Read about me
January 31, 2016 posted by littlewhitecottage

Writing through anxiety…

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I’m shaking slightly and am over alert to every person, every noise –anyone who’s near me. A man talks to me asking if I’m getting the train to London. I say yes and he tells me that the next train goes to Baker Street. That’s where I want to go but my mind has gone blank. I can’t think and the more I try to think the more there’s just fog. I’m taking my deep breaths as I recognise the familiar underground signs and trains as this was my daily life some 18 years ago and I did it with a ‘cello on my back.

My train journeys then were long and always standing as a ‘cello is a large thing in small space and seats on trains are precious at the best of times. I’ve travelled back early, late and got the last train home filled with other weary travellers desperate to get home and away from the crammed train. The highlight of one of my journeys being a drunk businessman trying to chat up my ‘cello. It is large and small person shaped but he must have had a few more than a few to many to chat to a ‘cello case! There are announcements over tannoys then as now and I listen as ever I used to but I’m a totally different person from the young girl with a place at Music College and a ‘cello on her back travelling around London…

I suffer from anxiety.

I have done all my life. I make friends, people seem to like me, but I have trouble being a friend. I don’t ring new friends –did they really mean it when they said they’d like to meet up or were they just being kind? I don’t follow up invites to nights out –I’m sure I was included just because I was there. I fret over things, I’ve said too much –I hope they realise this is just my sense of humour, and I really want to be a better friend and I honestly believe I would if it weren’t for the nagging doubts that constantly fill my mind in new situations.

I say new situations as old situations are fine. Familiarity is my real friend and perhaps my best friend. I know where I am with familiarity. I know the expectations, the pitfalls and that there are no hidden extras. Nothing will sneak up on me. Unfortunately I am currently not with familiarity but with her ugly sister un-familiarity as I am sat on a train going into the heart of London. The smell hasn’t changed neither has the destination – Baker Street – as I’ve been there many times before. What has changed is my heart is beating fast and I am hyper sensitive to everyone around me. I am writing this just to stop my mind racing about how far away from home I am, going who knows quite where…Well, yes I do know quite where but the blank fog that is my mind would have me believe it is the road to nowhere. You do not know how hard it is to go stop by stop down the line and how hard it is not to get off, run as fast as I can back to my car, my home and my children…

Anxiety is debilitating, it’s paralysing and it’s bloody scary. I can be fine one minute and then absolutely terrified the next for little or no reason. Old friends are fabulous as they understand (Mrs B and Mrs F, amongst others, have been amazing over the years and I thank you x) they know me and they’ve seen the panic attacks, the weight loss and the sheer unhappiness that anxiety can bring. They support, listen and help but most of all they give me the space I need to act a little strange, cancel meet ups and appear to disappear as answering the phone and letters become too difficult.

I sometimes do things to keep me well having been through sessions of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy –what we think influences how we behave so we can alter our behaviour by altering our thinking) I know this is important. I’ll pop into an estate agent and ask for details of a house I’ve no intentions of buying just to put myself in unfamiliar territory. The agent will never know how much he has helped me when he asks about no of bedrooms needed and possible budget. I’ll invite people over even though it scares the heck out of me as I know I won’t feel comfortable. Even though the house will be immaculate I’ll still worry over those jobs that haven’t been done as they shine out at me like a belisha beacon shouting ‘HERE I AM, YOU KNOW I LOOK AWFUL!!’ I know no-one really cares about my house, I know I don’t judge others for theirs but anxiety makes an otherwise sane person lose sleep unnecessarily over cracked paint, dirty sinks and stains on the carpet…

4 stops down the line and I’m feeling slowly better. My heart is no longer racing and the shakes have also gone. The anxieties are going; just as they always do so running home wouldn’t have solved the problem. Avoidance is unfamiliarity’s best buddy and turning home would have made the next time far worse. So the sleepless nights I’ve had the past few nights that weren’t entirely due to the baby and the clenching of my jaw (when I am aware of it) that causes aching will all have been worth it when I step off the train in Baker Street; the station that’s famous for Sherlock Holmes. I would love to be able to walk round to 221b Baker Street, knock on the door and ask Sherlock Holmes directly for help in solving the mystery of me. He would analyse, deduce and then pronounce a cure or at the very least a reason…

I would give anything to be braver, to be freer, to not be quite so uptight and to be able to dive headfirst into new opportunities instead of ‘What if’s..?’ filling my mind.

The pencil is marking the paper; this is an old fashioned ‘written’ blog and I am coming to the end. Listening to the ladies next to me complaining about their work day and seeing the businessman in his grey suit with his polished shoes reading the paper left behind by someone else makes me remember the normality of the situation and I think, maybe, that this time, it really will be okay…

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