Monday, 18 January 2021

28 and Feeling Gr8...-er Than Last Year

What a fucking YEAR! I'm not gonna do resolutions because tbf I'm just impressed that I made it through this year alive. (For legal reasons that is a joke) I'm gonna be glad to see the back of it for a couple of pretty obvious reasons. I've never really been a superstitious person, and I don't think 'everything happens for a reason', but I've learnt a lot about myself this year through the mistakes that I've made and the other various things life has thrown at me. From the dreaded break-up, to having to move out of London and back in with my parents up north, to lots of changes at work to getting COVID-19 just after Christmas, I have felt depressed, exhausted and just generally not myself.

My therapist had a Christmas break (who knew they have lives outside of listening to us cry?! Shocking.) so I didn't see her for about 3 weeks. I wish I could tell you it flew, but by the third week I felt like I was having major withdrawals (not exactly rocking in the corner of a dark room with bloodshot eyeballs but I felt myself having more wobbles that usual). I don't want to feel like I depend on her, but I do! And last week's session was a bloody massive relief. I actually had a bit of a laugh with her! It felt so good to just brain-dump all my feelings on her and her to reassure me that I'm not a crazy bitch and that everything I'm feeling is normal and ok and allowed. 'Allowed' being the operative word here because it's so easy to feel like everything your doing is wrong or stupid or a failure.

I know I said in my last blog that I felt like I had turned a corner (lol had I balls), but now I feel like I genuinely have. I feel like I've progressed from speaking purely about the break-up to actually doing some digging into myself and getting to know who the real Claudia is. (My therapist calls it 'my authentic self' which sounds so professional and weird but it's basically just understanding myself better). I was so confused about what I was doing and who I was doing it for, for the tiniest of things e.g writing a tweet. Was I writing it because it was something funny and I wanted to share? Was I writing it because I hoped M would see it and get in touch? Was I writing it because I wanted it to go viral (aka get more than 3 likes off my mates) I was confused about EVERYTHING and I was massively overthinking the stupidest things.

I finished my session feeling like a HUGE weight had been lifted off and I actually felt progress. I felt good! I still had a little cry after but instead of being from stress and sadness it was of pure gratitude for my amazing family, friends and myself for getting me through the last 10 months. I fucking hated people telling me last summer that 'time is a healer' and 'everything will work out in the end' cos I absolutely hate all that cliche bollocks but looking back now I'm a completely different person, and time really has helped! So to anyone else in my position- keep going! I'm not saying I'm totally over it and I will definitely still have my bad days but it really is just a case of concentrating on one step at a time instead of the whole staircase (deffo saw that on one of those cringe manifestation Pinterest quote boards last week but it really resonated with me. Shortly after reading I went and hugged a tree and then lit some incense.)

At the moment of writing this blog (Well, I started it on 30th December but I'm finishing it on 18th Jan), I feel like I'm in a good space. I don't know whether it's because it's just been Christmas but I'm having so many more better days than bad days- I think I had about 10 last month and only 2 this month which is a record! I know me and M won't get back together, and I don't want to either. I'm ready to start 2021 with a fresh start and a clean slate when it comes to relationships. And I'm excited for that first date excited-nerves feeling again!

Now I'm on a roll with the positives, here are a couple other good things that happened this year:

  • I get to see my best friends every week (something that hasn't happened in forever cos usually I only come home a couple of times a year)
  • I paid off all my debts (you can read about that here)
  • I saved a WHOLE HOUSE DEPOSIT! This feels absolutely mental because back in March I was still racking everything up on my credit card and now I could buy a place if I wanna! I mean, I won't lol cos *responsibilities* and I would rather spend it on travelling and making memories, but at least I don't have to worry about money. Well, for the time being anyway.
  • I got a new MacBook! Well, my parents put some money towards it for my Christmas present AND it's only gonna arrive in fucking FEBRUARY but one cracked screen, a rapidly deteriorating battery, an alarming whirring noise if I watch too much Netflix and 6 years later I am finally upgrading my lil baby.
  • I'm moving in with one of my best friends! Move date TBC because the places we've viewed so far look less appealing than Josef Fritzel's cellar but we're optimistic about finding our dream (rental) home in the next few months.

