#1in4

You know life sometimes is like a video game,

Each day comes as a new level, nothing is the same.

Aside from a secret underwater kingdom portal,

A chance anyone could take in a bid to be normal.

And I know where it is, I try getting through every time,

To try something new, I just want to see the excitement that’s behind.

But it doesn’t always last.

There’s something in my mind,

And it causes me to glitch,

And I’m not one of a kind.

I press X 61 times,

hoping for resolve,

Wild Dog mode comes on and my brain doesn’t do as it’s told.

To the point where I shout and tear everything apart,

Shit songs pour out my ears and I’m sent far away from the start.

The screen turns black.

I’m in curled in the corner and I’m crying,

Watching the countdown screen,

And here come the options to sort out my wiring.

Press circle they say to go off and cower,

Search for one way tickets to Canada for an hour.

Press triangle they say to go right off the mark,

Go out with no phone all alone in the dark.

Press square to cry until you can barely breathe,

So much you drift off into a sleep hoping when you wake the thoughts leave.

Press X to teleport to NHS tower,

Go see the wizard for potions for a happy hour.

Press UP and travel to mindful mountain,

And a parrot over 10 weeks will stop you from doubting.

Press R2 to talk to a friend,

Then constantly worry you’ll drive them round the bend.

Press R1 to commence battle with your twin,

About all the mistakes you’ve made only to never win.

And the final option,

Is to press nothing at all,

Countdown goes to zero,

Watch as the black screen falls,

And then you realise you can’t just press pause.

I’ve tried every option,

I even let the countdown get to 3,

Before things got in the way and I internally screamed what was the matter with me.

And everyone always says never wear your heart on your sleeve,

Because when you do they’ll take advantage of you,

They’ll grab your throat the second you’ll close your eyes just to sneeze.

Please tell me what’s so bad about being free,

To say how you feel if any of you have ever felt like me.

Anxiety depression and panic disorder,

When are we going to discover a new outlook is in order?

And I’m not just talking about guessing games when your heart is involved,

I mean when your life is on the line and nobody has been told.

I call bullshit and it makes me angry,

When somebody doesn’t show they cry because it looks more “manly”.

They say it costs us our identity and our pride,

If we ever bother to show what we have inside.

Well I say just take mine, and serve it up hot,

I’ll say exactly how I feel when I feel if it means I’m here, and that’s all that I’ve got.

One day I hope society can see the bravery,

Behind breaking free from emotional slavery.

I hope when someone says they are looking for a “man”,

The answer always is if that means I’m open and honest then I am.

So here is to being one of the 1 in 4,

And hoping that next time they tell you suicide is the number one killer of young men,

That it’s only to say there’s been a change in the score.

Saving our lives is more important than our prides.

Last thing we need is another death to suicide,

The more we talk about it the more we stop letting it slide.

How Far I’ve Come…

Now realistically, I should be in bed. Actually I should have reheated my Chinese takeaway by now too. But, I just couldn’t help it, I had to write a blog post! Final year is taking its toll, but I’m keeping rolling, and applying to a few jobs so I kind of know what I’m doing with myself. Anyway, this lead me onto making a few more of my previous posts public instead of private! So have a mooch and see if you find anything new you fancy reading! But specifically, I came across my original ‘List’ post. OK OK…I’ll slow down here.

So back in 2015, I made myself a list. Yep, I fail to complete most lists these days and never really do, and then wind up up at 10 to 1 listening to Jamelia wondering when I can be bothered to reheat my dinner on wordpress…But this list was to do with the steps I wanted to take to improve my life, and start living it! A.k.a. kick anxiety in the teeth and tell it to leave me alone! It was all part of my self-help journey, and I couldn’t believe it when I came across this list just now. Because, honestly, I actually (in a way) completed the list…

“Note to self, to change yourself, you need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

1) Join gym (Check). Make sure you swim twice a week (I barely have the time!), Zumba once and Belly Dance once. (One hour a week, and now I’m Vice-President of the society!)

2) Make a happiness diary (Check).

3) Walk more. (It’s the only way I get anywhere nowadays!)

4) STAY organised. (To an extent…)

5) Get into meditation. (All the time, with the addition of aromatherapy…mmmmm)

6) Read more (much more.). (Are you kidding me? I haven’t put these graphic novels for my dissertation down…but seriously, since this post I’ve read a tonne!)

