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Thoughts from a Small Island

Random words from my mind

A Tentative Start

This is going to be used by me as a means of escape from what is currently whizzing round my head.

I have no idea how often I will be updating it but I hope that by posting what I feel about things it may encourage others to speak up or seek help in their own way. It might not be easy to read for some and I offer no apologies for that but my intention is to help open doors and people’s thinking toward mental illness and how it affect not just the ‘patient’ but also those around them.

Stay safe

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The Magic of Dance

Today’s blog is all about dancing or in my case awkwardly swaying to music.

Yes, you did read that correctly I have been dancing.

It all began with the introduction of the Anxiety Cafe daytime sessions on a Wednesday morning in a church hall in the town. I haven’t been able to go to the first couple of sessions due to work and personal commitments but this week I thought I’d give it a go. What have I got to lose? Apart from my dignity……nothing. This week the theme was Movement for Wellbeing which, for me, conjured up the image of elderly people in a park moving very slowly in a Tai Chi sort of style but I was open to the concept of trying.

I turned up a few minutes early as usual (I can’t stand being late for anything) and was pleased to see the familiar face of Cupcakes and Anxiety at the door. There were also a few faces that I recognised as more people came in to the hall and this helped to ease my fears a little.

After a brief introduction and a cup of tea (everything goes better after tea) we all met the lady who was to be leading the ‘class’ this morning. Now, I had imagined someone all dressed up in dance gear as if they had just stepped out of the film set to ‘Footloose’ but this lovely lady was just in casual wear. I don’t know if this was an attempt to make us all feel at ease but it made the atmosphere (in my case anyway) feel a little more relaxed. It still felt as awkward as it could be but seeing as I had made the effort to go to the session I should at least show willing.

The first activity was to introduce ourselves. Easy right? Not when you have to add a movement that describes you. We went round the room and everyone did their movement in turn (there was only 8 of us so not too much to remember) before it came to me. What do I do? Do I be over the top and make a tit of myself? Do I do a small action just to show willing? I know what I’ll do…..I’ll raise both my arms in a ‘ta dah’ kind of way to draw even more attention to myself. That’ll work. And it did, and nobody laughed  or even bothered as they were all too busy concentrating on their own movements.

Second task was a team task where we were all shown 3 movements and then told to wander around the room and meet each other with at least one of these movements. Awkward? Yes. Fun? Yes

On a side note this was probably the first and only time I have been encouraged to touch strangers without the fear of being slapped or arrested.

I won’t bore you all with the full run down of each activity but suffice to say they were actually enjoyable once we all got started. There was once or twice where I did consider sitting down and taking  a break but when I looked around and saw that everyone else probably felt as uncomfortable as me I soldiered on and pushed myself even further out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t easy to do but I am proud to say that I did it and so did everyone else in the group so far that I think we should all be VERY proud of ourselves.

You don’t need a huge amount of rhythm to ‘dance’ like we did today but I would encourage anyone to move a little every now and then. Whether it’s a wiggle while doing the ironing or full on headbanging around the house you will find it highly satisfying and actually quite enjoyable. I have zero rhythm (ask my wife, she’s seen me try and dance) but I could do these movements with very little fuss or effort so if I can do it……so can you.

Oh well, after all that effort I now need to eat a couple of jam doughnuts and a sausage roll to replace all the energy I’ve used up.

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it………………………………..

 

How Are You Today?

Today is World Mental Health Day.

What does this mean to us all though?

Everyone in the world has their own mental health and well-being to look after each day.

However, there are 1 in 4 of us who lives with a mental illness (I am one of those 4). For those who battle daily with a mental illness I just want to say one thing.

“Stay strong. You’re doing a great job”

My own personal battle with my mental health eventually raised its ugly head just over a year ago but if I’m being honest with myself (and my readers) it probably started a long, long time ago. Before the days of mobile phones, WiFi and social media. For some of you this may be difficult to comprehend but for those of us over a certain age it was actually great fun and less stressful in some ways. Days were spent playing with our friends, building dens in woods, creating networks of tunnels in hay barns and then returning home before it got dark. As long as we told our parents where we were going everything would be ok (most of the time, if we didn’t get caught). Very rose-tinted but true.

