Anxiety, my old friend

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I’ve decided that it’s time I was a little more honest with myself, and whoever reads these posts, from now on.

To be clear, I don’t think I present too false an image of my life. What you see is pretty much what you get, bar the filters I slap on my tired old selfies on the daily.  I choose not to go in on work or things that are happening that suck but that’s because I’m an optimist and prefer to think positively. Those times pass and I get through them, as we all tend to do. So what’s the point of dwelling on them?

But over the last year or so my anxiety has been out of control and I’m going to start talking about it because it has become such a big part of my life. I need to work it outward basically.

Film reviews and other topics will continue as normal, but I will be exercising a more ‘honest feelings’ policy around here.  Skip if you’re not into it, I understand.

I’m not good enough

I don’t know when I start freaking the fuck out in my mind but I would swear I wasn’t an anxious child. I’ve always been sensitive but I don’t think I had anymore self-doubt than my friends or the other people around me.

As a young adult I did crazy brave things and even at rock bottom, in the midst of my very worst period, I was fearless enough to (eventually) say fuck it and live in a new city alone, with no concern for the future.

Can I blame my bad relationship for my anxiety now? I don’t think I can. He made me walk on egg shells for six years and I always feel sorry for taking up space, talking out of turn – most days for simply existing. That lot is firmly his fault but the anxiety I have now feels different.

Anxiety ruins my evenings and stops me sleeping at night. I swear down every single person I encounter on certain days hates me and I have upset them irretrievably somehow. Not only that but I’m a total failure with no hope for the future and I will never make anything of my life. I actually believe more often that not that I bring nothing of worth to anybody.

I tell myself I’m no good, not worthy of a better job, say, of earning good money because I didn’t go to University, that I’m stupid, slow, clumsy (I am clumsy). That I’m lucky to have got the things I have because God knows it will never get better. I have no right or reason to feel this way and yet, here we are. Here I am worrying about everything ever in the history of the world.

I know I’m not alone. A very close friend of mine has panic attacks and although I used to sit with her at work until they subsided, I couldn’t empathise fully. I had no idea then what anxiety really was or what it felt like to have a panic attack. Until I had one walking home from town just after Christmas, and then another one in the middle of the night. I genuinely thought that was it and I’ve had it in the back of my mind ever since.

So there it is. Anxiety and I have become well-acquainted over the last year or two – and it’s pretty toxic. I wish I could shake it forever but then, isn’t it just one of the things that makes me who I am? Doesn’t it attune me to the people in my life who feel the same? My fellow anxious ones.

Mental health is so important and we can’t afford not to be open about it. What it is, how it feels, how we cope with it. I don’t have any answers by the way, some days I struggle to leave the flat but maybe I’ll find a new way to live if I’m more honest with myself and others.

I love my life so much despite the anxiousness, and I’m sick of being scared all the time. I want to do great things, even if they’re small things that only please me. I want to stand at the end of my life and be chuffed that I got on with it, even when my inner naysayer was trying to stop me.

I want to be fearless again – or half-way fearless. That’ll do.

Anyone else out there feeling me? How do you cope with that ol’ devil called anxiety? ❤

Blue Monday

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I was going to do a whole schtick about Blue Monday and my ‘cure’ for such days but, on reading the post back, I realised it was coming off too flippant. Like, ha the cure for any bad day is obviously Jason Momoa’s Instagram, and while I wish more than anything it was that simple, I know it’s not.

All I can say is that anyone affected by anxiety and Mental Health Issues, I hope you get the help you need. You’re not alone, no matter how much it might feel that way.

And maybe Blue Monday is a good thing if it gets us all talking about the January Blues and how depressing it can all be. Maybe in knowing something like this is coming we can better arm ourselves against it? Practicing self-care is incredibly important, be that a bubble bath or taking the whole day off social media to protect yourself from triggering news. We gotta do what we gotta do, right? There’s no other way.