7) Learn how to combat caring about what other people think. (To an extent, but in comparison to this point in my life, I have definitely had a fair few ‘I will do what I like and I am entitled to feeling how I feel and don’t really care what you think!’ moments.)

8) Don’t compare yourself to others. (We are here to lift each other up, not put ourselves and each other down. Everyone is drastically different in so many ways if you take the time to notice. Nobody is perfect.)

9) Try wearing your brighter lipsticks, it’s time to feel more confident step by step. (But are you kidding me?! Brown is my favourite!)

10) Don’t dwell on the negatives. (Sometimes, I do, and that’s ok. I’ve relapsed since this moment, but it’s important to know that sometimes you can slip into these ruts. But it’s always possible to get back out of them. I feel like I’m better at finding the rope that gets me out of the rut.)

11) Don’t dwell on the past. (I try not to, but see above.)

12) Learn to stand up for yourself. (I’m sorry, there was a caterpillar in my desert and you haven’t taken 10% from the bill?!)

13) Eat better food, continue to avoid lactose and cook well. (Those who know me well, will know that I do eat much much better food now, hoorah for vegetables and finally eating egg yolk. However, avoiding lactose…)

14) Try to be less angry. (I use that anger to fuel things with positive outcomes, and address that I am just incredibly emotional and passionate.)

15) Try to think more before you speak. (Certainly. Although not after a few bevvies…I need to work on that one…)

16) Get to sleep earlier. (This one still needs working on.)

17) Avoid negative people. (Drain the swamp!)

18) Embrace positive people. (They are my closest friends, and they are the reason I feel so incredible and supported right now in life.)

19) Remember that it is a long tough journey, but Frodo managed to throw the ring into mount doom so it is always doable no matter how unfavorable the odds. (Damn right!)

20) Remember dreaming big is ok, but if you want it to be a reality you have to work for it. (Hence why I’m here at 1am, attempting to make my short-term dreams a reality.)

And working towards my dreams can only begin once I’ve started applying all of the above to my life and improve my anxiety.”

Here is to hoping my big dreams come true once I do officially master that list! Definitely recommend digging out an old list, and checking out to see if you set yourself up for a big task, and whether you eventually managed to achieve it all. And years down the line, I’m pretty pleased I made this list, because I can see how far I’ve managed to come after being so low. Starting the ball to self-help was by far the best thing I ever did, even if I was useless at times, even if I did eventually relapse. But don’t give up! Everything seems so daunting when you first tell yourself all these changes you’d like to make. But be open to any ideas you have, and take on that list one bullet point at a time, and more importantly, don’t give yourself a time limit! Hey it’s two years later and I still sneak lactose heavy goods into my gob! (shhh.)

Keep going!

Whim xoxo

The Beginning

You made a choice to click on this and give this a read, right? Course you did. Something in your head was like “Yano, I’m gonna give this blog a bit of a read.” or maybe even, “I’m gonna search for happiness on the web and see what comes up.” or, “I’m gonna give anxiety, mental health and depression a search and see what pops up.” Now – for the latter, personally I’d rather you be here than the other places of your mind, and I hope this blog gives you some solace.

So. It’s 2017. People say new chapter, I say new book. You can’t fit a year into a chapter. But besides that, it’s a new beginning, right? Starting all over again. New year new me, and the remainder of what hashtag trends online to let people believe that we are all starting afresh. Life doesn’t work like that. There are elements of 2016, which will in one way or another impact on 2017. There are things that we cannot shrug off. But nonetheless, a new year is a moment of motivation for all of us. We feel like because it’s the start of a new year, we can become motivated to be a new person. Go to the gym. Go vegan. Get up earlier. Get a new hair colour. We feel like we can reform. I like the beginning of a new year, because of that sense of motivation. Because motivation otherwise, especially in certain scenarios, can be difficult to find, when the outcome feels so big and impossible.

To get motivation to feel like you can manage your mental health takes time. It doesn’t come out of a new year, and just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean it automatically washes away. It stays, niggling away, and you may feel motivated to go get a new hair colour, but who is to say you won’t come home and have a heart to heart tear sesh with yourself and your stuffed gorilla.

