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.

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!

Stop Bullying

You are a school kid. Alone. Headed for home.

Yours hands are clutched over the folder you carry everywhere. By now you are quite away from your first year (high school) and the second, but perhaps not much further. The little company you have our your own thoughts and the memory of the day. The school is now a bit behind you.

Two boys head towards you. Your age. The same shabby uniform, perhaps they are in one of your classes. Maybe you hardly know them at all. They begin to awkwardly whisper at you, close and in the side of your ear. You don’t and can’t look at them. Their words are cruel.

Like sharks they preyed on you. Circled you then tested you out. At best you ignore them. You know they want to see your hairs on your arms prick, streaks down your face. Will they ever leave you? What can you do?

This is what I saw today. Bullying.

I had been where he had been. Gosh, I had practically danced around in his shoes. Maybe you have too? So, what do you do when you see this? Tell them to leave them alone or if they are being violent seek help. If you have been in that position then you know how horrible it can feel! So, speak up. It’s can be hard especially when we ourselves are anxious, but if you see it do it. I was surprised at how startled the bully’s looked before leaving him alone.

This also goes for ourselves. If you haven’t been bullied then you are wrong. If you get anxious a lot then anxiety is your bully. So feel that adrenaline and speak up as loud as you can. Tell it once and for all to leave you alone!

Tip#2 Fight back

When I was little I came up with a crazy-not-so-crazy notion. Something which kiddies with their daring and sometimes giggly imaginations often do. As a 4 year old, I thought that people saw a different me than the one I saw in the mirror. Of course, I told myself that clearly all the other small people would see a far prettier version from what I saw. That thought has stuck with me (I mean that thought that I thought – gosh if only I believed this could be true! Could you imagine, I would practically be floating on a cloud).

Yes, this thought might have been fanciful. Perhaps you could even say that it was more fantasy than reality. STOP. Let the thought sink in for a minute. Then ask yourself, is it really all those things?

If you described yourself and then someone else did (whether that be your chums or your families), would you say the same things? Err no, not likely. In fact you will probably find that you have either done one of the following or more:

1.     1. Made an array of umm and err’s to make it sound as if you are coming up with something… buuut you can’t really think of how to ‘start’.
2.   Spotted features – I have a nose
3.      Frowned at yourself in an attempted Harry Potter move to become (waves wand) Invisiblo.
4.      Labelled yourself as something or other i.e. tall – lanky – short – stubby and the list goes on and on.

But, something that we know we all have done is pick out the negatives first or perhaps just dumped them all on ourselves. Like how it is easier to draw the negative line than the crossed plus sign. We take the easier way out. May be we don’t even want to say nice things about ourselves, because we feels it crosses that barrier between confident and just plain obsessed with yourself. But, you are not.

For whatever reason the way the world works is that good things always seem to be much harder. Whether that be trying to attempt a non-chocolate diet and pile on the veg or trying to push out a few positive words. It just seems that the bad thoughts seem to come more easily to us. However what you need to remember is that the good is always more rewarding.

 The great thing is this. I wouldn’t see you the same way as you would and vice versa. Think of it this way. Those nasty nipping thoughts you told yourself are still just thoughts. Like I have realised, just because you think something doesn’t make it true.

It’s like today when the cooking didn’t go my way. I’m a failure. Just as black and white as that. I can’t cook. I can’t do this. And suddenly your mind is not yours anymore. Why do I do this? Because I always feel as if I have to do things perfectly. If I don’t, I have failed.

I know. I know. This is not true. And that is my point. It also leads to my next tip which is to fight back. Slap that one crappy thought with a better one. I’m not a failure, because I still managed to cook a nice meal…

Now is the time to get in the ring with your thoughts. Stop taking the blows on your face, learn how to block, dodge and thought punch your way to the winning bell. 

