2017, Australia, Gay, Life, Thoughts

Family Ties.

My relationship with my immediate family has been strained of recent, if I can be honest. Moving away to a brand new country soon has made me anxious and nervous, and in all truth, my family haven’t really been as involved or supportive as I thought. There doesn’t seem to be much dialogue happening past the obligatory freak outs about me not being in the same town, or country any more. Mum carries on a treat, loses her cool and breaks down into what I see as melodrama, wishing I wasn’t going, simulating crying over the fact and generally lacking real empathy for me, or the fact that this is going to be the biggest, most difficult challenge I have ever had in my life.

 

I know she’s happy for me  but all she seems to want to say to me or display is the fact that I’ll be going perhaps indefinitely. She will mock-cry and moan, as though I have literally stabbed her. Typical Italian Catholic guilt tactic.. I wish she was more understanding and perhaps took more time out to see me. I get frustrated when I tell her we only have so much to go till we leave, yet we are never able to spend much time together. And when we do, it feels forced and it is always inevitable a short length of time. Maybe I’m just getting older, and have less connection with her, and same with my dad for that matter. The way I’m treated at times it’s as though I’m still 16, not 33. Perhaps if I was a straight man with a wife and a child things would be different. Perhaps I would be treated akin to those cousins I have with children and conventional marriages. More respect, and less sickly sweet condescension. I really don’t know. It just irks me and frustrates me when my mother feigns a breakdown, [albeit a very poorly acted out one] about how she’s never going to see me as much and how she’ll miss me. Not how happy and excited for me she is. It seems as though she doesn’t understand how much this hurts and how debilitating it is, and just makes me see clearer that my family and I really do have a tenuous relationship. I’m simply too far removed these days, in spirit and mind, and soon distance. I’m going to be very far away.

 

Maybe mum will be happy for me when I go. I hope so. Perhaps she’ll not take me for granted. I just wish she would just come see me even unannounced. I feel like this is a natural family occurrence, yet is something my family never does. I’m just as to blame for this. I would never just turn up at my sister’s door for a coffee. And neither would any of them. We’re just not that kind of family. We’re far too independent minded, our lives have simply grown apart, and the truth is we don’t need each other as much as we used to. It remains the fact that my only sibling, an older sister and I are getting older. We’re both in our 30’s, work hard, have partners and a social life outside of family. A life, in short. For me, it has taken a very long period of time to get to this point. I’m sad to leave it all behind, but I know I have to do this. My heart tells me that in my parents eyes, we will always be children that need them and depend on them. Especially so for my dad. I feel so much guilt at the thought that our relationship has grown strained and estranged. The harsh truth is that it has. I rarely see him. He has a way of making me see the bad parts of myself, glaringly and jarringly so. I know he wants what is best for me, but doesn’t get that I think I’m doing OK. He will straight up tell me what I’m doing wrong, why I don’t do something else instead and will do so in a condescending manner. He lectures me on the failings of my life every time I see him. And this makes me feel rather bad about myself. I tend to leave feeling deflated and spiraling into melancholy. It takes me so much energy and will to go see him, and every week I don’t my heart pangs with regret and guilt. I don’t know how much longer the guy will be about for. He’s getting on and isn’t the spry, energetic figure he once was in my adolescence. Hearing second or third hand about his plight and how he’s sad and suffering depression because he rarely sees his kids makes me feel terrible. I sometimes feel as though we shouldn’t even be a family at all because we are such disparate creatures.

 

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I imagine it will just get worse and worse, as I won’t be about for birthdays, Easters and Christmases and the like. I hope things can change.

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2017, Australia, Gay, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Bad Habits

A habit that I developed as a child and haven’t dropped is picking the skin off the side of my fingers. It upsets me to write this and say that for some perverse reason I enjoy doing this. I still can’t say why this is so, after pretty much two whole decades of doing it, and having fingers that bleed and are raw and sting with pain. Not to mention the fact that my fingers and hands look like, as my friend once described, ‘crackhead hands.’