There are times it feels impossible, or too big a thing, to manage your mind. We wind up in dark, horrible, irrational mindsets, that persuade us to think that what we have become, or how we feel in this moment will be like this forever. But I did not want to live like this anymore. I still don’t now. It’s a completely consuming illusion, and it can make you forget about all the things that you still have, despite feeling like you have already completely lost who you are. That in itself is what eventually motivated me, to want to try and change what was going on with my mind and my life. I want to feel like I have the power and control to recognise and escape the illusion, and I want everyone else to feel like that too. And it’s what is motivating me now to try again.

But aside from hating how I was living, and who I’d become and wanting it to change, I wanted to get myself off of tablets which at the time I relied on to make me a ‘normal’ functioning human. I needed to work out my own way of self-management. Here is the first thing I did to get me started on finding other options in managing myself, which I am now repeating based on my relapse phase.

‘My Favourite Moment Of The Day Journal’

Now this is just food for thought. You might be thinking, that’s probably the cheesiest, instagrammable thing you’ve ever heard. It might be. But I feel like it works. You see, when I’m stuck in my dark bubble, it’s because there have been crap parts of my day and they manifest into this big ball of ‘argh’ and then I end up in a complete meltdown moment. So, what I used to do, and what I’ve started again, is the journal. Write a thing, or a couple things, that happened in your day that made you feel good. It can be anything, whatever you can think of that brought a smidgen of positive stuff into your day. But it means, next time you hit a meltdown moment, you have a selection of memories and things to read back on to remind you what keeps you going, or you can try extract those moments from the terrible day you may have just had.

It’s a book that reminds you to keep going, and to begin to see positive bits in your life, when you feel like you don’t so much anymore. It allows you to remember to appreciate the things, and be grateful. It can potentially begin trying to manage your mind. 

Begin with small steps. It may feel like the end. You may hate yourself, to your absolute core, because of what mental illness makes you feel. But it’s those moments I tried reminding myself of the reasons I should stay, not just why those irrational illusions made me want to go. Just because it might consume you now, doesn’t mean it will consume you forever. It’s a battle that you have to somehow, be motivated enough to win now, to win in the long-term.

You don’t need a new year, to tell you that you should be making huge, impossible seeming changes to your life. Motivation is hard to find, and I may also find it hard to find myself, and be writing this all again now because of that. But once I found it, I managed myself. I am desperate to do that again. Not just for myself, but so I can potentially in any way possible help someone else. And I can tell you, that once you have found it, things will slowly but surely start rolling.

I think, personally, you deserve to go out and treat yourself to a book, to end each day with a grateful heart, to prepare for future meltdown moments with just that tiny step. And maybe, this can be the beginning of learning how to outsmart the illusionist.

Stay Smiling,

Whim xoxo

 

 

Stay Smiling

This is the first, of what is soon to hopefully be, the first of many podcasts in link with the posts I write on my blog. Think of this as a kind of draft/pilot before the real seriousness begins. I’ll give you all some extra information in the next few days, but enjoy the first one, and have a very Happy New Year! – Nat xoxo

Mum said to me this week, “You’re the one that never plans anything, you never want to have expectations and this is how you wanted to live your life, what has changed?”

As a rare hobby, I have fortune telling cards. I tell the fortunes of my friends using cards, though In my beliefs tell me it’s something more psychological than real, maybe in the eyes of others something more believable.

It’s been some time since I’ve told my own fortune, and today was the first time I’d done it in some weeks. My main card was a snake. They say the snake, if speaking about you which is what the central card does, is it demands wisdom. It explicitly suggests, in relation to the other cards I pulled out, that I must be cautious and to abruptly turn around onto a new path. Though this is all really, to me anyway, a psychological way of deciphering my thoughts and getting me to use these cards as prompts, in my mind I know it’s gotten to that point in my life where something must happen, now.

You see, we might believe that there is a destiny out there for us. We might set ourselves up to getting certain grades to getting onto the supposedly right path, or the path we want, or the path others want us to be on. Well, what happens when something interrupts the path? What happens when we are forced to go a different way to the way we thought was destiny?

I stopped believing in life having plans for us, and my way of life in living with no plans in mind came about from all the times I was disappointed, and all the times my pathway diverted completely. Every time my plans didn’t go to plan.

