Thoughts from a Small Island

Random words from my mind

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


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.


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………………

In Sickness and In Health

*Soppy Blog Alert*

16 yrs ago (yesterday) my wife and I got married. I won’t go in to the detail of the day itself but it was a day full of love, laughter and alcohol (quite a bit of it too). There are moments we still laugh about now and things that pop up in our memory where we have a little smile to ourselves as it reminds us of such a great point in our lives.

Now, I suspect most people are aware of the ‘vows’ people commit to when they marry. Some may say they’re a bit old-fashioned in this day and age but I like to think they are still relevant. For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and health, ’til death do us part. It’s fair to say that we’ve had our fair share of better and worse moments over the years we have been together but they are all experiences on our journey through life. Some have taught us a lesson, others have given us wonderful memories to treasure for ever. We are also no richer than we were but that is just in monetary terms. But, if you were to measure richness in terms of love then we are richer than we ever dreamed we could be. We have a beautiful daughter, a great network of friends and work colleagues and a roof over our head. We are also soon to be starting a new chapter of our lives in our very own house as soon as the contracts are exchanged. We have holidays when we can and make the most of what we have. Yes, we would like more (wouldn’t everyone?) but what we do have we have worked hard for and I think we appreciate it more. It is also helping to bring our daughter up in a way that she appreciates the little things and she seems to be turning into a caring, conscientious young lady (with a touch of my sense of humour which is a pretty good trait to have).

However, when we look at the ‘In Sickness and in Health’ vow that’s a whole different ball game. My wife has her own share of health issues and it would be wrong of me to expose them on here but suffice to say that they are a part of her and I wouldn’t have her any other way. My health issues have been numerous over the years we have been together and have ranged from me being diagnosed with IBS to finding out I have mild hearing loss and having to wear hearing aids. Each of these have been fairly ‘easy’ for me to accept and get along with and make reasonable adjustments to my life to cope with them. The biggest test of the ‘sickness / health’ vow though has been this last year. It has also been the hardest challenge to my health for me to try to accept as just being part of who I am. Never in my wildest imagination (and it is a pretty wild imagination at times) did I think my wife would see me terrified to leave the house, shaking uncontrollably and scratching deep marks in to my arms through blind panic. Being a ‘typical’ man I expected I had to be the strong male figure of the family and look after everyone but this came at the expense of my own health. I never expected my wife to be handling phone calls to the mental health crisis team on my behalf because I thought they didn’t want to talk to me and I would be better off not being here. I didn’t expect to have to see her face full of worry when I told her about the darkest part of my mind and what it had been telling me to think or do. Nor did I expect her to have to be the one to coax me gently into leaving the house when I have been on the verge of a panic attack.

Fast forward 6 months from me being at my lowest point waiting for my world to collapse and I can say I am getting to be in a better place again. I think in a funny way it  has brought us closer together as we now have a much deeper understanding of each others needs. We know when to leave the other alone and we know when the other just needs a big warm hug and a cup of tea (tea makes everything better in our house). I know that if it hadn’t been for my wife being there to support me then my illness could have taken a completely different turn and this could have been a very different blog.

To celebrate our anniversary we did what any self-respecting, loving couple would do. Our daughter is away with her grandparents and her cousin until Sunday so we took the chance to do what ‘normal’ couples do all the time (I imagine).

That’s right we went out for a meal and a night out. But not just any night out. This was the height of romance. It started at the KFC drive-thru and then sitting in the car park eating our ‘dinner’. Then it was off to the cinema to watch ‘Dunkirk’. I’m not really into reviewing things but suffice to say the film was incredibly powerful and well worth a look if you haven’t seen it yet.

Which just goes to prove that money isn’t everything (although it does help pay for romantic nights out like this) and we will remember that night out for years to come.

That just leaves the ‘death do us part’ bit. We have been married for 16 years so far which leaves us a hell of a lot of years together still to make more memories and plan many more romantic nights out.

Who knows, we might even upgrade to a Wetherspoons meal and drink deal for our anniversary next time………………………..

