It’s probably quite obvious something’s a bit off with me at the moment, and it looks like a lot of people are feeling the same if my twitter feed is anything to go by. Like I said on there a few days ago (a tweet which clearly resonated), whether it’s Mercury in Retrograde making things go funky (bad-ass funk,y not that groovy uplifting kind), whether it’s the winter weather making SAD impact you for longer than normal, or whether it’s stress of some other kind making life feel too hard right now – people do care and are willing to be there for you (if you let them). And that’s a key point here, I myself find it hard to let people know I need them, and then get upset when they don’t appear to be mind- readers (anyone else do this?). So as well as reminding myself that I need to let people in, and that not everyone will see me as a moaning burden, I am also having to remind myself that so much, including my mood, can change considerably in 24 hours. I urge you to do the same if your current status is ‘struggling’ too. That said, I don’t necessarily want to offer too much advice in this post, because goodness knows the internet is flooded with it. Sure, it’s often from a good place it’s not always the right advice, for you specifically.
I’m just going to tell you what I’m doing to try and help me.
I’d say on the whole when people say what do you struggle with (health wise) I tend to say ‘depression’, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s actually my anxiety that’s making my days incredibly draining and difficult to get through. Many of the symptoms overlap, which is the case for many mental and invisible illnesses, but I’d say that that feeling of edginess is definitely the most prominent right now. There’s often heart palpitations, that feeling of adrenalin rushing through my limbs, shaking hands, sweating, and that general feeling of overwhelming unease and worry.
That’s not to say that depression isn’t a constant right now too though. I hate to admit that International woman’s day seemed to be a significant trigger for me – not quite the uplifting and empowering feelings you hope for on such an occasion. Seeing people list their favourite or inspiring women, and then noticing time after time I was left off the lists, which featured many of my girlfriends..well, I couldn’t help but feel that my less that complimentary thoughts about myself were true all along. That I’m nothing significant, to anyone. Completely forgettable, and without any qualities that could be inspiring to anyone. Melodramatic, embarrassing and self involved – I know- but when paranoia is already edging towards the forefront of your mind these little but frequent observations push it right to the front. It led to be leaving lots of Whatsapp groups and mentally evacuating many social circles, my rational at the time being that they probably wouldn’t even notice or care. I also felt that pretending I’m still a valued part of a group that I never have the time/energy/money to invest in was making me feel worse overall. Some of my friends who have since recognised my feelings of isolation, have made some really beautiful gestures to try and convince me that I’m loved. But I know if my current situation fails to change drastically, and if I still exist out of the loop here in Surrey, without the means to regularly participate – that these feelings will rear their head again. I know now that’s how my brain tends to work, and the patterns of doubts have become fairly clear over the last few years. So the decision is.. do I invest my time and energy in to the local friendships, or the people that are willing to travel to me? Nurture and treasure those and let the other less convenient and mentally challenging ones go? Or is there something I can do to deal better with being someone on the outskirts of a close-knit group?
I’ve always said that tiredness makes you more emotionally fragile too. After a period of sleeping fairly well, even right through the night on occasions (when Si and his snoring face sleeps in the other room), I’m back to having very broken sleep. Those nights of staring into the barely distinguishable folds in the curtain ahead of me, while I debate whether to get up and move to the lounge and watch TV, or to lie it out and hope I’ll eventually drift off – out of boredom if nothing else. Yesterday at Si’s mum’s house, after we’d been to Bills for lunch, I passed out completely on the sofa for two and a half hours. I felt rude, because it’s been a while since we’ve found time to be able to visit and take her out, but I clearly needed it. I wonder if the change of scene aided my ability to drift off?
I think the need to escape my situation for a few days is still a desire that feels urgent. My friend has gone to Centre Parks this week and has left me her key in case I want some time alone away from my parents and Si. I think I’m might transport myself and my work station there this afternoon and see if it helps.