I was going to be a graphic designer, and use my mild skills in drawing to create characters for the gaming world. I was going to go to a good college with an amazing arts department, study graphic art. I changed my mind, in hindsight based on a boy, and ended up dropping graphic art from stress in the first few weeks of it. I found my passion in English, which I naturally always seemed to do decent at, and wanted to go into creative writing. My obstacles in education meant that I was rejected from my dream course, and English with Serbian became an accidental option. I got in, with the idea of working in the education system, to become a teacher after a PGCE year and combat the struggles I had with teaching in my own education. Then it got to the second year and my mental health collapsed from an unexpected situation, and I lost passion for everything, and my plans. I didn’t want to do it anymore, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do either. I focussed on the time, and I focussed on finding myself and being better. When that eventually happened, I went onto my year abroad, and stopped blogging, something I also thought I’d go into. Life changed again, and someone I thought I was going to spend my life with became an acquaintance, and I began living more so by the no plan rule. Subconsciously, making plans the entire time. With the constant desperation of “you should find someone and get married” being shoved down my throat every five seconds and “you don’t know what you want to do with yourself? Why are you living like this?” though I was content, I’d made plans still, too close to the time that hadn’t gone the way I’d liked. Which has lead to this podcast.

I subconsciously decided, I was better. I was better mentally and I planned a life of fun, friends and an easy final year of university where I would be going out most nights, discovering new places and studying hard. And though it’s taken me far too long to admit, the denial has ceased. I expected I would never reach this part of my life again. I told my own future, despite telling myself it would be ok to do so because I wasn’t thinking as far ahead as when or whether I’d get married and to who, or what job I’d have, it turns out this planning comes into other baskets as well.

I don’t plan, to avoid disappointment, because when it happens I have something of a breakdown. Sounds bizarre, but that’s really why I don’t plan. I don’t allow myself to dream, to think ahead, to imagine the things I could do with my life. This idea got worse, the worse my mental health was getting this past couple months. It made me angry, and frustrated, the more I regretted my life, the more I thought what if, the more I regretted what I could have done or said better. What’s worse is I didn’t expect to get this low again, which has made me feel like I failed.

A great inspirational guy called Robert, told me this was something called approaching anxiety. I am anxious of what is or hasn’t happened yet. To the point where the worse it gets the more I restrict myself in how I can think, all because I want to save myself the emotion.

What I am yet to understand, is that just because planning upsets me, expectations upset me because I often face disappointment, that I shouldn’t restrict myself to dream or punish myself for doing so.

But it’s in times like this, at my lowest, that I realise it’s time to do something about it and pull myself back up, instead of handing myself the cord.

So I can’t tell the future, so I can’t predict my fortune with a bunch of cards. I can’t make plans because usually it doesn’t work out that way. Things go wrong, mistakes get made, and sometimes it seems and feels like all that ever happens are a bunch of plans that get thrown out the window. Just because destiny may or may not exist, doesn’t mean we should restrict ourselves in saying we have control over the path we take.

This is me, taking control. So I was thrown curve balls, all the way, and I have entered so many new paths I feel entirely lost, scared and unsure about what my future and fortune holds. I don’t want to make plans, or at least I don’t like making them for now. Maybe that will change one day, maybe I can overcome that to not be so scared of when those curve balls happen.

But today, I plan on being here. And today I plan on being here until it naturally comes to me. I do not plan to give up. Though I don’t know where I will end up, I won’t let the story end up here. Not this time. This time I was ready to recognise what was going on, despite the denial because it was going against my plans. I’ve been given this curve ball. But I won’t let it tell me what my destiny is, based on the past.

This isn’t how I planned my blog would be, after all this time. This isn’t how I thought I’d be feeling. But to feel like a failure for it is wrong. Failure, is not talking about it, and not trying to turn something horrific and traumatic, into something strong, positive, and beautiful.

Stay Smiling,

Whim xoxo

Bellies

Self-confidence is a topic I’m fond of discussing, and discussed a lot on this blog prior to deleting certain posts. One element I want to discuss today, is my least favourite part of the body, bellies.

It is an understatement to say I hate my stomach. I loathe it. I hate it so much, that if someone offered me to pay every penny to my name towards having a flat stomach I’d do it. Growing up, I was told I was fat. And although those that said it said it entirely jokingly, being given clothes far too small for me or for a female a lot less broad and butch, I still cried to myself feeling disgusted in the body I was in. I must have been around 10 years old.

