The whole picture

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Today’s been a day for panic and anxiety – nothing new there I hear you cry! But rather than the physical panic attacks or the anxiety about an event it’s been a sheer blind panic about how people perceive me and how I come across online and in my communications; Facebook exchanges/Instagram/texts/Whatsapp/Twitter etc. I’ve painstakingly gone through my interactions over the last few days and cringed. Whether it be  incessant posting and hashtagging, or comments I’ve made that I deem witty but others, well, don’t; it’s all made me feel a bit pathetic and desperate.

I’ve said this before; social media is great but when you mix it with a dose of anxiety, paranoia and general ‘feeling like shit about yourself’ it can get a bit difficult. No matter how many people say they don’t, we all compare ourselves to others online. We all try and portray the great and good in our lives; the arty and the fashionable, but when we see other people’s pictures/posts etc. we forget that they are in fact a skewed take on someone’s life and not, pardon the pun, the whole picture.

And then there’s the issue of writing something that, in your head, is really witty and cool that actually isn’t and the other person doesn’t get it so you have to over-explain with something equally un-witty and a plethora of emojis. Sometimes this is played out for everyone to see or worse still it’s in one of those wretched conversations where you see a “read” sign but no reply and you find yourself fretting about whether said person now thinks you’re weird/stupid/unhinged.

I also find I do that thing where I post because I’m feeling a bit down or a bit lonely – the thought of a few likes or better still a comment; seeming like the answer to everything. Some sort of validation.  But again usually it results in no interaction which results in more feelings of hopelessness and self deprecation and so on and so forth.

I long to be one of those people that are really breezy online, someone that doesn’t analyse every single word in a text or a message (and generally make ridiculous assumptions) and not feel the need to document every moment in my life with a picture (and copious filtering, amiright?). I long to just be able to go; “hey, I’m feeling a bit rubbish, fancy a chat?” rather than posting a Guardian article about someone else feeling that way and suggesting it’s “a good read” with the hope that someone might pick up on my subliminal messaging.

Precious Time

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m currently having CBT sessions, and whilst it’s not been plain sailing, I have found many useful tools that are helping every day seem that little bit easier.

I’ve always been a very organised person; I like a plan, I like a list and I like a diary and this is something that’s reinforced, working as a PA. As anyone who has experienced CBT will tell you, it involves a lot of lists, a lot of charts and various diaries – so It’s something that I’ve really been able to get on board with.

The last few sessions have been focused on the notion of making sure I do things for myself; making sure I do things I enjoy and making sure I (try at least!) to relax. Underpinning this has been some work on finding out what’s really important to me, what I value and cherish and ensuring that I make time for it every week.

In recent years this is definitely something I have struggled with. The usual; spending too much time on things that don’t really matter and with people that don’t really matter, and it’s not until you really look back on things that you realise how little you were doing that you actually enjoyed. The notion of only doing things you want to do and only investing time in the people that deserve it is quite a basic one, but so damn hard to put into practice (certainly in my twenties that’s for sure).

Fast forward a few weeks though and I now don’t have a weekend free until October, but every weekend is to be filled with things I want to do, with people I want to see. And it feels great.

Family has always been my number one priority and always will be, and living away from them since leaving for university has been hard. Often it has been difficult/too expensive to see them as much as I would like and I’ve hated it. But with a bit of planning and a Two Together card, I now have plenty of visits planned, as well as a holiday with my younger brother Matt to see our aunt in Portugal in a few weeks time and some qality time with Tom’s family.

My love of going out to bars has certainly dwindled in the last few years, and I’ve found it hard to socialise with friends as I don’t really drink anymore and drunken nights out put the fear of god in me, but with the support and ingenuity of Tom, the past few months have seen me spending a lot more time with my friends, having fun, outside of the usual pub setting. We’ve taken part in the Crystal Maze, played crazy golf, been for walks and just had sofa pizza nights and it’s made me feel so much more confident and so much less hopeless and anxious.

