Rocky Roads

As a sufferer of anxiety, one of the biggest things that plagues my mind is whether or not I am in the right place at the right time. As I have previously written, my fears stem from things I can, rather than cannot control. In my mind, those things I have no control over, I can’t change anyway. It’s the things that I have the power to change that really worry me, because it makes me responsible for how my life turns out.

This was very clearly demonstrated to me during my travels and by my fear of heights. When on a plane, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest that I am thousands of feet up in the air. I can look down at ant like cars and lego houses quite easily without any qualms. However, whilst rock climbing in Vietnam, I literally became paralysed with the fear over having the power to throw myself off the side of the mountain at any given moment. If I was going to die, it was because of something I did, it would be my fault, and that kind of responsibility was just too much to bear. This fear, albeit less intense, follows me round every corner of life where anything less than perfection can make me feel like a failure.

However, as anxiety sufferers know, there is constant battle between the anxious mind and the rational one, and the trick is to realise the difference between them. Many people will often say that “doubt mean don’t”. This is not the case when you have problems with anxiety as the fear constantly tries to reach to the back of the mind, find the reason for you anxiety through a trauma in your past and then turn it into reality by linking it to the present situation. My motto for life as therefore become “don’t let the fear win”, and often, if something scares me I tend to want to do it even more. Because if I don’t I am in very real danger of letting my mind control me, instead of me controlling my mind.

If you are currently struggling with the same ‘why am I on this road’ or ‘am in the right place’ or ‘why can’t I see the path clearly before me’, then let me tell you a story that might help you relax a little, and know that everything does eventually become clear and will make sense to you, and that everything does happen for a reason.

For a very long while I, as well as my friends, asked me what I was doing in the small dead end town, with the dead end job that I had ended up in. For months I didn’t understand my constant run of bad luck and misery and I blamed myself for not following the path I should have been on. The problem was, I had no idea which road I was meant to be on an so I spent hours torturing myself, asking God what my path was meant to be and why I couldn’t find my way to it. Yet somehow I couldn’t move myself away. Something deep inside me was screaming ‘You’re ok! It will become clear!’. As many of you know, I am now engaged to be married to my best friend and soul mate,’Andrew’. Had I not continued on the road that I now see was the right one, even though it felt dark and dangerous at times, I would not have reached the clearing into the light.

What I have learnt then, is that right road is not always the easy one. You will not always be able to see the bigger picture and sometimes it’s ok not to know where it will lead. What we have to learn to be able to do is trust that things will be as they should, and that as long as we’re moving forward, there is no such thing as the wrong path. Because every wrong road will eventually lead you to the right destination.

Let’s talk about it!

I wrote a post yesterday about publishing an old letter I wrote to myself at age 18. I have spent all day fretting about whether or not this is a good idea. Whether it will leave me vulnerable to ridicule and judgement.

As a young girl I suffered quite badly with anxiety, insecurity and social issues. This was down partly to being born a sensitive person, but at 13 my mother suffered a severe nervous breakdown and for reasons I still don’t quite understand myself, I believed this to be my fault. I was plagued daily by the idea I wasn’t worth people’s time and that at any moment, those friends I did have, would see what everyone else saw, a nobody, at which point they too would no longer want to be around me. I constantly felt paranoid about being ‘found out’.

Through a long and difficult journey of counselling, antidepressants and unwavering determination, I became a ‘normal’ functioning member of society (at which point I realised that being ‘normal’ wasn’t all that interesting anyway!) Today, I do not recognise the person who wrote those words I have published, and I thank God every day for giving me the strength to overcome their meaning.

Despite the continual campaigns to publicise mental illness, I find that people are still unwilling to discuss it, in particular when it directly effects them in some way. I don’t want to fail to talk about something that impacts so many people, and while this letter makes for difficult reading bringing up memories I had long buried, I hope that it can somewhat lift the taboo on mental health a little to anyone reading this. If it can make just one person feel less alone, then it has been the worth the risk posting.

"Why can’t I stop crying all the time? I hate myself so much, I wish I didn’t exist. I want to disappear. I hate acting like this in front of my friends - they deserve so much better. I hate myself for not appreciating what I have because I have SO much going for me here. Why isn’t it enough? Why do I want the impossible? I’ll never be happy because I will never achieve perfection. I am so scared that I’m driving all I’ve got away. I’m so paranoid.

People with real problems out there are happier than I am. It’s so petty. I hate feeling like this but I can’t help it. I’m always jealous and paranoid of people and it’s ruining me. I wish I could accept me as me - with faults and all, but I can’t. 

