The Reoccurring Incident

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I sit in my flat, on my bed where I’ve been for hours. Sometime in the last half an hour, the rain started. With the window open and my flat’s position in the roof, I hear it tapping on the window. One in a long list of things that makes me want to set up camp in my bedsheets.

I am depressed, down, unsettled, unmotivated, unhealthy.

In none of my dreams do I lie in bed all day, but yet, here I am. Same feeling of shame, same efforts to get out, same reasons to get better.

I know by now it’ll pass, that my feelings will change, that I may even be happy for a while. I was a few months ago.

I’ve decided you can only be happy in one of two things;

  • life: Family, friends, relationships
  • Work: Money, job satisfaction.

But only one of those things doesn’t keep my head above water. It’s like a lifejacket that’s only inflated on one side. Yes, there’s enough air to keep you floating, but you could still make a mistake and death isn’t too far away.

These moments are full of low light, dressing gowns, brief moments of smiling and often the overwhelming urge to cry. The guy I’m seeing told me I was the best thing in his life right now last night, an overwhelmingly nice gesture and yes I cried. But then I thought, he’s the best thing in my life right now. More than anything that made me think more about what is in my life right now. It’s not a thought that wasn’t sincere, but the way your mind works when depression comes calling.

What is in my life right now:

  • Him
  • Our dates
  • My mum
  • My friends
  • The odd workshop
  • Brief moments of beautiful creativity.

What isn’t in my life right now:

  • Job security
  • A loving family
  • The ability to travel
  • Satisfaction
  • Interaction with human beings.
  • Challenge

Looking at the lists, it’s easy to solve the equation.

Sending Your CV out + Job Hunting – time in bed + scraping money to see family – being in my own home = Some form of satisfaction  or balance?

* * *

My day:

Wake up, I’m tired, I trawl through Facebook searching blindly for something to satisfy a hunger I can never appease. You need to do some work today. Get up, if at all possible an hour or two after my alarm, eat breakfast with a cup of tea I only ever drink half of and try desperately not to watch YouTube. Watch YouTube until there’s nothing left to see. Feel like an utter failure. Think about what I should be doing in admin or CV sending and get overwhelmed by the scale of it all. Probably nap.

I lose hours doing God knows what, clean the kitchen, tidy my room, eat. I consider doing the work again, If I did I would be on top of one thing. My mind turns to that place of overwhelming fear again. Irrational fear. Uncomfortable fear. Inconsolable fear. I consider buying a desk. I’d do more with a desk. I google, I IKEA, I decide I don’t have the money.

I eat, I let myself watch some YouTube or Netflix, maybe this will cure the insatiable itch for satisfaction. He’s been playing video games, having some time to himself after work and he texts me. For a moment I feel relief. But it’s not sustainable. I persuade him to go back to his games, not to worry about me, even convince him I have been working or sometimes just admit I’m completely unmotivated. Something happens, the time goes by, he rings me, I laugh, appreciate his voice and his sentiment and then I sleep. If I can, for as long as humanly possible, but never through the night.

* * *

The rain is now pouring, letting out the amount of water I would need to cry to feel like I’d got anywhere past this place I’m in. It’s magical and I stand entranced feeling like for a minute it understands where I’m coming from. I return to bed and the anxiety kicks in.

With no one to see this develop and progress every day of your life, it’s easy to get away with. That child-like side of me I perceive ignores her priorities again. Ignores life again for another day.

Everything happens for a reason. 

The Alarm

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I have always talked on this blog about feeling I have two voices in my head, but recently a new one has come along. Now you have to understand, this isn’t anything like schizophrenia, people don’t talk to me and tell me to do things, but they’re the voice you and me hear every day when we make a mistake or do something stupid.

My voices go in this chronological order:

Voice 1:  PANIC: (aka – The Abuser) “What the fuck did you just do? Now let’s think of all the things you did wrong in that and repeat them for eternity. Remember what you did yesterday, that’s pretty similar.”

Voice 2: PROTECTION: “Don’t be so hard on yourself, people will understand, come on keep going.”

Voice 3: LOGIC: “You know there’s nothing wrong with what you just did, here’s other people that did the same thing and they didn’t die…”

It’s an interesting mix of opinion.

 

AN EXAMPLE

My housemate comes out of his room after having showered and murmurs under his breath “Shut that fucking thing up!”. Before walking down stairs and leaving the house.