Tom and I have also ensured we’ve been spending more quality time together and making the most of our weekends with going and exploring different areas of London and walks, and it’s when I’m at my happiest. I love a walk through a Royal Park, admiring all the flowers and dogs. Granted some might find it boring but for me it’s what I enjoy and it’s what gives me some calm.

Therapy is definitely a learning curve and I’m sure there’s a lot more to go, but I already feel that I’m able to make some smarter choices and choose what I do with more thought and insight. It’s important to remind ourselves sometimes that we aren’t obliged to do anything that makes us feel horrible or bad about ourselves and we don’t have to spend time with people who drain us and make us feel worse about ourselves.

You never hear anyone having regrets about spending too much time doing what they love and with the people they love, only ever about wasting time on things and people that weren’t worth it. Don’t feel guilty abot making those decisions.

Ain’t no mountain high enough

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A year ago today I undertook the biggest challenge of my life and without sounding melodramatic, it changed my life.

I was lucky enough to be chosen as part of Team Wales to undertake Mind’s inaugural 3000s which comprised of a 24hr trek climbing 15 mountains in the green green grass of home; Snowdonia. In classic Michelle fashion, I was having a low day and decided I wanted to do something positive and make people proud of me, so I signed up, not really thinking I’d get a place and not really realising what it was I was signing up for. The hook was that the Welsh team would be captained by Matt Johnson. Having seen him bare his soul on This Morning earlier in the year talking about his battles with mental health, it sparked a conversation with my mum; up until that point I hadn’t really been completely honest about what I was going through. Seeing this successful, charismatic face talking about such deeply personal things in front of millions gave me the confidence to speak out and I wanted to say thank you; and what better way than helping him raise money for such a wonderful and vital charity like Mind.

I remember getting the email telling me I’d been successful and going into sheer panic. 15 mountains. 24hrs. How on earth was that going to be possible? But of course my stubbornness prevailed (I am a Taurus after all) and I decided it would be fine. I’d practice. How hard could walking be?! And the fact that a lot of people told me I couldn’t possible do it meant that not doing it wasn’t an option. So I spent the following 8 months fundraising, freaking out and not really doing that much walking….and then freaking out some more.

The fundraising was tough; I wanted to make as much money as possible, I wanted to feel like I gave it my all and ultimately made a difference. Every time I set myself a target, I got to it and then wanted more. Quite how I have any friends left on social media after all the incessant begging I don’t know, but thanks to everyone’s generosity and belief I raised £4,000. And as I sit here today, I’m still overwhelmed that people resonated with the cause so much and put their money where their mouths were. As a team we raised £70K and I’m so very proud to have been part of that, knowing what a difference to lives it would have made.

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As the support kept rolling in, I felt it was only fair that I was completely honest about my mental health struggles so I pretty much laid bare everything I was going through, everything I had been through and all that was in-between. As daunting as it was at the time, it was one of the best things I ever did. Yes, some people might have cringed at the sight of me talking about how I used to self-harm, how I take antidepressants, how I fell apart but in my mind, if it helped one person feel a little better about their situation then it was worth it. I even went as far as speaking to the press and going on TV and it didn’t feel like a big deal at all – which is quite ridiculous given that I get a panic attack just getting on the bus sometimes!

When my mum dropped me off at the hostel the night before the trek, I felt like a child before dropped off on their first day of school, I knew it was all down to me from then on in and it was fight or flight time. Thankfully my fear was short lived, I was quickly introduced to Camilla and Karen from Mind and I felt heartened and ready to take on the world. A feeling that was only bolstered when I met Matt for the first time whilst we went live on Welsh TV. Now, I might have done my GCSEs in Welsh, but I hadn’t really spoken it properly in 15 years so in my mind that was the biggest challenge of the whole weekend, but we got through it and watching it back (my mum has it saved on Sky+ obvs) you’d never have known!