All I want is to be normal like my friends and accept that I have different quantities. I just wish I knew what they were? I am such a bad person. My best qualities are the friends I’ve got around me, but once they’re gone I have nothing left.

Please someone make me better, or make me disappear.”

Thank you for reading.

Don’t write what you know…

…write what you don’t want people to know.

I have always written honestly and openly about my thoughts, shared my hopes and dreams, and generally opened up my heart to those who wish to read about it. However, I believe everyone has a side they don’t want anyone to see. It’s this part of you that you try to forget or pretend doesn’t exist, that you protect ferociously from all outside predators, like a lioness protecting her cub.

Moving house (which we are at the end of this month) always means clearing out a lot of things you haven’t looked at since you last moved. You know, the things that move from one unused drawer to another? During a clear-out last weekend, I came across my old letters and memorabilia documenting my life. Like the scars on my arms and legs that will never completely fade, these letters to myself mean I will never forget the pain and destruction I felt as a young girl. While they make for incredibly uncomfortable reading, they are also an amazing way to remember how much I have overcome.

Deciding to publish one of these on my blog was an incredibly difficult decision, one I’m not even sure now is the right one. But, while I do not recognise the scared young 18 year old woman who wrote those words, they might help another young girl or woman not feel alone or ashamed. 

Opening myself up to judgment and ridicule by revealing the deepest darkest secrets of my past is not something I have done with ease. Because I have come such a long way from the scared little girl I was, it is as a strong and well balanced woman that this is an incredibly humiliating experience. Be kind, for unless you have experienced the demons that can possess your mind and drive you to the deepest darkest moment of your life, you will not understand how reality becomes completely distorted by your own truth. It is as though you are wearing broken glasses out of which you see the whole world and the people in it.

Unless I change my mind (highly possible!), one of these letters will be published in due course.

Weekend ‘retreat’

I am sure we are all similar when it come to our weekly routines. We’re counting down the week until the weekend, and then plan on how we’re going to fill said weekend full of things that ‘need doing’ and chores.

This weekend was going to be no different. With a wedding to plan and a house move at the end of this month, there is always something to do. Being payday, Friday night started out with a meal at the best local Italian with plenty of wine and food. But, come Saturday with an ever so delicate head (I just cannot handle such quantities of wine anymore!), it became clear very quickly that this was a ‘retreat’ weekend.

So let me explain. Every now and then, you get a weekend where there isn’t necessarily anything that needs doing. You would usually reserve these for housework, office admin etc. However, sometimes I like to tell the world to stuff it and turn my home into my very own personal weekend hideout that I don’t leave, trudge around in a onesie and finish off the contents of my fridge and freezer. Watching trashy movies (this weekend’s choice was the Hannibal films) and playing candy crush on the iPad, can fill a day surprisingly quickly. The only effort exerted is to fill bellies and change over dvd disks. Whilst obviously being incredibly lazy (I feel a little slug like), I firmly believe a duvet day such as this can do wonders for your body and soul, really rejuvenating and calming what is usually a hectic life.

Sometimes a sense of guilt can start to seep into my movie laden afternoon, usually whilst digging into the last super frozen bit of Ben & Jerry’s Caramel Chew Chew. When this happens, I tend to turn up the TV and see what else I can find in the back of the bottom freezer drawer. After all, at some point there will be a small herd of children needing my every waking moment of peace, so I will enjoy these sorts of weekends while I still can!

Valentines Day

Valentines days seems to bring out some pretty strong reactions in people. Some people love it and go completely O.T.T. while others seem to loath it, making sure everyone else knows they hate it too. The usual ‘We don’t need a day to celebrate our love’ float about as if to say ‘if you celebrate Valentines day your relationship must be a failure’. One day. All that judgement about what should be a personal and private day for those who chose to celebrate it.

Personally, while I don’t need a day to go on a date with my HTB, I think it can be a nice little occasion to set aside some time for the one you love. I do hate the commercialisation, the constant marketing and emotional blackmail that makes men feel obligated to do a quick last minute stressful shopping trip to ASDA for the traditional roses and chocolates. 

In the daily whirlwind of stresses and routines, remembering those little things that made you fall in love with the person you’re with is an important part of any relationship. However the same goes for anniversaries and other special days in your relationship. Valentines day should be no different, and it should certainly never be forced.

Once a singleton, Valentines Day really meant nothing to me (except for the fantasy of being inundated by hundreds of cards and flowers by the many non-existent secret admires of course!). That’s not to say you shouldn’t enjoy the day as a singleton! This year V-Day falls on a Friday, so I expect the bards and clubs will be the hub of potential dates.