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Turning a Corner (I Think?!)

Hello! And welcome to episode 500 of my TRAGIQUE life! Honestly I feel like anyone reading my blog posts this year has felt like they have been watching an actual car crash happening in slow motion right in front of them. I'm genuinely surprised I've not lost 8 stone from pure water that has flushed out my eyeballs this year cos I have cried a LOT. I actually booked in for an extra Botox top-up last week because my forehead is that wrinkled from my face crumpling up every time I starting crying (I'm a really ugly cryer), and I actually looked like a Great Dane.

On a more positive note, I feel like I can feel some *actual* progress this month! I mean, it is 9 months down the line so it's about fucking time, but I've had a couple of revelations this month that, realistically the more I think about them, have given me a bit more mental stability. Number 1, and the toughest pill to swallow is that M is never coming back. Horrible to think and actually really horrible to type, but I've realised that the longer I'm waiting, and the longer I'm depending on someone else for happiness, means the longer I'm living in uncertainty and the longer I'm not doing anything about creating my own happiness. So yeah, a biggie. And one that's not easy to accept but hopefully it will get easier to come to terms with it sooner rather than later. I've still got a very very long way to go, and it's not easy but when I've been waking up lately it feels much easier to get out of bed and be productive to help keep my mind off it.

The second revelation is that I'm ready to move back to London! I feel ready to move back to the city and regain some form of structure and routine in my life again, and finally get my independence back!!! I'm so lucky in the fact I've been able to live at my parents house all year rent-free with a fridge full of Alpro oat milk and 'Morrison's Finest' everything, but I'm soooo ready to move into my own place again and be able to leave the house without 2093189 questions from my dad about where I'm going and who with and what I'm doing and when I'll be home. (I know it's just cos he cares about me but dealing with the Spanish Inquisition every time I go round a walk is reeeeally starting to test me guys.)

Again, thank you so much for the messages you've been sending me regarding my therapy blogs over these last couple of months. I read and appreciate every single one and I feel very grateful that I've not been on the journey alone. I wanna say onwards and upwards but I know I'm gonna cry as soon as I post this to go live so I'm just gonna carry on taking one step at a time and hope for the best. 

Friday, 13 November 2020

Therapy: One Month In

When I say I got an incredible response to my last blog, I mean WOAH. Did not expect that! I really do appreciate every single message, DM, email, RT, text, phone call, and comment that I was sent. It was pretty overwhelming actually because I didn't expect so many people to be going through the same thing. I haven't got round to replying to them all yet, but I really really do appreciate every single kind word! I cried. A lot. But mostly happy tears. (I think!) Especially opening the door to 3 massive bouquets of flowers from my amazing friends. So unexpected and soooooo thoughtful. And such a nice reminder that I am loved when I wake up every morning and they're all in vases on  the chest of drawers at the end of my bed.

SO! One month in! I'm not going to lie and say it's been easy, the only real difference I've noticed now is that I don't cry at every party/gathering/night in with my friends, I actually manage to hold it in until I get home and just have a meltdown there instead. I still absolutely dread every therapy session. It's terrifying opening up so quickly to a total stranger. But every time I'm scared, or sad or anxious, I try and pick out one good thing from the situation. For example, if I'm opening up so quickly to a total stranger, then I must feel ready to do that, and to do some serious digging and understand myself and my thoughts and actions more. So there's that. I still cry for at least 75% of the sessions (sometimes 99% if it's a particularly bad week), but I feel like I've got a constant lump in the back of my throat at the moment which is ready to set me off bawling at any given second so it doesn't really surprise me anymore. I even cried at Twitter the other day when Burger King released a statement encouraging people to buy Big Macs to support McDonalds throughout lockdown. TRAGIQUE, my friends.

