0

1,2, have a breakdown…and breathe

L'immagine può contenere: persone sedute, pianta e spazio all'aperto

A coffee break in Stavanger, Norway

Cough, sneeze, sip, curl up and…breathe.

The past few months have been more than a little hectic.

Since January I’ve completed my journalism diploma, got a tattoo, spent weekends in Norway, Rome and Exeter and started a job as a newspaper reporter.

I’ve moved my life from Manchester to Cumbria, swapping the buzz of the city for the cackle of seagulls and am lucky enough to have the Lake District on my doorstep.

There’s so much in my life to be thankful for and I wouldn’t change a thing.

But amidst all of this glorious chaos and change I’ve forgotten to relax and my non-stop lifestyle has worn me down.

Some familiar demons have also tried to rear their ugly heads.

So here I am, tucked up in bed having been off sick all week with a virus.

There’s nothing like immobilising fatigue and mind numbing daytime TV to make you take stock of things.

So here goes.

It’s official. I’m a journalist. No longer a student, or just a blogger, and no need for the “aspiring” prefix.

I’m finally doing a job that I really love and now instead of just eliciting groans from my friends, I actually get paid to come up with puns. (case and point)

Every day is different, my colleagues are lovely and I get to chat to lots of interesting people.

So what could possibly be wrong?

Well I’m not always the confident person I try to portray.

On the inside I’m still plagued with crippling self-doubt and worry.

That’s when the anxiety bubbles over.

In previous jobs I’ve experienced stress, whether I was slogging it in retail or working in an icecream parlour.

But now instead of literally crying over spilt milk, my bathroom breakdowns are more likely to be the result of an interviewee cancelling or a constantly engaged phone line.

Being the perfectionist that I am, I can’t help putting unnecessary pressure on myself.

Mistakes happen and we learn from them.

But on a day when anxiety is tapping me on the shoulder my mind can take the following negative spiral:

“My shorthand isn’t quick enough.” “I should have practiced more.” “I’m useless.” “I bet they regret giving me the job.” “I’m hopeless.” “I’ll never get back up to speed.” “I’ve let my tutors down.” “I’ve let myself down.” “I’m a shit journalist.” “Maybe I should just quit.” “I’m not good enough.” “I can’t do this.” “I’m going to get the sack.”

Then there’s depression – my other nemesis.

I imagine it as monster which greedily feeds off the nervous energy of my anxiety.

Lots of change, even when it’s positive, can be hard to cope with.

In situations like this I would usually turn to drink but since I’ve ditched the booze for good that’s no longer an option.

So for the first time I’ve been totally sober through the difficult adjustment period of moving to a new place where I don’t know anyone.

The old me would have gone out to bars alone, drunk all night, chatted to anyone, had a one-night stand, gone into work hungover, drunk more to numb the anxiety, and repeat.

It’s not so bad now that I have housemates and a fixed abode.

But for the first few weeks I was staying in a B&B and lots of evenings spent alone in a small room with only a TV for company gave me too much time to dwell on things, feeding the monster.

I didn’t realise how bad my mental health was until  I was back in Manchester for a weekend and plans to meet some friends fell through.

Whilst on a bus into town, I got a message from one of my old course mates to say they couldn’t make it.

In the end it turned out no-one was free.

I burst into tears.

It was nothing personal, everyone had their own things going on but in that moment the monster munched a big black hole in my heart.

I spent the rest of the bus journey in a snotty mess with black rivulets of mascara running down my face.

I’d been unhealthily relying on that single event to cheer me up.

It wasn’t a big deal, and if I’d been in a better frame of mind it wouldn’t have mattered.

But right then I felt as though I’d fallen into a chasm of loneliness in which no one cared, everyone hated me, and life seemed pointless.

The allure of the bars seemed more tempting than ever.

But after quick walk around the city centre and a phone call to my dad, I felt marginally better and went home to watch a film.

Now I’m on the road back to better physical and mental health.

No matter where I am or what I’m doing I’ve realised that I can never take my mental health for granted.

It can be fragile but all it needs is a little water and sunlight every now and then.

Getting back into a routine of yoga and meditation, finding time to relax and eating right will all help.

And the little things which go wrong, be they mistakes or disappointments, don’t have to spell the end of the world.

