Until further notice

I’m the happiest of Bronwens today. Autumn simply is the second most wonderful time of year (Christmas being the most wonderful time of the year, of course) and I’m so happy it is here.

What’s not to love? Good TV. Jumper weather. Beautiful crisp colourful leaves. Monthly reasons to get together with friends and family and have a good time in the form of Halloween and Bonfire night and Christmas (oops I said it again). Yes, it’s too soon to talk about Christmas, I know, but we all know that really that build up starts here. HOW EXCITING!

Tuesday night just gone, Dave and I went to see Foo Fighters at the O2 and it was unforgettable! My goodness what a night. If I didn’t already think they were an incredible band, I do now. They are mind blowing. They all have such presence! They’re all so talented and they’re innovative too. They’re growing all the time. They’re concert was the perfect mix of old and new and even featured Rick Astley! In the flesh. Singing ‘Never gonna give you up’. No word of a lie.

I also helped out at a couple of Alzheimer’s Society’s memory walks this month and I’m so glad I did. I was so overwhelmed. I attended the Watford walk first. The event site was at the bottom of a hill and we’d barely finished setting up before people started emerging over the top in blue memory walk t-shirt after t-shirt. They all looked amazing and even more so when they eventually headed off on the walk itself. I had a lump in my throat for the duration of both events. So many people and each one there for the same incredible cause and all with names and pictures on their back. All remembering someone. It was simply amazing.

Today, I’ve had an epiphany and, although it’s been a long time in the making, it’s today I feel like I’ve got a kind of a plan for the future.

Leaving my parents’ home and moving out. Moving away from my home town and starting a new job. It all threw me off balance just a little bit. I’ve been tumbling through. And, hey! I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with tumbling through, but for the first time in my twenties so far, I kind of know where I’m going. Or where I want to go. I think. And it feels FAB.

The wonderful thing is that for now, I think that for starters, I wanna stay exactly where I am. I’ve always been a floater, thrived off change. I get bored quickly, but as much as the change does good things for the part of me that is always seeking the new and exciting, each and every change drives the butterflies in my tummy into flutters.

I feel very lucky to be where I am right now and I know that with enough determination, I can get to where I want to be, starting from right here. I don’t need to jump head first into another deep sea full of unknowns and drag my mental health down again with me.

For a little while I’m just doing more of the same. And I’m so excited for all of the joys staying put will bring.

After that? These lips are sealed I’m afraid. Until further notice.

Still twenty-something, still lost, still smiling

Old habits die hard.

Life still feels as complicated as ever.

You can tell life has been a little crazy, because long gone are the days of blog posts written every Sunday without fail, always about lazy days at my parents’, roast dinners and good books and sunshine or rain.

Funnily enough, I actually did spend this Sunday just gone at my parents’. I slept in till eleven! It was amazing. My mum made me a bacon buttie and a cuppa. I nipped out to see my best friend and her other half and when I got back the whole house smelt of roast chicken and potatoes and it was glorious. I chilled with my brother and checked in with my sister. I stole a good couple of bear hugs off my dad. Before I headed home, full of food and love, I watched a kid’s film with my parents. It was raining almost the whole day which was a disappointment to my mum who’d asked me to bring my bikini in the hope we could take a dip in the paddling pool. However, I loved the fact it rained. My old home felt that much cosier because of it.

I was back in my home town because, on Saturday, some of my friends and I went to an ‘Escape Room’.

If you haven’t heard about escape rooms, I highly recommend you look them up. The one we did was super scary. ‘The Cabin’ is just off a shopping street in Southend. We were trapped with a supernatural creature, which we were told could only move in the dark. The lights went on and off through out and there were clues all over and we had one hour to banish the creature and find a way out. We failed miserably, but hellish as it sounds, it was such good fun. Not all escape rooms are scary either. For those of you who don’t know, there’s a Harry Potter themed one and one where you rob a bank! I cannot wait to try them.

The rest of that day was spent battling with wind and rain, drinking coke floats, eating them amazing donuts you always get at the seaside and playing crazy golf by the sea.

Right now I’m sat on the sofa in our flat and listening to Rag ‘n’ Bone man, whose music I love. Dave’s just got in from work and tonight we’ve nothing planned besides fighting over who gets control of the music and who gets the comfier sofa. Makes a change. We intend to make the most of the nothingness.