You….Got Into Harvard Law?

What….like it’s hard?

If there’s one thing I have learnt from watching Legally Blonde it’s that it is actually honest in places. Not always factually correct but still good quality film entertainment.

There I said it. I’ve watched Legally Blonde. And Legally Blonde 2, Crossroads, Muriel’s Wedding (I love that film) and many more ‘chick flicks’. By choice and not by force I hasten to add and I have actually been pleasantly surprised by them too.

As we start a new month and head nearer to the end of another year I decided to make more of an effort with my general health. For the last 2 and a bit years I have been going out running 3 evenings a week. This has been, on the whole, enjoyable and I have a regular route I take around town at a comfortable distance of just under 4 miles. If I feel like it, I can increase the distance and if I’m having a bit of a bad time I can reduce the route and go home early. It’s a relatively cheap hobby (can it be called a hobby?) once you’ve got over the shock of the initial outlay for a decent pair of trainers and it’s a hobby where you don’t have to behave a certain way. I can go out with a neon top, plain shorts and a funky pair of socks and no-one bats an eyelid. Well, they probably think I’m a bit of a nutter (and they’d be right to a point) but when I go out for a run I don’t care.

I don’t care what I wear. Sometimes the more garish the better.

I don’t care how fast or how slow I go (although getting personal best is pretty exciting).

I don’t care that my face looks like a beetroot or that my hair is stuck to my face.

What I do care about is that for about an hour when I am out I have no responsibilities. The only thing I have to think about is what road I’m going to go along next. All of my worries for that day fade away. My heart is racing and my breathing is quite laboured but in a good way.

For a little while I have gotten a bit lazy and made pathetic excuses why I shouldn’t go out. It’s been too hot or too rainy. I’ve been too tired after work. The Tesco shopping is being delivered (yes I have used that one). Well, tonight I went out for a proper run for the first time in a couple of weeks and although it wasn’t my fastest time ever it felt good to be out on the streets again (not in that way though).

Which brings me back to Legally Blonde and the honesty of Elle Woods. In the courtroom scene at the end she utters the immortal words “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”

While I have no intention of shooting anyone the general point I’m trying to get across is that exercise makes me feel good. I feel knackered but at the same time I feel really proud of myself and genuinely happy.

I’ve even grown a beard and I might look a little bit like Forrest Gump at the mid-point of his run across America.

Except I use oil on my beard and it looks a lot tidier than his does but that’s a story for another day……………………………..or maybe it isn’t


Makka Pakka, Akka Wakka, Mikka Makka Moo!

Some of you may have noticed that I have been absent this last week or so from here, others may not. Nothing bad has happened but I have actually managed to go away on holiday.

No big deal I hear you say.

Well, after my final shift last Saturday I went in to a bit of a spin. I had Sunday to get my head around the fact that we were going to be on a ferry at 7.45 in the morning on Monday and I still had to pack. I went upstairs and looked at my wardrobe and began to contemplate what I should take. I should add at this point that we were going camping in Cornwall so the probability of changeable weather is quite high. Anyway, I lifted a handful of t-shirts, shorts, jeans and a few shirts out and bundled them in our holdall. Underwear was then added and a hoodie for the evenings. My wife was a little more exact with what she chose (always more practical at packing than me) and we had the bag all packed and ready.

Next step was to go in the loft (or attic depending on what side of the world you’re on) and get down all the essential kit. There was the tent, sleeping bags, airbeds, cooker, electric cable and, of course, the most important piece of equipment, the kettle.

This was all going too well. Something has to go wrong surely? It can’t be this easy to go away can it?

Well, so far it seemed it could be this easy.

On Sunday evening we loaded the car with everything except our wash bags and pillows (we’re not savages, we did allow ourselves some comfort) and set work on putting the odd bits of kit on the roof rack. And that’s when it began. I started to worry about whether the bungee straps would hold everything in place. What if they loosen and come off down the road? What if the equipment falls off? What if we cause an accident? I couldn’t stop thinking the worst so I went back inside for a bit to answer of these questions rationally in my head. Once I’d satisfied myself (and my wife had convinced me it would be fine) we finished strapping everything down and went to bed happy that it was all done.