Context:

  • My housemate is perfectly lovely. He cleans up after himself, is super polite and very apologetic.
  • He did not slam the door or do anything passive aggressively when he left.
  • I’m having trouble waking up at the moment due to my medication so it takes at least 30 minutes of 5 minute intervals of alarms to wake up enough to open my eyes.
  • We have never said a bad word to each other.
  • He owns the house we live in.

Voice 1: He was talking about you, you know. Your alarm has upset him and he won’t want you to live here anymore.

Voice 2: Oh hush, he murmured he didn’t shout, he probably didn’t even mean for you to hear he was just a bit miffed it kept going off.

Voice 3: At the end of the day, you wash the dishes, pay your rent on time and are a super good housemate to have. It’s a tiny event you don’t need to worry about.

Voice 1: The other day, I left my jacket in the lounge, did he think I was messy? Has it all been leading up to this. Is what happened in September going to happen again?

Voice 2: You’re not messy,  if anything you’re obsessively clean right now, you’re allowed to leave things in other rooms in the house, you rent the whole thing remember?

Voice 3: First of all, September was a completely different situation you’re still not able to explain. Second of all, he doesn’t hear your alarm normally because he wakes up before you so really it’s only this once he’s probably heard it. Third of all, not all the people of the UK hate you.

Voice 1: If he wants to shout things like that at my face, what else is he thinking? What does he tell his friends? Fuck I need to move out quicker. I haven’t got a flat confirmed yet, I’m going to be homeless again, vicious fucking circle, you idiot.

Voice 2: Sweet, remember that time he told you, you were annoying him? Remember that time he ignored you or refused to talk to you? No, because they don’t exist you’re not a bad person.

Voice 3: It’s very early in the morning, he’s likely just grumpy, maybe he went out last night and he’s hung over and mad that he has to be up this early in the morning himself. Maybe he was saying it about something else, not your alarm. Just get up and get on with your day at least you’re awake now.

Voice 1: I tried to smuggle the sound under my duvet, I thought that was working, why didn’t it work? Fuck, fuck I’m so stupid.

Voice 2: It did work, but he still heard a bit of it and you’re allowed an alarm.

Voice 3: If he says anything to you about it, which he probably won’t, just apologise and explain how hard it is to get up in the morning. People only become understanding if they know all the facts. Then think about how you can change your alarm to be a little more housemate friendly. Sorted, end of.

Voice 1: But now I have to think about this the entire morning whilst I have a shower and go out and on the drive and during my meetings and….

 

It’s very strange just how easy that was to write to show what goes on in my head. I try so desperately to use my logic voice and 90% of the time she helps me get past incidents like this that are so sooo small in the grand scale of things. When I begin to feel anxious or depressed though, the logic doesn’t come through. The protector however is always there, I feel such a maternal attitude towards my anxious self and my panic voice for the way she feels. I don’t feel like I truly am her at all, but she’s the strongest of the 3 in general, it’s just whether the other two can convince her.

So when you wonder what’s it’s like to suffer with anxiety or depression, think of this conversation I had with myself at 7.30am during just 3 minutes over a comment I wasn’t supposed to hear and probably wasn’t worth the processing. That’s how quick our brains are and that’s how hard it is to put out the fire once it’s started. Sometimes Voice 2 and 3 bow out defeated and the hatred of my own self starts again.

 

Ever experienced this?

She smiled…

…for the first time in a while, she felt herself again.

Why don’t more people take career breaks? It should be something that is pushed, recommended by Drs and Scientists the world over.

I hated having no work, I love to do what I do, but sometimes, I love it too much. The kind of love you feel for someone when you know it’s not right to stay with them, but you’ve committed and you feel like there isn’t another option now. But once I broke away and slowly (and I mean no work for 3 months slowly) built it back up again, I came to realise that work isn’t everything.

I get it, we all think we know this fact, but how often do we live it out? In Hong Kong I existed. In England right now I have hopes and dreams. I’ve accepted a reality that isn’t like many others and I smile, everyday and I wake up happy.

I’m still anxious, in fact a lot more, in new and exciting ways that only anxiety can surprise you with, but being in this state of mind I can deal with it better. I give myself credit for achievements and I think in a different way to before.