We all bonded very quickly and by the end of that night, it felt like I’d known many of them for years. So many shared experiences – it was so refreshing to be in the company of people that just ‘got it’. And that was something that sticks in my mind most about the whole experience – how close we all became and what an invigorating feeling that was, especially as I’ve found it so hard to maintain friendships and make new ones over the past few years, for fear of disappointing people. We were all on the same level, no matter where we came from, what we did for a living – we were all in it together and there for the same reason.

The trek was of course hard. Harder than I could have ever imagined at times, but every second was worth it, even the blisters and dodgy hip. It sounds corny, but it was a journey. I found myself doing things I never thought possible, I found strength, I found my resilience and I learnt such a lot. The conversations I had with people will stay with me forever; the word hero is bounded about far too much, but those people I shared the mountains with were true heroes. They all had their own experiences of mental health, whether it be personally or through a loved one and they all gave everything they had and battled all kinds of things, both physically and emotionally. I felt humbled and honoured to have met them and to now call them friends.

We couldn’t have asked for a better captain than Matt. From the moment he met us all, it was clear to see that he was really invested in the challenge, the cause, and us. He united us as a team and kept everyone’s morale going throughout; always there with a wise word or a little pep talk when things got tough. Whereas some would have come along and expected special treatment or kept themselves to themselves; he was one of us and made us all feel special and deserving.

Life hasn’t been a bed of roses since, but the one thing that’s changed is that I now know my own strength; I know that despite people doubting it, I am strong. We might not feel it some days, but living with a mental health problem takes real strength and courage.

Whenever I’m having a bad day and starting to doubt myself, I picture myself at the top of Snowdon smiling, and I remember anything is possible.

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Big Brother’s Watching…

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This time last week I was celebrating my 31st birthday and had a big old party. I hadn’t really celebrated my birthday for a long time; always making plans and then chickening out. Seeing as last year was my 30th and I didn’t do much, I decided this year would be different. I wanted to gather all my favourite people together, have fun and thank them for all their unfaltering support over the last few years. I’m so glad I did, it truly was one of the best nights of my life. Everyone came, everyone enjoyed themselves and my best friend even managed to persuade the uber cool DJ (Tom) to play Westlife as a nod to teen devotion!

For one night my anxiety seemed to fly out the window and I actually enjoyed being the centre of attention and playing hostess. I drank, I danced and I sang and I didn’t give a damn who was watching. I felt truly alive and it was all down to my fantastic family and friends, whom I can’t thank enough.

I was inundated with messages, cards, flowers and utterly thoughtful gifts, and in all honesty I was astounded that people had made the effort for me. I was overwhelmed. Friends travelled from Newcastle, Birmingham and EVEN the other side of London to be with me and it really did mean the world.

I hate to single one person out when I was shown such love by everyone, but forgive me, I’m going to, and that person is my big brother, Paul.

I don’t get to spend as much time as I would like with my family; the fact they’re in North Wales and I’m in London makes it quite tricky funny enough! Both Paul and his fiancee Gem work weekends so I didn’t expect them to make the trek for my party but they did. And that in itself was such a huge delight.

We’ve always been close having been through a lot together; he’s always been there for me when I’ve needed a shoulder to cry on or advice. Up until last weekend though, I’ve always felt that he probably thinks I’m boring and highly strung; my paranoia thinking that he thinks I’m a basket case or that he tires of reading my woe-is-me blogs. I’ve felt embarrassed to tell him the full extent of my issues for fear of him telling me to get a grip, especially as he’s been through just as much as me and more. But last weekend changed things.

I had a panic attack before we left the house, the fear of no-one turning up or everything going wrong kicking in. Paul came into my bedroom, sat down with me and somehow fixed everything. He calmed me down and made me feel like I could enjoy myself…the rest as they say, is history. Throughout the night he kept an eye on me; reassuring words in my ear, smiles and the odd shot too! And when it came to leaving, when I felt a little worse for wear; he stood on the kerb and held all my presents (and shoes) while I attempted to throw up….once again reassuring me and calming me whilst I felt the gaze of every passer-by.