Whatever you decide to do tomorrow, don’t let what everyone else is doing influence you on how you see fit to celebrate, or not as the case may be.

Don’t forget to breathe

I’ve been stressing all night about the fact that today is Wednesday, blog day, and feeling like things are starting to become a little overwhelming.

In the past week we’ve bought a new car, chosen and booked our wedding venue and are possibly in the process of buying our first house, so why, you would ask, would I put myself under pressure to do anything on the one night this week that I’ve got off!

Well, it’s a funny thing, this ‘moving forward’ malarky. Once you start, you become addicted and whenever you sit down for even a second you panic that you aren’t doing something toward furthering your life even more. You feel lazy, unfulfilled and extremely restless. I am possibly one of the worst people for this and sometimes I have to remind myself that it is ok to let everything go for one evening and actually enjoy the fruits of my labour.

For anyone going through similar experiences, learn to appreciate what you have and to give thanks, because there are many others who would give anything to be in your shoes. Having goals and looking to the future is important but do not let it stop you enjoying the life you are currently living. There will always be something you don’t have and want to strive for, but unless you appreciate what you have now and allow yourself to sit down and enjoy it once in a while, you will never be happy.

So even though I had resolved myself to do no work, inevitably my writers block cleared itself enough to pour my thoughts out to you. Let yourselves be lazy tonight, guilt free!

And to all my fellow bride-to-be’s; stop long enough to remember why you are getting stressed over option 2 on the sample menu in the first place; You’re engaged! You have found Him.

Wedding Planner!

As you can see, my wedding planner has arrived! I was going to get just a scrap book but found this on amazon for £15! It has checklists and different sections for different parts of your wedding and will be an awesome memento in years to come. It’s even got little wallets to put leaflets in etc!! Can you tell how excited I am!!! Now I can start my super organised organising! 

Excitement aside, there’s no light without dark!, my ring had to be taken in to get resized today…and I am already having withdrawal symptoms. Already I have found myself checking my finger constantly for the familiar metal against my thumb. But I can’t wait to have it back, fitting properly.

I imagine it is similar to many life changing events, like having children or buying a new car (not always life changing of course ;)), where suddenly you notice everyone has got children/your new car/is engaged.! I can’t stop looking at other people’s wedding rings, photos, dresses, food. How many bridesmaids did this person have, what kind bouquet did the other have, did the photographer ‘capture’ the couple as they really are, what colour scheme should I do, what shoes should I pick!…the list goes on and on, but if you’re not careful you can drive yourself crazy with over thinking just about everything.

For someone like me, this is incredibly dangerous and once in a while, it is ok (and advisory!) to put down the laptop with the dozens of wedding web pages open, switch on celebrity big brother, and think of nothing while sipping on your favourite glass of wine…

Wedding Planner has arrived!

Wedding Planner has arrived!

'Fairy-tale' Wedding - Costs

The more and more I delve into the wedding world, the more ridiculous and expensive it becomes! Wedding insurance (buy everything on your credit card and it will be covered automatically!), dress boxes and cars you hire for 2 hours at £500 are just some of the things I am starting to feel are a little bit of a con. After all, this day is about showing your closest friends and family that you have made the ultimate commitment to each other. And yet it appears to have become a bit of a circus, with bride-to-be’s competing and feeling increasingly under pressure to have the ‘fairy-tale’ wedding.

Venues seem to be the absolute worst for overcharging loved up, dewy eyed (and often naive) couples. The packages seem as disingenuous and unoriginal as the wedding planners offering them. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between one wedding and another, and these people have often paid over £10k!!! Call me old fashioned but I think a wedding should say something about the couple themselves, and I certainly don’t want mine to say I’m unoriginal or dull.

Of course if that sort of money amounts your monthly budget for food, or your daddy has invented the next super paperclip, then I have no problem with anyone spending that sort of money (no excuses for being unoriginal though!). But with the average wedding costing close to £20,000, I can’t help feeling that people are not only being ripped off, but are not even getting anything unique or special! (Be aware of venues allowing more than one wedding a day!)

Shop around a bit and you are bound to find something that’s in your budget without you having to compromise too much on what you want. It’s important to remember, while a wedding is a day of celebrations, it is just one day and should never cause any financial strain for the actual marriage (you know, the bit that you’re actually doing this for!)

We found a beautiful, affordable place on hitched (brilliant for all things wedding). It isn’t perfect, it allows only 60 people even for the evening, but the pros outweigh the cons and the restriction on numbers has actually made us really think about who we truly want there on our special day. Always remember to check reviews on trip advisor too!

I’m all for having a beautiful wedding day, but do you really need a fairy-tale day if you already have the fairy-tale relationship?