Anxiety and Me 

Hi everyone! 

Well, it’s been a while. As usual. It’s been a little crazy for me lately…well crazier than usual, anyway. 

So back in December I was diagnosed with a generalised anxiety disorder and put on Zoloft (and xanax to help me sleep). I have been through some rough patches in my life but I have never, ever felt so low. I thought I knew what anxiety was but nope, not until it hit me full force in the face like a wet fish. 

I had to take time off work. I felt alone and helpless. It led to huge strains with my family and with my boyfriend. I never knew what it would feel like to not want to get out of bed, nevermind leave the house. I never knew just how miserable a person could feel; how panicked and how vulnerable. 

The road to recovery will be long and difficult. Maybe I will never fully recover, but I can learn to live with this. I certainly am feeling much better and am able to do many more things now than I could have last month. My boyfriend has been wonderful, my family has been supportive and I’ve had a close friend be there when I needed her. She was also diagnosed with a GAD and we’ve been able to support each other. I think I’ve taken her for granted in the past. It’s only when you hit rock bottom that you really appreciate the genuine friends who don’t hesitate to make you a priority. I hope she feels the same about my friendship. 

The past few weeks have been much better. The first of the month was the one year anniversary of my aunt’s death from cancer. I spent the day with my family and just knowing how close our bond is made me feel really special. So too did the numerous messages from close friends and colleagues who remembered her anniversary. It really was as good a feeling as any pill. Sometimes people really surprise me with how thoughtful they can be. 

So guys, I’m doing well. Really well, in fact. I’m working part-time again and I love my job. I’m taking much better care of my health by exercising and eating well. I’m writing a lot and learning to love my own company. I’m laughing again and playing with my nieces and nephew. I’m running through fields with my dogs (LOL at that mental image) and bopping my cat on the head with her toys. All in all, life is good right now. There will be a time when I’ll struggle again, but I’ll be okay. I will always end up okay.

Who wouldn’t be when they’ve got unicorn slippers? I repeat, UNICORN SLIPPERS 🦄🦄


I hope all of you have been doing well, and if not then feel free to tell me about it. It’s always good to talk, right? Now let’s all have tea and freak out over how adorable my slippers are. 

Makes Sense 

I feel happy. And pretty carefree. Probably because I just had tea and a biscuit which usually results in a sugar-induced euphoria. Anyways, I hope you guys are having a wonderful Monday (I’m sure it’s possible) and I’m going to spin in a circle with my hand extended so everyone gets a high-five. Here’s my thought of the day: 

When the plan goes to pot

My life plan was pretty generic: get married by thirty, have some kids, secure a good job, buy a house, avoid violently murdering someone in the supermarket just because they skipped the queue…you know, standard stuff. Somewhere along the way, the plan went to s**t. I woke up one morning, at the ripe old age of twenty nine and realised I had done none of those things. 
                                                      

I know what you’re thinking: what kind of uptight loser has a life plan? So, okay, firstly, it wasn’t exactly a plan. More of a… life map. Wait, wait… that’s worse, isn’t it? Basically, I just had some things that I wanted to have achieved or realised before I hit a certain age. It wasn’t like I made exact goals to be achieved by exact dates…I’m not that obsessive *nervous laugh* 

                                                      

My team and I just planning what I’ll eat for brunch tomorrow


I felt that being married with maybe at least one kid and having some kind of steady income by the age of thirty seemed to be a realistic enough goal, right? I imagine a conversation with seventeen year old Jane to be a little something like this: 

Seventeen Year Old Jane: Woah, it’s me!

Current Jane: Yes, yes, you decide to ditch the bleach bottle and thick eyebrows are a thing now, soooo…

Seventeen Year Old Jane: Hey, I’m making it work. If it’s good enough for Gwen Stefani…anyway, how am I? 

Current Jane: You know, cool. Yeah, pretty cool.

Seventeen Year Old Jane: So I’m married then? To Jack right? He’s sooo dreamy.

Current Jane: Erm, no. No, you’re not. You’re engaged though. And he’s dreamy alright…but he does this thing with his nose when he’s sleeping and I swear to GOD itmakesmewannapunchhimsoharrrrd. 

Seventeen Year Old Jane: Eh…not married. Okay…okay…but, you’re… you’re pregnant right? 

Current Jane: Eh, no. That’s last night’s takeaway pizza but thanks for reminding me I’m not a size 8 anymore. Nope. No kid. Nada. Notta one. 

Seventeen Year Old Jane: Okay…okay…that’s not so bad… you own a house though? A house? Right?

Current Jane: Well, I don’t own it in so much as I…rent…it. So yeah, I rent. Still. But you know, it’s cool. I can totally do what I want with the place. I have a pretty bitchin’ collection of owl ornaments and seashells. You like seashells, right? 

