Yes… I’ve borrowed the name of the Australian soap opera for this blog post, which fits nicely because I very much intended to write about my trip to Australia on my return, there are so many photos, a couple of videos, and so many experiences I could write about (and probably will, when the time is right). However, since my return I have very much enjoyed all the simple things I missed when I was away and all the things about being at home.
In the couple of weeks since I got back from an amazing trip away, I have actually enjoyed just doing normal things like sleeping in my own bed, and enjoying living in a new area of London, where I do feel a lot happier.
I have also enjoyed spending some lovely days with my family (there is a wedding to prepare for!) and some lovely catch-ups with friends. A few days ago, our family also said a sad good bye to our beloved dog Jet, who had a long, happy (and crazy!) life.
When I get a little more time to reflect, when I can give these things my full writing-attention so I feel I am doing them justice, I will write more about Australia and also I am planning to write a little tribute to Jet.
But for now, I just wanted to write this post to say that whilst I had an amazing time away, I am also happy to be home, and happy that I feel so at home in my new flatshare. I feel that I have returned with a refreshed, invigorated outlook.
Watch this space for the upcoming blog posts… possibly featuring a video of some whales 🙂
Today is a big day. Later I will be catching my first ever long-distance flight and will be away for nearly a month. It’s going to be the biggest trip I’ve ever done. I’ve got a huge backpack and my passport. Everything seems ready.
I’m comforted and happy that I am looking forward to this trip and have been more organised with the planning of it than trips I did last year. One of the first blog posts I wrote on here (about 4 years ago now!) was called ‘Travel’ – simply about how I enjoy travelling; at the time I thought travel would always be something that made me feel excited, happy, adventurous.
However in the last year, I lost interest in travel and didn’t feel excited about trips anymore. I felt scared deep down, but on the surface it was like I felt nothing. I didn’t plan trips with anticipation like I had before. I can see now that maybe that is because I had lost interest in everything I had enjoyed. When I realised I’d lost interest in travelling, I felt I had lost a part of myself and I didn’t know if I would get it back again.
But after several months of positive changes (and lots of them, in all different parts of my life, including food, drink, house move, new hair cut, just generally taking more care of myself), it is like the Me That Travels is back!
And here I am, ready to go, I even prepared this map of my trip (it’s quite technical and I think you can zoom in to see things closer). I’ll keep in touch as best that I can, maybe not on here but perhaps on Facebook and Instagram! See you on the other side of the world 😉
Last week, on May Bank holiday weekend, I went on a somewhat risky holiday to North Wales.
Risk 1: the weather – everybody knows that Britain does not have the best weather… and especially in North Wales it can be very wet and windy. I was just praying it would be dry!
Risk 2: nostalgia – should you ever go back to a place you once held happy memories? The risk is that the changes you find from past to present are upsetting, or stirring up old memories could be emotional in a way that you are not prepared for.
This was not a typical British holiday. My sister, parents and I were going to be staying on the Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Mon in Welsh – and sorry for those who know there should be a circumflex on the o but I can’t get my computer to do it!), which we left about 21 years ago, when my sister and I were 7.
I have a lot of happy memories from my time there, and nearly all of them involve being in the outdoors, on the cliffs, at the seaside, in the woods and in all weathers, too. Splashing at the windy, cloudy beach, in wellies shaped like frogs; searching the woods for the Three Bears’ house (thanks Mum & Dad!); being pelted in the face by hailstones at school pick up time; a school trip on a life boat; walking past long reeds and grass, thinking of the adders that could be lurking there; picking honeysuckle from the roadside as a gift to a teacher (a little bit of a teacher’s pet, clearly!)
I left a piece of my childhood heart in Wales and I really wanted to go back, most specifically to the South Stack, where there is a lighthouse and where we used to go and look for puffins with Dad. This is a place I always remembered fondly.
Going back 21 years later, it was time to look back but also to create new memories in the present, being older and wiser and more able to appreciate the stunning scenery around us. We won the gamble we had taken on the British weather as it was sunny and warm throughout our stay, with hardly any wind on our trip to South Stack and Holyhead mountain. It felt like a miracle to see the sea with no white breakers and to be walking around Anglesey in short sleeves… and having to put sunscreen on my fair British skin. I was no longer the child hiding her face in her coat to stop the painful white ice-stones pummelling into me. (As you might have guessed from that old memory, that was the day I learnt what “hailstones” were).
Another new memory I will take with me about Wales is a sense that it holds some kind of spiritual, magical feeling. There were times when we were walking through woods with the sunlight slightly breaking through the leaves, the flowers and undergrowth dappled with light, a peace around us, everything so still but also as if it was somehow waiting to come alive. I’m not sure I am really describing this feeling very well, but when you think about Welsh myth and legend, with the red dragon emblem, it does feel appropriate that this sense of magic seems to live and breathe in the Welsh landscape and countryside.