I forget sometimes how special a big-brother can be. There’s a special bond between a brother and sister that can’t be matched, and as I said goodbye to them the following morning, it’s full force was felt. I fell to pieces.

If Saturday night was a true high, then Sunday was definitely a real low, and probably one of the worst days I have ever had. I cried, and I cried and I cried. I fell to the bathroom floor and wailed like I’ve never done before. I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. I scared myself. I could not see an end to it. I felt a sadness in my chest unlike any other. I couldn’t bare it, I wanted to be anywhere but there, feeling all these emotions.

Even now a week on I can’t really describe it. It was frightening. I felt like I was never going to see my brother again and I couldn’t rationalise any of it. I was in the depths of sadness. In hindsight I think it was a severe case of a ‘fun hangover’. I’d had such an amazing time with all my favourites and then it was over. I couldn’t process everyone’s kindness and generosity, it was all encompassing. At the time I couldn’t see a way out of it but thankfully with every day that’s passed the sadness has become more manageable. And whereas I couldn’t bare to look at my cards or presents earlier in the week, I’m pleased to say the sight of them no longer reduces me to a blubbering wreck!

Whilst it wasn’t pleasant, it has made me realise a few things and the main one being that I need to ensure I spend more time with the people I love and not surround myself with those that don’t make me feel good about myself. But most of all it’s reiterated the fact that I have the most amazing big brother in the world; the kindest, most generous person that is always looking out for me. I don’t know where I would be without him.

I love you Paulo.

 

Pure Frustration

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I’ve written before about my struggles with my appearance; feeling fat causing many episodes of self loathing. I’ve never been a very sporty person, never really enjoyed exercising and dipped in and out of gym memberships for many years. I know that exercise is supposed to be one of the biggest aids when it comes to a healthy mind and it’s something I am trying to introduce into my life in a more steadfast manner. But it’s hard. It’s hard because I’m not only physically crap at exercise, but I suffer from insane amounts of self consciousness whenever I undertake anything remotely exercise-like. You know the score; you go for a run in the park in your oversized tee and leggings and you’re faced with all the beautiful lithe people in their new season Sweaty Betty gear. You feel embarrassed. You feel like the whole world is looking at you and thinking “Jesus, look at that whale running like Phoebe”.

To try and help with these feelings, I decided to join the PureGym near to my office with the intention of going in my lunch breaks. Granted I’ve had these intentions before and they’ve never really come to fruition, but last week I went. And I enjoyed it. It wasn’t as hideous an experience as I thought it would be and it felt like I was in control. I could do as little or as much as I liked, there wasn’t a load of people there so I needn’t feel too self conscious; I was giving it a go, it was a start.

As life goes, the next couple of days were a wash out. I had meetings at lunch and fell ill so I didn’t make it again as intended, but I wasn’t beating myself up about it, I’d just go again when I could. No-one was checking up on me or judging me.

Fast forward to today; 7 days after I first signed up to the gym and I’ve received an email from PureGym telling me “there’s not been much action” and using the words “gym shy”. Usually this sort of thing would not bother me; I know how marketing and communications work. But this email has really got to me; it’s angered me and it’s upset me. I beat myself up enough about not being fit enough, not being thin enough, not doing enough – I don’t need these thoughts to be reinforced. I don’t need to feel any worse about my body than I already do.

I know they wouldn’t have intended to make anyone feel like that but they did and I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt humiliated by it. If you want me to continue to use your gym, make me feel good about myself. Make me feel more confident. Make me feel like I’m doing something good. Don’t make me feel inferior, because chances are I’m just going to cancel my membership.

What’s your problem?

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Since first going to see a doctor about my low mood and anxiety about 5 years ago and due to having lived in various corners of the UK, I have been in and out of various NHS trusts’ psychological services. And I’m sad to say that the support offered is very much a postcode lottery like much of the healthcare system in this country. Waiting lists for mental health services are notoriously high and quite how they prioritise cases I don’t know. My first foray into counselling followed a wait of 6 months and another in excess of 8 months, and both were at what I felt to be critical moments in my mental health journey.