Life’s been the usual emotional rollercoaster and I’ve been through the normal ups and downs.

The working weeks are crazy. I’m always in a Mond-aze first thing Monday morning. I may love my job, but that doesn’t stop the return of the alarm clock being a shocker. We promise ourselves early nights from that moment on and yet every evening flies by and before we know it, we’re going to sleep much later than intended.

As time goes on, I think I’m finally beginning to realise that regardless of gender, personality, job, lifestyle, mental health, all twenty-somethings are feeling a lot of the same things. Obviously we’re all going through our own individual bits and pieces, but we’ve a lot in common with each other too.

We’re living the best years of our lives of course, but that doesn’t mean we’re not all scared and unsure. Swept up in the craziness of all that is modern day life, we’d be crazy not to feel a little bewildered.

Whenever I stop for too long to think I find myself second guessing, doubting, panicking. Good thing is, I’ve not had much time to stop at all. I do think I’m finally coming to the terms with the fact that I never feel like I’ve got both feet on the ground. These are the years to fly right? I’ll find my footing again eventually and then, I’ll just wanna be right back where I am now.

It’s complicated

We, people in general, tend to overcomplicate things. Life’s fairly simple when you think about it. We’re born. Some things go wrong and some things go right. Some of us are lucky and some of us are incredibly unlucky. Some people like us and some people don’t. We make friends and we lose them. Then at some point it all has to end and most of the time people are sad to see other people go, regardless of what we may have done or not done, because at the end of the day the loss of life is simply sad.

This isn’t coming from a place of complete randomness. Life has felt overwhelmingly complicated recently.

When I nipped quickly into the Paperchase at London Euston a couple of weeks ago to grab a diary, because things were a little crazy and I needed to keep track, I was just excited to be back from travelling, to be rolling on with work and to have so many fantastic plans ahead.

This week, I’ve done nothing but wish life was simpler. I’ve felt like I’m losing track. Suddenly work feels like my whole life and as much as I love my job, I can’t help freaking out about all the important things I don’t have time for. The days haven’t felt as long as they did in the beginning and there’s not enough time and everything’s been a muddle.

Then out of nowhere, today has been simple.

I simply slept for as long as I needed and then rolled out of bed at 11am. Dave cooked a not so simple, very impressive breakfast, but I helped where I could and sipped tea when I couldn’t. I sat outside and read my book and then I got too hot and moved indoors. Then I convinced Dave to walk round to McDonald’s with me and we bought McFlurrys. We don’t feel like cooking, so we’re simply ordering in.

I feel like today has done me the world of good. Stepping out of the craziness of it all for just a little while has put my feet back on the ground again. I feel like I’d been swept up in a flurry of madness and now I’m back on solid ground.

Not only does this remind me of the value of slowing down once in a while, but I now feel like a complete wally. From an outside perspective, looking back, life’s been simple all along really.

I have got to stop over-complicating things! (As if it’s that easy)

Everyday’s an adventure

My first few weeks at the new job were great. Unsurprisingly, life just got better when I wasn’t stuck in the flat all day everyday. As you’ll know if you read the last post, I adjusted super fast to the new pace of life. Once I was on a roll I just kept rolling. I still love my job. The people I work with are lovely. I love the work we do. I love how much my brain hurts at the end of a day and how much time I get to read now I’m a commuter.

Just over a week ago, I got back after an incredible two weeks spent travelling Europe with one of my best friends. I can’t even begin to tell you what a great time we had. From walking miles through cities and mountains, to boogy-ing the night away with new friends from all over the world, it was literally one amazing day after another.

Now it’s back to every day life, but it doesn’t feel everyday. Everyday feels like an adventure somehow. I’m getting the bus every day this week, for example, because something’s wrong with the suspension on my old little car. This is an adventure in itself. Today the moody bus driver tried to tell me off for not signalling him right. I put one hand up and waved and he nearly drove straight past. He stopped a little past me, in the middle of the road so I had to walk tentatively up to the doors. He opened them, but only to say ‘You waving at me!?’ whilst imitating my wave like it was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever seen accompanied by a fake cheesy smile and everything. He wasn’t very happy, but he let me on in the end at least.