As I look around my friends I see these adults, millennials apparently, working their asses off and giving up their life dreams and more importantly their health. Work shouldn’t be everything. The latest theory says millennials don’t work hard enough, that we expect too much. I just think we’re looking at life in a different way. We work hard, damn hard, but we also are looking at a world of high house prices, low employment opportunities and quite frankly terrible politicians. We’re thinking of alternatives and not just doing what’s prescribed.

I know life isn’t going to be rosy forever and they’ll be ups and downs, but I hope that as I continue to add to my workload over the next year, I build it up gradually and keep this positivity and thirst for life.

The Final Asian Adventure

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So I just got back from Singapore to see my best friend and to be a tourist for a bit. This was my final Asian adventure before I return to the UK in August. Hopefully I can get to go to Dubai on my way home, but we’ll see when the time comes.

Honestly, it was the most relaxing holiday I have had for a while. I was anxious when I woke up at 4am on the day of travelling, but after taking half a Xanax, I was free for the rest of the day. My flight was incredible, I slept on the plane and when I got to Singapore, I could eat. This is incredible in my journey to lower anxiety. I find it hard to eat when I go away as I’m so anxious about what I CAN eat being Gluten Intolerant and a bit fussy. My friend was a legend though, she was googling Gluten Free eats all over the place and I had my fair share of options giving my health and well being a good old top up.

The entire time I was in Singapore I felt an overwhelming sense of calm, perhaps it was getting to be with my best friend again, maybe it was because I’d been before or maybe, just maybe I was achieving something new and exciting.

I went out in the evening to places I’d never been to before and experienced the wonders of Singapore. I found myself in forests and new places, got lost and I think found myself a little. I don’t know about you, but I wish my everyday self could be my travelling self. She’s a wonderous girl, she gets up early, eats well, lives life to the full and takes everyday as a huge adventure.

It’s hard to keep up though and when money is tight as I try to save for going home. I just have to think of all the people I will get to see again and how lovely it will be to be near to some wonderful people I love and yet so far away from my very best friend.

 

There’s always ying to your yang but you just have to make the most of it. 

I want to run away…

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Every time something big happens to me, I just want to run away. You can tell I’m at a definitive point in my life because all I can think about is where I could go in the next 48 hours.

This isn’t out of character, just before the end of university in 2007, I ran away with a guy I’d only met once to the Lake District. It’s a beautiful place and it was liberating. To be sure the relationship lasted the couple of days we were there, but not much longer. Last year it was my trip to Taiwan whilst I was having a stressful time working and trying to get my friend to commit to coming away with me. I booked it and was on a plane in less than 24 hours.

I’m not sure why I do it, I’m not even sure what the urge is inside me, but it’s always to get somewhere else. From reading my Taiwan blog, it’s probably my sense of self which is rejuvenated when I have to make a step by myself and become reliant on only me once more.

I’m already worried about going back to the UK or wherever the wind blows me. Everything is so uncertain and though I can be brave and I always say never to be afraid of change, sometimes change is something that gets to me. It’s the unknown in all that lies before you.

So here I am, a 27 year old woman, sat on her sofa with her two cats asleep beside her, googling frantically looking for deals on getaways. Perhaps a hotel, a simple change of scenery could do it. Whatever it is I need it and bad.

If you could jump up and do anything, what would you do?

Who knew I was so strong?

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Since I started this blog, I knew I wanted it to be somewhere where I talked about the positive and not just the negative. So I am writing this post to show just how positive things can be, we may have peaks and troughs in our emotions, but there’s always a time when you feel good or notice your strength, even just get suprised about the way you handled an event.

This week one of my best friends visited from the UK someone who I find strength in, love to pieces and trust deeply. When her and her boyfriend arrived a weight was lifted as I gained an adrenaline rush from their presence, I steamed through Hong Kong taking them to Causeway Bay, through Central and into Sai Ying Pun. I was showing them my city and just how proud I was of it. I breezed through it all and felt awesome.

Slowly throughout the week my friend got more and more negative and lagged behind me when walking. I realised she relied on her boyfriend a lot, getting into emotional tizzes easily and waiting on him to pick up the pieces. It was so out of character and it worried me. The week continued in this vein with me feeling pretty miffed that my friend who had been so full of positivity and life was being so grumpy.