The therapies on offer have been quite varied too; some Trusts offering a wide range of options, some offering just one. Anyone who lives with a mental health condition will tell you that it’s very much a process of trial and error working out what helps and what doesn’t. The one size fits all approach that I’ve experienced on numerous occasions leaving me in far worse a place than when I started. To not really be given a choice or to be assigned a practitioner that you don’t feel comfortable with leaves you feeling more hopeless, and in my case, leads you to discharging yourself from a service and retreating, and never really figuring out what the root of the sadness is.

I have routinely felt that pouring my heart out to people and trying to give them a glimpse into my head has been pointless. Every doctor/therapist diagnosing me depressed with an anxiety disorder. And if someone tells you something enough times you eventually start believing it despite the odd reservation. And that’s what I did. I believed it; I take antidepressants because I am depressed.

Or am I?

I’ve never once questioned whether it could be something else. Which granted, in hindsight is very silly.

As I moved to London six months ago, I had to find a new GP. A very daunting prospect I have to say. I found one and they’re fine. There’s the usual struggle to get an appointment this side of Christmas but they’re efficient and friendly. On my last visit they handed me a leaflet about Southwark Psychological Services. I’d seen the leaflet a million times from other GPs and I didn’t have high hopes but I decided to refer myself and see what happened having found London life quite emotionally draining.

From the first phone call I felt hopeful. There were options. There was no standard treatment; they would assess my needs and tailor my treatment accordingly. Something I hadn’t had before. Even the questions I was asked felt more relatable, it felt like they were listening. Despite my positive outlook I did however know that there was obviously going to be a substantial waiting list so my happiness was somewhat short lived.

Or not.

6 weeks later I was given my first face-to-face appointment at a convenient time and venue. I instantly felt comfortable with my therapist and felt that she really listened and didn’t dismiss one piece of information. A notion that was only strengthened by my second appointment last week. An appointment that will now be known as revolutionary.

She said she had been thinking about what I had said and been over my application forms during the week and felt the diagnosis wasn’t necessarily accurate. She believed I was presenting symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

And as soon as she said it I felt this wave of relief come over me. It felt like someone had found the missing piece of the puzzle; a piece that I’ve been trying to describe to so many people for so long. There’s been this unexplainable pain/heaviness in my heart for years, a feeling that really does cause me great distress and trauma and it finally feels like someone is going to help me figure it out.

I’m not expecting a cure, I’m not expecting to feel “normal” but there’s a real hope in me that I might, just might, learn how to live in the present and not be tortured by the past or what-ifs of the future.

Watch this space.

Compassion

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Gp. Captain N.F. Simpson OBE (Gramps)

As a teenager I helped care for my grandfather who I now know had vascular dementia. I knew he was unwell but didn’t really understand the extent or why or what it actually meant. As much as it pains me to say it now, a lot of the time, I just thought he was being difficult and bad tempered and I lost my patience with him many times. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about that time and how I would have done things so differently. But unfortunately at that time (18 years ago) dementia was talked about very little and its far reaching complexities relatively unknown, even more so to a 12 year old.

My guilt at not being able to really help my beloved grandad when he needed it most was one of the reasons I chose to change careers last year and start working in the charity sector. Whilst I’ve fundraised for dementia charities in the past, I really wanted to do more and felt that if I could help someone else living with dementia my granddad might be able to forgive me. I now work at Dementia UK and everyday is spent helping families affected by dementia by providing specialist Admiral Nurses. They work much like Macmillan Nurses do for families affected by cancer; they provide that much needed support when your world has been turned upside down. And quite frankly they’re amazing, but of course there aren’t enough of them across the country.