I have mainly written this post so that I can let the photographs I took really speak for themselves about the beautiful landscape and scenery of our trip. The sunny weather was the perfect backdrop to show it off, but also, if it had been gloomy, it might have brought out a different “moody” feel to the landscape. Whatever risk there is with the weather, this nostalgic trip has awakened a deep love in me for this part of Wales, this “home” I left, and still carry with me in my heart.
My toxic friend, my emotionally abusive lover, we’ve had an on-off relationship for years (mostly on… but you know there were times when you weren’t there).
You know what you do to me and how you make me feel.
The intense times, the passionate times, that is when you are most destructive. You make my head spin, my heart is in pain, my breath is short, I shake, I feel as if something terrible is going to happen, I cry, I snap. You are all-consuming.
Other times you aren’t so intense, but your damage is always there. Making me feel sick to my stomach, making me feel restless and edgy, making me upset at the slightest thing.
Sometimes we even have a threesome with depression. It’s like you two hang out together. Feeding off and into each other. Into me.
But, Anxiety, I’ve lost touch with you recently. To be honest, it’s like you just walked out on me. Where are you? Where have you gone and how long for?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to rush back. The last few weeks have felt so good without you.
But then… maybe I’ll start to miss you and the things you do for me. Because you are someone I go to as a knee-jerk reaction, a default setting, and in a very backwards way you are protective and safe.
But right now, I’m telling you, Anxiety, feel free to stay away as long as you like. Seriously. I love it now you’re not here.
When you come knocking at my door again, there’s no guarantee I’ll let you back in, but if I do, it won’t be for long. I might even be strong enough to kick you out.
I was very touched by the response I got to the last post where I opened up about having depression (it still feels scary to write); several people personally messaged me offering support and reassurance, and every message, comment or ‘like’ was greatly appreciated.
The thing is, since that post, I haven’t written any more about it because it is very hard to voice the experiences and feelings that happen deep within. If initially opening up was hard, continuing the line of communication seems to be even harder.
But today I’m going to try, and I am not only suffering from depression, but anxiety too. That seems to be worse at the moment. As I type, my eyelids are heavy from lack of sleep -OK, yes I was out until late, but I have also had several nights which alternate between periods of wakefulness, experiencing nausea, or periods of restless sleep with eventful, dramatic and emotional dreams.
A recurring dream I have actually seems to suggest that there is something stopping me from communicating or expressing myself. It’s not a pleasant dream and I’ve had it twice this week already. In these dreams, my mouth is full of a material which shouldn’t be eaten, to the point that I am in danger of choking on it. The material tends to change but it has been: gravel, sand, flakes of plastic, plastic microballs (the kind you find in skin exfoliators), and a weird, thick, gelatinous liquid. I try with difficulty to spit out the substance, but if I manage to get it out, my mouth immediately refills again. In a similar dream, there was a ribbon in my mouth which I tried to pull out, but every time I pulled, it tightened round my throat.
I’ve thought about what these dreams might be trying to tell me, and my conclusion is that there is a kind of blockage between what I feel and what I express.
So today I thought I would express some of the anxiety I have been feeling, starting from Friday night. I’d been out with friends and had a lovely evening, but on returning home I had some sad news; my nan, Norma, has been ill for some time but just before Easter she fell and broke her hip and was hospitalised. However, during her stay in hospital her other illness worsened and there is nothing more doctors can do. Essentially there is nothing anyone can do, except wait, and keep her comfortable until the time comes.
I woke up on Saturday feeling weird and distracted, but also I had booked to attend a yoga class (which I have written about before!) I thought it might be helpful to centre and focus me and generally make me feel better. I walked to the class in the morning sunshine, no coat on for the first time this year, distracted but also feeling hopeful.
But when I got to the class, there were a lot of people waiting to go in, a lot more than I’ve seen there before. It was also a different instructor and I suddenly wasn’t sure about it. I sat down on the chairs outside the studio and experienced a sensation of dizziness, just for a second. This then triggered other thoughts, which I know now weren’t true; it was anxiety talking. I can’t cope with the class. I don’t want to faint. I should have eaten more before I came out.
However, knowing this was anxiety I tried to push through it. It will be good for you. You’re here now, just go in. I went inside, but seeing all the mats (no floor space at all), outlines of all the people (not fully seeing them), I immediately turned round, out the door, and went to sit down again. I was debating what to do, and thought I would sit and wait until I felt better enough to walk home, or until I had gathered enough courage to walk into the class before it started (although I was running out of time for that).
With all this in my mind, the instructor then popped her head around the door.
“Are you on the waiting list?”
“No, I have a space, I’m just not sure if I’m going to come in.”
“Why not? Come on, I’ll see if you’re on the list, what’s your name?”
I followed, alongside her, sort of being swept along into the class.
Several other questions followed, in between them, I was answering “yes… no… mmm.” not really being given time to finish; not really being able to articulate a sentence anyway.
“Are you new to yoga? Did you get used to the other instructor? Have you done this class before?”
At one of the questions, my eyes suddenly started tingling and tearing up. Oh god, now I’m going to cry as well!