On the last day, we went to go Kayaking at the beach, two paddles in she declared ‘ I’m too scared, I can’t do this.’ By this stage I had little sympathy thinking she would just be going back to sit with her boyfriend.  So I watched her get out, explained I was going to go out anyway and waved at her from the sea. I had every conversation possible with her whilst in my kayak, going over every scenario in  my head, something I do quite often so my emotions aren’t bottled up.

When I got out I returned to the beach to be told by her boyfriend she was pretty upset and I should probably go speak to her. In my head I was fuming, I hadn’t done anything wrong. I approached with caution and asked if she was ok and in the next few minutes I slowly realised and she admitted, that she now suffers from anxiety. She gets panic attacks and gets scared doing activities she would normally relish. This girl is a fearless surfer adrenaline junkie. As she explained the way she felt, the way her head had changed, I started to tell her about my own symptoms and she suddenly began to realise that she wasn’t the only one. There’s a big perception that you’re going insane when it first happens and I could see in her eyes a door opening as she realised it wasn’t just her. This is the most important element in all of this. You are not the only one.

My friend explained she’d never known what I meant when I told her I was anxious and instantly said sorry. She told me that I was such a strong person and had done so well to go so far. I explained I was proud of myself, but not everyday was like this week. I admitted that I felt like a phoney in Korea after having spent a lot of time at the hotel.

I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, but I’m not the only person who can do it. I find that you need to really listen to the voice being drowned out. Think, what do they want? Then sometimes just bloody get on with it. If I let my anxiety get the best of me, and don’t get me wrong there have been several times when it has, I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning, be working abroad in a job I love and I wouldn’t have met such lovely people out here who guide me everyday with their support.

If you’re only just beginning in all of this, yes it’s scary as hell, but the first step is just to admit it. I told my friend I was always here, but she wasn’t using me, the anxiety queen, well enough. I recommended she go to councilling as it’s a great first step in all of this, but it’s only you who can control it. Find a good friend,  don’t go overboard on the details as it’s a hard thing to understand, but just ensure they understand you sometimes need a little bit of support.

One thing my friend asked was if it would ever go away. To be honest, I don’t think it ever will, but that’s not the end of the world, unless you let it be. When you look back on your life you won’t highlight the moments of anxiety, you’ll think about the amazing adventures you had, so get up and get on with them, leave your comfort and defy the second voice.

 

 


Positivity is key in life. You should always look for the ways that it improves you as a person and gives you an opportunity to grow.

Hong Kong: A window to my world.

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In September 2013, I moved to Hong Kong. I knew one person here and I’d be working with her full-time. Once I found out about the job here, I nearly let myself down a few times, thinking maybe it was best to stay in England and stay with my friends, safe. But as I will explain another time, that’s not me. I never let myself be scared by a challenge, everyone in life should challenge themselves and me in myself wanted to do it.

The adrenaline kicked in about two weeks before I left, for the first time in ages I felt on top of the world, someone wanted me for my skill and merit. My first class honours degree had finally got me somewhere. I’d spent the last year freelancing, I direct with young people and after a successful second year out of uni, I found myself freelance again. It’s never easy to make the transition back after being paid a definite wage each month. But I survived and worked hard, the whole experience however hit me hard and if it wasn’t for my friend Mel, I don’t know what I would have done. By accident we started living together in a tiny studio flat. She was understanding, chilled out and the most the most fun I’ve ever had! If she hadn’t have helped boost my confidence during that year I don’t know if I would have made it to Hong Kong, but I did and I’m proud of myself for taking the leap.

Once I got here my anxiety vanished.

I used to sit and wonder where it’d gone, I felt great, there was no pit in my stomach, I was confident in meeting new people and making friends. The adventures I had in that first month involved alcohol, boys, making new friends and staying out late. All of which are horrendous triggers! Then something happened, it jilted me and made me re-analyse who I was becoming and what I’d left behind. I was becoming cocky and I didn’t like it. It wasn’t me. There’s  a funny culture in Hong Kong that I didn’t want to be a part of. From then on it slowly trickled back, the feelings of dread, apprehension and my own self belief.

However much it returns, I need to keep my head above water, I like to concentrate on the positive side of life and for all intents and purposes appear to others as strong. It may be a facade, but it’s who I wish to be.

I’m settled into a flat now and live alone, I just have to remind myself daily of what I’ve achieved. I’m doing well here and have already been asked to direct a huge production for the company. I just have to keep smiling

 

I’ll always try to stay positive.