This last week I’ve been completing an online course with the University of Derby with a view to learning more about dementia. And whilst it has been most insightful, it has also been heart wrenching in the sense that I now know so much about the cruel disease and how I can make a difference but the one person I would want to implore it all on is no longer with us, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow. I worry that he thought I was mean. I worry that he was in pain. I worry that he felt unloved. And these feelings are something of a revelation for me as I always thought the worst of it was him not recognising me. Whilst that pain was brutal, the feeling that someone I loved dearly felt alone, for me, is far worse, especially given my own experiences of feeling alone.

The course talks a lot about compassion and how it is at the core of caring for someone with dementia. Dementia is of course  a neurological disorder but like mental health  there is still a huge stigma attached to it and much of the information I’m reading about understanding it and how to care for someone with it, can be applied to mental health.

Below you’ll find a little video that particularly struck a chord with me. She talks about how people living with cancer are referred to as ‘fighters’ and much more favourably than someone with dementia. Similarly, those with mental health issues aren’t given the same consideration and admiration and we really have to wonder as a society, why this is.
Like dementia and cancer, mental illness affects the young and old. It’s a disease. It can kill. People living with mental illness, like those living with dementia and cancer have mortgages, they have jobs, and they have children to look after. They too have to fight every day and this needs to be recognised.

This isn’t a ground-breaking  notion; but we need to be more accepting of difference. We need to be accepting of people who need more time, space and reassurance.

We need to take time to care for everyone.

 

Beauty and The Beast…

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As a chubby acne-prone teenager, the closest I got to beauty products was a bottle of Clearasil and a tea-tree stick. I was ridiculed for my frizzy hair, my bushy eyebrows and my fat arse or ‘lorry arse’ as I once heard my friend refer to it. I used to gaze at the pretty girls with their make-up and plucked eyebrows and long to be the same but never thought it possible. I felt ugly and fat and I didn’t see that ever changing. And to this day, I largely feel the same; there’s very little about myself that I wouldn’t want to change and I spend painstakingly long periods of time scrutinising every inch of my body and noting its flaws. Whilst my lack of confidence is a common characteristic in men and women, I do feel that my anxiety and depression has made it worse and magnified it somewhat with quite severe consequences at times.

Whilst I still don’t like the way I look or feel comfortable in my own skin, my new found love for beauty products has helped. And by that, I don’t mean they’ve physically made me look better but they have helped me psychologically. I know to many that will sound far fetched and self-absorbed but it’s true. When you’re feeling rock bottom and hopeless, dousing yourself in a favourite perfume or slapping on some lipstick can really lift you and make something impossible seem possible.

But of course there are the days when getting out of bed and heading to work is an unfathomable task. And whilst you feel that huge black cloud hanging over you, it doesn’t mean you necessarily lose all sense of pride. You still want to look presentable, you still want to look like you despite the fact inside you’re a quivering wreck. And that’s where quick, smart fixes come into play. The beauty products that involve no faffing or effort but supply optimum results and allow a certain degree of self-regard when all else is awry.

And with this is mind, I wanted to share a few of my go-to products. It’s quite difficult to find many blogs/articles on beauty and depression that give practical, affordable advice and whilst I’m not claiming to be a beauty expert; some of the products I have found joy in might do the same for you.

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The biggest revelation for me has been Liz Earle’s ‘Cleanse and Polish’. My mum has sworn by this for years and I always thought it wouldn’t suit my skin. But having tried it for the first time last year after my mammoth 15 mountain climb; I have used it every day since. Not only does it smell and feel divine but it’s both time-effective and cost-effective. It allows you to wipe every trace of the day away, and whilst that in itself is most therapeutic after a hard day, it leaves you with a wonderful glow, which is hard to come by when you’re taking regular medication and lacking in sunlight. My other preferred make-up remover is Bioderma’s Micelle Solution; I always keep it beside my bed, safe in the knowledge that if I’ve climbed into bed to escape the world, I have something quick and easy to hand to get rid of my warpaint.