Seventeen Year Old Jane: Uh huh. Seashells. Right. Erm, so a job? You…have…a job?

Current Jane: Oh yeah, totally, yeah. I’m a teacher.

Seventeen Year Old Jane: Wow! Really? That’s great. Okay that’s really reassuring. Okay. So you have a permanent teaching job. Woah, for a second there I was kinda freaking out.

Current Jane: Well, you know, permanent in the sense that my contract ends in like…four weeks. Permanent like a bottle of hair dye, amiright? Hello? Past Jane? 

Seventeen Year Old Jane: *hyoerventilating into a brown paper bag* 

So yeah, past Jane probably wouldn’t be too impressed with a snapshot of current Jane’s life. On paper, I guess it looks like I haven’t got much going on. The thing is, Seventeen Year Old Jane didn’t know much about life, and also believed that thirty was, like, really old. She also had very dodgy hair extensions, so I really wouldn’t listen to her anyway. 

                                                                

Seventeen Year Old Me be like “It’s called fashion, look it up, bitches”


I had assumed that I would have life all figured out by now. I also assumed that I would just magically become incredibly wise and responsible , like this guy 

                                                     

Except with marginally better posture and hair…


I never really gave any consideration to the fact that I would actually be the same goddamn person. You know, the person who’s sometimes lazy, sucks at long term planning and likes kids but also likes butternut squash…it doesn’t mean I want to commit to eating it everyday for the next eighteen years. I wasn’t going to suddenly transform into a kale-eating, stepford wife supermom. 

Right now, I am a little directionless. I’ll get married in the next few years. Maybe I’ll even have kids. I’ll probably get a proper contract in a more secure job too. Or, I’ll join the circus, grow a beard and kiss sexually-confused men for five bucks a pop. Whatever happens, I don’t need to obsess over it. Life has a habit of happening even when you’re not thinking about it. 

That’s my wish going into my thirties: (notice my avoidance of the word plan…*aggressive cat hiss*) I won’t necessarily plan. I won’t set unrealistic goals. Then, if I don’t achieve them, I won’t feel like flagellating myself with a spiky whip. My goals will probably be a little more shorterm like “get through at least one episode of Supervet without sobbing uncontrollably” or “maybe don’t secretly eat 95% of Jack’s dinner when he goes to the bathroom”. Obviously, big decisions do take some level of planning. But I think the key thing is is to stop setting the bar so high. I can f**k up. I can make stupid mistakes. I can get married in some cramped registry office and it won’t matter because I’ll get to share my life with someone very special. And you know what, if I’m thirty nine and my life is similar to the way it is now (well, minus the anxiety) I’ll be pretty happy. If it’s completely different, well I’ll probably be pretty happy too. The important thing is, I don’t know. I can’t know. And that’s okay. 

And now for a proper catch-up

Sometimes I feel like I complain too much. I feel like when things are going well, it’s hard to say “I feel great and everything is wonderful” without sounding braggadocious. When things are going terribly, it is easy to dwell on it. Sometimes I think it’s easier to complain because maybe it makes a person more relatable. I have always felt the need to externalise my fears. I have to share them, because I dwell on them so much they become just too much for me to deal with on my own. So I talk about them. You know, I say something like “yeah, I’m just a little nervous about work” or “I feel a little let down by that person.” When I can identify my problems, I find them easy to share. I’m okay with that and I think my friends appreciate the honesty. 

But what about when I can’t identify my problems? What about when I should be fine, but I’m just….not. 

I am currently out of work on sick leave. I have no idea what is wrong with me. What I do know is that I have been dizzy and lightheaded. The other day, I stood in front of a class and almost collapsed. I couldn’t breathe properly and my chest was tight. I felt like I was in a nightmare, not really experiencing reality at all. 

I was diagnosed a few days prior to that experience with labyrinthitis. I had bled out of my ear (sorry for the visual) and had been a little unsteady for some time. I had been experiencing dizziness and weakness for weeks. I was out on antibiotics and that was that…

…Or so I thought. It wasn’t my ear that was troubling me really. I mean, sure, I more than likely had an inner ear issue that needed to be fixed. But there was something else. Something I really found difficult to verbalise. I felt completely fuzzy. Like I was trapped in a constant fog. I felt like I was experiencing a dream and that I was out of touch with reality. I told myself that it must be the viral infection playing tricks with my mind. But I felt so off that it was difficult to ignore.

I noticed that the dizzy episodes and the difficulty breathing were only happening in certain classrooms. And never at home, or while driving or when comfortable. Always when I really, really didn’t want them to. 

