because it is harder (perhaps just initially) to challenge the habits its made. Its like the excuse we use  ‘it’s anxiety – I can’t control it’, is the umbrella that we use to shield our-self from the situation rather than put matters into our own hands.  I am in the same boat too. Together we need to say I control myself. It is me who decides how to react to something.

 It’s like going on a diet and someone buys you a chocolate bar. You don’t have to eat it now. You have the choice to save it for another time or to treat yourself. Being in control is also being able to say ‘no’ to things. I know that is one of my biggest problems. I feel this obligation to please others before myself. This makes my life harder than it needs to be i.e. saying yes to do more work and feel like you are juggling too much.

When we are challenging ourselves it is good to be a little selfish to think of yourself before making a decision you will regret or know you wouldn’t like. So, instead of trying to awkwardly shield yourself with an umbrella, try and cut that string loose.

Normal Is Such A Crap Word


Hello Anxiety…

I just want to be normal.

Normal is such a crap word. The definition may as well be a thing that doesn’t exist but we think exists. Normality is like trying to reach that last packet of Doritos at the top back of the shelves at the supermarket. You know you can’t reach it, but somehow still swinging your arms, going on your tip toes and generally looking like a loon helps. That may be a rubbish analogy, but you get it, right?

It’s that annoying game of piggy in the middle as a child that you soon gave up on and demanded it was time to change turns, despite it just being your go. Well at least that is what I feel about the word normal. In fact if you Googled it as I just have, you would realise it means conforming to standard, typical, expected. Ugh I don’t know about you, but the word normal seems to be as boring as eating the same thing all day every day for a year. Yet why do we crave a label that defines us as expected? How can anything be normal if things change around us all the time?

To you and me, we still just want to be normal. We say this, because we feel out of the loop and because we feel like our anxiety, depression or whatever it may be, stop us from what others seem to do with such annoying ease. But we forget. I forget. You forget. When we scroll up and down on Facebook getting our Sherlock on as we search through people’s Facebook lives (don’t deny you haven’t done it) or of course when we see someone in person and think – why can’t I be normal like them? Perhaps you may turn green with envy (not literally of course) or go into a misery coma of how their life is so much better than yours. But, how do you know there life is so great? If they are normal or rather if they feel normal? You don’t. Stop thinking you’re a physic with a crystal ball that can read into people’s minds. Or more sceptically we can’t read minds or be a fly on the wall to see what reality for them means. Remember everything is censored, just like films. U (you see what I did – film certificate *giggles anyway…) see only what people want you to see, especially on Facebook. A part from those embarrassing photos, you know the usual eyes closed in shot or being ruined by the flash. Anyway the moral here is, and I have been guilty of it is everything is not as it seems. 

Now I am not saying that person may have wanted to be like, has a double life where they do weird things like play dead (I actually researched this and there is actually someone who does this). However, satisfying and boosting that may feel, it is hardly ever that extreme. But you still get the gist.

When you feel like this (and I say ‘this’ because things can change and I mean optimistically), it is all too easy to get yourself tangled by normality. Perhaps to you feeling anxious, depressed or in pain is your normal or you simply feel divided by who you are and the group you call everyone else. This is why I like the quote be you because everyone else is taken. There is no one else like you. And no I don’t mean in the isolating or pessimistic way. In a good way.

Today bin the word normal. You are not boring. People don’t all look, dress, act the same. Get rid of the word normal because it stops you from changing for the better. It is the very thing that has you moving in that same anxious, depressed circle. It is that same voice that says you have to feel anxious and depressed because it’s normal. If you do the irony is that depression and anxiety will become your crutch. Without it to lean on you strangely become fearful of letting it go. This crutch then becomes your new normal.

 I know this, because I feel the same. Know that with you I will try to do the same thing. Set fire to the word normal and strive to be anything but. You can do anything. Don’t let yourself say otherwise.