Number 10

I’ve ummed and ahhed about posting this for a while… What I’m about to write is pretty personal. Is this a good idea to post? Probably not. I didn’t think that posting this was going to be anywhere near as scary as it actually is. But if there is anyone out there who feels the way I once did, I hope I can offer some kind of light at the end of the tunnel.

This is my story.

18 months ago when I left for university, I sat in the back of the car (covered with duvets and clothes bags) with an excited anticipation. I remember how the suburban surroundings dripped away and I was soon looking at rolling fields. My mind was buzzing, creating hundreds of different scenarios to how it would be when I walked through the front doors of my halls for the first time. I was told that this is the place where I would have the best years of my life, that I would be partying every day and I would make friends for life. When I walked into my bedroom, number 10, for the first time, it was hard to hold back from full hysterical laughter.

This was one of those moments where I thought that if there is a God, he definitely just backhanded me around the face.

The carpet was stained, the blind was hanging off of the wall, the drawers had hairs in, there was a large asbestos sticker stuck above the sink (which was leaking), there was no natural sunlight and people had graphitied on my wall. This was after walking past the facilities which consisted of two toilets and two showers. Let’s not forget about the kitchen (as easy as it was to) which situated three freezer drawers, six fridge shelves and a Baby Belling oven (if you do not know what this is, please Google to observe the full horror), those facilities were for ten people to share. At that moment it would have been a pretty easy decision to just turn around and walk out.  But, Uni is something that for as long as I can remember I wanted to do. I wasn’t going to throw the towel in that easily.

Bedroom number 10 is a place that changed my life. This is where it started.

The room was large and isolating. I was small and completely out of my comfort zone. Living mainly with boys and bearing in mind that most people were under the age of twenty, the kitchen and bathrooms quickly became grotty. All bedroom doors were fire doors, so they couldn’t be propped open and there was no common area, lending it to look somewhat like a prison. Before long, one of the showers was backing up black water and was shut down. We were down to one shower between ten of us. There was a particular person on the floor who used the whole freezer for their frozen chicken and peas and any food left in the fridge usually got eaten.  My plates and cutlery from my kitchen cupboard often turned up used somewhere else in the building and I came out one morning to find my new frying pan bent out of shape on the kitchen floor and half of my belongings chucked out of the window.

It wasn’t long before I started getting grief at night… To this day I couldn’t tell you who was behind it, but I was constantly having my door banged on any time between 1am and 4am. There was an occasion where I actually had glass thrown at my door. It was when these things started to happen that I noticed a shift in myself and I began to change. I started to close in on myself and found it hard to smile at the people around me in the building, knowing that one of these people was behind what had started happening to me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d had my very first panic attack. Sadly, they became a regular occurrence. Once the sun was gone, I was scared to come out of my room. The girl that had loved to go clubbing and never wanted to be alone had completely switched into someone else. Now I craved to be on my own, because I was becoming scared of people. After countless nights with hardly any sleep, with people that I didn’t really know and someone harassing me night after night, I was beginning to crack.

At night I couldn’t sleep. I would sit on my bed, watching my door, waiting. The dark became my enemy, because if I did fall asleep then wake up from a loud banging I would feel disorientated when I couldn’t see. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I became afraid of the dark. For the first time in my entire life, I was afraid of the dark. The panic attacks got worse to the point that as soon as I got into my bed I would begin to have chest pains, unsteady breathing and feelings of restlessness and panic. As you can probably imagine, I didn’t get much sleep.

Not having any sleep came with its own set of problems. My eyes began to play tricks on me and I thought I could see things that weren’t really there. I would see balls of shadows moving across the floor, a bit like a large spider, but of course there was never really anything there. This progressed to at night thinking that there was someone else in my bedroom.

The worst thing about all of this is that I knew it was just my mind playing tricks on me, so why couldn’t I stop? I was scared all the time. I cried, a lot. I was a mess and a literal fraction of my former self. I was too embarrassed to tell my friends and my family what was happening to me. If I pretended  that I was okay, then there wasn’t really a problem, was there? When I was with people, I felt fine. But at night, when I would return to my room alone, it would begin again. I don’t know how else to describe the events, other than being dark and all-consuming; endless nights of self-torture. I genuinely thought that I was losing my mind, although I was later told that a sign that you are in fact not losing your mind at all, is to be aware that something is wrong.