Through the self-esteem course that I am currently on I have been looking at myself in a different way to see how I can understand myself better and this has brought up some uncomfortable realisations. I have never complained about my childhood and I feel that I had what I consider a pretty awesome time. My parents and family are the best I could ever have asked for and we have made some amazing memories over the years. But……one thing I have come to realise is that I was always a pretty awkward child. I found it hard to make friends and when I did make any I was always thinking that they were only friends with me because there was no-one else. Don’t get me wrong I did have friends and we did loads of crazy stuff together but I never had that one ‘best’ friend who I could rely on when things got too tough. I never had that one person who would know I wasn’t quite right one day and just ask me how I was doing. The one person who knew when to pull me out of situations that were too ‘risky’ for me.

I was a pretty geeky kid (still am as an adult) but also had the added advantage of being a teeny bit sporty too. I was in the rugby team for 4 yrs at high school and also did well at athletics when the weather changed. I guess one of the main reasons why I was never bullied was because I had friends in both camps but I never felt like I was ‘one of the gang’.

I think (or more importantly, I know) this is probably the reason why I have always preferred my own company and like going out on my own. But (and it’s a really big but) it is also the main reason for my depression and subsequent anxiety issues.

I have always felt like an outsider.

I have never been the cool kid.

I have never felt accepted (apart from within my family).

Looking at these statements as I type them I understand myself a little more and think do I really want to be the cool kid? Isn’t it better to be an individual? Do I really need acceptance from others for my own decisions? I don’t have the answers but I always have plenty of questions to ask myself.

I have also found it quite a strange feeling when I have settled anywhere for long. Almost like I should move away again to avoid getting too close to people. I moved around a little bit as a child but I have never regretted this part of my life. I have lived in some fantastic places and been close to beautiful scenery and feel very lucky to have had this opportunity. There has been times though when I have not settled deliberately for fear of having to move again. I remember when we moved from Somerset to the small island and my dad asked me how I felt about it. At the time I said I wasn’t sure as we had been in Somerset for 10yrs and it was the longest I had ever been in one place. It wasn’t until years later that my dad told me he never knew I felt that way about moving. As I said before I do not regret moving around but just wish I had had that one person I could shared it with as I grew up.

Now it’s been 22yrs that I have been on the small island and I feel now like it is somewhere I could finally settle for life. I have friends (but still not that one best friend) but at times I still feel myself deliberately distancing myself from them for fear that they might leave to find something better. Quite why they would is anyone’s guess but it’s something I have instilled in myself as a safety measure.

Which in a round-a-bout way brings me back to my original question. How are you today?

If I can impart one bit of knowledge it is to say that a little bit of kindness can go a very long way. You might not receive it today but one day what you give out in good will and kind thoughts will come back to you when you need it.

So ask the geeky kid, the sporty kid, the outsider, the loner how they are. It might be the one time that they open up to someone and ask for help. They might not answer at all but deep inside it will make a difference that someone noticed them.

At my lowest points in life just someone asking me how I am has made me feel like someone cares.

So, how are you today?

Where Have You Been?

Not actually a question I have heard since I have been offline but I guess some of you might have wondered where I’ve been lately.

The last couple of weeks have been a complete roller coaster of emotions for me as I have moved house (I may have mentioned it once or twice in a previous blog….or two) and there has been all the stress that goes along with that too.

For once I have been relatively stable at work and my days have gone quite well due to my little routine that I have apparently keeping me on an even keel. Due to a complete mix up with the quotation on our removal package we ended up having to pack up our whole house in just a week. Stressful enough at the best of times but when you’re literally just throwing things in to a box and marking it for a particular room there is little time to actually organize what you need straight away in the new house. This has meant that the things we need have been split between boxes and we’re still trying to piece bits together as we have no idea where they might be. Thankfully for us (but not my parents) Ryanair have been cancelling flights all over the place so it meant that they were both available to help us pack and tidy up. I genuinely believe if it hadn’t been for them, my wife and I would never have got as far as we did before moving in day.

Anyways, on with the story. On the morning of the move we were all up early trying to finish off packing some of the loose bits and bobs still left in the various rooms of the house. We had some breakfast with the bits of food we had left in the cupboard and a cup of tea (because everything goes better with a cup of tea…..right?). Just after 8am there was a knock on the door and standing on the doorstep were 3 guys from the removal company. The main man had a little look around to see what the situation was and then made a comment about how much stuff was left. His exact words were “There’s a lot of clutter. We can’t move that lot”

At this point, my already fragile mind was starting to crumble and I started to have a bit of a rant at the main man. I could see he was just taking it in his stride as I’m sure he’s probably seen worse houses but it felt like a personal attack on me so I continued my verbal assault (albeit in a slight polite kind of way).

