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!

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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.

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?

A Letter to Myself.

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Dear N,

Remember who you were in Hong Kong. Remember that confident and resilient woman you were. Remember the friends you made and the people you now cherish.

I know England is hard for you right now, because life has become hard for you right now. There’s a certain way you used to be in Birmingham which effects who you are right now. But that’s the old you, that’s not who you’ve become. Embrace England with a fiery passion in your belly and a kind spirit.

Noone knows your personality like you do. You’re hilarious, witty (sometimes) and altogether kind. Remember that. Be that person you want to be, smile at strangers, be kind to the people around you and live life to the fullest. It doesn’t matter what country you’re in or who’s around you. Do this next step for you. Make the most of the hand you’ve been dealt and love yourself ever the more for it.

Remember people don’t know what you’re thinking. Ask for help when you need it and take notice of what’s going on around you. Be the strongest you, you want to be.

You know you don’t always love yourself. In fact often it’s quite the opposite, but the only way you can get through this is to be true to yourself. Use everything you learnt and be the traveller N. Right now there’s not much difference between you and her. Take that as an opportunity.

It won’t always be easy to read this letter without crying your eyes out or wishing you didn’t exist, but remember it’s always here. To care for you on the dark days and lift your spirits on the bright ones.

You need a new start and that all happens with you. Sit and write those applications and tell them everything you love about yourself, about how when you’re working with Young People you can’t think of anything else you want to do in your life. They make you happy, they give you life and without them you don’t have that. So get it.

Now, stop reading and get on with your life. Live it, to the full.

Best wishes,

N

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?

Everything’s about to Change.

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It’s a few months away yet, but I have made the decision to leave Hong Kong. There’s just not the breadth of opportunity I need here when it comes to my career and I have known that for a while. It’s time to return to the UK or to find somewhere else to call my home, at least for the time being.

I’m not scared of the move, I’m starting to save money and look at the posts that are coming up and if I’d be suitable for them. It’s hard though to go from a full time job to something I can’t really plan for. I’m starting to make my CV look good and think about who I am and how I can present myself. Think about my USP etc.

An anxious mind is not what I need in this situation and for the most part i’m doing good. As I mentioned before my anxiety is near to nothing which means I can take these steps without feeling like I’m doing anything wrong. So far it feels like the right move. I’ve told my work and I’ve told my friends, even my Mum and that’s huge! Now I just have to survive the next couple of months.

It’s funny you know, now I’m in my late twenties, I should have this shit down. I’m the person with 3 years experience, a breadth of knowledge and experiences under my belt. But will they want me? I now have everything that a few years ago I wasn’t getting anywhere because I lacked it. This is a forgotten moment in any person’s life.

Theoretically I should have a family, a house, a car and a pension building up…so far that’s not the case. You know what though, I feel like I’ve lived, if only for 3 years, I’ve explored, I’ve sought new worlds and new experiences that not a lot of other people have. There’s no engagement ring on my finger, but you know what? There’s time for all of that, I still feel like a teenager when I look at other people ‘adulting’ but I feel like my mind is more rounded. My perception clear and my body ready for this next chapter.

“Adulting isn’t all it’s made up to be anyway”