A Year Today…

Screen Shot 2017-08-05 at 7.46.53 PM

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

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 6.18.38 PM

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

alarm

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 Meltdown.

TRAVEL_Women_030615A_DavidJubert

This time last week I was in bed exhausted after overdoing it at work. Here I am one week later and at the end ( I hope ) of a major meltdown.

It started last week after an intense period of rehearsals and getting everything ready for a huge meeting I was hosting with the freelance staff. I had stayed at work until 10pm one evening and worked from early in the morning. I was crashing, hard. On Sunday, I woke up thinking I’d be ok but as soon as I woke up, I didn’t want to move, I stayed in the same position for hours until I got up to go to the bathroom. Only then did I realise my viral labyrinthitis had been set off. Due to stress at an earlier time in my career the virus tends to rear it’s head at different stages of my life and throughout the day it got worse and worse.

I had begun this week also, to fill in my first job application and the journey I was starting on began to become more real. I also had a performance with a call time of 7.30am when I worked through until 6pm. It just all began to get on top of me. My mood changed, my sleeping habits changed and on Friday I couldn’t even concentrate enough to work and asked to leave and go home.

Friday night wasn’t too good. I have a colleague at work that, though she bought me over to Hong Kong to work for the company, she seems to want to find my negative flaws and air them out like her own dirty laundry. Within this week alone she’s pulled up my mistakes in from of my General Manager and at the end of this terrible day, sent me messages telling me I was doing my job wrong. No, she’s not my manager and yes, we work ‘together’ we’re on the same team and she doesn’t seem to want to work alongside me.

With her final message to me, it sent me over the edge. I bawled. I was almost inconsolable, I found myself pacing the flat trying to get this hate and anger out of me, but it was no use. I knew I wouldn’t be able to survive my day of work the next day, I work with young people through process drama and I just couldn’t face it. I text my boss to see if he was free and then, he rang me. I was in mid stream and full blown panic attack and I picked up the phone. I wasn’t thinking and I really shouldn’t have done it. My boss is a good one though, he heard what was happening to me and even offered to travel the hour and a half journey to see that I was alright, though I couldn’t let him.

Finally we both got in touch with my friend Lisa and she came over to calm me down. At this stage it would have taken hours if someone else wasn’t here to see me through it.

I am so thankful for having such supportive management, but I know in the next few days conversations will have to be had about all of this.

It’s now Saturday and today is the first day I’ve started to feel normal again. I just hope this is a one off. It’s the only time I’ve ever been like that when on my medication. It scared me, but I just have to keep looking forward and think of all the change ahead of me.

Listen only to the ones who matter.