We agreed for them to take the boxes and main bits of furniture out to the lorry and then they would go for breakfast and give us an hour to try and box up the ‘clutter’ ready for going on the rest of the lorry.

It was at this point that my world came crashing down. I felt a complete lack of control and my head was beginning to get the familiar fuzzy feeling, complete with tingling arms and legs. I began to shake uncontrollably and started crying.

I felt useless

I was a waste of space

I was just getting in the way

It was just another thing that I couldn’t get right, or so I thought.

My wife spoke to me calmly and re-assuringly and made me remember that I had got this far and should be very proud of myself. I put on my ‘big boy pants’ and made an effort to get things finished. The lorry got loaded, my mum and my wife drove to the new house to get things ready for them to unload and my dad and I brought up the rear to pick up some of the loose bits still in the house.

We arrived at the new house and I helped unload. I began to feel a little more relaxed as I had some control over what was happening from now on. I was directing the guys in to the relevant rooms with their boxes and even standing at the lorry telling them where the pieces of furniture were going before they unpacked them. I was in my element as it made me feel important and needed again.

The rest of the day was spent creating walkways past boxes and then the Sunday (the day after the move) was spent taking control again and organising the garage while my daughter sorted her own room and my mum helped my wife sort out the kitchen cupboards and shelves. We are now at a stage almost 2 weeks later where we have a usable kitchen, a usable lounge and bedrooms that we can walk in to without tripping over boxes. The dining room still needs work, as does the front box room which is due to be my wife’s craft room and the garage needs electric in it so I can use it as my little ‘man cave / doodle studio’. However, the main feeling now is one of contentment. It feels a bit strange knowing that this pile of bricks and roof tiles is all ours and we will never need to ask someone else if we want to decorate it or change something but it is also a good feeling to know that this is our home.

Elsewhere in the last 2 weeks I have been trying to sort out address changes for various places and sorting out the various utilities being transferred to our new home. Not overly stressful but when your original order with your phone and internet company doesn’t appear to have been done correctly and they have to put another order in (resulting in a 2 week delay with out phone or WiFi) it doesn’t make it easy to contact people. But by using various free WiFi  hot-spots and messaging people when possible it is finally sorted and we are back in the 21st century.

However, no WiFi is not actually a bad thing as it meant we had to talk to each other and appreciate each other’s company again. It made us connect with each other without the distraction of YouTube or FaceBook in the background and I must say that I really enjoyed my time away from ‘modern life’

I have also started my next group of counselling sessions and this time it focuses on Self Esteem. It’s pretty hard going so far as it has made me think about events in my past that I may not have even considered. This has been difficult for me because as far as I remember I was never mis-treated as a child and I like to think I had an awesome childhood. My parents gave us everything they could (and they still do) and we never wanted for anything. I was never bullied at school but I found it hard to make friends. My counselling has begun to make me think about myself as an individual and make me think about how I look at myself against how I perceive other see me. Like I say, it’s hard going but I think it’s going to help me in the long run.

The other big step I have taken this week is that I am going to try and sell my pictures. Today I found the pack of canvasses I had bought and I did the first one. It is a larger version of the picture I called ‘Silent Night’ and I am pretty chuffed with it (in a not very big headed type way) but I have no idea how much I should try and sell it for if anyone actually wants it. Still, I’ve put a piccie below for anyone to have a look at.

2017-10-06 10.56.11

Oh well, thanks for making it this far and not falling asleep at my wittering on. Hopefully normal service is on it’s way to being resumed and I shall continue to try and keep heading forwards………………….