The instructor must have seen. “Let me get you a mat, and we’ll put it next to the door, in case you want to leave… and the thing about yoga is, if you find you can’t do a move, just have a lie down!”
I was grateful for her kindness. And I did the class. I did cope with it. It did help me.
At the end of the class, I thanked the instructor.
“Yes, there were a lot of people here weren’t there! I even felt like turning around and walking out when I first arrived!”
I didn’t believe her, but there was understanding there, and she was trying to lighten up the situation.
Even though I’m not always able to share experiences like the one above, and other (more) difficult situations, I know (as my dreams are suggesting) that I do need to find healthy ways of expressing my feelings.
I had a thought, as I typed this blog post: what is harder than having anxiety and depression?
Answer… trying to hide (even from yourself) that you have anxiety and depression.
I really hope that I can continue what I have started here; that I can write here to express my feelings; and that I can get over the fear of expressing my feelings in general.
Thank you to all the people who have supported me with opening up; every kind word and acceptance helps me reduce the fear a little bit more.
I’m writing again for the first time in weeks and it feels weird, a little scary, but I am enjoying the tap of my fingers on the keyboard because I have really missed it.
I have not felt able to write; there are things I could have shared but chose not to because I was too afraid.
But maybe… maybe today will be the day where I feel I can. Because it will explain why sometimes I blog again and again… and other times there is a great empty chasm of weeks or months where I don’t, won’t or can’t write (I don’t actually know which verb to use here).
The thing is that back in October I made a huge change in my life which in the short term has been really difficult, but hopefully in the long term will have a lasting positive effect, allowing me to move forward and experience more joy out of life 🙂
Back in October I began to accept that I suffer with depression and I started taking medication to help me with that.
(That just felt SO SCARY to write!)
The reason why I am finally sharing it on here is that this blog is so important to me; it’s as if writing is a part of me. By not allowing myself to write about the bad times as well as the good, it’s as if I’m pretending they don’t exist, as if I’m denying them. In doing so I am also not giving myself an outlet that may actually be helpful to myself (and potentially others too).
The blog is called Life Is Beautiful. And I believe that. But it doesn’t always seem beautiful. Sometimes it seems so hard, so exhausting, so painful.
Other times it is so joyful, so exciting, so uplifting.
There are good times and bad times in our lives. And I need to stop avoiding writing about the harder times. They happen. But we get through them.
I’m trying not to be afraid of them.
I’m feeling better, stronger, and after this blog post I feel as if I can write about ALL of me, and not just the parts I think are nice for others to read, but write about the parts I am afraid to share. Because if you are afraid of something… perhaps what you really need to do is… take a deep breath… and do it!
The Christmas period is coming to an end, and for me, personally, it has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. But, during this time, I have felt so much love from my family and friends. For that I am truly grateful.
In the last couple of years, for quite some time I had this feeling that some bad events had irrevocably changed me for the worse. I remembered the time when I used to be compassionate and willing to give much of my own time to help and listen to others. At school and university I had always been involved in voluntary work and it made me feel happy to help other people. But in the years after university, I sensed that I had gradually started to lose this compassion and, because of this, I felt that I had even lost a deep part of myself. Some difficult circumstances and my reaction to them seemed to cause a bitterness inside me, a deep unhappiness with myself and people I felt I should have been able to trust, perhaps also a latent anger.
I realised this had happened, not from consciously articulating it, but just because I had this very strange but strong feeling, even a visualisation, that my heart, which had once felt big, had shrunk and turned black, or turned to a small black stone.
I know that might sound crazy, but that’s the image I had.
I decided that I needed to try and change my heart back to its original size and colour. I tried to give more kindness by doing simple things, like making time to talk to others even when I thought I didn’t have time, by trying to speak in a nicer tone even when I felt stressed (although I didn’t always succeed at that!), by helping a grieving neighbour, by even letting myself not feel guilty about the fact I can’t help others as much as I used to because now I have a full-time job and I also have to make time to look after myself.
Later in the year, I think it was just before I moved house in August 2015, I had another visualisation about my heart (perhaps it was a dream or maybe just a mental image). The image was that my torso had a zip in it, which I unzipped, reached inside the darkness for my heart which I then took out in my hands, cupping it like a baby bird. Then I put it back inside. I felt that it was gold and glowing a whiteish light.
I don’t know why I had these mental images which seemed to really speak to me about what was going on with my feelings. After the second one, I sensed that I had started to heal the bitterness and that I was in control of how my heart looked or felt.
I don’t know how common this kind of thing is… but if you have ever also had a strong visualisation or a mental image that has really meant something to you, don’t be afraid to share it by commenting below or messaging me. I know that to others the mental images I had might sound weird or crazy, but perhaps they were actually very intuitive and trying to tell me something I needed to know. I am just curious if others have experienced this as well, so let me know if you can.
I hope that in 2016 I can keep being kind and compassionate, because it’s a part of myself that I don’t want to feel I have lost.