Week Fifteen

I’m wearing my sunny day t-shirt (under my biggest fluffy jumper because it’s chilly despite the sunshine) with my oldest, comfiest jeans. I’m munching on Bitsa Wispa in an attempt to satisfy the sweet tooth I’ve woken up with. I’m smiling because sunny Sundays are my favourite thing and I’ve already had three cups of tea today.

This week’s been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been as scared as I was when I woke up Wednesday morning to take on one of my biggest challenges at work. One of my biggest challenges at work, in the midst of all the challenges going on outside of work. Understandably I think, I’d been feeling nauseous for days in the build up and I’ve never been so exhausted as when the day drew to a close. I tumbled into bed without even taking a moment to think about how things had gone.

When I woke up on Thursday, I was still tired and had made the mistake of scheduling in a working from home day, thinking I’d need time to unwind. Turns out, a whole day in on my own was not what I needed. I felt lost and sad and lonely and I knew Wednesday had gone well, but I couldn’t feel happy about it.

Friday, I was buzzing. A challenging week at work had been a huge success and after another night’s sleep I was actually feeling restored enough to enjoy it and let the pride kick in. I AM SO PROUD. It also helped that I was back in the office, surrounded by people, with a to do list as long as my arm.

Yesterday was a good day all in all. I was super excited about the fact Dave and I had no plans this weekend and I could do what I liked. We watched movies, I read my book. Late in the afternoon, Dave and I went to the shop to get some beers in time for the football and then… I spent a good chunk of the evening crying my heart out! Just like that, it came out of nowhere and Dave and I ended up on a late night walk talking everything through. I went to sleep still trying to process everything and then I woke up this morning to find life didn’t seem nearly as bad again and cooked a fry-up with a massive smile on my face.

All of that said, perhaps emotional roller-coaster doesn’t quite cover it!?

Today I genuinely feel fine. I’m looking forward to date night with Dave tonight. We’re off to see Captain Marvel and we’ll probably grab dinner first. Where we’re going for dinner is yet to be decided. Best get our thinking caps on now or we’ll be overwhelmed by the choice later.

So relieved that we’re on the approach to the next bank holiday of the year. A couple of four day weeks in a row sounds like just the thing to me.

Life’s been full of challenges recently. I’ve been taking on new things at work. I’ve been out of my comfort zone in every day life. I’ve been rocking up to hen dos and birthday celebrations without knowing what to expect or who’s going to be attending, making new friends along the way. I’ve been making big decisions, talking about adult stuff like mortgages and my career…

I feel stronger and more terrified all at once, every day. And I feel more grateful every day. Grateful most of all for the amazing people in my life who give me the confidence I need to get up and at ’em, whatever the new day might bring.

Saying yes to new adventures

Oh boy oh boy. I cannot believe how time is flying!

First up, you need to know about a little cafe in Croydon called The Ludoquist. Nearly a month ago now Dave and I were staying with a couple of our loveliest friends. We spent a whole afternoon at The Ludoquist and were sorry to have to leave. It’s a board game cafe. They’ve more board games than you can imagine and to top it off, they sell great coffee and sweets in little glass bowls! There’s other, more substantial food and beer too! You pay £3 if you wanna play the board games and it’s so busy that your best off booking a table in advance.

While we’re talking recommendations, a couple of weeks back Dave and I went to the Secret Cinema in London. Secret location, secret world, secret identity, all that jazz. Secret Cinema are a company who literally build the world of the film. You enter a whole new world, full of incredibly talented actors and spend the night in character, as if you were a character from the movie. Then you sit and watch the film and then you party in the world after, until you decide it’s time to retreat back to real life. The website might do it more justice than I’m doing it, if you’re really interested.

SECRET CINEMA LONDON

I actually felt dubious to begin with. The film showing at the moment is Blade Runner and while I appreciate that it is an incredible cinematic masterpiece and the music is AMAZING, it’s not my kind of thing. Also, the future world depicted in Blade Runner is kinda scary if you ask me and I wasn’t sure I wanted in. I needn’t have worried. We had a brilliant night. I wouldn’t be surprised if we make it a yearly thing, like so many people seem to do once they’ve discovered it. No spoilers here, but WOW. If you can get tickets, go!

I spent last weekend in Wales with one of my best friends. Here come more recommendations… We had a lovely time. From drinking cocktails in Turtle Bay and brunching in Cosy Club to exploring Cardiff and strolling down Swansea beaches, we did about everything you can do to make the most of your weekend. The sun even shined on us.

Brunch in Cosy Club was amazing but it was well and truly trumped by brunch on Sunday in a little place called The Junction, right by Swansea Beach. We both ordered the Junction special and we had no regrets. £8.50 for poached egg, potatoes, chorizo, cheese, lardons, avocado and spinach all fried up and served in one grill. A FEAST FOR THE TASTE BUDS I tell you. And they did a vegetarian option too! Recommendation number three, if you’re ever in the area.