#Tip 1 on how to get out of Anxietytown

Hello Anxiety,

Today I took a step. And not just out in the rain that seemed to endlessly pour out of the heavens. But, a real step forward to getting myself out of Anxietytown or several if you are talking literally. Now, although I still have plenty of steps before I reach the border between Anxietytown and Freedom with every step whether that be crawling, running or hopping I will get there. And if I can, then so can you.

Picture back to a few weeks ago. At this time I had a really bad few weeks. As we do, when things feel particularly worse. I just felt pretty crap. I felt tense all the time like I couldn’t relax my muscles. I had lost some of my appetite (which I will say is completely unlike me) – my digestive system decided it would be fun to play a bad game a Tetris. I was getting anxious a lot. Well a lot for me. And it kept on stacking higher and higher. Not to mention the thoughts and other lardeedars. It just wasn’t fun. Still isn’t – though it is better.

At this point, all I wanted was help. I knew I needed and I wanted it as soon as. So, if you think you need help or if you say you don’t but you know that you do, get it. This is my 2nd time I went to my  GP and also 2nd time I have been referred. Lets face it, it is a loonngg process and I understand scarily so for those who need it most. Granted it has come around quicker than last, but it just seems so difficult to get help. Something which is just wrong for so many reasons that I know many of you know.

So, as I came just by the minute on time, having being anxious on top of anxious because my Dad took a while to get ready, I finally took my step. A few days ago weirdly enough I was looking forward to this. This felt like my hope to getting better for good rather than for a while. So, as I took my hood down went in and waited while the nerves still bubbled in me.

When my name was finally called in the way that it always is in a clinical environment, I got up and went. Why I am bothering to say this? Well, that in itself is a step. A step you can also take.

When I sat down on those rubbish uncomfortable chairs and the same doctory (yes I made this word up) cold wall colour, every thing was put in a new perspective again. It always happens that you have to sieve through all the problems you have faced, perhaps feeling as if we have to prove ourselves that yes we are anxious people. Always thinking or regretting that we failed to mention a very important point. Once I had talked for a while and filled in that same form I had become familiar to, I began to feel it all hit me. I wanted to cry, but felt I couldn’t. It just felt so emotional and it is.

So, I said I would give you some tips on how to get better. And as I went home I was bewildered at what it is I could say to help. Now, it rings as loud as ever. Tip#1 If you haven’t already got help get it! Ask for it! Talk about it! Then you will be one step closer to the mighty land of Freedom.

Your life is in your hands

Hello Anxiety…

It’s just turned 9 o’clock or if you’re being specific 9:03. Before I sat at my desk to look out the window which was holding the brisk blue morning outside, I was nearly exploding with ideas to write. Now that I have had a shower and sat down, you have guessed it – they have gone. But, here is something I wrote some days ago when it just felt like everything was crumbling over me…

Is this ever going to end?

I can’t cope anymore. 

I am trapped here. Stuck in this nervousness by the tense walls of my body. Each muscle is fringed and pulling away from me. I don’t think I can take this much longer. I feel sick. Oh no – I feel sick. I feel sick! I am so afraid. It’s getting worse! Stop making it worse. Calm DOWN. 

Perhaps I can’t. What if I can’t calm down? 

I am not going to calm down. Another sloshed wave of nausea hits. I panic. I don’t know what to do. Why is this happening to me? I want it to go away and never come back. Gosh, why did I have to be like this? 

Too soon I become aware of every negative thought. It numbs me, controls me. Stops me from wanting to fight. I took punch after punch. In the ring in my mind anxiety was winning. I couldn’t get up. Just lay there on the floor taking blow after blow, thought after thought. I was bowing in submission. I felt too weak with the tension which has plagued me for weeks. Memories of anxiety relentlessly flashing in front of my eyes, trying to make me feel as though I was reliving the same moment. It was at night. It’s night now etc. I had enough of always feeling this way.

In some way it was like I was predicting my own prophecy. A prophecy that in reality or written down was warped, distorted and blurred by something other than myself. Where can I go? 