My self-confidence in my childhood was horrible, and remains one of the worst parts of my experience growing up. My belly was poked, and I was asked “What’s this?” and laughed at. To make things worse, I matured earlier than most girls, so when they eventually sprouted into being thin, tall, decently breasted and adored, I was the brown potato with acne, a belly and a small breast size, who would dart her eyes at the other girls in the changing rooms hoping nobody was looking at me and remaining unhappy and envious.

Strangely enough, when I now look at myself, I wonder why I worried so much. I clearly had issues with my all-cheese all-nutella diet, hence the acne too, and a little exercise wouldn’t have hurt had it not been against my interests. Then again, male attention was also something included in the mix (which shouldn’t ever be, might I add) and it seemed even the attention I did get remained unfulfilling to my confidence. Through growing up and maturing in my body, no man’s comments on my body and attitude towards it in that way have ever satisfied how I felt towards myself, be it a combination of my anxiety and the memories of growing up.

As I grew older and came to university, it wasn’t until then I was ultimately semi-satisfied. And I think it wasn’t until this year I truly had moments of feeling satisfied in myself.

Whilst being diagnosed with anxiety, I became even more embarrassed and a lot more self destructive in moments of darkness. Habits such as scratching and picking at my skin, mean that I’m now covered in strange dot scars across my body, namely cheeks, neck, chest, stomach and legs. I now have an issue with my weight, to which I’m being looked at for, but I’m slowly gaining little by little but intend to not be as big as I was. But ultimately, despite this, I still have moments where I can look at myself in the mirror and smile. And I would even say, in my anxiety improving this year, I’ve genuinely had moments where I’ve felt happy in my body. No man, nor woman, nor comment of sorts, had done that. I still have days where I can be unhappy in myself. But there are actually days where I can feel happy in myself, and that is better than never having those moments at all. My improvement in my mental health achieved that, and a lot of it is thanks to the following.

I’d say the main reason towards this is the belly dance society I’m a part of. The society itself is welcoming, to all shapes, all sizes. And despite scarily perverse remarks asking me when our next performance is, “can I see a photo of you in action?” and “maybe you should do some for me sometime ;)” (genuine quotes, shudder!) that is not what it’s all about. Belly dancing is beautiful, and culturally interesting to me and always has been. Though I never felt like I could even dream of it, given my loathing of my own stomach, it is the one place I feel comfortable with it and my body as a whole. I feel in a room with others, all of different body shapes, sizes and self-consciousnesses and confidences, I am an equal. Not only that but my body isn’t looked at as “sexually appealing” or judged based on my abilities, or judged based on how I look in a costume or the fact I belly dance at all. It’s a place I can be free from the perverse world of body shaming neanderthals and concentrate on how I feel about my own body for a change, and not think about what others would think of it or invite them to judge my body in front of me.

Ultimately, to be happy in your own body is way more worthwhile than to question the way others perceive it and if they are happy with how you look. Who are we in a position to make us feel unpretty? If there is anything my anxiousness has taught me, it’s that being happy in yourself is worth focusing on much more than social acceptance, because it’s only when you become happy in yourself, you can be a happier person all round, and life just becomes a lot easier.

But to talk about becoming happier in yourself and how to achieve that is for another time. I actually have a few body-confidence tactics which I will share another day which have kept me going along the way, but for now, go to your nearest mirror, and smile. You are beautiful. 🙂

Whim xoxo

Out Of Order

As I started walking up to the bathroom, it dawned on me that this was my first time going into this bathroom since the year before last, where quite a strong post of mine was written, one of my go-to places I’d hide to have a panic attack if I felt one coming. Out of interesting coincidence, the exact cubicle I’d go in, was out of order. You could look at this two ways. A symbolic representation of being in a better place than before, or a bit weird that I’m talking about a broken down toilet. Whichever way you want to look at it – it brought a particular post to mind which I wrote in that very cubicle…

While sat locked in a toilet cubicle, crying, suffering an anxiety attack, I decide to build up a stream of consciousness to calm me down.

This is a very Hermione Granger thing, an all time low for 12 year olds and everyone knows it won’t go well, I mean she had to face a troll for gods sake, and all I’m facing ultimately is myself. Sadly I don’t have Harry or Ron to save me or comfort me. I’m sat in here waiting for time to pass so I can stop crying and finish my attack in time for my lesson. I’m 19, but I’m still here, literally wanting my mummy, and wanting to teleport home.