Somehow, I endured the six months. They had once seemed infinite. I’m not sure why I stayed. Some sort of pride barrier made me get back up and carry on day after day, I wouldn’t give in. I guess I was a much stronger person than I thought… I have always been stubborn. I’m not one to admit defeat. But I still look back on how it was ruined. I didn’t reach out and make friends in lectures, because I never went, because I was scared to leave my room. I was scared to be in my room. I was pretty much scared of my own reflection. It was a waste of an existence. It’s sad to think that I lost so many opportunities.

I moved out of halls as soon as my deadlines were over. When I got home, I knew that enough was enough. I could live my life like a coward or I could get on with things, so that’s what I did. I moved into a new area, got myself a job, made friends and forgot about the whole ordeal. Of course, something like that never really goes away. It’s always with you. But it was supressed, controlled and as far as I was concerned, a silent part of me.

However, returning to university proved a harder transition than I had anticipated. Eventually, I plucked up the courage to go and see a counsellor. I needed to know that I didn’t have something seriously wrong with me. Diagnosis – anxiety and panic attacks. Knowing what was going on made me feel that I had more control. I understood what was happening now. I made the decision to change my life, and I have.

It hasn’t been easy and sometimes I have days where I’m scared to leave the house on my own. But I won’t let anxiety control my life and I realise now that to be able to recognise your flaws and to battle your demons makes you a stronger person. I have personally found that the harder anxiety is beaten down, the less it rears its head. So when I’m afraid, I don’t think, I just put my shoes on and I walk straight out of that door. Fear is only what you allow it to be. Your own strength is as powerful as you believe it can be.

I look back on the person I was a year ago, sitting on the floor next to her bed crying, and I want to shake her. Nobody is brought into this world to have to live like that and nobody should be ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help. If there is anyone out there who is struggling with anything like this, there is an end to it, but it’s when you finally tell yourself that enough is enough. You have the power and control to change your own life and nobody can ever take that away from you. I’ve come out the other side a stronger person and you will too. People that discriminate against anything like this are just ignorant because they don’t understand. The irony is that most people will go through something like this during their lives.

Heard of Johnny Depp, Emma Stone, Kate Moss, Adele, Scarlett Johansson? They are all reportedly anxiety sufferers. To my friends, I’ve always been an outgoing, social person. Only recently I’ve finally told people what I went through and I always get the same response… “I had no idea”. Don’t feel alone. It can happen to anyone. You never know what’s really going on inside someone else’s head.

Never be ashamed.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

You are not alone.

Until my next brain leak…O&O.

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Happy St Georges Day!

Happy St Georges Day!

My strawberry and vanilla St Georges day cake & strawberry cocktails! The weather is beautiful here in Cheltenham, I hope you’re all having a lovely day!

St Georges Day cocktails

 

Until my next brain leak… O&O.

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The ‘L’ Word

It’s scary isn’t it? We’ve all been there. If you haven’t yet, you have a lot to look forward to. It’s amazing. For those who have come out of the other side, my fellow veterans, I hope you haven’t lost your faith. Still in that place? There are millions of people wishing they were you right now. It’s crazy isn’t it? Everyone everywhere seems to aspire to this ludacris and perfect, can’t sleep, can’t eat love… The kind of thing that you see in blockbuster Hollywood films.

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On the other end of the spectrum, my peers, we are a generation that have seen divorces unlike any other. The UK has the highest divorce rate out of any country in the EU and it’s hardly shocking to hear that so-and-so’s parents are splitting up. How are we supposed to expect that anything can last? Not to mention how we have been reared by shit magazines like Cosmo to know ‘The Rules’; Some rubbish about always making sure you end the conversation first and never text your potential love interest unless necessary. Since when were there rules on how you should act?

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So we have television and film pumping into us that the only ‘real’ love is the kind where Ryan Gosling builds you a customised mansion on a lake, but we are constantly watching celebrities like Katie Price churn out husbands quicker than hot dinners. Wonderful, and people wonder why we are a promiscuous generation all looking for the sunset and getting their hearts raped in the process. If it isn’t perfect, then they aren’t the one, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hopeless romantic. Soppy things are nice in films but in real life they trigger my vomiting reflex. I like to view myself as a realist and here is my proposal – Can we all just meet in the middle somewhere please?