As I have already mentioned, taking medication can take its toll on your skin as does stress and anxiety and it’s definitely something I’ve noticed over the last 4-5 years whilst taking antidepressants. As dry and lack-luster as it is, I do however find that Balance Me’s Radiance Face Oil instantly plumps it up and makes it feel alive. Again it smells divine and the act of rubbing it into my face really helps with feelings of zen. Embryolisse’s Lait‐Crème Concentré is also a stable that instantly makes me feel a bit more nourished and less like a leather handbag. Similarly any of Korres‘ body milks, but especially the Santorini Vine, can’t fail to have a positive impact on spirits. The glorious smell coupled with the instant absorption makes for a feeling of being cocooned in cotton wool.

Baths are my biggest indulgence; nothing quite beats sinking into one after a grueling day and quite often, my foot is only just over the flat threshold before I’m taking off my clothes ready to jump in. Whilst I’m not fussy in terms of what I have in it as long as it involves bubbles, one of my faves is Sainsbury’s Mandara Spa range, having taken the recommendation from beauty know-it-all Sali Hughes. And if like me you like to be liberal with your bubbles, its affordable price-tag helps.

Lipstick is probably my biggest weapon in the constant fight with my social anxiety and body confidence. It’s truly remarkable how much bravery a slick of red lipstick can muster. It gives me the confidence to do so many things and to not feel quite so bad in doing them. If I’m wearing it, it will be for a reason other than it looks nice! It will be because I feel fat and ugly, it will be because I was shaking with fear before leaving the house or maybe it might be because it makes me feel that bit more confident. And more often than not I will have chosen MAC’s ‘Lady Danger’ as I’m quite sure it’s not a lipstick but a secret power.

Last but by no means least, I have to mention Chanel No.5. For me this scent is everything. It was both my gran’s and still is my mum’s favourite perfume and holds a special place in my heart. The hint of it reminding me of my childhood playing with my gran’s cosmetics and dressing up in her jewellery; some of my fondest memories. And sometimes when your head is full of anxiety and your overthinking everything, being transported back to a simpler time is a godsend.

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Torn on the platform…

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Shit, I’m 5 minutes late. I’m going to miss the 7:52. I’ll have to get the 8:01 and go to London Bridge and get the tube. I hope it’s not busy. I’m so tired I hope that’s not a migraine coming on. Train delayed. 2 minutes. 3 minutes. 4 minutes. I hope all these people aren’t going to London Bridge too. I’m not by a door. I’m not going to get a seat. It’s okay, it’s only a few stops, It’s fine. It’s busier than usual. I’ll stand by the door, and then I’ve got something to lean on. Crikey, this really is busier than usual. Yeah sorry but I can’t move down I’m stuck no use shoving me. It’s hot. Why did I wear so many layers. I can definitely feel a headache coming on. I should take my scarf off. I can’t move to get it off. What if I knock someone. It’s fine, 2 more stops. Deep breaths. People are looking at me. Why are people looking at me. Hot tingling in my body. Shit, this feels a bit like when I’m about to faint. I can’t faint. Not here. There’s too many people. I can’t make a scene. Have some water. I don’t have any. Deep breaths. New Cross Gate, nearly there. Why’s the train stopping. Signal problems. Knees going weak. I need to sit down. I can’t breathe. Fight this. You can’t make a scene. I’m going to pass out. I can’t move. I need to get this coat off. Hurry train, please. I can’t pass out. I can’t be sick. Chest pounding. Head sweating. Clammy hands. And it happens.

“Are you okay?”

I just want the ground to open up. The train’s still not moving. Eyes glaring at me. I want to cry. Deep breaths. Palpitations. I need some air. Heart pounding and splitting headache. Thank god we’re here. Please someone let me get off first. Thank you. Cold air. A lifeline. It’s going to be okay. I can take the bus the rest of the way. I’ll tell Niall, he won’t mind me being a bit late. I feel like I’ve run a mile. Legs like jelly. Head like cotton wool. This can’t beat me. But why today. Why after such a wonderful weekend in Paris. Why am I so weak.

And with that I went to work, embarrassed and child-like; the fear of tomorrow’s commute already kicking in.