It is an offputting habit. I know this. I every now and then will meet people for the first time and they may notice the state of my horrific bunged up fingers and say remark, usually ‘what happened to your fingers are you ok?’ or ‘Dooo you need a band-aid? Your finger’s bleeding.’

Yeh, I’m fine, don’t need that band-aid cheers I just have a lot of anxiety and neuroses that manifest themselves in this nasty literally self destructive habit that makes me bleed and feel pain.

Perhaps that’s the reason I do it, on some leavel maybe I enjoy this sort of pain. My soul is still in 2006 emo territory clearly. Or more correctly, it is simply a mechanism for coping with anxiety. Like a cat with bald patches that is over-grooming out of stress, I feel as though my habit in particular is borne of anxiety and stress.

Whenever something bad happens, whenever I feel stressed out and manic, I go for my fingers and start peeling back that skin and it feels glorious and I forget all about how scared and nervous and anxious I feel.

It’s all become an ersatz barometer of sorts; my husband will always be able to tell how I’m doing by the state of my fingers. He makes me feel like I’m back at school some days when we had uniform and grooming inspections by our teachers. Yes, I went to a private all boys school that was basically a holdout pocket-outpost of the British Empire, where boys had neat short hair, wore suits with piping, played Rugby or Cricket [Soccer was for the ethnic underclass of which I was a part of] and of course had immaculately shined leather shoes and cut fingernails. Just like my indomitable old school teachers he’ll demand to see my fingers, and he knows when I’ve been bad as I’ll be hesitant and act like one of those guilty dogs that have done something wrong on Youtube. He’ll berate me and I’ll promise to be better.

I’ve tried for years to stop this stupid behaviour and done so many different things in order to ward it off, or at least manage it. The latest was the Fidget Cube. A mighty invention indeed. A small cube that fits in your palm with all manner of fidget-busting tools such as a mini joystick, a plethora of buttons that go ‘click’ satisfyingly, a steel ball bearing you can run your thumb across. A soft pad to rest your thumb which lets you really click the shit out of these buttons. It really has it all and I was enthralled for a whole fortnight yet inevitably I’m back to pulling the skin off my fingers.

I know that I’ll put this terrible habit behind me one day, and that I will work on the root causes of this problem that has trans-mutated itself into a bad habit. Why do we have habits that are self-destructive? Why for some is it so easy to stop? Yet others in some context it is extremely difficult?

 

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Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Marriage Equality, Opinion

A Plebiscite Of Hate

This time about a week ago, I sat for an interview on a TV show called The Project, in New Zealand. I was asked out of the blue if I wanted to appear on it to talk about Marriage Equality, or the lack thereof in Australia, and how many of us, for whatever reason, have to fly across the ditch to New Zealand in order to do so.

 

It was one of the most challenging things I think I have ever done. It was a tough day, and a tough week. In one week, I received a visa to go live in the USA, had a funeral and then this. My social network feeds such as Facebook and Twitter were endless posts by friends and acquaintances regarding marriage equality. Each and every voice was pained, emotional, disappointed and bitter, with some angrier than others, yet more were dissenting and apathetic, yet others constructive and collaborative in tone. Day after day more posts, more articles and more dissension filled the space.

 

Suffice to say there was so much in my mind as the hosts [who were so lovely and sweet], asked me question after question.

 

I feel drained. I feel such nervousness and anxiety, which crescendoed last week at the end of the week. I also feel angry, in fact quite so. I cancelled out on my weekly Dungeons and Dragons game which is one of my highlights of my week as quite simply I was exhausted. I feel terrible having had to do this, but I really couldn’t see any other course of action being prudent. I feel like I’m wallowing in my own self pity with all of this, and so much of what has been happening has essentially equated to 1st world problems.

 

Imagine if I was 16 years old, and seeing all these opinions on this issue. Imagine being at your family home, and if like mine, you had parents who were conservative and whose father back then twenty years ago was vaguely homophobic. I was a kid in a household where dad ruled it with an iron fist. People only ever saw the jovial side of living with him, and I recall friends and relatives saying one and all that they wished that they lived in my house. But it wasn’t always so. Thinking back, he was a hard man at times, and his political and social views could be seen as just as problematic and unforgiving.