This isn’t meant to be a woe is me post personally but I know how it feels to feel hopeless and trapped and terrified, something I’ve held on to for way too long, let me tell you. And it rears its ugly head in the form of anxiety and doubt all the time. But things can get better, do get more manageable and they can change.

They can change for you too. 💙

If you’re in the UK, you can dial 116 123 to get through to The Samaritans.
This is a handy looking list of Mental Health helplines is good too.

Oh, just in case, this is Momoa’s Insta. 💙

Radical

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I don’t know who’s artwork this is, but I love it

I saw this video yesterday, posted as part of #mentalhealthawarenessweek and like most women would on viewing it, felt very emotional.

Why is it, still, that we’re so quick to trash talk ourselves, yet would never dream of doing the same to our friends or other women? (Hopefully).

Why is it, after all this time, after all the girl power mantras, the compliment-heavy chats in toilets with drunken girls on drunken nights and all the pushing back against the impossible (and ever changing) beauty ideal, we still can’t cut ourselves some fucking slack?

It’s a simple view but I like the idea of trying to speak to myself as I would my beautiful best friends. Of seeing myself every now and again and saying “You’re beautiful girl, look at you!”.

I don’t feel pretty all the time, in fact I’m tired of the negative voice that says I’m worthless, old and lumpy, that I’m a monster who doesn’t even look human compared to anybody else.

The same voice tells me my husband is only with me for a bet (a long bet), and that people feel sick when they look at me.

Every day is a battle to get on top of that point of view and to quash it. To remind myself that it’s just one voice, that there’s a stronger voice in there somewhere, it just doesn’t shout as loud.

I’m willing to keep fighting to be honest. What other choice do I have? I’m not going down with that hateful ship, no way.

How do you practice #radicalselflove? ❤

Old & Gold

You know how you can tell who’s old these days? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

I’m such a prime example of this. I tell people all the time that I’m 36, and then remember that I’m actually 38, 39 next month. I need to stop doing that because nothing makes a person seem older than when they’re focussing on the one thing that shouldn’t matter. It’s a number after all, just an indication of how long a person has been on the earth, nothing to do with their character, their achievements or how they should live their lives.

I need to stop worrying about how much younger the people around me are and just be happy they want to spend time with me. I’m cool, right? And cool comes with experience (sometimes), with acceptance of who we are and with just being gifted, I guess.

What so bad about old anyway? Being old doesn’t stop us loving or experiencing the beautiful pain of life, of laughing and getting fucked up on a Friday night. It doesn’t stop us buying a leopard print coat ‘cos we saw two women on the way to work absolutely rocking theirs.

It doesn’t stop us hating the gym but smashing it anyway, make us immune to the appeal of office gossip, or stop us reading a Daily Mail article about Kristen Stewart’s love life over the shoulder of a colleague while scoffing that we’d never read the “Daily fucking Mail”.

Old is whatever we choose it to be and I choose to be cool with my age from this day forth.

Today, this second I am older than I’ve ever been. I’m younger than I’ll be tomorrow. In ten years I’ll maybe read this back and think, what this fuck was my problem?

I’m loving for the moment now, innit? Surrounded by younger people who think I’m cool.

Not a bad life to be part of is it? ❤️

Girl, Bye.

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You know what true power is?

Cutting things out of your life that hurt or anger you. No argument, no “Fuck you”, just a “Girl, bye” under your breath and you’re off. I’m currently angry and bewildered by a particular incident that happened on that wonderful barometer of how shit people can be: the internet. Specifically, Facebook.

Someone I know recently posted a status update about ‘promoting plus-size’ (and how wrong it is), and even though I should never be surprised by the general lack of sympathy toward fat people, I did expect better from this individual.

Sadly (not really), she’s no longer going to be part of my life, on any platform or in the flesh (in my case, substantially more flesh). I don’t conform to who she wants me to be nor deserve any sort of respect based on what she’s saying apparently, so I’m stepping out.