I'm sick of feeling sad all the time, and although I talk about it like it's normal behaviour for me now, I really am sick of crying too! I want to say I feel a million times better already but I just miss M so much every single day that I feel sick and guilty and horrible and every sad emotion I can think of. But I want this post have *some* positives for other sad sisters (and brothers) to take from it. So I'm going to share some things that have helped me get through each day.

1. Don't feel pressure to do ANYTHING you don't want to. We're fragile at the moment, and stepping out of our comfort zone is just going to make our anxiety go through the roof. Say no to as many plans as you want to. Don't feel pressure to text people back that day (or that week if you don't want to!) and don't apologise for it either. Take all the time you need to respond to people in your own time. They should respect that.

2. STOP DRINKING SO MUCH! Well, having the odd couple of glasses is ok, but try not to get hammered. You're gonna have fun at the time, and probably forget what's upsetting you for a while, but the next day you're gonna be greeted with a raging hangover AND raging anxiety. I started losing myself when I was drinking in the summer and would get so blackout drunk that I had no idea what I was doing, then the next day I would go through my sent messages/emails/call log and want to bury myself at the bottom of the ocean. Not cool. And very easily avoidable. 

3. Buy an Apple Watch. Seriously! (And no this ain't a *spon but I bloody wish it was.) I slagged them off to high heaven all year because they are sooooo ugly schmugly, but I actually bought one earlier this month because I wanted to give my motivation a kick up the arse with a little help from all the fitness/wellness/heart rate tracking stuff, and I've been pleasantly surprised by how much it's stopped me being on my phone! I've always been absolutely GLUED to my phone constantly, but when I'm wearing the watch I can track my runs/rides/steps without needing to take my phone! I work in social media so I have to have it with me throughout the day, but on weekends I've been leaving it in my bedroom and only responding to messages in the evenings. It feels sooooo bloody refreshing to NOT find myself aimlessly scrolling and texting for no reason all day when I can actually spend that time having an actual real life conversation with a real life human instead! I mean, my group chats are funny, but nothing beats a proper belly laugh in real life with a friend. The best feeling! I'm spending more time living in the moment and not hunched over my stupid iPhone and I really can feel a difference when it comes to my mental health. Plus, it's Black Friday soon so there will definitely be some deals floating about.

4. You are worthy. Even when you feel like you really are on a one way ticket to rock bottom, please try and remember that you have as much reason to be here as anyone else. You do deserve happiness and you do deserve to have nice things. I've had a couple of moments lately where I've thought life is honestly too short not to send this text or life is too short not to eat a cheeseboard for breakfast at 10am, and it really is. I mean, non of the two things I've just mentioned went to plan (no reply to the message and non of my clothes now fit me) but that's no reason to cut it shorter. I woke up this morning, I have a roof over my head, a job I love and two parents that love me, and I'm grateful for that.

I think the main thing to take away here is just to understand what's real and what's fake in life. Fake things- drinking 'to feel good', feeling pressure to keep up appearances when it comes to social lives and social media compared to real things- investing in your mental health and spending time with people who love and support you. It's not as easy as it sounds and it is suuuuuch a grey area which I've struggled with for aaaaaages, so definitely something to start thinking about if you're feeling low but can't pinpoint why.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Getting Therapy

Never in a million years would I have thought I would have been at the point where I felt like I needed therapy. 
I actually emailed my therapist to book sessions back in May, but I felt too embarrassed to go though with it so I cancelled and just thought it was a sad phase that I would get over it. And I did, for a couple of weeks, but then I felt like I was back to square one with the sleepless nights, overthinking and the unbearable sinking feeling in my belly so I got back in touch. It kind of felt like a last resort situation, but life happens and things change and here I am! Also, there's only so many times I can drench my pillow in lavender essential oils every night, listen to the same Headspace Sleep radio track of raindrops falling onto a rooftop and swallow a galleon of CBD oil before I want to jump off a cliff.