But I know it won’t stop. They have been on repeat all morning like a bad song and I’ve avoided most social interaction (apart from regrettably informing the Christian Union that I was an atheist and wouldn’t be suited to their project they wanted me to be a part of) but only because I had to and couldn’t avoid it.

The next worry is I have to go into my lesson today, imagine a weeks worth of studying for this, all gone to waste if I don’t. I can’t stop crying. I just keep crying. Why of all the places, and situations does it have to be now and today. I knew this would happen. I knew it would come for me in my worst moment, just to really take the piss. Can anyone hear me?

Pathetic. This is what 12 year olds do when dealing with nasty comments, problems at home and problems you can’t control. Yet in the same that’s exactly what’s currently happening. My body is under attack, beating myself up with nasty comments and heightening problems that may not even ultimately be problems, yet feel completely out of my control. I can’t win until they decide to stop. And even when they stop, immersing myself back into society acting as if nothing happened becomes the next hurdle.

My smeared makeup, sallow skin and eye bags and looking as well as feeling drained isn’t something easily hidden. Then comes the paranoia of whether people can notice. Can they see me? What must they think when they see me? What if my cover and intention to hide is blown?

And as minutes swift past, here comes the cool down.

I’m not ready to unlock just yet. Wait til the coast is clear.

Breathe.

…Well. At least it’s not a troll, right?

 

An Honest Overview, Anxiety and Panic Disorder: My Story, And Why It’s Not Embarrassing.

Someone once asked me, “Why do you talk about suffering from a mental illness on social media? Nobody needs to know, it’s embarrassing.”

It’s exactly questions like that which urge me to do so.

If all I did was be ashamed of myself, and ashamed of what I go through, I would be in the same state I was two years ago having panic attacks in toilet cubicles minutes before my lectures questioning myself. It’s 2016, why does this stigma still exist?

I talk about suffering from anxiety and panic disorder over social media because every time I do, I wind up with messages from close friends and acquaintances admitting to me that what I have described sounds similar to what they go through, yet are too nervous to get diagnosed. Sometimes even out of embarrassment.

There is nothing embarrassing about suffering. There is nothing embarrassing about dark thoughts and trauma. There is nothing embarrassing about being amongst the 3 million in the UK alone that feel the need to hide. And if a random (lengthly) post over social media is enough to encourage others to be less afraid, then it’s worth every word.

I like writing, and I have a knack for writing far too much and sometimes even being overly dramatic. But when I tell people my life changed when I began suffering from nocturnal panic disorder, it’s with no exaggeration whatsoever.

When people talk about the lowest they’ve ever felt, what’s made them the most upset or what’s hurt them the most, to me what comes to mind is all the time I wasted. In complete seclusion, sometimes even sadly with witnesses, I’d cry so much my eyeballs swell and I hyperventilate while wishing I was a better person. I wouldn’t feel good enough, I’d feel like I was a fraud for even having a life at all, and that none of my efforts could ever make anything or anyone feel like they wanted to know me or be around me. I became obsessed over whether I was good enough for others, and hated who I was because of that before even considering if I was happy with myself first.

All I wanted to do was hide away, because in my head, that was the best solution.

I wouldn’t disappoint anyone anymore. I wouldn’t be a burden to my closest friends. If I kept well away, they would be happier. If I expressed my feelings too much it would put people off me. If they knew what I was going through they would see me as an attention seeker. They would think I was a psycho, they wouldn’t understand. To be upset, and to barely sleep, and to cry more so than speak wasn’t an excuse for falling grades or not going to uni. It’s probably just overreacting. It’s probably because I need attention.

And yet if Doc came and offered me a go in the DeLorean and the power for none of what happened to have ever happened? I’d take that opportunity.

I’d be walking upstairs holding my chest feeling palpitations and nausea darting my eyes at the people around me. I’d wake sometimes up to 5 times a night from the exact same dream unable to lift myself from my bed, because it felt like someone was sat on my chest. I’d fall back to sleep in complete exhaustion, and turn up to lectures unable to process a single word being said or concentrate at all. My vision would progressively blur in social scenarios and my hearing would zone out as if I was about to pass out, before the feeling of dread would squeeze my brain and tell me to get out before I embarrass myself. In those moments you feel entirely, completely alone, and get scared when people offer to help because you don’t want them to even witness how vulnerable you can be.