 

Dannii Was Right

There aren’t many times that you can call Dannii Minogue inspirational by way of her lyrics but today is one of those times. Often mistakenly labelled as the poor mans Kylie (who is her big sister in case you didn’t realise) she never got the credit she deserved. Her lyrics from her 1993 ‘hit’ are particularly poignant for me today:

This is it
Oh This time I know it’s the real thing
I can’t explain what I’m feeling
I’m lost for words
I’m in a daze
Stunned and amazed

Now, I’m guessing this was probably written for her as a song about love, relationships and that all cheesy stuff that most 90’s pop songs were written about. Although some 90’s tunes were truly bizarre (think ‘MmmBop’ and ‘Ice Ice baby’ to name but a few. Today, however they have a very different meaning because this is the day that I have been banging on about for the last couple of weeks. The day we get the keys to our forever family home.
The day I finally become a responsible adult.
Well, that last bit may not be strictly true as I don’t think I’ll ever be able to class myself as a responsible adult but today marks a big turning point in my life.
It is another big step in my journey of recovery and one that I have both looked forward to and dreaded with equal measure. On one hand I have looked forward to the fact it is our first home that we have bought and it is something that we can our own mark on without having to ask permission from anyone. I can hang whatever pictures up that I like (if my wife agrees). I can have my own space to use as my little ‘creative area’ although some of you who know about this already will know that it is really just the garage. The point is, it is ours and ours only. The mortgage we have will decrease over the coming years and it is something we can be proud of and say that we have worked hard to own.
The flip side to this has been that is the completely unknown. It is scary to think that we are responsible for a pile of bricks and tiles. We will have no landlord to call on if things need fixing, we will need to sort it out ourselves (like proper grown ups). There are a lot of ‘what if…..’ kind of questions going through my head and if I’m honest, most of them relate to money and how we will pay for things that (probably will) go wrong over the years. The answer to those questions is that I really have no idea what will happen but I have resigned myself to the fact that it will be a massive learning curve for us all. But one challenge that I am quite looking forward to.
The week is already planned out and leads up to the actual move on Saturday:
Monday – Pick up keys, get in and rip out old carpet downstairs
Tuesday – Plumbers coming to inspect pipes and boiler
Wednesday – Upstairs carpets being cleaned
Thursday – Laminate flooring being delivered and installed downstairs
Friday – Pack the rest of the old house up (if we haven’t done so before then)
Saturday – MOVE
Whether it will actually be this straightforward is anyone’s guess but it is all leading up to what will be a hugely positive step for us all.
For now I am genuinely terrified of what is to come but I will face it, wobbles and all and try to deal with it as each hurdle comes in to view.
Until the next exciting installment……………………………

It Was All Going Too Well

Well here we are with a little over a week until we move house and the unthinkable has happened.

No, we haven’t been swallowed up by a meteor (yet) or journeyed in to the centre of the earth (although it’s probably warmer there than here right now) but it feels like the world has just caved in on us.

We have had a pretty easy run of it if we’re honest and we had recently got someone round to price us up for a packing and removal service. They went away, wrote down the figures and then sent us the quote. My wife had phoned their office to ask about the price and we were quoted one price for it all.

Great

Or so we thought.

It turns out that when they told my wife the price they ‘forgot’ to tell us that didn’t include the packing of the old house (even though we specifically asked for it) so when I phoned their office to confirm the price it turns out it will now come to nearly double the original price we had budgeted for. The lady who my wife spoke to didn’t have the packing part of the quote in front of her so just went with the price more the removable bit on it’s own. Now, I’m not going into the full details of the quote and subsequent phone call I had with their office but as you can imagine it has pushed me closer to the edge of panic again. I came off the phone last night thinking it was all going to go wrong. It always does. We don’t deserve to be happy. Why did I ever think it would be plain sailing?

I have spent this morning phoning around rival removal companies to get a ballpark figure for our move and it turns out they are all about the same price. The price isn’t the issue though (even though it is more expensive than I thought) it’s the principle of the fact that they let us down with a week to go. If they’d owned up and said “Our mistake, we’ll knock a few quid off” then it wouldn’t be so bad but the fact they have just given a half-hearted apology and said that the price can’t be any lower has really made me cross. I’m feeling a bit between ‘slightly miffed’ and very unhappy but not quite angry or fuming.

Now we have to decide whether to just have the stuff moved and pack everything ourselves or shell out more money we can’t afford.

After a phone call to my dad this morning he has assured me we can do this and we can do it all together. If that means they come round every day this week before we move to help box up bits and bobs then they will. He made it sound more rational in that even if we pack bits and end up shuttling bits in the car in the coming week it will be still be cheaper than paying the price for their packing ‘service’.