 

I guess I was always afraid that I was different. Now picture if you or I were this insecure kid today, with all of this arguing to and fro regarding this issue. It would probably drive me into the closet more so. I worry about the psychological impact all of this will have on us, and not just us but those coming to terms with sexuality, or kids of lgbtiq parents.

 

A postal plebiscite. It’s almost too much for me. I feel so plaintive in my emotional state, and I can feel it fast drying out, like a seasonal lake. Having to explain to the lovely hosts of this tv show how enraging it was that we had to go through this really reverberated in me. It feels like society for the most part in this country doesn’t want us to be happy, yet they will gladly take advantage of what our community gives to the greater society.

 

It’s been tough to explain to non-lgbtiq people why I am not on my game for the moment, or why many of us are suffering this malaise. It’s been hard not to snap at people at work. I wish I could explain to some how frustrating and upsetting and demoralising this has all been. I don’t want to play the victim but I really can’t help but feel lost.

 

And, this is exactly what the other side wants from you and I. They want us to be unfocused, sad, upset, confused. They want me and countless others to lose steam, to give up and flounder. They want us to cave in. They want us to fail. They have been given all the cards in this situation, yet in my heart I know they are on the wrong side of history. History is a harsh judge, and I know they will be judged harshly as the side of hatred, the side of backwardness and unyielding refusal for change.

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Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Being Present.

Being present feels like such a toxic wellness culture buzz phrase, along with the term ‘…journey’ or ‘centre-ing’ ones self.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good self-help book, article or podcast, but yeah sometimes it gets a bit too much even for me.

How do you define ‘being present’? It’s such an abstract and rather esoteric concept. Perhaps it means being mindful of the present and those around you in your current surroundings, as well as maybe not being in your own head too much, and letting your thoughts and internal monologue take over.

This is something that I seem to struggle with far too much. I let myself become overwrought and fatigued with thoughts and emotions and worries in my head which then leads me astray, I lose focus and or I get down and sad, which then is followed by wallowing in my own self pity. I miss out on whats happening around me as it manifests in social anxiety or being in my head too much. As many friends can attest, as it is simply so easy for me to decline going out in favour of staying home. Yet in doing this I stop and halt my growth in life. I need to learn to not let this happen, and I am at least becoming adept at recognising when this does. For example as I type this I am feeling anxiety. Anxiety over an upcoming trip overseas which I feel unprepared for, anxiety over moving overseas in a couple of months and again feeling unprepared, and anxiety at not seeing my parents enough lately, and how soon I may not for long stretches of time. I worry as I don’t know how long my dad will be around. I worry because I think of all the remaining logistics that need to be worked on and resolved before we pack our lives up and move to San Francisco. I worry about not being around my friends and loved ones and in my nice comfortable flat, and I worry and become anxious when thinking upon what I will be doing in San Francisco. In my mind, I have far too many channels of thought going on simultaneously. I think of it like an electronic circuit board, and how pulses of electricity run between all the different components near instantaneously. I have far too much in my mind currently, and it is getting more and more difficult to stem or even just divert some of this thought into positives and calming mantras.

I try to calm myself and negate this buzzing and internal monoluguing through several methods, or strategies and tactics as I like to think of them. As an avid strategy game lover, I tend to think in terms of strategic objectives and manouvres. Working on my mental health and being present is part of this. Some of these strategies including thought modification: the moment I hear that whisper of negativity and anxiety I need to recognize it, and tell it to simmer down and try to change that thought into something positive. Which is easier said than done. I hit the gym regularly, and have been for the last couple of years now, which has been an immense help in calming my nerves and lowering anxiety. I like to say that I go to the gym first and foremost for this reason, and most people don’t seem to believe me which is fine. It’s not all narcissism for me, rather it genuinely helps me become more ‘present’ and ‘centred’. Of course, it’s awesome to see the change in my body as well, and to have others remark. Some people swear by meditation, yet my meditative space is when I exercise and exert myself. As much as I despise the saying ‘My body is a temple’, I can glean the truth and wisdom that this saying imparts. You really have to take care of yourself physically, and the rest will follow. Like building a bridge or house or other structure, the support and foundation needs to be there to build upon. If it is not sturdy and strong, chances are it won’t stand tall and will collapse.