And the doctors first thought I had asthma!

I was eventually (finally) diagnosed in October 2014 with anxiety and panic disorder (specifically nocturnal). Anxiety and panic attacks that don’t just happen when they need to, but uncontrollably at any time. It doesn’t matter if you’re happy, about to go to a lecture, in a museum or with your friends on a night out. It doesn’t just pick the perfect moments. It happens so often that it literally stops you from wanting to go out, just in case. The medication that I had to take three times a day required me to stop drinking, which meant being a sober uni student. I had therapy, medical check-ups to check up on how I’d been feeling. The sanctuary I found was being locked away, on aeroplane mode, and not telling anyone what exactly was going through my mind. Because I thought it was embarrassing.

A good friend once said to me, it’s like a broken leg without the cast. Because you can’t see the cast, people assume it’s not there or not real. People still have this stigma against mental illness. That it shows weakness, vulnerability. Even suffering from it makes you believe you are weak and vulnerable. Don’t show how you really feel, don’t let anyone know what you’re up against.

Yet within this time, I found another sanctuary. My blog. Words On A Whim was born just a week after my first uni exams. I had this weird urge for some form of escape at the time and I didn’t revisit the blog properly until I began frantically writing in anything I had available for a form of escape that wasn’t “snap out of it” (because believe me, no matter how many times you tell someone with a mental illness to “snap out of it” 10/10 times it won’t disappear overnight). From nothing, to 10,000 views a year, working amongst a group of others helping the development of ‘Koko’ the mental health app, receiving various nominations and recognition from companies I’d talked about in my ‘seeking management’ posts such as Headspace, I found myself in the right place. And yet yesterday, I privatised everything I’d previously written on my blog.

Up until now, I wrote because it was my escape away from nosy minds and anyone that wanted to unlock the truth to who I was, how I thought and what I was going through. It was an embarrassment after all right? Because of this blog, I got to have some amazing experiences and even have a chat with an inspiration of mine, Carrie Hope Fletcher in the #useyourand campaign (an event in which I happened to meet one of my closest friends, @Ksenija) But since my year abroad, and ultimately feeling a lot happier and better in myself than I once did with a new found confidence and self-peace (with the occasional glitch still to this day) I’ve decided to start all over again. This time I want to write looking back on who I was two years ago, and not as the girl two years ago. I will recall old posts from time to time, but it’s probably best I write about some of the harder moments in a more positive mind frame.

The best part of all this is that what was something which helped me, slowly became something which helped others. The messages I receive from strangers around the world, and even friends and acquaintances through Facebook every time I write on social media about my experience is both upsetting but warming. To know that there are people out there who are going through this, undiagnosed, unsure and in need of desperate help to regain control of their life is a horrible feeling. That’s why I post about it on social media. That’s why we have to talk about it.

Though I have my sleep back, I’m no expert. But for someone that only yesterday, wound up clenching her chest in tears over worrying and not feeling good enough, when these glitches happen I’m much swifter in re-establishing my happiness and determination.

So instead of hiding away, I’m going to make my blog and posts public. I’m going to stop neglecting the platform that helped me, and made me happy, and I want to become as pro-active as I was before, only with the me today rather than the me two years ago. I’ll risk the 10,000 a year mark for creating something I’m unafraid to hide, and hopefully not lose all those readers in the making! But most of all, it’s because some of the people closest to me, and some of the people I’m not even that close to anymore, are currently going through the exact same thing, or little bursts of things I’ve suggested and said in the past has helped and struck a chord. So why not share it?

I’m imperfect, I make mistakes, I overthink and have random glitches of emotion and can get anxious still at times about whether I’m good enough, whether I’m a burden or if I’ve done or said something wrong. But I just need to remember that the right people will stick around, the right people will understand and the right people will remind me they’re there when these things do happen. *Without making me feel like I’m anything to be ashamed of or an embarrassment. * And I hope I return the favour, or at least if I don’t do so enough I’ll work towards doing it more. I finally feel like I’m at a point in my life where I feel the most me.

Maybe instead if I went back in time, I’d tell myself it would all be worth it in the end, and I’d have to go through pain to understand myself, and understand the world better in return.