My usual doctor believes that I’m probably allergic to penicillin since I reacted especially badly the other day. But deep down, I know something else…something I’ve held from her and from myself: 

I am having panic attacks.

I’ll admit; I knew next to nothing about them. I thought that to experience them you had to be especially or noticeably stressed. You would presumably have some knowledge that they were about to happen, right? You could control it surely? 

Well, no. No you definitely couldn’t. And you might not even be fully aware of your stress. On the surface, everything might appear perfect. I know that I felt fine; happy even. But I wasn’t and I’m not. 

And how the hell did I arrive at the conclusion that I’m having panic attacks anyway? Well, through a process of elimination. Besides the labyrinthitis, there’s nothing else physically wrong with me, except for chest tightness and breathlessness. After a careful medical examination, any heart issues were ruled out. My GP was a little confused, naturally. How could I be having such extreme symptoms with so little physical evidence of a major problem? As much as I like my GP, I had to seek a second opinion. “Waiting it out” didn’t seem the most viable or attractive option when at least once a day, I felt like I was suffocating and choking. 

My second GP barely needed to ask me how I felt before she knew. She took a look at my chart. When I had an “attack” I experienced these symptoms: chest tightness and pain, feeling of choking and throat swelling, neck ache, tingling and pins and needles, hot flashes but also shivers, derealisation, dizziness and lightheadedness, and a general feeling of weakness, like I would collapse if I didn’t sit down. It almost exclusively happened when I was being really focused on, like in class or during a conversation with someone I wasn’t overly comfortable with. The worst thing of all is I can never, ever predict them. They literally come out of nowhere and completely overwhelm me.

Even though I was sick, GP2 (what a lovely name, I’m sure it’s French) was sure it was anxiety attacks. The thing is, she can’t really tell whether they are being caused by the labyrinthitis or not. They have certainly been exacerbated by the antibiotics. I guess I had a kind of psychological allergic reaction to them, if there is such a thing. She feels that maybe I am excessively stressed because I don’t want to appear ill in front of my students, and the pressure to be okay is actually causing panic attacks. So I have had almost a week off work, which feels like forever. I am still very foggy and unwell and prone to anxiety. I am trying my best to self-talk my way through it but I would really appreciate advice from anyone who goes through anything similar. 

Anyway, my bloods have been done so I’m waiting on those. And I’m going to take a few days to decide whether I feel the need for medication. The rest is doing me some bit of good but I am alone for large portions of the day and that is just no fun. 

So, woah, Negative Nellie is out in force today. But I feel at least here I can try and make sense of whatever the hell is happening to me. I can make sense of who I am. Or who I’m not, I don’t know. 

For now, I am doing okay. I’m not in any imminent danger and I am surrounded by wonderfully supportive family and friends. I feel the need to remind myself of that quite often. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, the fog will lift and I will see clearly again. For now, I must get used to seeing in the dark. 

So my last post disappeared…

…except for the picture of the cats and if you guys know me then you probably didn’t even question how weird that was. I had written a whole post about uncertainty in my life and it was…actually it was pretty damn depressing in hindsight so maybe WordPress inadvertently saved me from being a gigantic Negative Nellie. Instead I shall be positive: I am moderately healthy (I had explained in the now-lost-in-cyber-space-blog-post). I am still teaching, although I’m out on sick leave. I still do Wednesday night Zumba with my cat…. so all in all, I’m good. 

I want to try and dedicate more time to my blog. It has been neglected as of late and I have really missed it. I’ve missed chatting to you guys and reading about your lives and stalking you and your pets…did I write that last part out loud? Erm, here’s some free internet pie to distract you….gooood. 

I am still in a relationship, we live in a nice little cottage together with our two dogs and our surprisingly flexible cat. I teach in a convent school (although my contract ends next month). My health has been a bit of an issue, but there’s nothing major wrong with me…apart from the weirdness but well, you know. 

I’m probably a little more boring now in that I try to avoid alcohol (because, lets face it, racing down a hill in a shopping trolley can only really end one way) and my life is pretty much consumed by work. Jack is still slaving away at his PhD but he is also working a job that he genuinely loves and that makes us both very happy. 

Erm…I can’t think of literally a single interesting thing that has happened to me recently except my stapler broke and I managed to fix it all by myself but then I dropped it so I had to buy a new one. FML, amiright?! 

Anyway, I am really going to try and post more regularly for anyone who still remembers me and for any new people who may have stumbled upon this, come say hello. I don’t bite, unless you happen to be made of chocolate and or bacon. Then all etiquette goes out the window. 