Writing as reflection has also been immensely helpful for me. Look at me now. I write almost daily, and reflect upon my thoughts. This helps me as a process to work through any issues and problems I have. And, in conjunction with it being a great exercise for mental health, I am practicing a craft that I am learning to love and have passion for, and I am [hopefully to you, dear reader], becoming more and more versed and skilled at framing my thoughts and communicating them to you. It really has helped me a lot. I keep coming back to this quite often with my blog, especially posts about my mental health, which are fast becoming the majority. Picking up a little Moleskin A6 journal which you can take about with you in a bag or even pocket if need be and regularly penning any thoughts and/or ideas and vexations can be so incredibly helpful. Sometimes there’s nothing nicer than taking my journal out to a park and sitting in the sun and just writing for even 5 minutes, and letting the sun’s warmth wash over me, and surrounding myself in the smells and sounds. I’ve been journaling for about 7 years now. Pretty much since meeting Adrian. The journals over time have gotten dark, and back to light. It’s almost as though a film transitions from grey monochrome to vivid Technicolor. Don’t worry, I still have my grim and dire days. Yet it’s a great tool and method to get through your bad times. By penning your thoughts, they become real and alive, yet it also as though you’re giving them a finality, as though you’re saying to these negative thoughts. ‘Ok, I’ve created you, put you down in my book, and now it’s time for you to go’. Every day I write I feel a bit better, and a bit more present and aware.

Being present for me equates to being mindful, empathetic and taking full advantage of your life, and not letting it simply run through you. I have to remind myself to let those thoughts out of my head and simply love the day, no matter how mundane it is or how difficult I find it.

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2017, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Snap The F*ck Out Of it.

I’ve felt like absolute shit over the last day. Things inevitably tend to fall apart as the unyielding sadness yet again washes over me like a wave. Despite my best efforts at consciously and thoughtfully rallying myself against this tide, I’m swept in among it. Awash in this deluge of melancholia, yet again. And yet again, it wins and takes me away.

I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I was having such a great weekend, and a couple things happened which made me crumple and disassemble into a mess of tears, uncontrollable sobbing and ragged breathing. I’m not really going to divulge on the schematics of what caused me to feel this way, all that you need to know is that my emotions have been running quite high, as well as my anxiety levels and a couple events really helped sparked it off. I really and honestly thought I was far past all of this. As though I had finally reclaimed a part of myself. It seems as though this great sadness can so easily cause my undoing, and that this is something that will quite possibly in my mind always be hanging around for the entirety of my existence.

Sometimes I listen to Ru Paul’s podcast with Michelle Visage, mainly it’s simply those two cackling away in delight [which in truth is really quite fun to listen to], yet at times they delve into more serious and consequential issues such as mental health and well-being. Both characters, like many in the entertainment industry, and therefore by consequence in life, are involved heavily in the idea of self improvement. Michelle Visage is all about therapy and doing whatever is necessary to stay well. Ru has this zen-like affinity with bettering oneself, and is quick to dispense advice on what to read, how to be mindful of yourself and others, or what to do when you get down. Ru talks quite a bit about this concept of the ‘inner saboteur’, which yeah, I still find so horribly cliche and silly, yet there’s a grain of truth to this idea of the inner saboteur. Each of us, and some far more than others, have this ‘inner saboteur’ whose sole objective is to tear us down and crumple. It’s that voice in the mind that says you’re never good enough. Ru’s advice that is imparted is to not let that voice dictate your reality; to not let it take over.

‘I see what you’re doing, and I’m not going to let you do this,’ Ru mentions a number of times across a few of these podcasts. It’s just something recently that has made me pause and reflect.