Until my next brain leak… O&O.

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Today, I am a less cool version of BERRRTTMERRN

There is something really nice about donating something, anything infact. But for me, donating blood makes me feel like a hero. I grew it myself and it’s literally a part of me which I’m giving away because I want to. I guess you could say that to an extent I give blood for selfish reasons, because it makes me feel better about myself. It’s amazing to think where the blood goes… Towards research, as a blood transfusion, to Trannsylvania... If you haven’t given blood before, let me talk you through it.

Obviously, you need to make sure you have something to eat first. This is an opportunity that should not be missed, if you feel that in order to save lives you need to break your diet and munch on a gigantic Bourbon, then that is exactly what you should do!

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Make sure you get there a little before your appointment booking time. In the waiting area you will always find the usual suspects. Today did not disappoint. They are as follows:

  • The nervy first timers – They fidget and ask questions to anybody that makes eye contact.
  • The veterans – Usually over the age of fifty, they have given blood plenty of times and like to congratulate everyone under the age of thirty for their donations.
  • The glory seekers – They have given enough blood to fill up fifty children and have the certificates to prove it.
  • The Morgan Freeman wannabes – Why the name? They all think they have a good story to tell, but none of them are quite as compelling as Mo’Free.

After a quick finger prick test to make sure you’re not anaemic, it’s off to the chair of doom (I’m really selling it here, aren’t I?). Anybody who tells me that they don’t give blood because they don’t like needles is just making excuses. I have a mild phobia of needles and it’s simple – don’t look. When you look at the tube going a nice shade of red just think… Mmmm… Jam (do not try to eat the ‘jam’. It would be awkward and you may get admitted.).

Whilst in the chair just make pretty starfish shapes with your hand and try not to focus on the fact that you can’t feel your arm. It is not going to drop off, you are not going to die and it will be over before you know it. Next thing, the needles out, plasters on and you are being tended with biscuits and drinks! As a student, this is an opportunity that you cannot pass up. Free food is not something to be sniffed at. If you are offered a ginger snap, you take the damn thing. Like a hamster, you store it in your face until you want it. That’s just the way it works.

If you’re special, they may even give you a sticker…

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So yes, today, I can walk around with a glory stroll feeling like Batman, because I have done a good deed. If you’re aged over 17 and don’t want to be A-Negative person (I know, I’m hilarious), why not get yourself down to a donation site and help out? It’s the easiest 1lb that you will ever lose! All the information that you need is at http://www.blood.co.uk/.

As Bruce Almighty would say, that’s how the cookie crumbles!

Until my next brain leak, O&O.

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The 30 Day Squat Challenge

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Ladies, by now I’m sure that you have let out a unanimous *sigh* at the latest diet craze to sweep the internet – ‘The 30 Day Squat Challenge’. What nonsense. What absolute crap. I will not be pressured into putting my body into a urinary position several hundred times a day. HANG ON. Have you seen the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures on Google? Hurry up I’m already on squat 30… 31… 

About once a month I like to give the speech about how I’m proud of my curves, I love my hourglass and I don’t mind the extra couple of pounds. This is shortly followed by extreme panic, whereby I eat nothing but lettuce for a few days and am extremely susceptible to suck up any diet fads like a dehydrated sponge. Arguably, the 30 Day Squat Challenge is more to do with your physical wellbeing, not starving yourself, but as both of these things tell me that I can’t eat cake I just put them in the same category.

Explanation – The idea is, you follow the 30 day plan and you end up with a better looking butt. It takes less than 10 minutes a day, it costs nothing and you can start ASAP.

I’m taking one for the team here. I am devoting, a whole ten minutes a day for thirty days, (that I will never get back, just to be dramatic) to trial the #30DSC. Will I post before and after pictures? Hell to the no. However, I WILL post with results.

I can tell you that I have completed day three. I can’t tell the difference yet, can you believe it? That’s 165 squats and I don’t have an arse like JLo? What is this? You should have seen me on Day 1 trying to walk down the stairs after my squatting session. It looked like a really extreme version of the walk of shame, only in my own home.

On the bright side, Beyonce does NOT have a thigh gap, so that’s one less thing to work on.

Until my next brain leak… O&O

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