I did not intend for this post to end up being a list of recommendations, but I’m not sorry it did. I love that I’m discovering all these new and amazing places and that I can shout about them too! Life has been busy and exciting recently, but I’ve had plenty of chill time too. I’m feeling happy and calm and balanced and by golly I hope it lasts.

Proud

Another post already!? Can you believe it?

I remember when I went through a phase of wishing and hoping and dreaming of my blog becoming a massive hit and me being given my own column in a hugely famous magazine. I went and read all these posts from other bloggers about how to gain a following and how to keep them captivated.

Keeping your followers captivated. Rule number one. Write consistently and frequently. One day, the same day, every week or something like that. Every day if possible.

My inspiration comes and goes. My blogspiration comes at the most random times and goes again in a flash! I admire all of the bloggers and writers out there that have deadlines and meet them. I honestly don’t know if I could ever actually write in such a regulated way and I suppose I’m just grateful for the small following I do have.

Right now I feel blogspired because I’m ill and mopey and yet I just stuck some music on, grabbed my book, got tea and within a few minutes, perked myself right up! I just caught myself smiling and I felt this overwhelming sense of accomplishment and happiness.

My throat hurts and I’ve got a cough. Isn’t that just the most annoying combination!?Apparently this is the week everyone gets sick. Monday was National Sickie Day. Unfairly named I’d say, seeing as the vast majority of people probably are genuinely ill and are not just faking it. After all, we’ve been cold for too long. We need spring.

I tell you what though… Dave’s been nagging me to have Lemon and Ginger tea when I’m full of cold for years and I don’t like lemon so I’ve been ignoring him. Until today that is. Today I’m drinking Pukka’s Lemon, Ginger and Honey tea and my goodness he was right all along! The ultimate cold buster. It’s a shame he’s not here to tell me he told me so.

Smiling goofily at my laptop right now’s got me thinking, it really is the little things in life. What makes you feel proud might seem to someone else not to be an accomplishment at all. But that’s why we should never ever compare ourselves to others. I think that’s why I wanted to write. Just to say I’m proud. And you should be too, of whatever little thing you’ve overcome today.

Today, I feel proud because I’m home alone and I’m unwell and I’ve no idea what I’m cooking for dinner and usually my butterflies would be fluttering, but instead I’m smiling. Hooray to that!

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? 

Before I go on I just want to thank the people who reached out to me this week with words of encouragement. You restored my faith, made me feel incredibly loved and I cannot tell you how grateful I am.

So, here we are. The post is still there and 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.

Dave and I headed back to our parents’ houses last weekend.

Sunday was my Granny and Dave’s Dad’s birthday.

First thing in the morning I joined my mum in the kitchen. I sat on one of our kitchen stools, drinking tea and chatting happily away to her while she fried bacon for sandwiches. I was so happy to be back, to have slept back in my old bed, to see mine and Dave’s parents, to see the rest of my family, to have caught up with a couple of friends. I felt grounded again.

Mummy Maggs cooked a beautiful roast and we all had a slice of beautiful birthday cake and then my granny gave me a lot of invaluable advice on living on my own and cooking for two. (BIG TIP – Bulk buy meat, separate it into freezer bags and then freeze it in perfect portion sizes for defrosting and using whenever you like). She made me feel so much better about everything.

I stole as many hugs off everyone as possible and then later in the afternoon I headed over to Dave’s to wish his dad a happy birthday and to join him and his parents in time for the EFL cup final.

Sunday night was when the nerves caught up with me again. It was time to face another week at our new flat.

Monday was actually a good day. 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.

I’ve already rambled on too long, but before I finish up I just have to say that the also honest truth is that good week, or not, I battled with anxiety every day. But that’s okay… For me, 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.

Butterflies find a new home

Move-in day wasn’t far from perfect. Everything ran surprisingly smoothly. I was so ridiculously happy when we eventually found ourselves sat on blow up chairs, in our new lounge, surrounded by our belongings, eating Chinese takeaway and drinking Prosecco.

I’m still happy. I look around me now and I still don’t completely believe everything here is ours. Ours for the near future anyway. I can’t even believe there is an ours. To think that Dave and I now have an ours makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside in ways my romantic pessimist of a younger-self would have cringed at.

Everything’s almost in it’s place now. The bedroom is sorted and I’m so happy with it. The kitchen is nearly there. There’s some bits and bobs here and there that need a home, but all in all, the flat is looking good.

I should be so content. I should be bounding forward into my new life. I’m at the start of a whole new chapter and honestly?

Today hasn’t been a good day. Half way through I wanted to pack a bag, get in my car and go home. Chapter three begins at the start of a year in which I pledged to be more daring. To say yes more. To stick a middle finger up at my anxiety… In Chapter Two I vowed not to grumble. To stay positive. This chapter’s for being brave enough to say exactly how I’m feeling.

So truthfully, today I crumbled. Yesterday I was hit by one of them 24 hour bugs and my body crashed. Then today, my mental health went down the drain. It is going to be hard to describe how I felt when the butterflies caught up with me, but I will try.

I’m no stranger to an anxious meltdown. I recognized it. I reached out to people close to me. My support network came out in full force. My brother called. My best friend called. Dave’s been great.