Right now I’m sat on my bed with the balcony doors as wide open as they can be and the heat from the laptop is still almost unbearable. I’m not complaining though. I feel like I’m still on holiday in this weather. Passenger is playing from my Spotify, unsurprisingly. I’m about to pick up the book I’m currently reading, which I think I might finish tonight and I can’t stop admiring the bedroom carpet which I hoovered for the first time since we moved in. It’s the little things eh?

Let go of the familiar and embrace the new

I was super happy and excited, but goodness I was nervous.

A small part of me was just rationally worrying about the new job itself. Whether I’d be able to do it, whether the people would be as nice as I hoped, whether I’d impress like I wanted to.

I was also having nightmares. Nightmares that varied from stressfully realistic to scarily weird. I had one in which I kept trying to get through doorways, but random people in my life would be standing in them telling me it wasn’t safe. By the end I was shouting (luckily just in the dream) at the top of my lungs that they had to get out of my way, because I had to get to work! You don’t have to be a psychologist to figure out I was very scared I’d be late.

Most of me was simply just terrified about the change from unemployment to employment. Even with 7 days a week free to do as I pleased I felt like time was going too fast and there was never enough of it. How would I cope? How would I find time to do the things I love? How would I keep in contact with all of my friends and family? How would I sleep and eat enough? How would I live!?

Commuting for the first time was a strange experience. When I walked onto the station platform singing quietly to myself at 8am, I felt like I was walking into a school assembly late. Everyone looked miserable. Everyone was sat or stood in silence. Everyone seemed to glare at me as I walked past. Pretty girls looked me up and down like I didn’t belong.

Of course, half the issue was that I was so tense and uncomfortable. The minute I walked onto that platform I forgot all about where I was headed. All I knew was that I felt small and unsure and this was all new and I wasn’t sure I liked it and a big part of me wanted to run back home to bed. I was more nervous than I knew and it didn’t take much to knock me off balance.

However, from the moment I got to work onwards, my first day ROCKED. Everyone I met was super lovely. I really enjoyed the work I did and the more I found out about my role the more I knew I was going to love it.

There came a point when I realised where I was, both physically and just in life and suddenly a big goofy smile spread from cheek to cheek. I was in my favourite city, working in one of them fancy office buildings, wearing fancy office clothes and doing a job I already took pride in and loved, in the hope of saving money to do something else I take pride in and love.

This change didn’t happen gradually. I didn’t go through a period of adaptation. Maybe you aren’t supposed to. Maybe the reason I’ve struggled with change so much in life is because I’ve always had too much time to think about it. This time was like no other. I’m not being dramatic. Literally, one minute I was panicking; I felt like I was spiralling, losing control, time was running away with me. The next minute I realised I was calm and I settled into the swing of things and before long it was like nothing had changed at all.

I’m another 5 commutes down now and its not strange anymore. If the pretty girls are still looking me up and down I’m not seeing them because I’m too happy and confident to notice. Or my head is in my book which I’ve already mastered the art of reading wherever I am.

It doesn’t feel like I’ve just been through a change. 3 days into the job and everything is second nature. It honestly feels like I’ve been doing this for years and that is strange and wonderful all at once. Life never fails to amaze me.

The aftermath

Easter weekend’s been and gone.

Friday was a lazy hazy day. Dave and I ordered takeaway, watched films, I read, he played games. It was wonderful.

Saturday morning, I met two great friends I haven’t seen in too long in London for brunch. It wasn’t as posh as it sounds though. Sorry to ruin the magic, but we ordered greasy fried breakfast in Wetherspoons at a train station, caught up, people watched and ended the morning at the Krispy Kreme donut stand. I don’t like Krispy Kremes so I got a hot chocolate.

Dave came to join me in London for the afternoon and we wondered around being tourists until the wind and the cold drained us of all our energy. At that point we refuelled on snacks, got the train back to Watford, ate at Wagamammas and then came home to collapse. It having been our first ever visit to Wagamammas, we are both now big fans of Japanese food.

Dave and I went over to my grandparents on Sunday, where we had a beautiful lunch and a lovely day.

Monday was a house sorting, cleaning up, doing laundry kind of day and I must say we aced it. By the end of the morning the place was spic and span. Good job too, because my parents popped by with my brother in the afternoon.