 

Stay Smiling,

Nat xoxo

 

All Brand Newish

Firstly, apologies to my current readers. You won’t find any of my old posts on here (ahhhhhh what the hell have you done?!) I know, I know. But please, let me explain myself.

My blog started around 3 years ago, and posts and posts later my blog totals into having sometimes over 1000 views a month. That’s a lot.

In fact, this year and last I’ve received over 10,000 views. That’s a lot of people reading my blog.

But truth be told, even though you’ve been reading my blog, I haven’t posted anything properly recently, right? I’ve neglected a platform that once made me so so happy. For some stupid reason, I forgot all about it. More specifically, I couldn’t bring myself to write. Every time I would try I would lose motivation, or not be happy with my content. So I figure it’s time I did something about it.

Part of the reason I wasn’t finding happiness in my writing, was because my year has been incredibly happy and eventful. I guess amongst that, I felt like I no longer needed to keep a hold of something that was my creative outlet in all the times I needed it. Truth is, I needed it all along, and in neglecting my blog I neglected something I truly loved, something which was once a huge part of my life.

I’ve privatised my previous posts. And I’m prepared to risk those 10,000 yearly views to start Words On A Whim all over again, and be proud of it rather than keep it hidden in the dark. Previous posts then still have the potential to pop up occasionally, or I’ll rewrite things in a way I’m happier with, hopefully gaining new readers and exciting old ones. (If I don’t, do send me a virtual kick in the nuts, I know it’s all a bit drastic.)

I want to start over. I want to start writing over, as the person I am today, rather than to find remnants of the person I was two years ago. I want to talk about that person from two years ago, and not be her. I want to give my perspective on the life I lead before as my happier, more me self. I want things to be a bit more brand newish, and to feel proud and pleased with it.

My blog will take course as it did all along. Words On A Whim. Expect nothing less, than the rambling anxious confusion that I am trying to make sense of it all. Expect the same stories of life and anxiety.

I hope this change will be for the better, and I hope I can finally be more open and proud about something I used to love.

Stay Smiling,

Whim xoxo

Who Do You Think You Are?

What does it mean, to know who you are. What do you have to do to be satisfied? Discovering who you are, is a discovery that forever changes, sometimes progresses, sometimes regresses, but is never going to end.

Sometimes you find yourself in times where major events happen, that you won’t realise until later life have changed who you are or had some influence into who you are.

Sometimes you find yourself obsessing over a thing that can shape your style, your likes and dislikes and your opinions.

Sometimes you find yourself admiring others, copying others even at times, to be like them or to try and hinge parts of your personality to be liked by them or to be similar to them in some ways.

When you think about it – discovering who you are is like trying on a pair of shoes. Try on the red wellies, they’re a bit big but you’re happy to grow into them, but next week you don’t like them and try on a new pair. Sometimes you try shoes on that fit perfectly until a years time. Sometimes you try shoes on that you like until 10 years later where the thought of even trying them disgusts you. But sometimes you find some you love, and will always love, even when they no longer fit. Or you’ll even find some you now hate but you can laugh at, and accept, because at one point you did love them. And all of those scenarios are completely ok, and you’ll experience many like it, you won’t just stick to one pair of shoes.

But along the way, you slowly collect parts of who you are. In various different ways you find out, and you change your mind on whether you like it or not. Change happens all the time, all through life and despite everyone being afraid of change at some points in life, it inevitably happens but is incredibly exciting.

My Mum once asked me if I ever wanted to see a medium, to help me discover who I was, what I was in for, how I should feel. I know at the time she was just trying to help. But in my eyes, there’s no better person to tell me or to find out than myself. I love the stupid haircuts I went through, the fallouts, the misery, the happiness, the cat eared cardigans and the graphic designer, the avid reader and aspiring teacher, and even the me I am today – full of unknown aspirations and pathways, filling up a personality chunk I ripped out of myself by removing someone from my life who previously filled it.

This final paragraph is to tell you not to look for someone to fill a chunk, if you’re looking to fill a chunk in your personality. With whatever you have to do to find out who you are, never make it someone else. Never pass on that responsibility to another person, or you’ll find yourself reliant on never being whole unless someone holds you. Finding out who you are never ends, but is also never solved by other people.

Working yourself out, is actually a lot of fun! Try all the shoes, just to see what makes you feel comfortable and happy.

Make sense? Of course not always, but that’s the point!

Whim xoxo