I'm writing this post for 2 reasons. Number one because to me, writing my feelings down in my blog feels like stress relief. And number 2 is that I feel like there is still such a stigma around getting help with mental health problems, and if I had read something similar to what I'm writing right now earlier this year then I would probably be already 4 months into my journey. It's not knowing what to expect that was the most daunting part of booking one I think. And the feeling of failure.

My ex-boyfriend and I broke up at the start of the year, and I can honestly say it's been the worst year of my life. The fact I'm also simultaneously living through a global pandemic was just the icing on the cake really! I won't go into detail about what happened over the last few months, but it's been hell. When I can't sleep at night (for example now, when I'm awake at 5:07am on Monday 12th October typing this) I go over every detail of every conversation over the last year and I just feel so... sad. I can't find any other word to describe how I feel apart from SAD. But it really is just a horrible sinking feeling of missing somebody in the pit of my stomach that I just haven't been about to shift since March. Nothing makes me happy. Seeing my friends, going out on my bike and buying myself little treats helps with instant gratification, but the next day I'm back to feeling miserable and back to missing M, the only person who made me truly happy. 

I got in touch with my therapist after a couple of recommendations regarding depression and relationship problems so I got in touch to arrange a consultation. Due to COVID, it's currently being done via Zoom (as opposed to me kicking back on a velvet chaise-lounge, Cruel Intentions style), and I'm not gonna lie I was absolutely shitting myself waiting to be let into the meeting. I mean, I burst out into tears just saying hello, so you can imagine how the first session went...!! (Think Chris Crocker in the Leave Britney Alone video and that was pretty much me.)

When I finally managed to get a singular word out (I wish I was joking about this but I was a WRECK), Jo reassured me that I was brave in just being able to take the first step into getting help, and that therapy really is the best practice of self-care you can do (definitely puts lighting a candle after I've tidied my bedroom or the occasional extra pump of caramel syrup I get in my latte to shame looool) She explained that I was going through a form of grieving, and it's ok to feel absolutely devastated and exhausted because I've gone through some huge changes recently. She told me it was going to be difficult but the end game was definitely going to be worth it. And she told me to be kind to myself, which is something I had massively been neglecting lately.

I'm currently having weekly sessions with Jo, and although I feel like I'm literally paying someone to watch me cry over Zoom for 50 minutes, I take something small away from every session and put that into practice over the next week. Therapy isn't a quick fix, it takes time but that's also the good thing about it- that it's a slow but steady process and hopefully the changes I'm making will be lifelong ones. It's only been 2 weeks, and I know I've still got a hell of a long way to go, but I'm starting to see small differences in the number of times I wake up during the night and my general motivation for life that day. 

The sessions usually start with how I'm feeling in general, how I'm feeling compared to last time, then I will generally lead the conversation with anything I want to get off my chest. This can be anything that's bothering me, making me sad/happy/relieved/anxious. She's not a magician unfortunately, so she can't just click her fingers and make everything go away (if only!) but she asks questions to make me delve a little deeper into my feelings and understand them. I'm not religious so I've never actually been to a confession booth, but I imagine that is what it's like.

Initially I booked these sessions because I wanted to show M that I was going to every length possible to be a better person for him, and to try take any burden off his shoulders if he had any kind of self doubt in how he treated me as a girlfriend. Even though everything I say to Jo is confidential, I wished he could secretly tune into my sessions and just listen to what I said about him. It's actually quite scary to think that one person has the power to make everything better, but you can't turn back time and you can't make someone want to be with you. I need to want to do this for myself. I want to be at a point in my life where someone is saying those kind of things about me! I'm human and I've made mistakes, and with Jo's help I'm realising that my feelings are valid, it's ok to cry and I do deserve to be happy. I'm not going to start yelling 'I AM CONFIDENT, I AM BEAUTIFUL, I AM WORTHY' in the bathroom mirror every morning any time soon, but I'm going to be a little bit kinder to myself and take it from there.