Now we’ve bags of chocolate to make our way through. I’ve got just a couple of weeks to make the most of my freedom. (Because now I know I have a job on the horizon, it feels like freedom as opposed to just unemployment.) I feel young and world is my oyster-y and oh so optimistic, but at the same time, grown up and mature and adult-y in a good way.

Learning to be all kinds of happy

I’m sat on the sofa by the window, getting blinded by the sun, but refusing to shut it out. I’m two chapters from the end of Harry Potter so when I’m done writing, I’m finishing it. Then I’m rewarding myself with a cream egg or two before taking a deep breath and picking up the very important looking paperwork that came in the post from my new employer.

Yes, I got the job! EEEEEEEK!!

If I’m honest, at first the news left me feeling all kinds of mixed emotions.

I was happy at first, goodness I nearly cried on the phone while she was telling me the good news and I’m surprised I didn’t deafen Dave when he called to congratulate me, but then almost as fast as I’d felt happy, I felt tense and uncertain again.

I found myself trying really hard not to get overwhelmed. I couldn’t relax for days. I know now that I was so happy when she rang, but I was scared too. Not scared of starting the job, but scared of letting myself be happy about it.

That probably sounds like lunacy to some of you. I just got a job I know that I’m going to love in the city I’ve always wanted to work in. Life’s moving forwards in a brilliant way, but sometimes even the positive emotions are scary. We try to suppress them, because letting any emotion take control, even a happy one, means losing ourselves a little.

We worrier warriors spend so much of our time trying to control our emotions, trying not to let the anxiety take over, that the moment we’re given a good reason to act like the crazy, excitable, over-emotional happy person, we find it hard to go for it!

When it finally dawned on me that I had no reason to be anxious, that everything had fallen into place and that I was in fact ridiculously happy I cried, I ran around like I’d eaten too many blue smarties and I haven’t stopped smiling since.

If you’re like me and even the happy emotions seem daunting, put yourself out there next time you’re feeling good. Scream from the hill tops if you have to. Let the happy tears run wild. Don’t try to keep it in. Keeping it in never did anyone any good.

Mayhem

Our living room is SUPER cosy now. Not only do we have the house plant and the cactus and two sofas but we now have lots of cushions, one that’s particularly fluffy, and a rug and a coffee table. Right now I’m sat with a spotify playlist called ‘The Stress Buster’ playing, I have scented candles lit and I’m sipping my way through a beautiful cup of coffee. I reckon the playlist is doing its job, because I feel very chilled.

Monday was a fun-filled indoorsy day. I cleaned, I put washing on, I watched a few too many episodes of Gilmore Girls, I started trying to work out how I’m going to prove I’m competent to do the job I have an interview for and I cooked an amazing pasta dish. Pasta has become my niche. It’s even easier to cook than they say it is and it always tastes great. I wish I’d experimented more at university. Pasta bake was the extent of my knowledge. I ate a lot of pastabake.

Tuesday, I braved the Tesco Car Wash. Sounds simple, but I went all hot and clammy and breathless walking around Tesco after parking up and handing the keys over! I was so full of butterflies the whole time I did my shop and then when I eventually got back, having calmed a little, shopping in hand, to find it looking beautiful and to realise that the whole thing had been a massive success, I was so relieved. Small triumphs.

Tuesday evening we had a friend over to watch the football. We’re Manchester United supporters and therefore we were tense, stressed and frustrated for the majority of the evening. That aside, it was a good evening. We ordered an amazing Chinese takeaway and got through a few beers between us.

Yesterday three lovely friends came over to visit me for the day. We went out for lunch at Prezzo, I gave them a brief tour of Watford town centre (in all its glory), we played card games and it was great. Just to have the flat so alive with the buzz of a few more people made me smile hugely.

Today I finally went to register at a new doctor’s surgery. I’ve been putting it off because as per, I was super scared. Also as per, all was plain and simple, the ladies behind reception were nice and I had nothing to worry about.

This afternoon I went shopping for interview clothes and smart shoes. I spent two stressful hours checking every shop twice and still coming out empty handed. Suddenly, walking around the shops in a flustered mess, this interview felt terrifyingly close. I got home, reminded myself to breathe, made myself a cuppa and within ten minutes had ordered everything I wanted online. Why is it I never think to online shop right away? Need to get with the times.