If not, we could always load the car up like the picture at the heading of this blog and see how we get on that way. A couple of bungee straps and a bit of tarpaulin in case it rains and I reckon it will be a piece of cake (which is what I’ll need when we finish).

Why does being a grown up have to be so hard?

Stay tuned for the next (not so) exciting installment as the saga continues onward……………

It’s Getting Closer

One week today I will be able to say to you that I have a new house. It’s not new by means of it’s age as it was only built in 1983 but in our eyes it is a new house.

A family home.

Our first purchase.

Now, I remember being told when I was younger that there are a number of times in life where stress levels can go through the roof. One of these is when you get married. I have already done this and have to say that it went better than I had imagined. There didn’t appear to be any moments that we wanted to run away from in the run up to the main event and the day itself went relatively well (apart from me, the groom, being stuck in a car with my brother behind a milk float on the way to the registry office) leaving us both with some amazing memories of the day. One particular moment that I remember is when my wife and I went to the hotel we were staying at that evening. After the amount of alcohol that we’d consumed we both got incredibly hungry. This resulted in us walking down the hill to the sea front and sitting in a dingy chip shop in our finest ‘smart / casual’ attire while everyone around us was in beach wear (we got married in August). We both laugh about it now.

Anyway, I’m waffling.

Another time life is supposed to be highly stressful is when you’re buying a house.

I have already spent too long in previous blogs going on about my stress levels when dealing with letters from solicitors and mortgage people but this past weekend brought a new round of stress for me to deal with.

It wasn’t a particularly hard weekend but the one thing that did raise my anxiety bar was that we went to our local B&Q (a DIY store for those of my readers who live in other parts of the world) and started shopping for items for the new house. My daughter was buying paint for her room and a shelf so she put all her stuff on it. Personally I think she’ll need more than one shelf as she has a LOT of stuff (too much for an 11yr old) but she’s just so excited about her bigger room we can sort that out at a later date. We got some shelves for the kitchen as space is at a premium in the new one. We also bought some new laminate flooring for the downstairs rooms and it was at this point that the old familiar signs returned.

Twitching hands

Sweating

Shallow breathing

I think you all know the drill by now.

My wife recognised the signs and asked me if I was ok to which I replied I wasn’t really but I knew that I gave in to it and went outside then it had won. My reasoning for this was that I will probably have a lot more trips to the DIY store to come as we do up the house one room at a time and if I can’t do it now, then the next time will be harder. As it happens I stayed and the fear subsided.

I treated myself to a bacon roll and a cup of tea as a reward (tea can make anything better) and set about trying to decide what it is we’ll need to buy next. It would seem that the list is a lot longer than I had originally thought or maybe it’s just that I didn’t listen properly the first time it was all mentioned (this 2nd option is probably more likely).

One of the other times when stress levels reach dangerous heights is when you have children but I’m not sure I should subject you, dear readers, to any horror stories about that just yet. Especially if you’re currently pregnant or planning on having children in the future…….

Countdown to Start Again

Those of you who know me (in real life and not just digitally) will know that I have bought a house. Not on my own obviously, my wife and daughter are coming with me too but it is going to be our very first ‘family’ home.

If I’m honest it has gone easier than I expected it to go and I’ve not had much to worry about. I probably should have panicked but I’ve reasoned it in my head that we are paying solicitors and mortgage brokers to deal with all that grown up stuff for us.

Well it is beginning to look like the light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer.

We received a phone call in the middle of last week to inform us that we were now at the point of exchanging contracts and this could go ahead once we transfer the necessary funds. At this point this last sentence reads like I have been selected for a ‘special’ lottery prize but I assure you I am not related to a Nigerian prince or the recipient of an unexpected windfall from a  family member I never knew existed. However it is all a good sign that things are coming to the end. We have exchanged contracts and now have a completion date of 18th September which gives me plenty of time to get my anxieties under control and get my head used to the fact that we are responsible adults. We still have a few things to cover and these are in the process of getting done but once everything is paid for it will be over. Or at least the main stress filled bit will be.

I will try not to go on about it too much.

I promise.

Then again, it’s my blog, my facebook, my instagram and my life. I don’t need to sugar coat anything or project a ‘perfect’ image to anyone anymore to make myself feel better. I am quite capable of building myself up (and putting myself down) on my own.

Lately I have put the thought in my head that I am flooding everyone’s news feeds, instagram feeds and such like with talk of my move, doodles that I have done and things that are going on in my life right now. And I’m beginning to make myself feel guilty for doing it.