It’s easier said than done, not letting that little voice inside your head ruin everything. It takes a lot of strength to fight it and cast it aside, and to give it no attention lest that attention feeds it and it becomes engorged on this attention and grows. Recently I find myself able to brace myself against this voice, yet this time I failed. It was just too hard I guess.

I need someone to tell me to snap the fuck out of it, truth be told.

I reached out to Twitter which has helped me quite a bit. Like the gifs I got sent, I need Cher in Moonstruck to slap me and tell me to snap out of it, and that grand doyenne who embodies a larger than life, go-getter personage, Gina Liano of Real Housewives of Melbourne [a show I have ZERO interest in besides the scene I’m about to describe], in her hair and makeup and busty as all hell to scream ‘SNAP THE FUCK OUT OF IT’ to me, over and over again.

I really do have to just snap the fuck out of it.

This needs to be an internal mantra for me. I have so much going for me. I have a lot to be grateful for. I hate typing these words as they seem so so very self involved and arrogant. Saying to yourself to be grateful for what you have feels so bizarre and artificial, yet it seems to be the truth. I really hate the whole burgeoning ‘welness culture’ that has come to the fore in recent times. I worry about the intention of this kind of rhetoric, and whether it is genuine or not. And this is part of the issue. I’m so far gone down the path of self hatred that I can’t see the wood for the trees. I need to not let my own worst enemy, myself, get the better of me. I need to be more aware of this ‘inner saboteur’ [and I still feel ridiculous even typing that phrase], and shut it out when I hear that voice of dark nihilism fill the void.

I also need people around me to tell this to me as well. I need someone to pretty much slap me and be hard on me. Which is what my tweet was great for. Kinda like that character from Bridesmaids played by Melissa Mcarthy. You know the one. She steals all the puppies from the bridal shower and comes over to visit Kristen Wiig’s character, tells her to get over it and pounces on her and starts hitting her and saying ‘this is life you need to fight!’

Annie: I can’t get off the couch, I got fired from my job, I got kicked out of my apartment, I can’t pay any of my bills, my car is a piece of shit, I don’t have any friends. Umm…

Megan: You know what I find interesting about that Annie, it’s interesting to me that you have no friends, you know why that’s interesting? Here’s a friend standing directly in front of you trying to talk to you and you choose to talk about the fact that you don’t have any friends. No, No I don’t think you want any help you just want to have a little pity party. I think Annie wants a little pity party. You’re an asshole Annie, you’re an asshole, I’m life, is life bothering you Annie? I’m life Annie, I’m life Annie, is life bothering you? Fight back for your life. You better learn to fight for your life. I’m life and I’m going to bite you in the ass. It’s not me, I’m your life. I’m trying to get you to fight for your shitty life. And you won’t do it, you just won’t do it. Stop slapping yourself, I’m your life Annie, I’m your shitty life. Smack. Nice hit.”

This one scene in this picture spoke so much to me. Megan’s right. Life can bother us, and bite us in the ass.

Wallowing can only do so much, and it can cause more pain in the long run. We do need to fight for our lives no matter how shitty we see it, otherwise we sit and wallow in a pity party. I need my Melissa Mcarthy character to set me right.

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2017

Family

I can’t actually remember the last time my immediate family were together, it’s been that long. My parents divorced in 2003, which is now a decade and a half ago, if you can believe that. It feels like forever ago as well, the fateful days when I was in my early twenties, living without a care on my own, working weekends at my uncle’s restaurant and studying at uni during the week feeling far removed from life presently. I feel as though I didn’t spend my days well back then, and now I’m frantically back pedalling for lost time.

So, it’s been a very long time since my immediate family were even in the same 3 kilometer radius, let alone together in the same room. I think, if memory serves, it was in 2009.

A sole 3 weeks after Adrian and I started dating.

One night, after what could only have been described as a romance-filled, sweet evening of walking around the city to see the Vivid festival [the first one held mind you, which was much more of a simple, art-student affair than the multi-million dollar event it is these days]; we came back home and were accosted by someone who followed us from the train station on the street where I was living at the time at my dad’s place.

