It's all me, me, me...

My Photo
Vivre Sa Vie
London, United Kingdom
Well hello there. My name is Viv (well, it's not really), and, like a lot of people, I'm ever so slightly neurotic... I have panic attacks and anxiety (ranging from mild to pretty intense), on and off. I also have an amazing and quite high-profile job, so I'm choosing to remain anonymous on here. Not because I'm ashamed of the aforementioned neuroses, but because I don't want to be googled and for my colleagues to read bizarre posts about me breathing into a paper bag and popping lorazepam. I've worked for bookshops, mixed arts festivals and charities, and have met (and still meet!) a lot of famous, fetching and fantabulous people for my job. (See, anxiety doesn't need to stop you being AWESOME and doing what you want to do) Here's hoping you'll find some helpful hints and tips on here which will help you tackle the evil panic heebiejeebs... PS. I'm an Australian, but I live in the UK, and have adopted tea-drinking, pubs, Wodehouse, and a Welsh man.
View my complete profile
Monday, 30 April 2012

Guess what? I think I'm a monk now!

Buddha's schnoops really needed a mansierre.

STOP PRESS. I've just got back from a meditation at the Buddhist centre and feel BLISSFULLY CALM. Honestly. This isn't a hoax. I pretty much floated out of there, and started noticing all the bright colours of the flowers and the blue of the ocean and the silky breeze on my face - I feel like Mr Burns looked when he went all radioactive and glided (glid?) across the forest floor with big googly eyes and floaty arms.

I'm not worried about anything. Seriously. I'm not afraid of the future. It even occurred to me that if there was an axe murderer in my house (well, I'm not completely CURED or anything) that I would welcome death like a beatific, zen monk who had lived a happy life with the yaks (do they hang out with yaks? I'm not sure if we ever established that).

I cannot believe my body has created this. This is insane. I need to write this down because I will never believe it otherwise. I will think I imagined it in a fit of anxious insanity.

I even bought a gluten-free carrot and lentil loaf from their cafe (it's still 1975 in this - and probably all - Buddhist cafes) to celebrate my floatiness and new-found guru-ishness. It came with a rice salad, but it has RAISINS in it. Why must hippies do that? They've cornered the whole 'peace' thing, but they just go and ruin it by putting sweet dried fruit in a savoury dish.

Oh my God. I have literally just found some bits of dried apricot in there too. Now that's just SICK. But I'm that peaceful that I don't even care.

Guys, do you know what this means? This means there's hope for all of us! This means maybe the hippies were right! This means maybe we can find peace that's not pill-shaped! There aren't enough exclamation marks in the world to contain my shock at this buddha-shaped development! Maybe my hippy mother was right all along!  

Now THAT, ladies and gentleman - is crazy.

Actually, so does she...

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Nightmare on anxiety street...

'Yes, I look peaceful, but inside my head there's a hooded munchkin with a huge axe'

So here's the thing. I get nightmares. Loads of them. Really bad ones, like crappy B-movie horrors with slashing and blood and dismembered limbs (and excitingly, one even featured a crossbow and an arrow-pierced eyeball recently). Essentially everyone I love suddenly turns Voldemorty/Freddy Kruguer-ish and homicidal, and bloody death and gory destruction inevitably follow.

Which is hilarious, because I am a bumblingly peaceful, bunny-hugging liberal who cried when the big gingerbread man fell into the river in Shrek 2.

I've even stopped watching anything vaguely threatening or containing even the mildest of peril on TV - so essentially I'm on a diet of Octonauts and other life-affirming/non-death-containing cartoons, and STILL the slasher nightmares and sweaty sheets.

So what the hell is wrong with me? I've come to the conclusion that it's my anxiety (I lay all my troubles at anxiety's dark door). Or it's the pills I take to counter the anxiety. (It could also possibly be eating too much chocolate before bed, but I'm reluctant to accept that. Doesn't seem likely...)

People - is this a common anxiety thing? If so, are there any effective and soothing herbal tinctures you drink before clambering the wooden hill to Bedfordshire? Is there a particular sleeping position that enables fluffy dreams about winning races and hugging kittens?