We got up Monday morning with no dramas, got on the ferry and started the long drive down to the wonderful west Country. I was still nervous about the roof rack but I kept my thoughts to myself and checked it every time we stopped to satisfy my head it was still safe. All that actually moved was the tarpaulin cover and I was able to put this down to the wind catching the front and lifting it free of the bungee cords. This was easily fixed by wrapping the sheet under one of the cords at the corner. Job done. One happy camper.

On arrival at the site we found our pitch had been taken by someone else (cue rapid breathing and nervous fidgeting) but we were given another pitch of a similar size and you can imagine my delight when it was reckoned to be the best on the site. The views outside our tent was stunning and our eyes were led along the rugged Cornish coast so their mistake worked out pretty well in the end.

2017-07-24 17.22.41

I won’t bore you all with the full details of the holiday but suffice to say I felt the most relaxed I have in a very long time. I had no TV and minimal internet access but I did have access to stunning beaches, precious time with my family and plenty of times where I could just be on my own and not have to worry about anything. We met up with family and friends while we were down there and all went out for a meal one evening where we could have one big catch up and chat about things as if we had never been away.

Of course there was a higher drink and rubbish food intake than we would normally have but this consisted of pasties, cider and proper ice cream topped with flakes and clotted cream. However, I’m pretty sure this could be classed as some of my five-a-day. Cider = Apples (1 portion). Pasties = Onion, turnip and potato (2 portions). Ice cream = Blackcurrant, Apple (1 portion). Plus I’m pretty sure chocolate comes from beans so that’s another portion right?

One thing I did find while we were away was that I was willing to push my boundaries a little and I even took a selfie on top of a cliff edge overlooking Kynance Cove to prove to myself in the future that I could do it. 2017-07-27 16.01.30

I also discovered that stacking stones on top of each other on the beach is incredibly therapeutic. Finding the perfect balance of each stone when they are all different shapes and sizes is like trying to find a place in my head for each of my worries. Each one requires skill to place it in the right place before I can deal with it and place the next one on top of it and begin the process of turning and twisting it to stabilise the whole stack. My wife affectionately nicknames me Makka Pakka after the character in the children’s programme ‘In the Night Garden’ who has a passion for collecting stones. I don’t collect them but I do think that for something so solid and awkward they can be incredibly beautiful.

A bit like me really. Well, the solid and awkward part at least………………..

Rules Are Made To Be Broken

Just like they said in the film “The first rule of anxiety club is don’t talk about anxiety club.”

Well, it wasn’t exactly like that. I don’t remember seeing Brad Pitt with a fidget spinner in his hands but you get the general idea of where I’m going with this blog today.

If I were to follow the ‘…don’t talk about…’ way of thinking my life would be very different. I genuinely believe that if I hadn’t talked to my wife, my doctor or some of my work colleagues I may well have ended up in the long-term care of my local NHS.

One of the big things that I made a conscious decision to do at the height of my struggles was tell people about my illness. Whether that is through my blog, my Facebook page or just anyone who asks. I have had customers at my workplace tell me that they haven’t seen me for some time and I have been honest with them in what I have been through. Sometimes I have left bits of the details out (not everyone needs to know why I have scars on my arm) depending on how they react to my initial statement of having anxiety and depression. Other times I have been open to the point of almost over-sharing. It is this fine line that I have struggled with some days but I know in my head that it’s good to talk (a bit like when Bob Hoskins did those BT adverts in the 90’s) and it all depends on whether people listen to me properly or not. When my wife or daughter ask me how I’m feeling, I tell them. There’s no point in me now hiding my feelings as they will both see right through my act and tell me. For me, honesty really is the best policy.