Now I’m about to pick up Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Every time I finish a serious book off the shelf, I’m rewarding myself by reading a Harry Potter. They break it up a bit. They’re such good reads and when I picked up the first one a few months ago, it had been a very long time since my dad read them to me as bedtime stories. It’s about time I rediscovered them in all their wonder.

The last time my anxiety was exacerbated by a big change, it took a lot of adjusting for me to get to a point where I felt like I could live freely again. Perhaps it’s cos I’m older and wiser, perhaps it’s because I have Dave or perhaps it’s actually because this time I’ve been open about how I’m feeling, but I already feel like I’m doing better. Perhaps writing Chapter three is doing more good than I know. Whatever the reason, the way I was feeling when I wrote ‘Mind over Matter’ is a mystery to me now and I feel like I’ve come a long way in a few weeks. I hope this positive attitude is here to stay.

Mind over matter

Recently, my beautiful cousin wrote a blog on mindfulness. (It’s well worth a read and the link is at the bottom of this post. I’ve also included the link to a mindfulness meditation video which helped me heaps.) And I mention it because even more recently I discovered just how practicing mindfulness can help. In the spirit of being honest, when I first read my cousin’s post I underestimated mindfulness. I didn’t think it was for me. I thought meditation was a thing I’d struggle with in many ways. Then, one down day last week left me feeling particularly shaken.

I truly believed that I’d hit the bottom. Considering how well things were going, I can’t quite believe how pessimistic I felt. I was tired of being anxious and I wanted to give up. I felt hopeless and I was convinced that every day of the rest of my life, I’d be miserable. I’ve felt all of this before, but this time the thoughts were scarier and more consuming. Perhaps all of the anxiety I’d been feeling over the last couple of weeks had been smothered in a way, by all the good stuff I was feeling and this was it bursting out. I was exasperated by the fact I still felt anxious when the past couple of weeks had been so truly amazing and rationally, I knew I should be so calm and happy.

In the end, I rang The Samaritans and they stayed on the phone until I was out the other side. I didn’t call them because I believed I might kill myself. I called them because I didn’t know how to explain how I was feeling rationally and I didn’t want to panic family and friends. I felt like if I didn’t get it out of my had by talking about it to someone, I would be giving the feelings more power over me and they would become too much for me to handle. The Samaritans were amazing and if you ever need them, you can call them 24 hours a day on 116 123. 24 hours was all it took before I was practising mindfulness on my bedroom floor for the first time and feeling like I could go on.

I hadn’t truly felt like I was in control again since the phone call. A half hour after they’d convinced me to try putting the phone down and getting on with my day, I had pretty much decided that I was going to carry on feeling helpless and I’d just call The Samaritans every day for the rest of my life so that they could get me through it.

Laying flat on my back, on the floor, listening to a mindfulness video, I discovered the power of being in the moment and coming to the realisation that we have power over our minds, not the other way ’round. It honestly took ten minutes of being mindful for me to believe in myself again. Since then, I feel stronger than ever. I only wish I’d believed enough to try it sooner.

What’s also amazing is that once I’d been mindful I finally felt I could tell people around me how I’d felt. I told Dave, I told my brother, I took control back and I moved onwards and upwards.

Right now, I’m sat on an actual sofa (because we have one actual sofa now) and I’m looking at our beautiful living room (that now has house plants in it, including a wonderful cactus called Patrick) and I’m smiling hugely even though it’s all grey and gloomy outside. These last two weeks have been far from miserable. Believe it or not despite my emotional all over the place-ness, they’ve been great.

I’ve applied for lots of jobs and despite having heard nothing yet, am still feeling determined. They’re not all in schools. I’m applying for all kinds of things, because saving money for my masters feels like the priority now.

I’ve started writing my first ever song and I’ve been keeping up the piano practice.

I finished Jane Austen’s Persuasion and I thoroughly enjoyed it… It made my heart sing.

I bought a foot stool and can now reach the top of my new wardrobe.

I’m getting to know the new area. I’ve been ’round to the local shops and been into town a few times now and it feels more like home every day.

