“Forest Bathing in Cardiff: The Ultimate Stress Reliever ”
Normally, you’ll find me walking down the road screeching at a puppy, in the middle of the dancefloor, reading something, or taking a photo of someone. I will 97.5% of the time be naked/drinking red wine, but I will mainly be sporting a supercilious smile.
On Friday night, after I said to a friend “You’re off your tits, love!” (A common phrase of endearment), a guy came up to me and said, “So are you!”
I replied, “I’ve had one glass of wine.”… Because I had.
“I want what you’ve got!”
I smiled politely, but I wanted to say, actually, I haven’t ‘got’ anything, other than my best mates and a few lemons life has thrown me, and this is my attempt to juggle them.
This got me thinking for a blog. Social media allows us to follow people with idyllic lifestyles, and we live in a world whereby constant comparison and longing is at a double tap of a screen. But we’re not seeing the full 360. It’s a flat line. There’s no shaded full-circle.
“ Having the right to not always be as happy as our mate Larry – it’s a thing. ”
Someone a few weeks ago said, “You have a perfect life.” Once again I smiled, and to some degree I agree. I am such a lucky person, and it’s imperative to be grateful – I’m pretty sure if my friend found a screwed up piece of paper and said ‘I thought of you’, I’d cry, think it’s the most amazing thing, Instagram it and have it boxed framed hanging above my mantelpiece for the rest of my life. I am a positive girl.
But at that moment I wanted to scream. I’ve just written off a car in a car crash and lost my first doggy. Various other things have left my heart a little squished and swollen, a little unsatisfied; a woolen jumper misshaped from the first wash. The majority of my best friends are abroad and I’ve moved in to a new place alone. This isn’t a terrible life, far from it, but it’s still hurting. I also have severe anxiety, which doesn’t mean I get nervous, it means it takes over. And right now it’s reared its ugly head.
SO, this blog is to reiterate and to bring awareness that the ‘smiley one’ has her hardships, too. I will also protest that the anxious person isn’t always curled up in a ball, and that you should not compare your life to others-appreciate what you have.
No life is perfect. Moments are. Some may have more than others, and some may actively seek more than others. But don’t ‘wish you had what they have’. No one’s shit smells of Roses. When you see someone and you think, “They’ve got it.” They haven’t. There is no superwoman. There is no miracle. There are flaws. Anxiety is mine.
“ This isn’t a terrible life, far from it, but it’s still hurting. I also have severe anxiety, which doesn’t mean I get nervous, it means it takes over. And right now it’s reared its ugly head. ”
SO WHAT IS IT LIKE?
It’s the equivalent to a disastrously annoying twat banging a tambourine above your head on the worst come down of your life. Eloquent HJ, try again…
For me, and it is different for everyone, over the past 10 years it has taken the back seat, and when things go wrong, it can flare up.
Imagine drowning. But the water is anxious thoughts. You try to smile, chat and do things as normal, but the water seeps through your mouth and makes it harder to swim. It gets in your ears and makes it harder to hear what’s really going on. You just have to shut your mouth and tread water and kick really hard until you reach ‘the surface’ (rationale thinking) again…Phew. That was deep. Does it make sense?
It makes me forgetful, makes it hard to let go. Chronic fatigue. Headaches. Tears. It trains your brain to constantly think the worst. Let’s use an example:
Every day things, like transport. I was on a train the other day and it kept stopping due to ’technical difficulties’ which I have come to realise is a cover up for Great Western Railway being more incompetent than me with a hangover. For reasons unknown, I decided to get nervous about why it kept stopping.
**Jesus Christ. Here we go again**
Heart rate increases, sweaty hands, short breath, fidgety feet, irrational thoughts. It was JUST a train journey. I know this deep down. So when I got off, I wanted to carry on my evening as normal. I JUSTWANTEDTOGOFROM A TO B (typically house to pub…) It’s exhausting, a reason why I never take for granted every other day when I just get on a train.
Other reactions can be to lose appetite, feel sick, and a dryer mouth than an Arabians flip-flop. Sometimes you are sick. You worry excessively about the safety & health of everyone you love. I can shake. I sleep a lot less.
But the worst thing it can do to me is take away my smile for a while, which goes against everything I live for…Happiness.
And if there is one thing I am constantly complimented on, it’s my smile. So when that goes, I lose my identity. I am entirely lost.
Breathe. Inhale the calm. Exhale the chaos.
“ There is no superwoman. There is no miracle. There are flaws. Anxiety is mine. ”
The deal is: I am not ‘HJ with anxiety’ I am ‘HJ that has anxiety’. Read those again. The key word is ‘with’. I am not ‘with’ it, I do not stand by its side and I choose for it not to define me. I am perfectly fine the majority of the time.
I want to constantly push my limits. To tightrope on the edge of life, and so I do. With an anxious disposition, it is harder to do than your average, but it doesn’t stop me loving the adventure – In fact, I’ll probably love it more. Trust me. You don’t understand the beauty of a sunrise until you’ve sat in storm that’s drenched you.
Of course, I could sit at home if I wanted to, watch X factor and take minimal risks. But for me that’s living. That’s not being alive. I want to climb mountains, jump out of planes, visit every pocket on earth, fall in love with everyone, taste everything and always try ’the new’. I want a full life. And so I have one.
When I’m not overly anxious, I am not being overdramatic about the good times. When I say my favourite line: ‘This is the best day of my life.’ I mean it, and I probably last said that eating an average-at-best sandwich from Tesco. I do not need to be told how to do life, or how to enjoy it; I don’t just walk to work, I walk to work and think how beautiful the clouds are, how my clothes feel nice on my skin, how lovely that person was to smile at me, how pretty the sound is when the wind rustles the leaves, how lucky we are to be here…And then after all that fluffiness, I somehow find my way to my desk.
When you’re made like this, the pressure to constantly smile is huge because as soon as you don’t, you get the ‘What’s wrong with you?!’ But sometimes heavy rain clouds happen all at once and you don’t have time to recover. Sometimes you need to cry. That really frustrates me, but you have to let yourself.
I have an amazing network of friends and family that don’t need reminding, but this blog is to raise awareness that the happiest people have tough times. Remember to be there for them too.
I’m asking you to also obliterate the stigma of an anxious person & the envy towards the happy person. Anxious people are not always the people trapped in the corner. Sometimes they are the ones in the middle of the dancefloor having the time of their life.
And perhaps the person with an extraordinary smile has it for a reason. Perhaps they’ve worked hard. Respect that they’re just human too.
Do not just be there for the person in the curled up ball, at times you need to be there for the girl grinding in the middle of the dancefloor with her legs going everywhere, wearing mainly her drink and that supercilious smile…
Having the right to not always be as happy as our mate Larry – it’s a thing.
Written by Hannah - Jayne Smith, 9 months ago