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!

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

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?

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”

Mission Accomplished

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Kung Hei Fat Choi!

It’s Chinese New Year in Hong Kong and tonight I did something I would never have been able to a year ago. Literally.

This time last year my friend and me were supposed to be watching the New Year’s fireworks and my anxiety was at a peak of resistance. It took me all my strength and energy to just leave the house. My friend came to my town, had a meal with me and every step we were like “We could just stay here if we want – no pressure” we were taking it in baby steps. Now I am not one to miss out on things and therefore I took a deep breathe got on the first tram we saw and took off to Sun Yat Sen Park. It wasn’t too busy but my body was going wild. It’s so difficult to describe that feeling, it’s just like your whole existence wants you to turn around grab the nearest taxi and get home under the duvet forever more. We managed to stay and watch enough until the sky became one mass of smoke and smog and then decided to leave. I couldn’t even go for a drink after, we had buy drinks from 7/11 and go back to my apartment for me to feel any kind of secure.

So this year I was determined. I had a conversation with my Doctor about my medication and asked him honestly where it was all going. He upped my dosage and said as soon as I I stopped feeling anxious altogether, we’d start to take the dosage down slowly.

That time is now.

Tonight I was on fire. I went to a place I knew would be busy, the IFC Terrace. I left the house with no problem at all, got to a nice spot on the terrace and all this…on my own. Usually when I’m on my own it’s a mission to get myself to stay without running back home. Today was different, I wondered around the shops, knowing full well the fireworks didn’t start for another hour, found a place to sit, got myself a coke and generally chilled. After the fireworks ended, and yes I was only able to see 30% of them…., I took it slow, chilled on the rooftop for a bit knowing that it’d be busy, the kind of busy I couldn’t be bothered with rather than I dreaded. I slowly made my way down to the MTR taking routes only the professionals are aware of when it comes to slow tourists. I went to Pret, walked through the airport express, bought some water and walked back to Central. Then when feeling tired at this point, I got the MTR, not a taxi, there was no panicking, no wondering if I would get home before I vomited everywhere. I took it slow and actually enjoyed the atmosphere.

The next few months are going to be full of challenges and I know I have to work hard to keep on top of myself, my feelings and my anxiety. But for this small thing to have happened makes me proud of myself and sometimes that means more than anything anyone else could tell you.

“Sometimes you just have to congratulate yourself.”

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.