Living alone is painful.

me

I have lived alone for the majority of the time I have been out of university, around 8 years. I once lived with a friend for a while in Hong Kong and with a guy whilst I rented out a room in his house.

I thought I was good at it. I’d hear people talking about their partner going away for a night or two and how they wouldn’t be able to stay at home alone. Now, I’m not that bad, but I am beginning to realise just how much living alone effects me.

My partner and I have just come back from a holiday away as well as a few weeks when we were both off work. During this time he lived here with me in my apartment. Things had a purpose. I washed up because we needed new dishes, I tidied so we could eat or work or play uno. He also picked up the pieces if I felt ill or tired and vice versa.

After a week of constant contact, he returned home, about an hour away. As soon as he left, my body seemed to stop functioning. I lay on my bed being inhaled by social media and by the time he’d got back I hadn’t moved. The last few days have mirrored this. I’ve begun to tell him that life doesn’t make sense without him. This hurts my sense of independence.

I have always been able to get on with life and have never needed someone by my side to do anything. I’ve travelled alone, flown alone long haul and moved to a new country. As I think more, I realise that the same thing has been happening for a while now. If I have something to do, I’ll be able to function, go along have a laugh, but I return home and life stops again. I’ve spent holidays sleeping through days and finding myself unable to cope with my own space. I used to sleep through weekends, fuelled by my hectic schedule, but it was more than that. I knew I needed time off work, but when I had it, I couldn’t find the energy to do the things I had wanted to, alone. I would return to work unable to properly explain what I’d done in the last 7 days and it made me so sad.

It’s true if my schedule is full, this becomes easier as I fill in the gaps with housework, errands and cooking. Having another person with me means the world makes a lot more sense. Whenever he’s here I find myself ‘pottering’, going around the apartment and sorting little things I hadn’t before, almost wasting my time with him.

Thinking about it, life has never made sense without someone. For years I have longed for a companion. I have found friends who I’d spend long periods of time with, go to events with and do the things you’d do with a partner as two singles who want to just bloody go to that fun new activity. Everyone I sought this friendship with grew wary of my presence. There’s always been remarks about how we’re ‘spending a lot of time together’ and how there ‘must be something else going on’. It’s unfair really, to assume things like that of people. It was most likely too much for them to handle, after all I needed someone to be there for me. No one was invested in keeping me sane!

I don’t think it’s to do with my partner that I say these things to him. I am independent with and without him and I know a lot about the world, but my mental health is poor and being alone has really stirred that up.

I always seem to write on here just before an ‘episode’ where I’ll have a period of depression or a worsening of my anxiety. Perhaps that’s also what drives the feeling of loss I suffer when people leave. I can get upset very easily at the thought of him not being here. It does show however that I truly believe him to be worthy of companion status, perhaps a little more than that and it’s been so wonderful to have someone who finally has wanted to take on that role, without shame or question. I’ve found a good egg. I still find myself trying not to put all my problems and emotions onto him though. I’ve learnt that it’s best to share it around with friends and family too. It gives each person a chance to have their own life too as such. The next time you talk to them after a small break, they’re ready to listen again.

Living alone is still shit though.

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Am I anxious or just lazy?

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I think most people with anxiety have had a comment or two about how they just need to suck it up, get on with it or ‘snap out of it’ and many may have experienced another;

‘You’re lazy’.

This was on my mind recently until I got a chance to try it out. Like many days, when I find myself working from home, I lie in bed or return to my bed at some point in the day feeling lost and overwhelmed. So this time I sat with myself and asked ‘Are you being lazy or is this something different?’

I analysed the feelings I was having. The thought of moving made me feel like crying, the thought of leaving the house horrified me leaving a feeling of dread, I thought about all the things I had to do for work and I felt my body ache, hurt and tense up. When someone is being lazy, they know full well they could do the task, they just choose not to. This was SO MUCH MORE. To feel physical pain from the thought of leaving your bed is far from lazy. It’s overwhelming. It’s tiring. It’s all consuming. It’s not in any way lazy.

I think naturally as someone with anxiety I tend to get frustrated by my own symptoms. At the moment I am really struggling. I’m on medication that has kept me on the straight and narrow for going on about 2 years, but all of a sudden it’s effect is not as great as before. I have begun to get a tight chest and feel anxious just for going to bed, something I have experienced in the past. I would often avoid going to sleep because of it causing me to be tired at work and have a bad day, but it would repeat as quickly as before. I have noticed that I don’t want to leave the house unless I have to. That makes me sad. I love to be out in the sunshine, so to see the sun from my window and not want to sit out in it is a horrible feeling.

