Experiencing Anxiety For The First Time 0 988

My whole life I have been known as the carefree happy girl. In my childhood and teens, people would describe me as someone who walks around full of sunshine surrounded by butterflies living this seemingly perfect life. I was so naive that it allowed me to be unbelievably optimistic. I genuinely believed life was pretty easy and that although bad things happened in this world, they would never happen to me. But of course, life doesn’t always go the way you think – bad things did happen to me and it took a lot of weird, sad and scary experiences to change me from a person who thought she was invincible to a person who was painfully aware of her non-invincibility.

This was a necessary growth; you can’t live your whole life thinking everything is always going to go according to plan and that every experience will leave you unscathed. You can hope for the best but you should also be aware that sometimes things don’t quite work out. The first time I ever truly felt anxious was when I was in an unhappy relationship. This person and I were not compatible and I would often walk on eggshells to ensure that nothing I did would set us off into an argument. I cared a lot about him and I was blinded by puppy love so I did whatever it took to keep the peace. What I didn’t realise was that constantly feeling nervous that you were going to say something or do something to trigger a big reaction was anxiousness. I didn’t think it was anxiety because I didn’t think that I was someone who could experience anxiety – I’m someone with pretty good mental health, I’m the happy girl.

Flash forward a year and a half, the relationship is over and we’re 8 months deep into this pandemic. My body decides to rebel against me and develops chronic hives – an immune condition where your body is trying to protect itself when nothing is harming it, causing harm to itself in the process. For the first time in my life I experienced health-induced anxiety. I walk around all day every day just waiting for the ball to drop, waiting for my throat to close and for my body to be covered in hives. This fear follows me around like a heavy weight all day and all night, I can distract myself for moments but it’s ever-present – like a dull headache nagging at you all day. When it gets bad it feels like there’s no blood in my head, my vision gets blurred and I feel like I’m going to pass out. 

I had no idea that anxiety could manifest physically, heck, I had no idea what anxiety even felt like. For so long I had confused simple, easily-mediated nervousness with anxiety but it’s not the same and it’s really hard to understand what it feels like without ever feeling it yourself. Prior to truly experiencing anxiety and panic attacks, it was hard for me to empathise with people who did suffer from it. I didn’t realise how mentally exhausting it was to carry this burden around with you. I didn’t realise that even if you catch yourself and try to correct your thoughts, when the anxiety gets to your body you just have to ride the wave of discomfort to come out of it. 

Anxiety is no joke and I can safely say out of most of the wild and crazy things I’ve done in my life, this has been the most taxing. My anxiety is situational, it was around when I was in a bad relationship and it’s around now while I’m unwell. But one day, just like my relationship, my hives will go and so will the anxiety that brewed from it. However for many out there, the anxiety follows them for no particular reason. It’s inexplicable and it’s mean – debilitating you at the exact moment you need it to subside. Living with this constant anxiety for the past 8 months has been an eye-opening experience. Never have I had such a constant feeling of being truly afraid of something that is likely not going to happen. All I do is dream of the day when I will feel like myself again, when the weight is finally lifted and I’m free of all this unnecessary fear. I feel the pain so deeply and it’s only been months, what about those who’ve lived with anxiety for years? 

“The human spirit is so special in that way, it can endure so much and still find the ability to be happy.”

One thing I have realised is the resilience we have as individuals to endure feelings and experiences that we never thought we could. When I had my first panic attack I didn’t think I’d be able to take that feeling even one more time, but it came over and over again. No matter how hard, it wouldn’t stop and even though I didn’t think I’d be able to, I got through it. I could still laugh, I could still smile and I could still find joy even though in the moment it felt like I never would again. The human spirit is so special in that way, it can endure so much and still find the ability to be happy.