It's weird sharing this because I'm scared people are gonna think I'm a liability or damaged goods, and maybe I am! But I'm urging anyone reading this who is feeling low to please get help. It really is an investment in yourself and the personal growth you will gain will last a lifetime. And I can't wait to look back on this post in a couple of months and see how far I've come.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Coping With Anxiety


Hands down, 2020 has been the worst year of my life. And probably most of 2019. I've gone through a really tough breakup, I've moved out of London and I'm living with my parents again for the first time in 10 years so all forms of independence I previously had has been removed. Oh and the small issue of the global pandemic currently happening. Literally everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong, and it's really affected me.

I don't feel like I've always had anxiety. I think of the past 10/15 years of my life as being so happy and carefree and chilled. Yeah there's been times when I've had sleepless nights, or my brain has gone into serious overthinking mode or I've been really stressed at work, but never anything that's lasted longer than a week of feeling shitty, and then I've sprung back to my usual happy-go-lucky self. I like to think my friends would describe me as always positive, motivated, funny- someone they know they can come to if they need cheering up. But recently I just feel like the life has been zapped out of me. I feel deflated. SO corny but I really do just feel...empty. Yeah I still have a laugh with my friends, but it's not me making the jokes. I'm just there to laugh along. Part of the chorus instead of centre stage where I'm accustomed to being (LOL can you tell I've been watching Wicked the Musical clips on YouTube) Sorry, I'm trying to beat around the seriousness of this post by throwing in some lame attempts of a lol but I will actually get to the point now.

I kind of feel like anxiety has become a bit of a buzz word and people don't really know how to react. Mental health is obviously very serious, but there are peaks and troughs and everyone is affected differently. I'm not saying I'm trained in any kind of therapy or counselling, but I'm sharing my personal coping mechanisms in this post, and if they help just one person sleep better tonight or enjoy a couple of hours tomorrow without feeling like a nervous wreck then I'm happy. I like to think my posts are relatable and real, and as much as I would LOVE Headspace or The Works Pillow Spray to sponsor me, everything mentioned in this post has been purchased with my own money and 100% honest. Full disclosure, I'm absolutely still struggling, but I feel like I'm slowly but surely getting back to feeling like myself again.

Since I became single again earlier this year, I have replayed every single conversation, every single action and every single argument in my head from over the last 6 months and dissected everything that went wrong. Everything I should have done differently. Everything I could have done differently if I could go back in time and change it all. What I should have said on that phone call which little did I know, would be the last communication I would ever have with that person. Everyone who's been through a breakup will know the feeling of just being absolutely powerless. You go from spending every second with that person to nothing at all. I even dreaded night time because I knew I would have to get in bed alone. It's a kind of feeling that you wouldn't even wish on your worst enemy. When I first moved home and updated my friends on my relationship I didn't cry. I wasn't upset. I probably tried to make a few lighthearted jokes. But my anxiety was at an all time high. I was losing handfuls of hair through stress, I wasn't eating and I wasn't sleeping either because I felt like someone was standing on my chest and I couldn't breathe. It was probably about a month in when I just broke down at one of my friends houses, when a few of the girls were round for drinks. And it felt GOOD! They listened, they didn't judge and they encouraged me to cry as much as I needed to. I went from feeling like a burden to them to feeling so loved and cared for. I know this totally depends on your circle of friends, and I've said before about how fortunate I am to have had the same incredible group of girls for the last 10 years, but seriously. Cry it out. Cry as much as you need to so you can start moving past it. (This is 6 weeks later and I still have at least one meltdown a week at a social gathering.)