I managed two panic attacks last week in the same day. Something I am neither proud or happy about. But since then, I have not been the same. I can’t seem to shake it. I’ve cried, I’ve hidden, I’ve pulled the duvet over my head and in the last two days my brain has needed stimulus at every moment. If there isn’t something on in the background my brain is going crazy and making me feel like a failure. One thing that’s different though, is there’s no particular reason for this spell. Thats when it makes me re-visit my (self-diagnosed – doctors have talked to me for years about anxiety and depression, but never given a diagnosis.) GAD, Generalised Anxiety Disorder title and realise that this is something that has to be caused by an imbalance. To have your mind be empty but your body tense, chest tightening and a serious feeling of dread is FAR from lazy.

I hope to return to the Drs in the next week or so, but the thought of a Dr who doesn’t know me, worries me. I want to do the next step, I want to see what else is available, I want to see a psychiatrist. I do not want to have my medication increased. If I have anymore medication in me, I feel like I might become a lifeless box and there is so much life in this box I just refuse to lose.

Be confidently anxious.

The Tiredness is Overwhelming

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Today, I saw a friend, looked after a super sick boyfriend and then was ready to spend the evening doing e-mails or maybe even something more exciting. But as soon as he left, I just wanted to sleep. I am now very much a believer of doing what my body needs if its realistic to do so, but as I lay there, I realised I wasn’t tired, I’d just lost my energy.

Recently I’ve had issues with my anxiety, last week I had two days where the strain showed through. Migraines, easy to anger, crying, confusion. I thought I was through the worst and aslong as I remembered to take my medication everything would get back to normal, but instead things are different.

The other day I woke myself up in the middle of the night, anxiety pulsing through my chest. I had dreamt I was going on holiday and it was the night before, so my body had started its usual thing of getting anxious for the flight. Except…there was no flight. Just me in my bed freaking out about it. I hadn’t experienced this in years. It was an unwelcome memory.

With my medication, my anxiety is now reasonably stable. Last week however, it was like i could feel the anxiety bulging out the sides, I knew it was there even though it was being pushed down. Today this became ever clearer, I went with a friend to a nearby cafe for brunch and felt my chest tighten just sitting with her and chatting. This was the first sign I started to get after being back from Hong Kong that my anxiety was bad. Otherwise I was able to function, eat, there was no need to rush to the bathroom, but it sat there heavy on my chest as a reminder of past experiences.

Once my boyfriend had left this evening, I went about airing out the room hoping not to get his illness. I had begun coughing when he was coughing, but I knew it wasn’t the same thing, I was there for the first 3 days he was ill and I haven’t caught it yet, but I admit I became quite the hypocondriac. Before you know it, my chest is tight, my throat hurts and I’m coughing. I stop myself and as I mentioned earlier just lay down to rest.

I’d forgotten how tiring and debilitating anxiety can be. I hadn’t even thought of this until my friend mentioned it at brunch. The medication makes me tired and I can sleep for hours, but the anxiety can turn my into a lifeless potato. I’ll lie and get nothing done I was supposed to, my normal entertainment gives me no stimulus and my mind starts to wonder into self doubt and damaging thoughts.

I know I need to use my tools here, a little meditation perhaps, but you need to be strong and willing to do that and often willingness isn’t your own choice.

 

Keep strong.

A Year Today…

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A year ago today I was flying back from Hong Kong, having spent a few days in Dubai. It came up on my feed as these things do and it got me thinking. What’s changed and is it for better or worse?

Work
Having got away from my work colleague and entered a freelance life I’m much happier with my work. I managed to get funding for a project I created and bid for myself. I put hard work in and got rewarded for it. Though I don’t have a full time job at the moment, I tend to be happier whilst working. It gives me more time for creativity and quality rather than quantity.

Relationships
I now talk with my Mum again and have somehow forged a new type of relationship with her. I can tell her things I never would have before and I like that. Friendships have blossomed and shrivelled that I never thought would, that’s something I didn’t expect, but often for the better. The friends I have are strong and loyal and I love them to pieces. My boyfriend, that’s something I never would have happened. This month we’ll have been together 6 months and I’m truly very happy at the moment. I feel like I’ve found someone who gets me, we’re taking it very slow and we’re very different people, but together we’re supportive of one another and I love that. I’ve fallen out with my brother and had a true heart to heart with my sister for the first time in my life.

