I was going through my blog recently and editing some older posts or deleting them altogether. I cannot remember why but I changed my blog name a few times during this period. This blog starts at 2018 and right through to now.
I find my depression is so evident in this blog. There are huge gaps where I don’t post for weeks, and when I do – the quality of the post is not great. Apologies. I was trying to do a regular interview series called 4 questions with, which I stuck with and I am proud of. But in terms of my theme and the look of my blog, I had no idea. 2018 was the worst year of my life in recent memory. 2020 is trying hard to compete with it. in 2018 I started to realise and process what had happened to me when I was 17/18 years old. Sexual assault and rape. It was like a stuck record had suddenly started to find its groove and play again. The memories I had made me feel violated; any good memories felt tainted. My anxiety was crippling. My depression was too. I lost the habit of washing and relearning that was fucking hard. I did not leave the flat much at all, certainly not by myself. I tried, but I would get out of breath by the time I had gotten to the end of my road. I pushed and pushed myself, because I still had this thought in my head that I had to work, work, work. Otherwise I was failing and lazy. To be honest, a walk to the end of the road should have felt more like a victory at the time. That’s why I also struggled to blog because I had no Wi-Fi in my flat and I could only use the Wi-Fi in my public library. Obviously, getting to the library was difficult. I had to get my boyfriend to come with me and he was not always a willing participant. I could not settle in the library. if there was too much noise, it set my nerves on edge. I would lose motivation quickly. The library did not feel safe. Being around unpredictable people felt like being on a ship during a storm. The one place that did feel safe was my bedroom.
I look at some of the books on my blog at that time, books I was looking forward to reading, and I still haven’t read them. That makes me think – how much time have I lost feeling stuck and being sick? So much stuff collected and collected. I am now 25 years old and I could not tell you what I have done in these last 5 years. Apart from rot in my bed. I do wonder how on earth I am still alive. I have treated my body awfully and it hasn’t broken down yet. Every time I have tried to destroy myself, my body has refused to die. Bodies are pretty amazing, with what they can do.
25 years anxious. I probably came out of the womb anxious. Where does that come from? You learn to be anxious, don’t you? You worry and worries become anxiety if something isn’t explained to you or you are unable to articulate worries so someone can help you navigate the thing safely.
I think my mum was very nervous about letting us children out to play and my parents are both not overly social. There were not many people that came into the family bubble. I don’t think things were explained to me. I think that’s the thing with anxiety. Anxiety is like an extra special app on your phone. It is difficult to explain it, when you think what is going on in your mind is normal. I knew there were kids in my class who could do bits that I couldn’t. They oozed confidence. I was aware I was quiet and shy and I was aware this was a problem because on all my school reports teachers remarked ‘she needs to talk more in class!’ I did think being shy was a disease. I hated it. I wondered how I could get rid of it. This shyness I needed to accept as part of my character, and I needed help with my anxiety, which was a separate component. I do think that’s how I become depressed as a teenager, because I had no close friendships or relationships. I was a solitary person. Who was smart but confused by so much. And so much could have easily been fast-tracked into being ‘normalised’ if I had someone to talk to about it.
When I was a kid, I had some worries. The dentist and toothache, films coming to an end, nits, having no friends, being first in the queue to go to assembly in school because I didn’t want to lead the line, kids being sick in class and I didn’t want to be the next to catch it and vomit in class, party games and not wanting a turn because I didn’t want the focus to be on me – ditto with my own birthday and blowing out candles on the cake, asking permission to go to the toilet in class, getting a non-speaking part in the Christmas play. Bloody hell, I must have been a bag of nerves!
I wrote a poem on this and it is posted on my Patreon, so if you would like to read more of my writing click here
Do you ever do something and think afterwards how the f**k did I do that? IF ONLY IT COULD BE BOTTLED, THAT COURAGE.
I am talking about traveling with anxiety.
I have suffered with anxiety my whole life. It has limited my life to the extent I don’t go out, and if I do it’s after dark and to the supermarket to stock up on pasta and ice cream.