I love Carl Sagan 

Every time I feel a little bit stressed, or I’m having one of my many existential crises, I read (or even better, I listen to) Carl Sagan. His way of looking at our world and the universe was wonderful, quite literally. Here are some of my favourite Saganisms:


These are all from the Saganism page on Facebook. Hope you enjoyed!

 

When something is broken…

I have been in a relationship for thirteen years. At twenty nine years of age, that’s pretty amazing. Before you start sending me congratulatory kitten baskets (which I would totally accept, btw) I must stress that as much as I love my partner, it has not been all sunshine and roses. We met when I was only fifteen years old and began dating when I was sixteen. I was young, naive, careless and I fell in love quickly and completely. He had me at hello, etc. 

Throughout our relationship, there have naturally been ups and downs. We have weathered every storm with our hearts full of the knowledge that there is only us for each other, that our bond is too strong to be broken and that we would be incomplete without the other. 

And then last month happened. Out of nowhere, we were left completely shaken, questioning how we became virtual strangers in such a short space of time. I can’t really speak for Jack, but I felt completely detached from him; like I was living with an awkward acquaintance. Nothing has ever upset me more. Without coming across as too self-pitying, it hasn’t been the best few years. I’ve had deaths, the destruction of my parents’ marriage, illness, unemployment… And throughout all of that, Jack was my constant. He was the one thing I knew I could cling to, like a rock in the middle of a stormy ocean. I felt I didn’t know how to exist outside of our relationship, so the dawning realisation that we were falling apart was just too much to handle.

While I tried to talk it out, Jack completely shut down. He couldn’t (or wouldn’t) speak to me, and when he did, it wasn’t exactly reassuring. I became more needy, constantly needing his reassurance that the last thirteen years hadn’t been a complete waste. Jack was tired. Tired from his job, his PhD thesis, and from me. I was hurt. I felt alone and unwanted. I felt pathetic. The strong, confident, feisty woman had been reduced to a whining, pitiful mess. 

I could blame a number of factors: I was on my summer holidays from work, which are far too long and always leave me unfulfilled and therefore bored. Jack’s job requires him to work long hours. We moved into a house that needed extensive refurbishment and we had workmen in most days till late, as well as our well-meaning friends. I could blame all of those things…but it was us. We were angry with each other. We weren’t laughing anymore. We weren’t even being nice to each other. It felt over. It felt broken. 

So did we break up? 

Hell nah. 

I mean sure, I could have bought a Taylor Swift album, a litre of icecream and a dartboard with Jack’s face on it, but actually making an effort seemed like an imminently less destructive idea. The bottom line is, we love each other. We love each other a great deal. We have grown up together and evolved together. We are an intrinsic part of the other and I don’t want to live a life that doesn’t involve Jack. 

We’re working on our issues. Yes, it involves actually trying (you know, the part they don’t show you in a Disney movie). I’m trying to be less of a pain in the ass, and he’s trying to be less of a pain in the ass. Richard Curtis-take notes. This is real life love. Relationships are really difficult at times…you know those moments: you’re sitting on the toilet and you realise that they have left a centimetre squared of toilet paper and you imagine your gleeful expression as you pour tobasco into their coffee. Those moments are hard. At other times, being in love makes you feel like the luckiest person in the world. Those moments fill you with a feeling akin to inebriation (which I happen to like). I don’t want to let go of that. Neither does he. 

We’re going really well at the moment. That’ll last until I accidentally leave my hot straightening iron on his favourite shirt (again) or until he forgets to pick me up after work (again). And then we’ll argue. But we’ll always come back to the same realisation: we love each other. And that’s enough. 

Sooo…hi there! 

Hi guyssss! 

I’m sorry it’s been *looks at watch* FOREVER but…well, I have a bunch of excuses. Does anyone even remember me? If not, I’m the one who likes owls and teaches her cat useful tricks, like card counting and Olympic diving. 

So I disappeared again. 2016 has been weird man. I made it my goal to get super fit and healthy and that kinda happened. I have really never felt so energetic *does 100 lunges while balancing monthly budget* Seriously though, I really made an effort this year to improve my standard of living and I just feel so much better, as evidenced in these insanely narcissistic and filtered as f**k selfies. Just look at the big happy head on me there.

Besides taking superfluous selfies, I’ve been teaching and I moved house a couple of times. I’m a lot more settled now in a lovely cottage. 

Remember my other half, Jack? Yeah, that almost went south but we managed to claw our way back and we’re really trying now. I’ll blog about all of that soon too! I’m just back from a lovely holiday with my best friend where I partied too much and got sunburnt. Standard really. 

I’m sure a million other things that are at least mildly interesting have happened to me, but I want to hear about you now. Talk to me. Have some tea. Tell me about your summer.