2. Have a Good Night Time Routine
It can be so easy to get sucked into binge watching 4 episodes of Homeland when you get into bed, but TRY and replace this with something without a screen. Reading a book, writing a diary, meditating, sudoku (lol whatever floats your boat!) I fell into the trap of staying up late watching telly, which totally took my mind off everything going on in my head at the time, but then made it 100000000 times worse when it was 3am and I still wasn't tired and my mind was going into overdrive. Screen time stimulates your brain and makes it more difficult to settle down, so try and avoid it for at least 1 hour before bed. I've never read so much in my LIFE, so if anyone wants any recommendations then drop me a DM cos I literally have books coming out my ears at the moment. Meditation has also become a huge part of my night time routine and helping me wind down. I've moved on from the Calm app, and I've been trialling Headspace for the last month. I'm currently on day 20 of the 'Self Esteem' course, so when I've finished that I put a Sleep Story on, spray my pillow with Deep Sleep pillow spray from The Works, and I'm good to go! 

3. Keep a Gratitude Journal
I think I might have spoken about this before? But when I moved back home at the start of April, I bought a little diary, and each night before bed I write 3 things that I'm grateful for that day. This means even if the day has been mostly pretty shit, I still go to sleep with positive thoughts, and this helps my mind to rest a little easier. They don't need to be huge things either, some of my previous entries include things like one of my clients emailing me saying 'well done' about something I worked on, or that I remembered to drink 2L of water, or that my friend sent me a meme that made me laugh out loud. Literally the smallest thing can make such a difference to your frame of mind when you're about to go to sleep, and I've found that recently my dreams have been a lot less vivid and nightmare-y. (Although this COULD be down to the fact I watch about 8 horror films a week.) I haven't missed a single day so far, and I'm excited to read them back when I'm in a better space (touch wood) towards the end of the year and see what's changed.

4. Don't Put Pressure on Yourself
 Set small goals that are attainable to avoid any form of pressure reigniting your anxiety. I'm in a fortunate position where I can stay at home as long as I like before moving back to London, which takes a lot of pressure off any urgency of finding a new flat, as well of the fear of panic-finding a flat on Spare Room and moving in with randoms that I have absolutely nothing in common with. And as for boys. Well. I downloaded Hinge and Tinder earlier this month, not because I was planning on meeting anyone, but just as something to fill that space before bed where I wanted to ring/call/FaceTime/email/send smoke signals out to my ex to try and get him to talk to me, but I have absolutely no intention in getting involved with anyone anytime soon. Again, it's pressure. Something will happen when the time is right, for now I just need to focus on myself and making myself happy before trying to make someone else happy.

5. Be Kind
Earlier this year I felt so low, like I didn't deserve anything nice. I didn't drink for 6 weeks because I didn't feel like I deserved to have a good time. I forced myself to run every day (even though I haven't run in about 5000 years) because I wanted to feel like I was struggling physically as much as I was mentally. Headspace REALLY helped with this. The Self Esteem course that I'm currently working my way through is slowly but surely turning me towards a much less judgemental mindset, and writing my gratitude journal every night helps me feel so much more peaceful before I drift off. In the last week I've been getting around 10 hours sleep a night, so I feel like I'm definitely making up for all that shut eye I lost in April!

6. Find Something You Genuinely Enjoy
And I don't mean the pub! Seriously drinking is probably the worst thing you could do when anxiety is peaking. The evening is amazing, but the next day when you're all up in your feels...not so good. I've spent so many Sundays crying in bed, only moving to pick up my McDonalds Uber Eats from the front door and then straight back into my gloomy bedroom to pick up where I left off. For me, it's my bike! My friends will laugh reading this, because I have been surgically attached to it recently. I go out most lunchtimes on it, I ride to every girls night on it (arriving makeup free, sweaty, windswept with my hair glued to my head under my helmet but with a massive smile on my face) and I constantly pester Suey to go for long rides on the weekend with me because she's just bought one too. Not to go all Sound of Music on you, but it brings me so much joy! Freedom, fresh air, no headphones or people to talk to, and a really good chance to clear my head. 

7. Etc
I know I mentioned hair loss earlier in this post, so I wanted to share some remedies I've been given in case anyone else is suffering with the same:
Nioxin Shampoo and Conditioner
Tricotherapy drops
B-Complex vitamins
Brahmi oil