We’ve had more wonderful friends over to visit. Two brought flowers with them. One brought Christmas crackers along because why not? One brought yorkshire puddings and helped us to make our first flat Roast which came out really well! (I feel more lucky every day to have the friends I do.)

Dave and I have been out for dinner and been to the cinema, been record shopping together and we’ve started working through the list of films we’ve been meaning to watch for ages and without setting off anyone’s cheese allergies I have to honestly say how lovely it is to be in the same place and actually be able to spend time together and do actual couple things. So yeah, he hasn’t driven me crazy yet, but watch this space I guess.

One film we watched was ‘Hidden Figures’, which I have to give a special mention to before I go. It is simply phenomenal. I cannot believe that I did not already know the stories of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson and I’m so glad I do now. The film is eye-opening, uplifting and inspirational. Watch it whenever you get the chance.

My cousin’s blog post:

http://speakingtheunspokenword.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/be-mindful-about-your-mind.html

The Mindfulness video I used:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p_yaNFSYao

An honestly good week

I set the bar high with the honesty thing and I’ve been fretting ever since. Every post that popped up on my Facebook timeline this week, had me second guessing myself. An article titled ‘What anxiety actually is, because it’s more than just worrying’, had me closer to pressing delete on last week’s post than ever.

There are people who suffer much worse than I do. Maybe I’m being dramatic. I’m such an attention seeker. What if I am just stressed? What do I know? What was I thinking posting that? 

The post is still there and it’s there to stay. I’m taking a deep breath, flopping with a cuppa on one of our blow up chairs and I’m writing another one. If I’m being honest, it’s actually been a really good week. HOORAY.

Last week I’d let my perfectionism make me obsessive about cleaning. For the majority of this Monday, I banned myself from housework, I sat with my lazy clothes on, watching films and successfully chilling out.

Tuesday my dad came over. He was a star. He got straight to work on setting things up for us before I’d even put the kettle on. He did lots of technical stuff and all I know is now all the light bulbs in the flat work, I can have a shower without the water going cold, we have TV and internet, we’re all set and I’ve started searching for and applying for jobs! My dad and I had a great day and playing the host made me feel more at home than ever.

Wednesday I made my first trip into town. I got horribly lost trying to find the car parks, but managed to stay fairly calm despite the confusing one way system and all the buses I nearly collided with. Once in town, I was in my element. I bought a few bits and bobs we still needed, grabbed a costa coffee and then headed back home feeling accomplished.

Thursday, one of my bestest friends came to see me. I spent the morning sorting and cleaning, had a proper breakfast and lunch for the first time all week and then embarked on a stressful journey to go collect her from the nearest tube station, in a place where it appears London drivers like to whizz round beeping their horns willy nilly. Once she was here, having her here made me so ridiculously happy. We made more travelling plans, booked our eurostar ticket and booked into our first hostel, watched gossip girl, caught up on life and then I cooked an AMAZING lasagna. The second drive back to the tube station was much less scary. It’s amazing what a little familiarity can do.

Nearly there, I promise…

Friday I enjoyed my first ever proper relaxed lay-in in my new bed and I knew I was making progress, starting to feel properly settled. My auntie came over for the day. We caught up over a cuppa, a maintenance guy dropped by to take a look at one of the windows, we headed into town for lunch and all in all, had a wonderful day.

This weekend has been Dave and I’s first proper weekend in the flat together. It’s been fab. We ordered takeaway on Friday night. Last night we cooked steak and made sweet potato wedges and shared a bottle of red wine. We did a food shop. We made a want/need list of things we still want/need for the flat.

All in all, it’s honestly good news. I am bounding forward into my new life and I don’t currently want to run back in the other direction.

The also honest truth is that good week, or not, I battled with anxiety every day. But that’s okay… A big part of living with anxiety is accepting that it will be there with you every day for the rest of your life. That there will be times when it effects you more, or less, but it will always be present. I used to spend every day trying to overcome my anxiety all together and it always left me feeling disappointed and weak. What gives me hope right now, is that I’m here at the end of another week, smiling hugely, living on despite it, actually enjoying myself and feeling strong and proud for that reason.

What I’m saying is, if you fight a fight of your own every day of your life, be proud, stay strong and keep smiling. You’re a hero and you’re not alone.