The awareness of time and it’s unrelenting speed seems to be one of the biggest contributing factors to my general feeling of unease and stress too. There never feels enough time to do everything I feel I need to do. I feel like life is running away from me, without me ticking off anything I actually want to tick off. I feels like 40 is edging ever closer, and I’m yet to feel what it’s like live like a proper adult. If my own anxiousness wasn’t enough to deal with, Si is having similarly consuming wobbles too. Having spent 10 years in a band that hasn’t led to any sort of stability or financial reward, should he really be starting a new and similarly unpredictable and precarious career he wonders.
I’m using may whole lot of my energy, picking him up and reassuring him, which I see as part of my role of a gf, butI’m then not left with any positivity to tell myself I’m doing okay, or that I’m on the right track. Having two unstable minds together means that we have empathy for each other’s unhelpful thoughts, but there’s also not enough to ground us and keep us feeling like we have a handle on things.
Now on to my work specifically and how it’s exacerbating my anxiety.
Since I found out I was doing another film junket interview I was not able to keep food in the body. Constant cramping and trips to the loo, during or just after every meal, since the email came through confirming my slot. I’m fine with interviews, even enjoy them, but junkets are a completely different ball game. You get 5 minutes including the time to sit down in front a well lit room filled with a crew, PR’s, and people with clip boards. You have to send your questions before hand, so that feelings of a natural conversation is removed, and if the star decided to answer your first entry question in depth all your minimal time is used up and your time preparing questions a waste of time. It always ends up being your most boring or generic question too. As soon as the director in your eye line counts you down you have to leave the room immediately. There’s no room for error. You can’t do things again. If you don’t use your time wisely, then there’s nothing you can do about it. So pile all this on top of someone who hasn’t slept (you worry you’ll just go blank as a result), someone who was feeling so sad they are publicly crying on their commutes again (including the one to the junkit). A woman who is juggling caring for loved ones with their health or emotional issues while maintaining their own shattered MH. A person who’s constantly worried about having no money. Someone who’s consumed with the notion that everyone hates her. Basically, I’m in a right pickle aren’t I?
It’s all over now, and although there were lots of things that could have gone better, I am relieved I got through it. But now that’s aside of course there’s always something else to worry about or dread, there always is when you have a job that involves you constantly doing things that are out of your comfort zone.
Im finding it hard to post videos in general at the moment. I just don’t feel like talking, and for some reason I’m extra alert to the fact that posting anything online puts you in a position of being judged – I just don’t need that right now. I also am finding editing a horrific process because I don’t really want to look at my face and hear my voice all day. If anything I want to escape all of my voices! So that’s why there hasn’t been any new videos lately, luckily there have been vlogs that I didn’t have time to post before, which at least relieves me from the feeling of letting subscribers down.
Last week, after a few days of deciding to hermit away for the good of my health, to try and recuperate from the week before’s stress and impact that had on my tummy (and bum-hole), I decided I would try and go to a screening of a film I had been looking forward to seeing. I know to most people a premiere is the desired ‘hot’ ticket, but I often choose to go to a screening instead because you still get to see a new movie without the need to get dressed up, feel awkward on a chaotic carpet, and be around hundreds of loud people. I was pleased that for once Si was going to be able to come with, just in case I had a wobble while I was out – I’ve been feeling a bit stressed on the tube lately. We planned to head to Old Street after for event celebrating a collaboration between a bar and Temple of Seitan. After we came out of the screening we both decided we didn’t feel up to it. We’d seen on our Instagram’s that lots of people we know, or kind of know, were there and we just couldn’t face the prospect of multiple small talk interactions. I don’t know about you but these are the sorts of moments that make me anxious. Those awkward conversations that will never reach a deeper level because the environment is too loud or busy, because you don’t know the person well enough, or because it’s a group scenario where you wouldn’t feel confident to be the focal point. As soon as Si agreed that we’d just go to Wagamama’s Noodle Lab to enjoy some vegan dishes instead, I felt such a huge feeling of a relief . It made me wonder why we ever put ourselves in that situation when we don’t have to. Sure, occasionally you’re glad you’ve given it a go because something positive comes out of it, and sometimes just the mere knowledge that you coped gives you a sense of real achievement. But often, it can just be a draining experience, one which uses up valuable energy which could have been channelled somewhere else.