I have a partner I have been with for a few years. We did attempt to go out as a couple to restaurants and the like, but quickly had to knock that on the head because my anxiety did not make the experience at all fun. Then shit happened and going out at all became impossible.
That said, we have gone on holidays abroad. This is the point I think HOW?
Going on holiday is stressful, if like me you have agoraphobia and anxiety. For my partner it is enjoyable. Yes. Enjoyable. What a strange old word. Let’s break it down.
Travelling with Anxiety
Writing a list. A travel inventory. Nothing must be forgotten. Shades, toiletries – are they in a clear bag and to the measurements required, pads – you never know I might start my period, notebook, books, flip flops, charger – spare charger, snacks, magazine, toilet rolls, an outfit for my hand luggage – in case I puke over myself on the plane (keeping it classy) blanket, towel, sweeteners – am I the only person who feels bad when someone on the plane has forgotten their sweeteners and the cabin crew don’t have any, raincoat, tickets, printout of travel/hotel info, wipes, soap, money – in all currencies, tissues, water bottle.
Yes, this stuff can be bought in Spain or Germany or wherever. Yes, it is ok to forget something. TELL THAT TO MY BRAIN.
Packing the suitcase. Have to remember carrier bags, day outfits, socks, underwear, night outfits, evening outfits, pyjamas, loungewear, OH MY GOD THE SUITCASE ISN’T ZIPPING SHUT.
Traveling to the airport. That involves a train into London, an overnight stay in a hotel, worrying about dinner, and breakfast, trying to sleep in a bed that is not my own, what if my alarm doesn’t ring and we miss our flight, what if I don’t have time for a shower – I don’t want people to think I stink, setting the alarm 8 times so it goes off in the lift, and in the taxi on the way to the airport AND NOT BEING ABLE TO TURN IT OFF, worrying I may have left something in the hotel when I leave – I DIDN’T UNPACK ANYTHING.
The airport. Oh the airport. Trying to navigate the way into the airport, onto the shuttle, finding the toilets, waving off our suitcases, trying to hydrate and simultaneously trying to finish the bottle of water before we go through security, finding another toilet, queue at security, sweating because – you never know – I might get arrested, wondering if you will ever see your hand luggage again when you have relinquished it, the waiting, the delays, wandering through endless cold corridors – which always make me think of the time corridors in Doctor Who – my partner gets thoroughly annoyed every time I mention it,
all this while trying to rearrange my face to appear ‘normal’ while inside I am losing my shit, having no idea what to do with my hands, trying to not get stomped on by people in a bigger rush to get this done with than me,
then asking myself if my face has changed from my passport photo and they won’t let me on the plane, more waiting, waiting, getting onto those stairs to the plane – they frighten me – I don’t like heights, knowing as someone with a large chest someone is going to elbow my boobs, or going to get them in their head or back, and how on earth you get comfortable in a plane seat I do not know. As soon as I am sat in my seat I want to leave. There is no personal space, my knees are in jeopardy, and I immediately get a headache as soon as the plane takes off.
You think at this point I would have a chance to breathe, but no. I am counting down the minutes until the plane gets back onto solid ground. I’m not quiet about this either.
Being in a foreign country unsettles me. It’s because home is a bit too far away for comfort.
Queuing for the toilet, queuing, more queuing, and finding our suitcases. Is there no better way? Maybe it is just me, but how do I pull my suitcase off that thing without me landing on my backside.
I don’t know why, but we get a coach transfer to our hotel. It is a new kind of hell. Waiting for everyone to get onto the coach, onto the right coach, the relinquishing of luggage again as it goes in the boot, I worry about all of the kids running around, I worry about how the rest of the day is going to pan out now we are actually HERE.
It takes me 2 days to recover. So why do I do it to myself?
Because my anxiety is limiting, it also limits my partner’s life. I’m not going to tell him we can’t go on holiday, because there’s already a lot we don’t do because of my anxiety.
It’s like a bruise. Curiosity makes me keep prodding it. Travel is exciting. I like the idea of it. I like experiencing new places. New foods and new people not so much. Anxiety inducing. The holiday we had last year was relatively less stressful, which I think means I may be getting used to it. Also the airport was trying a new way of easing queues and getting people onto their flights quicker. That worked like a dream.
