Disheartened

Lately it seems like every time I try to get ahead, this adult life just keeps dragging me back. I’m living week to week, barely scraping though and hoarding every cent. I pay one bill, three more arrive in my email. I can’t even contribute to the everyday living costs at home yet, because I’m just not earning enough right now. The drama lies in breaking my lease. See, I’m paying rent on a house I don’t even live in anymore, and despite the rental demand, apparently the real estate agent and/or landlord ‘haven’t found a suitable tenant’. The house, mind you, has been on the market for five weeks. Five. Fucking. Weeks.

I’ve been travelling two hours each way to this house I used to call my home, scrambling to get everything done before I had to hand the keys back. I cleaned the entire house three weeks back, and moved everything out into a storage shed two weeks ago. The yard is the final thing, and I went back last week to try and finish it. I didn’t finish it, and have no more time. So now, I have to pay for a gardener to come in and complete it. Which is another cost to add to the every growing list. And still, they haven’t found someone to take over the lease. They’ve had inspections aplenty, because they email me and text me every time they do. So I find it very difficult to believe that they haven’t found someone suitable in over a month. Personally, I think they’re just biding their time because they know legally I have to keep paying rent until someone else moves in. So I expect to be paying rent on this house until well into next year.

It seems every time I move away from my home town, things go spectacularly wrong. Things were bad when I lived in the city, things turned sour when I moved to this new town. I just keep coming back to my home town, time and time again. Part of me wonders if I’m being drawn back for a reason, and another part of me is screaming that I am in charge of my own…fate, if you will. Whatever the reason, I think it’s gonna be a while before I’m brave enough to move away again.

The truth is, I’m just feeling really disheartened lately. For a myriad of reasons, not least being that I feel like I’m being a burden to my dad, who I’ve moved back in with, and the fact that I just can’t seem to catch up. I need a break in my bad luck. I’m not even talking winning the lottery, I’d just like to be able to get some sleep instead of lying awake because I’m so anxious. Or for the real estate to email me today and say they’ve found a tenant. Or, let’s be real, winning the lottery would be kind of awesome.

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Alone at a Wedding

It’s official. My life has finally become a bad comedy for real.

Yesterday my friend got married. I was invited to the wedding sans a plus one, because I don’t have a significant other. But I knew that another couple from our old work place were invited, and I always got on with them very well, so I knew I would have someone to sit with, and talk to.

So when yesterday arrived, I got myself dolled up and drove an hour to the venue. I got there and gave my friend a hug (I’m not usually a hugger, but I made an exception because it was his wedding, duh). Then he said the words that made my heart sink. Our other work friends weren’t coming. I didn’t know a single other person besides the bride and groom. I was very much alone, in a room full of strangers. Aaaaand cue my social anxiety.

The ceremony was fine; short and sweet. The bride looked lovely in a simple, yet elegant dress of tulle and lace. The venue itself was a school camp, and despite my initial thoughts upon hearing that, it was actually quite a lovely spot. During all that talking, it was ok to sit there quietly, alone. Afterwards, whilst the bridal party did all the official stuff, another guest came to sit with me and we started chatting. As it turns out, her cousin actually runs the networking event that I attended a few months ago, and we had a laugh about a few remembered moments from the night in question. She was quite a character, and I enjoyed talking with her. But when it came time to go inside for dinner, she and her husband were seated far away from me, and I was put on a table with a bunch of middle aged strangers.

The meals were brought out – a serve yourself kind of deal, with roast meat and vegetables – but my stomach was churning and I was unable to eat. Which of course only served to draw unwanted attention, as people questioned why I wasn’t eating, and then cast sideways glances at me while they all conversed. I could read the looks on their faces, and practically hear them thinking how strange and rude I was. I attempted conversation with a few guests at my table, but none were particularly interested and I fell into sitting in silence.

My friend did come to chat to me a few times, but it was his wedding and he had many other people to talk to, so I didn’t want to monopolize his time. A couple of the groomsmen also came to chat a little, but for the most part I sat there very much alone, one of the few single people in a room of couples, and groups of friends. Am I glad I went, to celebrate the wedding for my friend? Yes. Did my solo presence stick out like the proverbial sore thumb? Absolutely. Was I acutely uncomfortable and anxious? You bet your ass I was.