This doesn't look remotely like my nightmares. This guy has good nightmares.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

What is it about the dreaded sickness?

'Is that a raven? An OMEN OF MY IMPENDING DEATH? Oh my God...'

I hate to get sick. I fear getting sick. And I fear being sick. And I'm really not sure why.

I mean, I know it's unpleasant and all that, and noone WANTS to be sick, but I start to get really depressed and twitchy if I feel a virus or something coming on, and if, godforbid, it develops into something proper, I get hit with a massive wave of anxiety that sits on the sickness' shoulder like a nasty vulture.

If I have a bogstandard cold, a little nervous voice inside me says 'your nose is so blocked up that if your mouth were to somehow get smothered, then you would die'. Which is patently absurd, but the little voice is persistent.

Or if I'm about to be sick, the evil bugger comes back again and says 'what if you try to breathe and can't, and end up choking on your own vomit? Then you'll diiiiie.' And 98% of me knows it's ridiculous, but the 2% is weak and confused and starts to freak out.

All of my major panic breakdowns have happened when I've been ill. I've either been in pain, or had a gastritis, or had a bad flu or something. And my anxiety has built and built upon the illness and exploded all over the shop in a spleurgh of panic and freakout. There's something in it - there's a connection - but I don't know what it is. I want to pay some super-duper therapist a huge lump sum to just wash out my brain and investigate all the dark corners, and flush out whatever it is that's lurking there.

And do you know what? There's nothing I would hate more, than to be the kind of person who freaks out about getting ill. Like Melman from Madagascar crossed with the sickly bitter boy from The Secret Garden who used to screech about the spores. Noone likes that person, and that person doesn't like themselves. I want to be the person who laughs and says 'Oh that? Pah, just a smattering of smallpox. No worries at all. Few days of antibiotics and I'll be right as rain. And in the meantime I'll watch a ton of Columbo!'

'I'm allergic to vitamin D and spores and breeze and human touch and my Daddy doesn't love me but the love of a young girl and a special garden will liberate us all (and my legs will start to work again, phew)...'

Well, to be accurate, I am the kind of person who SAYS that, but it's not remotely what I'm thinking. What I'm actually thinking is 'Oh my God, I'm getting sick. I hate getting sick. What's wrong with me? Is it CANCER? Is it chronic fatigue? Will I have to be fed on a drip for the rest of my life? Will my boyfriend have to be my carer? Will I be able to go to that party? Will it ruin my holiday? Can I take these pills with these pills or will I do a Heath Ledger? Will it make my panic attacks come back? Will I have to take time off work? Will they hate me and not believe me? PLEASE GOD don't let me get sick' etc etc etc etc 

Anyone else? Tumbleweed...

Replaces misplaced organs?

Friday, 13 April 2012

Anxiety hero trading cards #5...

#5 The Cowardly Lion


Vital anxiety statistics: 'Is my nose bleedin'?'. Poor Cowardly Lion can't sleep, is terrified of a terrier, can't count sheep because he's afraid of them, and has a panic attack in the Emerald City. BUT, in a surprising and morally-informative (!) twist, he reveals himself to be the real hero of the piece.

Career highlights: When he gets the bow in his hair in the Emerald City salon thing, puts the marathon runners foil recovery towel over him and sings about being the king of the forest ('the chipmunks genuflect to me' etc)

Why he's an AWESOME anxiety hero: Well, he's one of the most AWESOMEly brave (oh yes, his name is ironic for ye shall see that he is not a coward at all) characters in one of the most AWESOMELY AWESOME FILMS OF ALL TIME

What you can learn from him: Bravery would mean nothing without fear. True courage is about acting in spite of fear, not about having no fear at all. What poor 'cowardly' doesn't realise is that he is actually brave and courageous, but he thinks he's not, because he mistakenly believes that to be fearful is to be a coward.  He still goes and rescues Dorothy from the evil monkeys and does loads of brave and awesome things (especially in the book), despite his terror, and never really needed the medal from the wizard because the COURAGE WAS IN HIM ALL ALONG!