Obviously though this is not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of illness and there are many different ways for us to talk or get a message out there. If I don’t feel like talking I write my thoughts down in a notebook. Nobody else has access to this notebook but I know in my head that I have done something with the thoughts and I don’t need to do anything with it again. To some of you this might sound a bit counter-productive in the fact that I’m not physically telling anyone what I’m feeling but, to me, I am telling somebody. It’s just that the ‘person’ is a piece of paper. Other times I go to the ‘cafe’ once a month and we can all sit and talk about our month since we last met up without fear of judgment.

I am going on holiday this week and will be meeting up with good friends so there is a distinct possibility that my anxiety will rear it’s fairly ugly head again. There will be social gatherings, different places to eat and drink and new places to discover. However this is going to be a week where I spend the days relaxing in some of the most beautiful scenery in Britain and the evenings drinking some of the best ales in the country too. I am off to the land of the pasty, Poldark and the county where the cream tea is done properly with the jam first then the cream on top. Yes that’s right……Cornwall. I shall be relaxing with books to read and minimal access to social media. The campsite we are staying at has wi-fi at a cost so (in my eyes at least) that is fantastic because as a Scotsman I don’t like spending money if I don’t have to. This will make for a very quiet week for me (or as quiet as it can be with an 11yr old) and a suitably relaxed time away from the small island.

Anyway, getting back to the main thread of today’s blog. What I’m probably trying to say in my usual disjointed way is that rules are really there to guide us. Some of them need to be followed to keep us safe, others can be bent a little to help us along our way.

So maybe the first rule of anxiety club should be that we actually DO talk about anxiety club?

I know I intend to keep doing that…………….

The End of an Era

Today marks the end of my daughter’s time at primary school. It is also one of the proudest moments in my life.

I woke up this morning with a feeling in my stomach that something was going to happen. I had no idea if I felt good or bad but it was an uneasy feeling. I could barely eat anything. My breathing felt shallow and I was anxious but in a good way (if that makes sense?).

My wife and I had been made aware that our daughter may be receiving an award from her school at the leavers service in the local church but we were previously unable to go. However, since being told by a friend (not the school I hasten to add) that it may have been something pretty special we pulled out the stops to go. My wife sent texts to  her boss last night and a friend of mine offered to cover me for 2 hours in the morning to enable me to watch.

And we weren’t disappointed. There was a beautiful service, full of singing and complimentary words about all of the children in the school. Certificates were handed out and smiles were beaming. Then the time came when the last awards had been given out. This was an award that is given out to students who set an example in their everyday commitment to school, friendships and learning. Inked20245949_10155084099878369_3433699663216483573_n_LI

Reading these words written about our daughter brings me to tears as it shows me that we have done something amazing between us. There were also comments from other parents who told us that their children (in younger years at the school) look up to her and were genuinely upset that she is moving to high school. Some of their children were crying and begging her not to go. To know the impact that my 11yr old cheeky little monkey has on other people is a feeling of both pride and love.

Throughout my life I have been nervous of new people, scared to make friendships in case they go sour and I’m left all alone so I have created a little bubble around myself to stop myself getting hurt. It is this bubble which has protected me through 4 primary schools, high school, college and higher education. However it has left me with a lasting distrust of making new friends which I am trying to overcome gradually. My anxiety has actually opened more doors than I thought it would and it has let me make new friendships which I hope will continue to flourish. Whether it’s been through the amazing Anxiety Cafe I go to once a month or just by talking to people more I am gradually adding some confidence back in to my broken shell and with time I will repair the cracks in it.

My daughter on the other hand is the complete opposite of me. Life is never dull with her around, even when she’s in a ‘Tracy Beaker’ style strop and won’t listen to a word we say to her. She is full of life and always sees the good in people. She is confident in herself and her abilities and has a wonderful support network of friends around her which, even though she is going to a different high school than some, will be around for a very long time. She takes on challenges with a smile (and a bit of pre-teenage attitude) and encourages others to do the same. On the days that I feel low and close to giving up she is there with a warm hug and a soothing voice that says “It’s o.k. daddy, I’m here”. She has seen me at my worst. Scratched arms from clawing at my skin, red eyes from sobbing uncontrollably and shaking from sheer terror and all she does is hug me.

No judgement. No questions. Just love.

We could learn a lot from her

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