Long story short, I ended up in Concord Hospital in quite possibly the most acute pain I have ever felt right up to this day. My jaw was smashed. I had black eyes which meant I wasn’t able to see very well. Blood was gushing out of my face, and the only way to stop it was clamping my broken jaw down on to gauze in an attempt to stem the flow.

I still remember clearly the sensation of my teeth not being in a neat row. I could move my broken jaw like tectonic plates. The sensation of this is something that still makes me recoil slightly. They rubbed up and down each other. One side was much higher than the other, as I probed it with my blood-sodden tongue. It was a clean break right through my jaw bone. Still to this day the left-hand side of my jaw doesn’t clamp together quite as uniformly as they once did, and I will permanently have a strange tingling sensation on the left side of my lips and lower left hand side of my face. Especially in the morning when I wake up, for some reason.

It’s funny how quickly, simply and with even some degree of finesse and elegance one’s life can change in such complete finality. I was bisected. The night before this incident was one of the most enjoyable and love-filled I had experienced yet. The remainder of the night was crushing, traumatic and filled with an absolution of dolorous pain and disbelief. Similarly, I feel as though my life has been bisected into -pre and -post periods. The post me became a much more wary, distrusting and introverted character than its ‘-pre’ forerunner.

This is the rather dour context that would have been the last time my immediate family and I were together, in a cold and austere patient ward in a run-down ramshackle hospital. It took me being assaulted and being hospitalized for a week for my parents to be even in the same room together, even if only for a brief period of time, namely, under an hour.

The mood was stark, uncomfortable and bare. Like the hospital room, the general tone was devoid of anything warm or decorative. There was a lack of love or closeness or any affection at all. Tension pervaded the very air.

Very little was spoken about, and what conversation or even communication was minimal, necessary and bizarrely efficient. My parents had no volition to be there at all. I was the only reason they were persevering with this experience.  Since this uncomfortable and necessary collaboration, I think my parents have only had minimal contact when absolutely necessary, and even then it seems brief and only to the point.

Family for me then has become a concept of receding and vestigial importance. A wave rolling back out into the ocean after crashing on to the shore. At least with regards to blood ties. I feel as though my friends are now more familial and close to my soul than my own family. They know me well. This hurts me to say, but I don’t think I trust my parents or would be able to count on them if things went awry. And this is ok. I’ve become a fiercely independent creature, something which was first seeded and incubated that day when I was 20, and told my parents I was moving out, with literally just my mattress clenched in my arm.

Definitions of family and familial love differ for everyone, I’m extremely lucky to have had a family at all, not to mention a roof over my head. Yet there was a definite strain in my family since I was a youngster. A sense that all was not right, and that an invisible expiry date was stamped on us. Which turned out to be true.

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2017, Australia, Gayblog, Uncategorized

Anxious Anxious Me.

Anxious Anxious Me.

It strikes me without warning, so completely, and without any rhyme or reason. Tension and tightness  clamps my chest, my breathing quickens and becomes faster, shallow and less able to convey oxygen into my lungs. My skin sweats and shortly perspires and clams up. My face clearly changes, as does my demeanour. Shoulders might slump. Posture diminishes as an outward sign of feeling crumpled. My confidence shatters and dives. Coworkers, friends and family can clearly see me struggling. I wish I could explain how it feels, or what I feel at this moment.

I still can’t tell you where this sense of impending anxiety comes from. It just appears out of nowhere. I can’t say why one day I feel great, alive and invigorated and yet the very next flat, barely able to do simple tasks and full of internal monologue. I wake up on days like today and my heart feels as though it’s racing, barely restrained within me. I feel paranoid, wary and on guard, despite the fact that I have done nothing wrong, and have no guilt over anything as again, I can’t think of anything that I could have possibly done to make me feel this way. Is it because of worries in life? Work problems, family issues or problems with other loved ones? Did I get this nervousness from my mother?