Best anxiety quote: 'I haven't any courage at all! I even scare myself. Look at the circles under my eyes, I haven't slept for weeks!'

Further reading: Read the book. Watch the film. And then maybe make me a Wizard of Oz quilt because I really, really, really want one.

This is you, dear reader, receiving your special fake wizard courage medal even though you had it in you ALL ALONG and didn't know it. How cool is that?!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Some not-particularly-interesting things that happened this Easter...

'Do I feel demeaned by this? Yes, yes I do. But somebody's gotta pay for my ten-a-day Creme Egg habit'

1. I finished the last of the Potters. Totally bereft. Wish I was a wizard. Wish I got to hang out at Hogwart's, being twelve, doing spells. And stuff. Real life seems a bit dull and uninspiring.

2. Started reading Sara Benincasa's Agorafabulous - which is an AWESOMELY hilarious account of one lady's descent into full-blown, room-bound, peeing-in-bowls agoraphobia (and her incredibly brave and equally hilarious clamber back out of it).

3. Cleared out my wardrobe and discovered some pre-Pregabalin (awesome anti-anxiety drug I will talk about soon) jeans, that look like they would only fit a starved midget. How was I ever so thin? I'm not fat now by any stretch, but the Pregabalin definitely plumped me up a bit, and I couldn't even barely get my toe in these jeans. Feel weirdly jealous of my lithe and calm younger self.

4. Bought an achingly-trendy duck light I've been coveting for months. Is fabulously vintage-looking and glowy. Boyfriend thinks it's sinister. I have to admit its eye is beadier than I thought it would be. Hope it doesn't freak me out when I wake up with panic attacks, as it was meant to be a nice comforting thing for that exact situation.

5. Woke up feeling strangely apprehensive, nervous and a bit sad every morning for no apparent reason. I think my anxiety gets worse when I have time off and nothing planned, and I get a jolt of panic when I suddenly think I've got nothing to do with myself. Reminder to myself to do a morning anxiety tips section on here, as I think that's a pretty common thing.

6. Made plan to make more plans. I have a bad case of planophobia (friend and boyfriend diagnosed). I hate to make arrangements in advance, as I hate feeling trapped and like I can't escape from stuff, so my friends secretly arrange dates with me with my boyfriend, and he springs them on me like they're spontaneous, and everything works swimmingly. Apart from the fact that sometimes it really pisses them off and drives them crazy, which I completely get. So I'm turning over a new anti-anxiety leaf to just screw it and make plans and ask for forgiveness if I want to pull out for whatever reason. Will keep you updated on how that goes...

7. Ate too many Easter eggs and worried about sugar/caffeine anxiety bomb, but was miraculously OKAY. Pheeeeyew.

Hope all is good with you guys, and you made it through the Easter weekend unscathed by panic demons or cocoa-based anxiety bombs. Will post a new anxiety hero very soon...

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

In which I come out of the Potter closet...

Ok guys. This is it. I'm going to do it. I'm going to come out of the closet. Today is the day I embrace a dark and shameful side of myself that I've been hiding from everyone apart from my boyfriend. 

Deep breath. Here goes...
My name is Viv, and I love the Harry Potter books

Now hang on, before you start protesting - I know you think this isn't a big deal, and that loads of people read them blah blah blah and anyway, it's all totally passe now in any case.

But I'm not loads of people. I'm a snob. I'm a big, fat intellectual snob. I did an English and Philosophy degree, and I worked in a bookstore for years and years, and I only read difficult, impenetrable novels with no punctuation, and no plot, and no ending (I did once have a guy come into the bookshop to try to return a book because he thought it was missing some pages at the end, and I had to break it to him that it just had a really shit and abrupt ending because it was avant-garde).

I have sniffed at the Potter sensation for years. I worked a Potter launch party and staunchly avoided even looking at the first page of the book. I fielded thousands of European students asking for 'arry potterrrrr' every five seconds of the day. I groaningly listened to millions of middle-aged women who said I really should read them. I avoided every single film and scoffed at my friends who went. I mercilessly tormented my boyfriend for having read them, and made him hide his shame (the boxset) in the spare room, on the very bottom shelf, so that my Samuel Becketts and Hans Falladas and Richard Yates' would not be sullied by association, and so that our guests would not think we were seriously mentally challenged or illiterate.