It’s a privilege to travel as well, my family could never afford to take me and my two siblings abroad. I think my parents probably had enough of taking us to stay in a caravan for a week. The memories I have of that are being in a stuffy car, ants and endless walking. I still had anxiety then. I will forever dislike piers. How can walking along slats of wood across the sea ever be fun? I used to have nightmares about falling into the sea. It doesn’t take a lot to fuel my imagination.
My counselling finished. I cannot afford it. After a year and however many months of trying to access help, I got it – from a women’s centre close to where I live. It has been 8 months, I think, of one session a week. I feel lost, to be honest. The decision was taken out of my hands. After last month’s depression and feeling lonely, I don’t think not having anyone to talk to is useful. It is shit. I am freaking out at being told I can start up again when I like but will be given a different counsellor depending on availability. I am sick of telling my story repeatedly to professionals. Especially when I’m like ‘oh, it’s fine!’ and they’re like, ‘that must have been tough for you,’ so I don’t like the thought of entrusting another person with my past. I know I’m no-one special and my experiences are not unique, it isn’t that a big deal.
I feel like I have opened all these wounds from the past and the memories are overwhelming at times. I haven’t figured out how to deal with them. I just feel shit about them.
My anxiety feels through the roof at the moment. I’m thinking about appointments I need to make after lockdown and even supermarket trips have an added layer of anxiety because of social distancing. It makes me feel like shit when you are in the supermarket and waiting for a person to finish picking up what they are getting from the shelf and they deliberate and change their mind and after three minutes I realise they have no idea I am there, waiting for them to move. Coughing doesn’t sound like a good idea to do now and I lose my voice in social environments, so after looking stupid, I go and get something else and come back when it’s free. It’s a worry I have, that I have no presence, that people seem to not notice me. It makes me think am I dead, am I invisible, is there something wrong with me?
No, people are knobheads, Kate.
The anxiety pisses me off. I have always had it and thought I was used to it and I actually realise it’s isolating and people are writing what they are going to do when they get out of lockdown and seeing friends and going to the beach and whatever. I’m writing stuff like see the doctor, go to the dentist, etc. because I haven’t in so long because anxiety is like ‘bitch, please. You really think you could do that without fucking up. Stay in your lane,’
Anxiety about my health is huge. I don’t think people appreciate what it takes, to phone to get an appointment and then building yourself up to go to the appointment. You’re thinking about what to wear, the bus, should I walk, the weather, what will happen in the appointment, what will I say, will I be taken seriously, will I be waiting long, do they have a toilet in the surgery, will they ask me to use the self-service machine I’ve never used before to weigh myself and get my height, will the receptionist be nice, will I be able to speak, will I make a fool of myself, what if I’m late, what if the doctor thinks I’m wasting their time, will they even look up from their computer at me, will I get a chance to speak my mind, what if I break the chair, will the surgery be busy, will everyone stare at me, what if the doctor doesn’t do anything, what if the doctor fobs me off, what if they give me medication and I have to tell them I cannot afford it and no, I’m not on benefits so I cant be exempt from charges, what if I don’t know the right stop to get off the bus, what if it rains, do I need an umbrella, which coat do I wear, will I get too hot, should I take a drink, should I take snacks, what am I going to do after, I’m going to have to walk past the railway tracks, it’s too loud, too many people –
You get the idea. Time becomes irrelevant. The appointment takes up every waking minute of every day leading up to it. I try and stay busy and distracted but it’s hard. I wish I could take my head off at times.
I know it’s ridiculous. I know if I could snap my fingers and not worry and be anxious, I would but I seemingly cannot. It’s the way I live. Every part of my life involves thinking too hard about it and I am in my comfort zone and when I dare try to do something new, anxiety pulls me in. It wants to save me from looking stupid and being rejected. It’s a nice thing of it to do, but it’s a hinderance, rather than a help. I realise that. Counselling has been one step out of the comfort zone, and it was positive. It was one day a week I left home and had a purpose. I was consistently going, my routine changed. Because it’s difficult for me to leave the flat without a goal, I need a reason to go out and other than shopping, visit to the public library, I got nothing. I have no-one to help me with that. I think a person could be of help. I have my boyfriend but, you know. He’s probably suffered as well. He’s outgoing but now he doesn’t do much either.