Travel and Dreams
I haven’t set foot on an aeroplane since I got back to the UK. This is one of the saddest things that I am forever thinking about. I said when I got back I would put away money especially for holidays and travel, but I never got the chance. Since last August I’ve not even made enough money to be taxed, but I’ve kept myself afloat. My new dream is to have a narrowboat, intentioned as a home I could move around the country in the case of my job moving, somewhere I could call home and feel like I owned something. This dream has turned into the idea of some kind of tiny home, but all these ideas come with notions of loans I won’t be given by a bank anytime soon. My instagram posts are a mile away from the asia content it once was.

Stability
In Hong Kong I felt transient, like I was going to leave any minute. My flat felt lifeless as I bought furniture for necessity rather than to make it a home for myself. Since being back I’ve gone from being ready to move somewhere else with a job any minute to just wanting to stay in Birmingham. Finding a relief in setting roots for a while. This is only an option if I work for it though and it may be that things do change, I get a job I would love to take on somewhere else, but there are other things like friends, family and now a boyfriend to consider.

My anxiety
I have gone from lessoning my medication, to difficulties breathing, panic attacks, changing my medication cold turkey, having insane withdrawal effects I was not ready or warned of and the eventual addition to my dose which sees me where I am today. It’s scared me and contented me on and off. I still feel anxiety at points but more physically than psychologically. I look at my life now and know for certain there are so many things I can now do that I wouldn’t have been able to before. Long car journeys, early morning without nausea, a positive energy that has returned to my demeanour and a heart ready to invite others in.

Looking back
I attended the wedding of a friend from Hong Kong last month and had the most wonderful time. When I left, I cried, I cried for all the things about Hong Kong that I’d missed, I cried for all the people I left behind in Hong Kong that I loved dearly and I cried for the trapped human I was there. It was hard to describe to my friends and many didn’t understand. That’s something that you’re forever unable to explain to people. I mourn the loss of Hong Kong every day, but it’s not the reason I would go back, I thought deeply about my move and overall I feel happy with the decisions I made.

In review
ON January 1st this year I posted this tweet:Screen Shot 2017-08-05 at 7.37.38 PM

From this list, I can say that I am truly on my way to succeeding in my aims. I also have found a moment of calm in what has always been a rollercoaster of events and location, it’s nice to find a steady moment of me time. I needed that.

The future’s not ours to see, que sera, sera!

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?

This New Adventure…

Life has been far from what I thought it would be when I headed back to the UK, but after weeks and now months of returning, I now realise that’s it’s all just one big adventure. I may not be in some far off distant land, but I am still ready for whatever adventure comes my way.

While I still dream of all the places I could have visited, all the money I could have saved, I also remind myself of all the things I didn’t want. The reasons I came back.

It’s been strange readjusting to your own culture, I cried, went into denial and mourned the loss of a country who made me so welcome. I thought I might never see the UK in the same light again. But i was wrong and now it seems it’s all coming back to me and if anything I should be proud of all I achieved there and all I have achieved since then.

Since August I have now managed to get enough work to tide me over, covering my very bare essentials. Yes I have spent a lot of my savings, but with some luck, I will still have some to sit in my bank account. After all, that was what I had planned to spend them on.

The thing I am struggling with at the moment though is motivation. I have ideas, plans and opportunities, but I don’t always use them to the best of my abilities. I have found myself stuck in a rut that my brain desperately wants to get out of and my body just wants to sleep past.

Sleep is an issue. I got blood tests today to see if I had any problems that have caused my ability to almost sleep through the day. If I wanted to I could easily stay in bed all day. It’s a symptom of my looming depression, but after this long could be another problem altogether.

I think the thing I miss most is being able to see friends all the time. There was normally a few people I would meet with during the week who I thoroughly miss and in England it’s so different. People are working so many jobs, so many hours, have partners and it’s a chore to put the time aside to see people.

The biggest realisation though is that I am not on that husband, two children, house in the suburbs, pension, death route. Though my Facebook may be filled with marriages, that’s not me. I need to find a way to sustain myself, I want to be able to own my own home, but not some huge bricks and mortar building, but a little space. My latest thoughts are a narrowboat home, which I’ll design with my friend. The dream would be a tiny house on a little piece of land. I’m researching all the time and I hope I can find something that will help to support it.

I’m starting to think of all the alternatives in my new life. Does having kids require a partner? Does everyone have to have a full time job? When do I stop waiting for this mystic man to come forward? What is it that makes me actually happy? Like ME. Not someone else’s standards, but me? It feels alternative, but really isn’t it just realistic? Couldn’t it just be one more adventure in the time we call life?