Somehow you feel like you are scrambling in a pit slick with mud. You are trying to reach the top, but you keep sliding down. Last night was not the best. But, it was not the worst either, however tempting it is to say so. I managed to control myself. Even though right now there is a voice in my ear telling me I didn’t. But, I did. 

So ok everything wasn’t suddenly sunshine and rainbows – though I would love to have that any day. Simply by playing with my dog, taking a shower, reading, watching some funny TV (not depressing TV – keep in mind it has to make you laugh) did help. Now if you are anything like me, you are sceptic. Or maybe it is that voice telling you as it did me – nothing is going to work. Don’t bother even trying it. It is all about what is best for you – not me or everyone else – just you. I suppose trying is better than nothing. It is the hope that says we can get through this. At the beginning of the night I was at my wits end. It told me I wouldn’t survive this. How could I go on living like this? Having so much stress in my body. And although I am a bit shaken up by last night, I got through so can you. 

So, whether you are just having a really crappy day, woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning or  really worried about the day ahead, try to find what it is you enjoy that will take at least the edge off.

You don’t always feel the same everyday. To me it is sometimes having these stretches of days may be more when ‘it’ has control of me and like a puppet I move with it until, I eventually break and fall like cascading dominoes.  Then after these times it is like a weird limbo. Everything you felt doesn’t feel as heightened now. And what felt like long anxious ‘I can’t cope’ anymore days have become a blurred memory you keep trying to get a hold of. This is not saying I don’t feel anxious, just not as scarily so.

But, even though I felt my body was going without me. I was tense all the time and confused as to how to stop it. The good thing is that I feel a bit better now. Because the reality is that my life was put in my own hands. Just like yours is. It was not put in the hands of your friends, your family, your bank, your job, your school or a bully. It was put in yours. Accept that it is going to take time to feel less anxious. But, remember that being anxious is up to you. Like it was up to me on that night. And although perhaps I still wasn’t the most relaxed, by trying to retake control I was taking one step out of many more.

So, as you head wherever you are going today. Try to take another step. Today is your day. Grab it because you can.

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.

The Truth To Understanding Anxiety

The page is blank. It is staring at you, you are staring at it. You have everything and anything to say, yet the words cannot be found here. Your hand is not scrawling letters and your fingertips are not hitting the keyboard. Still you wait. Your brow deep in a frown, the clock barely moving and eyes blinking the same white. You wait some more.

You are frustrated. Why can’t I say what I want? Why can I not write? Are the thoughts, questions that go through your head. You need to get this done, you can’t get distracted now. No, distractions this time.

You must keep looking at the page. You have to keep asking yourself the same thing over and over until the first few words spring out and darken the all-white page.

What is stopping you? Is it boredom? Is it that TV show you are missing? Is it confusion or is it fear?
Fear stops us. First words are daunting, because it is the same as breaking silence only in written form. We are afraid to look in the mirror for what we imagine ourselves to look like rather than what we appear to be.

You have experienced this. I have experienced this. It is human.

Yet so many people don’t understand the same fear which drives anxiety? You say of course I understand anxiety, everyone gets anxiety. And it’s true, everyone experiences nervousness from sitting in an exam to being asked questions in your first job interview. Everyone gets anxious.
But what if that spike of nerves or that instinct to run hit you every day? Like the blank piece of paper you are always staring it down, because you can’t think of the words, you can’t find the solution or the cure to heal your fears.

What is it like living with ‘anxiety’?

It is obvious. Not easy. Imagine yourself not being able to go out the house, because when you go out you feel judged by others. It is like when you walk into the room where people have been clearly talking about you. It is that uncomforting feeling that follows you wherever you go.
It is feeling useless. You are told you are not, but you feel it anyway. Because you have told it to yourself a thousand times that you believe it.

Anxiety is limitless. It is unique it is you.

It is the label tied around your neck that makes you feel different when you are similar and similar when you are different.

It is an excuse, but it is also a truth.

It is fueled by doubts, dominated by question and powered by fear.