But for now I think I’ll just close my eyes, count to three…and breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

New Year, new me, same old clichés

Now that I’ve eaten my weight in chocolate, binge-watched a few box sets and argued over the rules of Scrabble, Christmas has come to a close and it’s time to bid adieu to 2016.

And what a year it’s been.

We’ve seen war and conflict, the wrath of ISIS,the triumph of a tangerine-faced tycoon and the fall of Harambe.

From David Bowie to Princess Leia, stars have dropped like the value of the pound and Brexit meant Brexit which meant nothing at all.

Oh, and for some reason people started running around dressed as killer clowns.

So yeah, it’s been a pretty bizarre year.

On a personal level however 2016 hasn’t been too shabby.

I climbed the highest mountain in North Africa, got a degree, sampled veganism, met Basil Brush, rode in a hot air balloon, reached 100wpm at shorthand and quit alcohol for good.

I made new friends, travelled, laughed, cried, sang and danced.

I saw the sunrise in the Sahara and Elton John in concert.

I had my heart broken and I made mistakes.

But in the end, through all of these ups and downs, I’ve grown as a person and inched one fumbling step closer to finding my place in this crazy world.

Then again, it’s New Year’s Eve so really I should forget all of this, focus on my faults, draft some resolutions and set about making 2017 my “best year yet.”

I’m not usually cynical about New Year’s resolutions.

After all I’m the kind of person who actually writes down life goals and approaches tidying with colour-coded post-it notes.

But as the saying goes “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”, Hell in this case being the sofa which most return to one month into an annual gym membership.

So this year I’m not going to go for the same old “new year, new me” spiel.

As Gloria Gaynor sang “I am what I am”, so even though I maybe would like to have the body of a supermodel, the motivation of an Olympic athlete and the grace and beauty of a film star, I realise that such goals are unattainable.

So instead of making my New Year’s resolutions things which I would like to change about myself, I’m going to propose three things.

One thing I want to achieve, one thing I want to try and one philosophy I want to live my life by:

1.) Learn how to drive – not because all my friends are doing it or because someone told me to, but because it’s pretty essential for journalists and I’d like to have fewer public transport nightmares.

2.) Try dance classes – not because I want to get fit, or lose weight, or meet a sexy dance partner, but because it should be a laugh (if only for the other people in the class.)

3.) Embrace being single – not because I’m uber confident and don’t need anyone or because I want to have a Sex and the City-esque lifestyle but because I’m wasting too much time wishing that I was in a relationship (or pretending that I’m not) when I should just be enjoying life as it is.

So that’s it.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye 2016.

May 2017 bring you all that your heart desires.

Live long and prosper 🙂

.

 

1

Treats and Tribulations: Part 3

Image result for crepes

I quit my job.

It’s all over.

I’ve blended my last milkshake, wiped my last table and made my last waffle.

Well for now at least.

I can’t say I’ll miss Treats.

My last shift was a hellish 10 hours long (3pm – 1am) without a single break.

We’d just started doing home delivery via Just Eat but Yasser had given Lucia the day off and Mohammed was sick so we had twice the workload with half the staff.

Talk about a sticky situation.

At one point I thought I was going to faint so I just sat on the toilet for ten minutes and had a micro nap.

The whole thing was a shambles really.

Since old Mohammed had gone home we had no chef to make hot food so I had to run next door to buy a chicken burger to send for delivery and when the waffle mix ran out I had to do likewise and sprint to neighbouring Delight’s (their poor use of apostrophe not mine).

As I walked home that night I felt absolutely knackered but also elated at the thought I’d never have to go back.

I made sure to say a final farewell to the cockroach that lives inside the microwave but I wasn’t able to tell Yasser to his face that I quit and rather took the coward’s way out by sending him a text the next day.

He’s since tried to offer me a better deal and has been ringing me but I’ve just ignored it.

He told me before I left that the owner has decided to go with Sprinkles for the new name so I suppose that’ll be my “legacy.”

In the end though, as bad as this job has been it’s taught me something about the value of hard work, the multicultural web of Manchester’s Muslim community and the art of making a perfect crepe.

But I deserve something better

As the French chef Jacques Torres once said,

-“Life is short. Eat dessert first.