That’s what frustrates me most I think. Anxiety is frustrating in many ways, but it is most frustrating when it holds you back at times in your life when you know in your heart that you’ve really so much to be grateful for. I’ve some amazing people in my life. I’m young. I’m free. I just moved into a new flat. I have high hopes for the future and I have everything I need to get to where I want to be.

Just a few hours ago I was seeing everything differently. I doubted everything. Nothing was right anymore. I reached out for help, but then I felt like a burden. Then I just wanted to disappear. I knew I was being irrational. If anything stops me pressing publish on this post, it’s the fear that someone worse off will read it and they’ll wonder why I’m even grumbling. I beat myself up over that while I tried to pull myself together earlier. It did me no favours.

Right now I’m on the upward slope again. I feel nervous about next week. I’m scared I’ll crumble all over again. I’m also excited though. Plenty of opportunities ahead for sticking that middle finger up yet again. How can you be daring unless you’re scared in the first place, right?

I promise Chapter three won’t be all doom and gloom, but I also promise to be brave and to be honest. Or to try to be.

Time flies when you’re having fun

Last time I wrote I was going Christmas shopping and now Christmas has been and gone and a new year has begun. Can you believe it?

Christmas was amazing. Somehow, I got three days in a row off of work!! The school term had finished, of course, but I’d fully expected the restaurant to pile on the shifts. I ended another school term on a high. On my last day at the school everyone wished me well and said they hoped to see me again soon. I’ve learned so much from my months there and I’m so grateful.

Over the Christmas holidays, I’ve seen so much of my family and friends. I’ve eaten so much good food and I’ve received so many wonderful gifts. I couldn’t be more grateful or anymore filled with joy. I was working last night when the clocks struck midnight and 2017 began but it was still a surprisingly good start to the year: My manager bought bubbly and we all had a glass when the time came.

Every year I claim I don’t care. New year’s day? Just another day innit? Really I’m so excited. I love a fresh start. I’m a sucker for a new years resolution. I love opening up a new calender and starting a new diary. I’ve three diaries this year. One wonderfully ordinary. One beautiful travel journal. And the last is a journal of 365 acts of bravery. ‘Do one thing every day that scares you’.  That’s what it says. It’s filled with motivational quotes and in the front it says that the challenge is attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. What’s not to love!?

The journal was a Christmas gift and is the inspiration for my earlier post ‘Fried egg in a bacon sandwich’ and my New Year’s resolution. I don’t know what this year is going to bring. Whatever the year throws at me, I’m going to be more daring. Say yes more. It’s going to be great. This year’s my year for being brave again.

I’m not sure what I’ve done today that was daring. Perhaps my brave act for today is still to come. What I can tell you is that the quote in my diary for today is…

“Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.” I like it. We all ought to stick our necks out a little more often.

Fried Egg in a Bacon Sandwich

In 2010 I was just finding my feet. I’d turned 16 but I was a little behind really. I was still very shy and I was scared of absolutely everything. Everything except singing, which I actually did more then, than I do now. Of course, I had no idea that my fear of life would actually be labelled as an anxiety disorder years later.

I had 11 New Year’s resolutions at the start of 2011. Number 1 was predictable and embarrassing: To find love. *rolls eyes* Moving onwards, I resolved to get better at maths and did. I said I’d get organised and didn’t. I vowed to smile more and worry less. I pledged to Be More Daring.

I went to a house party on New Year’s Eve. I had to write a pros and cons list just to decide whether to go or not. I remember some of the cons so clearly even now. I was staying the night and I was worried my pyjamas were an embarrassment. I didn’t know whether I wanted to drink alcohol and I didn’t know if it would be a big deal if I didn’t. I felt insecure in the outfit I had to wear but didn’t have anything else. I was worried I’d get too tired before midnight and wouldn’t be able to get home. I was worried I hadn’t eaten enough because of the nerves.

Last in the pros column, after ‘it will be fun’ and all other obvious reasons to party on New Year’s  Eve, was ‘you said you’d be daring this year’.

I had the best night. I’m still very good friends with the girl who hosted. Her mum offered me a bacon sandwich when I got up New Years Day and offered me a fried egg to go in it too. I’d never tried having egg in a bacon sandwich before and silly as it sounds, going to her party and adding egg to my bacon sandwich were the first daring things I did that year.

Being daring that year was the best thing I ever decided to do. Unknowingly I put a middle finger up to my anxiety. I grew in confidence, I tried new things (including my first shot of vodka), I made new friends, I did in fact find love and from what I remember I smiled, a lot. When I would normally have said no, I said yes. It was perhaps the best year of my life so far, but with only 22 down I guess that’s not saying much.

Two days until it’s 2017.

I think perhaps this year’s a year for being daring again. This year I’m going to take a leaf out of my younger self’s book. I’m going to dare to be myself at all times. I’m going to dare to sing on stage again. I’m going to dare to do exactly what makes me happy. I’m going to dare to live.

I had egg in my bacon sandwich this morning. Loved it.