My empathy has grown tremendously, mental health issues are no laughing matter and they can manifest in really scary physical forms. I try to keep in mind that especially during these turbulent times it’s so hard to mediate bad thoughts when we face uncertainty every day. I never thought I would be someone struggling with anxiety, and from the outside looking in you’d probably not be able to catch that fact. I try to remember this when I approach others – just because someone seems to be holding it together doesn’t mean they aren’t going through something themselves. What I’m trying to focus on is finding ways to get through the bad days and enjoy the good ones because all we can do is take things as they come. 

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Friends For A Season 0 612

I believe that in life, one of the most beautiful things that we can experience is friendship. It’s not a necessity that you can’t live without but it sure as hell makes the mundanity of day to day life tolerable and even enjoyable. I’ve always been a person who valued friendship above all else, of course, family tops the list but the line gets blurred with the friends who’ve been through it all with you. 

In my entire life, I’ve only ever had a couple of friendships implode and fall apart. Mostly some friendships fade over time with no hard feelings and some friendships stand the test of time and space apart. The world prepares you for heartbreak, we see it in movies and read about it in books – we know it’s a natural part of growing up. No one warns you of the deep pain that is felt when you lose a friend. It’s an underrated love.

My approach to friendship comes with the headspace that this will never come to an abrupt end. Maybe it will fizzle if we don’t truly connect, but it’s not going to be a huge dramatic break-up the way it happens with significant others. So the few times that friendships have come to an end in that way, it shattered my heart harder and deeper than I ever saw coming. 

It’s hard to describe the feeling of losing a best friend. It’s kind of like losing a piece of yourself. Your friends are the people that you are utterly you around, you don’t feel shy or insecure or embarrassed with them because they know who you are and love you because of it. You trust them with your ugliest side and depend on them when you can’t depend on yourself. It’s a pure connection because nothing is holding you together apart from the mutual desire to be in each other’s lives. There’s no romance nor sex nor children nor finances that force the relationship to be sustained. The two people are bound by nothing more than pure platonic love.

That kind of pure love is hard to find. Not many people will love you unconditionally and expect nothing in return. Good friends are hard to come by and when you have them in your life it makes the human experience richer and more beautiful. There’s security you feel in friendships that you don’t feel when in romantic relationships or even sometimes in familial relationships. It’s a chosen family that is supposed to stand by you through it all. So when a friendship starts to go sour, it’s so hard to recognize it and let it go. 

When one of my friendships went sour, it happened without me even realising it at first. I started to subtly feel the disconnect and imagining a life without this person, which at one point felt earth-shattering, became more and more manageable. I forgot the joys that we shared because I saw this person changing in ways I didn’t particularly like. 

The thing about being friends for years and years is that people change with time and if you’re lucky, you can grow together at a similar pace with a similar mindset and similar goals. However, there is the chance that you can grow apart, become completely different people until one day you realise that maybe the only thing holding this relationship together is time. 

It’s a tough pill to swallow when this happens because usually you only realise it when it’s too late. You don’t have the energy to fight for the friendship anymore because you’ve lost a lot of the joy that makes it worth fighting for. It starts slow, you first feel mildly irritated about things that you used to like about them. Then you start wanting to see them less, not putting in as much effort to ensure that they have a place in your life. Eventually, you start to feel like you don’t even want them around anymore and it can be so confusing because you don’t understand why you feel this way. 

With the experience I had, I let this animosity for this person stew and live only in my mind. I wasn’t enjoying our friendship anymore, but I also wasn’t willing to have a conversation about it or put in the work to fix what had gone wrong. I struggled to see things from the other person’s perspective and didn’t look at myself for the role I played in it. I was also scared that if we were to have a conversation, that it would result in our friendship coming to an end. A part of me knew that this was likely going to happen one way or another.

All relationships are a two-way street, there is no way to look at a situation and place blame on one person. I can try to absolve myself of responsibility for what happened but we know that just isn’t true. 