Why?

I don’t have the answer to that but I know deep in my head (past the bit that is filled with inappropriate jokes and humour) that I have nothing to be guilty about. I think we all have that element in us where we want to show off the things we are proud of and that should be celebrated. However this often makes us feel like we have to only show the good points. This can end up leaving us feeling empty and guilty that we may not be good as the next person.We often worry too much about what everyone else might think of us.

Life at the moment is going good for me and is continuing to go upwards and I intend to shout it out whenever I am able. I have a family who loves me, friends who care and a lot to look forward to. Everyone who knows me is genuinely happy to see me getting back to my former self and I know that.

So if a few lot of pictures that look a bit tripped out, a little bit psychedelic and generally strange happen to drop into your feeds you have 2 options. Look at it or scroll on. I won’t be offended if you choose the 2nd option as that is what life is all about. Choice.

I am now choosing to do things that make me happy and not because it’s what I think others think I should do. I’m not going to lie, it feels a bit selfish at times but I think at 40yrs old I have now earned the right to concentrate on me a bit more.

Don’t worry though. I have also learned that I should shout out when I’m not having a good time either. Life isn’t always straightforward (don’t we wish it could be?) and on those times I will be sharing too. That is my choice.

For now I am staying positive and looking ahead and at the moment the view looks great

Moving On Up

Forgive me readers for I have been quite lazy.

It’s been approximately 8 days since my last confession / rant / blog posting

Not a huge amount has happened since then but I felt it right that I should share what I’ve been getting up to in the days between posts. The majority of my time has been filled up with working as I guess that helps pay the bills. I love my job and I love the people I work with but somehow the actual work bit has a habit of getting in the way of me enjoying it even more. We have had fantastic weather here on the small island which has meant that customers have been staying away and doing stuff with their families (like people on a holiday island should be doing really). This has resulted in a calmer working environment as there hasn’t been that never-ending stream of people needing fed and watered as they have been at the beach letting other people tend to their needs. I find it fascinating that the weather has such a hold on our lives in this way but I suppose that here in Britain we’re not exactly used to tropical temperatures so, when the mercury gets above about 17 degrees, it’s a mad dash to the beach to make the most of it as we just don’t know when we’ll see the sun again.

I have also been cracking on with my new ‘hobby’ of doodling. I feel like I have found my own little style (although it has probably been done before by someone much better than me) and almost every day I am creating another little snapshot. I have put one of my pictures at the top of this post to give you all an idea of the sort of thing I get up to in my mind. I have a happy little band of followers on instagram who appear to like them and there is an amazing artist from Australia who has been very complimentary of EVERY single one I’ve put up. Maybe they’re better than I give myself credit for but as anyone with anxiety / depression is aware we are our own harshest critics and find it hard to accept compliments graciously.

I have also spent the last 2 weekends on my own. Not completely on my own but my lovely wife and daughter have been away from the house leaving me to fend for myself. Surprisingly I have managed to keep myself level. I had a bit of a wobble at work on one day with the realisation I was on my own but this just needed a cup of tea to bring me back to earth.

This weekend just gone though my wife and daughter were actually on the big island and away at a friend’s birthday party in Cornwall. My mum and dad had suggested we could do something if I felt like it but they were going to leave it up to me to see how I felt on the day. It had been said we could go to the Steam Show on the island, have a wander around town or take a trip to Brighton.

Yes, you read that right, a trip to the big island!!

I did my usual thing of investigating all the possible travel combinations and timings so that I knew exactly what I was letting myself in for and told my parents we’d go to Brighton. This meant I had to leave the house to catch a bus at 7.50am. Normally at this time I am sitting in my PJ’s drinking tea and doodling but this time I was dressed and walking out the house. Part one went well. Part two involved a trip across the water on the fast cat (a catamaran obviously, not a giant cat that swims quickly) and this also went ok. Part three then consisted of a train journey. Mmmmm…not done a train journey in a while so lets see what happens shall we. I sat facing the direction of travel as I like to see where I am going and not where I’ve been. The journey was great. I felt like a kid again looking at the world whizzing by the window and I was pretty relaxed until…….we arrived at Brighton. I asked my mum and dad to wait a while until the bulk of people of had left and then I felt safe again and we left the train.