There’s literally no real reason for me to have this anxiety which creeps around every few months. Life for me is good. I don’t suffer from want for anything. I work in a decent job, I have a great boyfriend and can afford my rent. So there’s plenty to feel grateful for. Perhaps it’s more the fact that I self-assess constantly. Maybe my overt self-examining of life leads me to consider myself unworthy, which then leads to anxiety attacks. It might strike me in the morning when I wake up. I may have had a great, restful sleep yet regardless, wake up with a sense of dread and fear.

Fight Or Flight

An instinct for me when I do get anxious and suffer an anxiety attack no matter how minor is that base bodily instinct, hard-wired into our biology, that of ‘Fight Or Flight‘. I’ll have to decide then and there whether I can fend off these feelings and attempt to modify my thoughts, regulate breathing and simply place it out of my mind and get on with my day or simply pack it in and find the nearest exit. It’s almost like a giant lever in my mind that cuts power. Or those old brakes made of cable that would hang above passengers in old steam trains you see in old movies that would activate the brakes. During these episodes, nothing is more attractive to me than being at home in my bed with the covers over me. My bed becomes the Starship Enterprise and my doona Deflector Shields impervious to all. Nothing can get through. All I want is to disappear for the day.

In the past, during these attacks, I have physically been unable to carry on with my day. I recall one instance whilst working at my previous workplace. I would usually catch the train in the morning. On one of these days commuting to work, I got off the train at the nearest station: a busy station close to the city airport. There were people bustling about in their morning commutes, tumbling out of packed trains, piling into further full trains, and herding themselves towards the exit turnstiles. The rumble of voices and footsteps echoing the large and imposing chamber-like walls of the station. I’ll never forget this day as I filed in line and shuffled into the herd-like crowd towards the turnstiles. I decided to pull back and wait for the crowds to process through the exits.

And that’s the moment it struck. My heart began to race, my skin began to sweat. I could feel the muscles in my face tensing and transforming my relatively calm face into one of worry and fear. I could remember thinking to myself, over and over: ‘I can’t do this today. It’s not possible. I need to get out. I need my own space.’ I felt like I was in a rather bleak Haruki Murakami moment. I could either press on into the crowd and through the exit and onto work, or escape. My instincts kicked in and I chose escape. I turned myself around, pale-faced and wide-eyed, and almost without any thought, floated back to the platforms, caught the train and before I could recall, I was home.  I became a ghost and disappeared out of there. An apologetic text was sent to my work, but the truth is, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face the day. I couldn’t be at work facing unhappy customers and mean demanding managers who misunderstood me. I needed that time to myself to have some silence and peace at home.

A part of me hates that I harp on about this subject. I know it can all be construed as something akin to whingeing and whining. I know I can come across as moody and brooding. I used to love the fact that I was seen as this. I would thrive off it. But I find confronting and writing about my ailments, problems and issues such as anxiety acts as a salve or healing agent, and these days I aim to be as open with myself as I can be. Sometimes it’s easier for me to express feelings this way as opposed to conversing. However, I always feel orders of magnitude better afterwards.

Misconception.

If there is one thing that I want to impart upon you, dear reader, is that if you do come across someone like me who visibly suffers from panic attacks or anxiety, don’t misconstrue them as being unfriendly, depressed all the time or negative. Understand that it’s not something they or myself choose to have happen. Maybe be genuine and ask if everything is alright. If that person can talk about it comfortably, let them. If not, perhaps give them some space. Let them have their time. If you manage someone who is prone to anxiety don’t be surprised or upset if they need to take a day off or leave early. If you have a friend that maybe isn’t coping with being out somewhere busy like a pub or club, don’t be surprised if they too ghost out of there. Sometimes a quiet environment and a moment of tranquility is needed. It’s just a period of time for this person to realign themselves. Just don’t think that this person is pissed off, doesn’t like you or thinks the world is out to get them.

It’s a simple thing to assume and have misconceptions. About anything, really. People, places, beliefs and ideology for instance. The concurrent thread through all of this is ignorance. Lack of information and experience creates ignorance which then bleeds contempt and misunderstanding. Whereas knowledge creates the opposite. Be kind to your wide-eyed anxious person that you know.

 

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