I know, I know that us fats are all just asking for trouble being the way we are. We’re all going to die horribly because we wear bigger dress sizes. We certainly don’t live active lives, how can we? We all eat shit, swerve veggies and more or less just mainline Digestives on the sofa in front of the TV day in day out. You got me.

We don’t deserve to dress nicely or enjoy fashion or beauty, life or love. We don’t deserve basic respect either while we’re here. A sweeping statement on Facebook with a Daily Mail supporting link is definitely the way to go to reach people if that’s really what you want to do. And if people are alienated, feel personally let down by your attitude, all the better right? They deserve it, the pigs.

People do not respond well to being bullied. Being hateful (even in the form of faux-health concern) will not help. If anything it will make people far less likely to make the best choices for themselves. It will make them feel like shit. It will stop them living their best lives.

How dare this person promote a love yourself mentality and then screw over all the overweight people on her friends list? Oh wait, maybe she doesn’t have any overweight friends? (She doesn’t now). She is blonde, slim and beautiful after all, and it seems not tolerant of anyone who doesn’t fit a similar ideal?

I haven’t spoken to her about this and I won’t. I’m not interested in a debate. I don’t care what she thinks or says. Chances are that she thinks she’s being helpful and that her arrogant ‘motivation’ comes from a good place. I really don’t care.

Girl, bye.

You can bet I’m exercising this mentality in all areas of my life. Brexit was a good way to measure people’s true selves and unfortunately, a handful of people fell short of what I want in my life.

There are doubtless things I say and do that alienate me from people that I don’t even register and that’s their right too. Life’s too short for bullshit and I’m done.

Click, click – over it.

Love Yourself

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I saw a piece of graffiti the other day that really annoyed me.

It doesn’t happen often but this one had a judgmental tone I didn’t care for. I wish I’d taken a snap now but it fucked me off so much I stomped away before doing so, then thought about writing this post afterwards. D’oh!

The piece was small, amateurish and said something along the lines of: “Love and respect yourself before someone else can love and respect you.”

Um. Okay.

Look, I get the sentiment of it. I’m all for the self-love rhetoric and believe wholeheartedly in the art of being kind to yourself, loving your own body, mind and soul. I’ve more than once posted inspirational memes to this effect.

However, I’m starting to realise how problematic this way of thinking is. I mean, was I the perfect specimen when I met my husband? You’ve got to be shitting me. I was coming out of a very dark, destructive relationship in which I considered suicide and very much did not love myself.

Loving who I am has come ever since that relationship and is an ongoing project. It will never be finished and so what? I’m more than happy to dedicate the rest of my life to loving myself as much as I can and maintaining that.

To suggest that someone is not deserving of love until they’re at peace with themselves is pretty shitty when you think about it. Love and acceptance can go hand in hand and I’m not saying you have to be validated by another human to be happy in yourself, nor do you have to be with anybody at all. You don’t have to be fixed or happy all the time, loving yourself is a great idea and I support it but it’s not for everybody all the time. Think about it, is it not just another impossible ideal we’re being pushed toward?

You have to love yourself! You have to respect yourself! You have to be confident! You have to be sassy!

What if I’m two of those things today, none of them tomorrow and all of them but the last one on Sunday? If I don’t hit my self-love quota will my love license be revoked? Will I go straight to the bottom of the pile in terms of love and respect from others?

What is self-respect anyway? One woman’s sleazy is another woman’s empowerment so fuck off, alright?

Love yourself by all means but don’t beat yourself up when you don’t. Be as kind to yourself as you can but don’t feel you can’t have down days, can’t just be. You are worthy of love all the time and not just magically when you’ve passed the self-love bar and received your self-respect certificate in the post.

Always.

I can safely say that this piece of graffiti was not supposed to evoke such a reaction in me but it has. Call me sensitive if you like but my very badly constructed argument still stands.

Dietland (Book) Review

 

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It’s only the first few days of June and I think I’ve already found my book of the year.

I’m going to try to review this without giving much away because I think it’s a fun, dark and interesting look at society, feminism, revenge, beauty and self love, amongst other things – and I want people to read the hell out of it.