Only when the pot had finally boiled over and things had been taken too far, did the two of us have a conversation. I don’t know if I necessarily have regrets about how this conversation went, but I regret not bringing things up with this person sooner. Because when we spoke, the frustrations and anger that I was holding in my heart were also shared by her. It wasn’t just me that was hurting but her too. We had both avoided being honest with one another because we both knew that things weren’t working anymore. 

I had spent so long indulging myself in my emotions and painting her out to be the bad guy that I never took a second to think of how she felt. She was also growing apart from a friend that had been part of her life for so long. She was also experiencing the growing pains of changing and becoming who she wanted to be. I didn’t realise that we were both coming from a place of immense hurt. 

What’s crazy about this story is that the friendship ended at the same time my romantic relationship ended. I was heartbroken in lots of ways but if I’m being honest, my heart hurt harder and longer for the loss of my friend than the loss of my boyfriend. She had been a part of my life for so long and we’d maintained a friendship for over a decade.

We shared so many laughs, so many adventures and so many good times that when it all came to an end, it was hard to believe. I was disoriented for so long afterwards, my life felt like it had so drastically changed in a couple of days. 

“sometimes losing someone helps you realise that there is an ease that comes with letting go”

However, what did happen was the realisation that the people that stood by me and supported me through one of the toughest times were the ones who were meant to be in my life. Sometimes losing someone helps you realise that there is an ease that comes with letting go. All the time I spent thinking and wondering about this person was returned to me. I understood what I needed from a best friend and the tough lessons learnt when things fell apart also strengthened the friendships I still had. 

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is let go of something you felt was going to be permanent in your life. However you’ll realise that letting go brings a lightness you were seeking and as sad as it may be, some friends are around just for a season. They help you grow, teach you lessons and accompany you to the exact point in your life they’re supposed to. 

What I realised is that we have to be grateful for all the friends we have in our lives, the ones that stayed for a season and the ones that’ll stay for a lifetime. 

Aunty Babblings: On Masks 0 562

I am told that I babble and it has gotten worse with the pandemic and as I age! I figured that instead of my verbal babble maybe putting down these confused, excited thoughts may have a point. After all baby babbles turn to language at some point. 

The pandemic and with no work to boot gave me a lot of time to question the goings on in the world. These thoughts are not based on research but just an Aunty Babbling.

This babbling aunty rambles along on walks here and there every day. It’s really a great way to observe life and people who are living through a pandemic that just doesn’t seem to go away. I meet other regular walkers, and most if not all of them observe social distancing and if they don’t, I cross to the other side of the road or move a few meters away. 

Some wear masks and others don’t. I wear the mask as I am a senior citizen with comorbidities, because I am not taking any chances that may put me or the other at risk. Comorbidities by the way means a person with two or more diseases. A word I had to look up in the dictionary when I registered for the vaccination programme. 

Hmmm … may have been simpler to say “Tick here if you have two or more diseases”.  I wonder how many people especially the elderly etc. could Google it!

Coming back to walks and masks I’ve noticed over the past year or so that people throw their masks away wherever they like: on the road, along the grassy sidewalk, in common areas … wherever it is convenient to them. Surely, we can do better than this.

The interesting thing about these masks that are thrown away is that some are folded, fastened with the ear loops and then dumped. My question is, if we can go to all that trouble, surely, we can carry a bag, put it in there and dispose of it in a trash bin on the street or at home. 

The point here is that once again we’ve missed the point. 

Could it be that the global pandemic is here for us to learn the lesson of consideration for one another?

Yes, we should and must keep ourselves safe but we should consider the people who have to pick up after us. Are we putting them at risk? The point is that this whole virus thing is a two-way responsibility.

I keep myself safe, and you keep yourself safe and everyone can be safe. Remember the virus is blind to our man-made differences … all it takes are a few droplets from a sneeze or a cough for the virus to enter our body. Virus or no virus, there still remains the issue of littering.

I’ve seen blue, black, pink lavender and designed masks strewn all over the place and maybe it’s time to wear the mask knowing the task that is required of us. 

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