And then one night, one very dark night, I woke up with a huge-ass panic attack, and I couldn't sleep. And I was weak, and tired, and all my books loomed at me with their big themes and domestic rape scenes and I realised I had nothing non-threatening or comforting to read. And then I saw it - on the bottom shelf in the spare bedroom - gleaming at me in all its shiny foiled glory - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

I thought I'd just read a few pages to lull me back to sleep. I'm now on the second to last book, and I'm absolutely, helplessly, haplessly, hopelessly addicted. I'm also ten years late. Daniel Radcliffe is almost a bloody pensioner. Everyone has got over it. The kids who loved them are all grown up and getting into Beckett now. So it's just me, apologising to my boyfriend, admitting I was wrong (that never happens), and making excuses so I can go to bed really early and keep reading. Because I conscientiously avoided it all there have been absolutely no spoilers, so I genuinely don't know what's going to happen next. I'm in a fantasy time-warp.

Guys - they're amazing (I know you know this, but let me say it). They are calming panic attack fodder. They have all sorts of amazing metaphors about fighting demons and darkness and bad things. They are sublime. I am going to have a complete breakdown when I finish them.

But then I can start on the films...

Moral(s) of the story:

1. Sometimes (not often) I'm REALLY, REALLY wrong. About EVERYTHING. Apart from holiday camps
2. You should read them too (if you haven't already, which you probably have).

This post is humbly dedicated to my wonderful boyfriend who is most definitely NOT a big loser for reading children's books. Consider this a (very small) official retraction.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Reasons to be cheerful...

'Well, that's simply marvellous! I would LOVE to hear your avant-garde Hegelian haiku!'

1. I just had (and paid for) a posh boozy London lunch with my pater familias, and did not have a panic attack.

2. I was hungover and premenstrual (sorry chaps) on Sunday, and did not have a panic attack
3. I bought a book called 'Optimum Nutrition for the Mind'* which will tell me about loads of costly supplements I should take that will take away the panics and cure me forever. Woop! I can't wait to go and splurge in a health food store on loads of panaceas that have been extracted from rare Guatemalan jungle flowers and cold-pressed by the light of the moon. I will keep you updated on my miraculous recovery.

4.  My friends think I'm insane because I am absolutely not afraid of all the poisonous Aussie things that freak them out ('whaat, you went and played netball even though you had a paralysis tick in your ear?!') but get freaked out by being on the tube or getting on a plane or being stuck somewhere. You see, I AM brave and fearless dagnabbit, just about dangerous things. I am only frightened by non-dangerous, non-life threatening things that probably won't happen. Duh.

5.  I make my friends laugh a lot (I am sometimes witty), I give my boyfriend hysterics  and I am mostly the life and soul of parties. That makes up for occasionally crying in toilets and backing out of things at the last minute and curling up with my lavender oil and back-to-back HBO series. Shit - everybody's got to have SOMETHING, and this, girls and boys, is mine (and yours).

6. The new Bruce Springsteen album is out. 

7. On Sunday I had a raspberry ripple chocolate brownie and some codeine headache pills and found them to be a very medicinal and soothing PMS combination (sorry again chaps - might work for the manopause too).

8. I have had a fringe cut by my gorgeous gay pal (every girl's got to have one you know) in his 1950's style dining room (listening to Judy Garland - it's like gay bingo), and now I look less like a tramp and more like a poor man's Zooey Deschanel. 

9. One day I will own one of those cats that are like dogs, and I will call it Walter, and we will have a love like no other (not like that you filthmongers) and I will walk it everywhere on a leash.

10. Nutella exists.  And when you are an adult no-one can tell you off for eating it from the spoon until you feel sick. And the ads say it is nutritious and full of calcium, which is really good for anxiety. So there.

*Note that the boyfriend has already pointed out the irony of my using a sweet wrapper as a marker in my  'food for the brain' book...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Blog Template by