Dietland gives us a fat protagonist, Plum which is a treat to find in literature. Or at least, it’s less common to have a fat character presented in a positive light. This seems to be changing, however despite placing a lot of ‘fat main character’ books on my Amazon wish list recently, it still feels like a novelty.

That last statement might not be strictly accurate btw. I should say that I haven’t noticed main fat characters much in the books I’ve read but I would be open to recommendations on books that do feature them. As many as possible! Ones that aren’t the DUFF or end up having massive makeovers to deem themselves acceptable, obvs.

Alicia ‘Plum’ Kettle is deeply apologetic about the fact that she’s fat, so any change in this attitude is a way down the line. More than apologetic, she is obsessed in her quest to lose weight and become her real self – just ‘Alicia’.

Here in the current day, Plum fills a wardrobe with clothes she’ll wear when she’s skinny, when she’s had the stomach stapling surgery she’s booked in for and can finally transform into her true self. She’s been on a diet for most of her life and tends to stick to the safety of her immediate environment to avoid drawing attention to herself. Which doesn’t work really but hey ho.

She works for a big magazine, answering personal emails to her shithead boss, Dear Kitty, who doesn’t have the time to do it herself. Plum spends each day in the local cafe sending advice to ‘her girls’, on anything from self-harming to sexual abuse and life’s what it
is. Kind of in limbo until the real living begins – when she’s thin.

A quick aside from me: I love Plum because I’ve thought like her and I know a lot of people have and still do. I’ve tried to stop this damaging thought process and accept that how I look now is more than likely how I will always look. The concept that “Life begins” at a certain (and mostly impossible) point is incredibly sad.

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Photograph not mine

One seemingly ordinary day, Plum notices that she’s being followed by a dark-haired girl who appears to be making notes about her in a journal. She’s used to comments and people taking her picture on the street but somehow senses this is different.

Little does Plum know that her stalker is about to change her life completely and in the most dramatic way possible.

Running alongside Plum’s ‘rebirth’ is news of a  feminist terrorist organisation named by the media as “Jennifer”, who are committing violent acts of retribution against rapists and abusers, as well as major media outlets and the porn industry.

Sweet and fluffy this book is not and I love it all the more for that. There are horrific descriptions of some of the acts, by both the terrorists and those they are carrying out revenge against. It doesn’t shy away from rape culture and it’s powerful stuff.

Plum’s story is wonderfully empowering and I actually love her. I feel like in many ways she is me, she is every woman and when she starts to figure out where she belongs in this world and begins to enjoy the space she takes up, I may have whooped.

I also love many of the supporting characters who open Plum’s eyes to the all the bullshit out there, without too much personal judgement. Plum undergoes such a transformation by the time you reach the last page that I think it would be impossible not to feel happy for her – and it probably won’t be in the way you’re expecting.

Does Plum undergo the weightloss surgery she’s so focussed on, and start that brand new life that’s been waiting for her since she was a teenager?

And the question you’ll no doubt be asking yourselves: what has the mysterious “Jennifer” got to do with Plum, if anything at all? Find out by picking this book up ASAP.

My Thoughts:

You may not agree with everything that takes place within this book but I think for the most part, any woman can identify with the exhausting notion that we have to look and be a certain way to be deemed acceptable by society.

The issue here is not just fat but beauty on the whole – from the tips of our toes to the roots of our hair. And beyond beauty, there’s an interesting comment on the porn industry that made me think a lot more about it.

I find stories like this empowering while others may not and that’s okay but I think the story fits in a lot with the way I’ve been viewing myself over the last year which might be why it resonates so. I’m learning that I don’t have to be sorry for anything, let alone the amount of space I occupy.

I really just want to read this all over again.

Book details:

Dietland
Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (5 May 2016)
ISBN-10: 1782399291
ISBN-13: 978-1782399292
Bought paperback (new)

If you read this book, or anything similar, please let me know. I’m always up for a good recommendation ❤