It’s frustrating because I nailed it late last year. Went out at least 5 days out of 7 and when my boyfriend and I went on holiday, we went out every day. I might have a good couple of days while on holiday and then I want to stay in the hotel room and not leave. It’s a positive we have been on holidays. It hasn’t been easy. Going to the shop to book the holiday, going to Primark to buy holiday clothes, packing literally everything in case we have burglars while we’re away, the travel to the airport, then navigating the airport, security, hours to kill, queues to buy an overpriced newspaper and bottle of water, delays, boarding, the transport to the plane, getting onto the plane, off the plane is horrendous and then queues to get through the airport, toilets, finding our luggage, transfer to the hotel is awful, check in, finding our room, food control issues so must first go the supermarket and buy supplies, restaurants, the beach, public toilets, body image problems – the list is endless and I do shut down. My boyfriend knows I’m not there at all and knows not to ask, just get me through the airport, onto the plane and to the hotel.
No-wonder I get burnout.
I tried to find positives here. I’m trying, which is good. Thanks for reading, Drop a comment if I said anything that made sense to you.
i’m not going to lie, i am emotionally all over the gaff. i have been feeling so many emotions and it’s all a bit strange. i normally feel nothing on this level and if i’m not careful i can feel my way into complete panic and then i struggle to breathe. i usually have SAD and it lifts around this time of year. instead i’m getting depression 24/7. it feels strange, unexpected. nothing to do with my period. so this feels like something else i need to navigate. of course, i am not underestimating this virus and what that is doing to us all. i think we’re all probably feeling, well, a little bit of everything right now. there’s so much death, and uncertainty. it is one day at a time. if you get through a day, high five. that shit is difficult. i am usually isolated. because of my anxiety my life is restricted in lots of ways and with the threat of ‘rona it feels no-one is carrying on as normal, so that doesn’t feel reassuring that at least the world outside of my flat is going on. because it isn’t.
i think one of the disturbing emotions for me is loneliness. i have been lonely for years. i have no friends. i am used to it. i think i may have been squashing those feelings down. i am now feeling the disconnect from people and that’s making me sad. how on earth do i live such an isolated life, that’s sad. i’m not continuing with counselling at the moment, i can’t afford to. i started counselling sessions last year and i think it has opened Pandora’s box because i just don’t stop thinking about the past and the trauma. now i’m not verbalising that face to face with someone, i think it is having an effect. obviously, it is.
i am still trying though. i have dumped, or parked, the shit that doesn’t matter and i cannot control. i am mainly trying to be productive because that gives my day structure and stay sober because i don’t need to be pouring gasoline on the flames – that will not help and not let my bf drive me up the wall because he is in all sorts of ways and i let other people’s moods infect mine. i need to stop doing that. he’s bored, not my job to entertain him. it isn’t like we don’t own enough books. and how can you get bored with reading? how?
at this point i don’t think anyone is reading my blog, understandably people’s priorities have changed. but i am going to continue blogging as a form of saving my sanity. if you are reading, hi and thank you. especially if you have read this. i want to share a line from a poem i wrote.
because i do feel so much of my growing was done in the dark, in my bedroom, and it didn’t feel like growing. it felt i was wasting time, i didn’t care (you don’t when you’re depressed) and i didn’t feel i was doing anything of any note. i was worrying about the future, the rent, am i ever going to be able to keep a job and have a career (i didn’t care because i was depressed, which gave me a great feeling of hopelessness) i mean, i was surviving. surviving is pretty fucking huge. what is that quote. you have survived a 100% of your bad days so far, you’re doing great.
i’m not going to say and that is why we will survive this current mess we are in. we can at least appreciate that there is hope. even if we’re feeling like utter crap (she says ever so eloquently)
those are my thoughts. thank you for reading. leave a comment if you like.