As I said before, money is probably fuelling a lot of my unease at the moment. Although I’m earning more than I have in a while, the knowledge that none of it will be going towards my future or our house fund is stressing me out, and making any progress I make in my job seem pointless. I think it’s making me feel resentful too. Si and I have said that soon we will just have to start saying no to doing things with/for people, or we’ll never ever get to where we want to be. Two people pleasers together apparently also means perennially broke, but always busy.
So moving forward what am I going to do to try and alleviate some of these feelings or improve my ability to cope. I have been looking into hypnotherapy for anxiety, and it looks like it can have some impressive results – one on one sessions aren’t cheap, so I’ll need to save for a while. I have no doubt they could be worth the investment though, if you consider how much it could improve your quality of life and ability to enjoy work and socialising.
I’m also going to really consider what I say yes to moving forward. I say yes to so many opportunities because I worry that FOMO will be more overpowering than the anxiety I might have felt doing it. More often than not I also do things because of what I think other people will think if I don’t. i.e. How could you turn down an opportunity like that? Do you know how many people would kill to do that/meet that person? This could really help your profile etc .And sometimes even the blogger voice in my head thinks ‘but that Instagram post would perform so well. But is your health and happiness worth that? Course it isn’t.
I need to think more about how I deal with these feelings and the signs of them starting to show. I tried meditation this time round and although it calmed me a noticeable amount, it definitely wasn’t an ultimate fix. I also doubt it will prevent me feeling like this next time something I find daunting pops up again. So I think I really need to look at the totality of my life, and the things that regularly contribute or worsen the issues.
I’m constantly conflicted by the push through, go for it, inspire others by your determination school of thought, and the ‘be kind to yourself’ self care route. The decision making that means you don’t constantly marr your life with stress by pushing yourself needlessly through things that aren’t actually integral to your happiness. At the moment I review each mental challenge on a case by case basis, but I think I take the wrong lane (for me), more often than not – mainly because of my conscientiousness and my hatred for letting people down.
What I have to remind myself (and you) is that both things can be the correct choice, blanket statements and inspiring quotes don’t work for this kind of thing. For one person going ahead and doing things in spite of how difficult or daunting they are might be the right thing, but for someone else it’s best that they look after their health and prioritise in a way that doesn’t add needless stress to their lives. We should make anyone feel more or less than, whichever route they take. It should always be about them doing what they feel is right for them, which might be something they learn from trial and error and getting it wrong a number of times.
I don’t mind having nerves. It proves you care, makes you try your best, and gives you that lovely sense of relief when you get through something. But I don’t want my weeks to be ruined by lengthy feelings of doom and unpleasant body reactions, particularly if there’s things in my power I can do to minimise or reduce them considerably.
So I’m going to look at the content I make and ask myself which is worth the emotional effort and stress. Which type of content often provides reactions that add fuel to my lack of self esteem or paranoia . What events I can stop attending that won’t damage my career too profoundly.Which events in the social calendar can I turn down to ensure I am able to save some money towards being able to fulfill my own dreams. I’m going to ask myself what else I can say no to in my life, that stuff that doesn’t add any value to my life, and only seems to bolster my existing anxiety. I’m going to let people know when I’m struggling and make it clear how I think they can help. I’m going to try hard not to project my own worries on to other people – what I mean is, I always think subscribers/friends will tired of me, get annoyed if I’m quite or absent – there’s no evidence of this, only the imagined scenarios my brain conjures up.
Most importantly for me I’m going to remind myself that I don’t always have to go the extra mile. I don’t have to do more all the time, you know, try to excell, push, be a trailblazer, stand out. I can do just enough and that’s absolutely fine. It’s weird that I always think I have to go above and beyond when my current fave bloggers and YouTubers are the ones that actually don’t seem to work that hard (relatively speaking I mean). They seem effortless. They don’t seem obsessed with it, their posts just appear to be a seamless addition to there genuine every day life. They’re not at all the events, or doing any of the things I push myself to do because I think it will help my career. I understand they might just be masters of creating that illusion, but either way it’s working for me as a viewer, and I enjoy seeing them pop up on my feeds. I don’t need to appear to be busting a gut to be worthy of love and appreciation, perhaps living simply and being just me is okay after-all?
Photos by Kaye Ford.