I won’t go in to every detail of the day but it was great. I spent £35 in Choccywoccydoodah (an amazing shop if you ever get the chance to go there) and then some more money on little pressies for everyone. I also treated myself to a new fidget spinner. Not exactly exciting but it made me happy at least.

After the mentally challenging day on Saturday I decided that Sunday was going to be all about me. It began with a quick trip in to town and then lunch in M&S. In the afternoon, I cut the grass as it was beginning to look like we could begin safari tours through the tall grass. And then the evening was spent soaking in the bath filled with a ‘Lush’ bubble bar. Perfect.

After that it’s been back to work and normality.

Not bad for a weekend but it has boosted my confidence just that little bit more and helped me believe that I can do more that I give myself credit before.

Whatever you all get up to this week can I ask you all  to just do one thing for me please?

Be kind to yourselves…………..

One Good Turn Deserves a Wobble

Well, it’s been one of those days for me today.

I reckon I must have had it coming because I had a chilled out day yesterday down the beach. It was the annual beach meet up of the anxiety cafe and we went to a lovely beach here on the small island. I took my camera too and even managed to get a little wander in to get some shots for the day. Finish that off with a trip to the pub in the afternoon (yes…the afternoon) and a big plate of nachos for tea and you could say that it was a pretty successful day off.

That means then that something has to go wrong now doesn’t it? I think it can be more commonly known as karma but whatever it is it decided to let me know it was coming to see me this morning. Not in a ‘would you like a cup of tea and a cake?’ type of visit but in a more ‘I’m going to make you worry about something you don’t need to worry about’ kind of way instead.

It started yesterday evening when we discovered that our daughter had some unwelcome visitors in her hair. This resulted in a trip to the shops for some treatment stuff that we could use this morning. That meant this morning that I had no chance to do my usual routine of tablets, tea, breakfast and relax and my head wasn’t set up for the day. The morning consisted of treating our daughter’s hair, throwing a bowl of cereal down my throat (not literally of course, that would just be messy), washing her hair, combing it, washing it again, combing it again, drying it, combing it and then finally putting it up in a ponytail. By that time my chamomile tea had gone cold, I’d been late taking my tablets and I still had to make my lunch and get ready for work.

All through the hair washing / combing etc…my daughter was asking if she would still be able to go on her girl guides trip at the weekend. This, in turn, raised another issue in to my already frazzled brain.

With my daughter and wife away on their girl guiding trip and our housemate away at his mum’s on the Friday it meant that I would be completely alone in the house on Friday night.

Yay (you might think)

However, in my head this led me to a bit of a dilemma. Since my illness decided to rear its ugly head in its full (not so glorious) form I have NEVER spent the whole night completely on my own. My wife has been on night shifts, our daughter has been away on holidays and our housemate has been at his mum’s house throughout this period but never all at the same time.

What if I don’t wake up in time for work?
What if I don’t sleep at all and am unable to function properly?
What if I have a panic attack and no-one is here to calm me down?
What if I forget to make my lunch?
What if something happens to them while they are away?
What if……..
What if……..
What if……..

But this is something I HAVE to be able to do. Once we have moved in to our new house there will no doubt be occasions when I will be on my own due to various reasons and I have to be able to cope on my own.

Enough was enough, I got dressed and ready for work and left the house. I was late leaving the house which meant my routine was still up in the air and then my time at work before I started my shift was less than usual. This allowed me no time to relax and by the time I made it to the sales floor I was a mess. That was the time when the tears decided to make an appearance. The trembling legs thought they’d join too (as if I needed them to) and I had to remove myself from the area before it got worse.

Enter, one understanding colleague from stage left.

She took me upstairs where I was able to get a cup of chamomile and just talk to her to get my thoughts out of my head. No judgment, no advice…….just being there for me.

And that is exactly what I needed.

The rest of the day went (almost exactly) as planned. I got on with my job. Colleagues who had noticed I wasn’t having a good day let me know they were thinking of me and offered support (without pushing for a reason why I felt bad).

By the time I went home I was feeling like a completely different person than the one who arrived at work in the morning. I had been reminded by my colleagues how far I have come and it is this that I am trying to hold on to. I have been reminded also today how far I still have to go but I know that it’s a journey I will continue to battle.

(sorry if this last paragraph all sounds a bit X-Factor)

Until the next time………………

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