Weddings are not traditionally events that one attends alone. They are a celebration of the very nature of being in a relationship. And there I was, sitting like the loser in every bad comedy you’ve ever watched. The only difference is that my actual life doesn’t come with that story arc and happy ending!

Honestly, it was a lovely wedding and I’m so very happy for my friend and his new bride. But I don’t think I’d be in a hurry to repeat the experience.

Behind Closed Doors

I almost started this post with “the problem with anxiety and depression is…” but the truth is, there isn’t just one problem. There’s about five billion. So, let’s begin again.

When an outgoing and gregarious friend unexpectedly tells you that they’ve been to see someone about anxiety and depression, it kind of knocks you for six. It’s easy, you see, to look at someone’s outward personality and assume everything is ok. It’s easier still, to not even consider the possibility that they may not be ok, because they’re not the kind of person you readily associate with the black cloud of mental illness.

Anxiety and depression can affect anyone. In fact, statistics show show that 1 in 4 Australians will experience anxiety, whilst 1 in 6 will experience depression at some point in their lives. That’s a fucking lot of people. And, unlike a physical ailment that can be fixed with a bandaid, mental illness is not so easily remedied. It’s all consuming and bleak and confronting, and there’s no easy fix.

I’m a ‘suffer in silence’ kind of person in most aspects of my life, so I can understand why it’s easier to pretend things are ok than to tell people that you’re having a difficult time. Why it’s easier to lock the bad things behind a door and pretend it doesn’t exist than talk about it, or face the hard reality of it. And that’s why it’s never a good idea to simply assume that someone is ok.

Ask. Check in. Be there to lend a shoulder, or an ear, or to just sit in silence. Because you never know what’s going on behind closed doors.

Little Anxieties, and Experiencing Life

I don’t have anxiety. Not in the diagnosed sense, and not warranting any kind of medication to alleviate. What I do have are moments of anxiety, which I think everyone has. Having anxious feelings is surely part of the emotional spectrum that comes with just being human, right? Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and how those little moments of anxiety affect the decisions I make. Or don’t make, such as it is.

If someone were to give it a name, at a stretch it could be said that I have a mild social anxiety. Being in unfamiliar situations makes me uncomfortable, and I’m rarely content around other people, particularly those that I don’t know. Large crowds – and small ones – have a tendency to make me nervous, and I am much happier just hanging out with a small handful of people that I know, and have spent time with before.

I was thinking about my holiday. Except for the two nights I hung out with my friends that live in Tassie, I spent my nights in the motel room, watching The Knick, or writing, or sewing. And that in itself isn’t a bad thing. But all I ate for dinner in the motel during that week, was crackers and dip. I know, I am a poor excuse for an adult. The thing was, the microwave in the room nearly exploded the first night I was there, so I couldn’t heat anything. And in my defence, I really did try to get proper food for dinner. But every time, I was thwarted by crowds.

I made trips in to the city centre for food four times. Four times I looked up places to eat, or got a recommendation. And four times, I went in my car and navigated my way there. And four times, I couldn’t face the front door without unease. The fish and chip place on the wharf was so packed with people that I got in my car and turned right around as soon as I found a parking space. Similar situation with the pizza place I tried the second night. And the supposedly excellent Italian restaurant that offered takeaway was closed when I went to check. It was only on my last night in Hobart that I actually succeeded. I put aside my nerves, walked right into the pizza place I had tried earlier in the week and made an order. And I ended up back in the motel room with one of the nicest (if priciest) pizzas I have ever eaten.

I do a similar thing when I eat at restaurants that I’ve never been to before, with an unfamiliar menu. For example, whenever I have Asian food with friends, I tell them to order me something because I have a terrible fear of pronouncing something wrong and making a dick of myself. It’s only when I become familiar with a place that I start to order things for myself. I’m not a big fan of ordering drinks at a bar, and I’m the absolute worst when it comes to making decisions when I’m around other people. And off the food topic, there have been many times when I have wanted to check something out, or do an activity, and have ended up leaving it because I can’t face up to doing something unknown on my own.

I feel like I am probably missing out on a lot of cool things, simply because I get myself too worked up into a state of nerves at the prospect of potentially making a fool of myself. And the thing is, that’s all entirely in my own head. That fear of being judged for doing or saying something wrong is completely unfounded, and I am aware of that. Most people aren’t even paying me any attention, much less watching to see if I make a mistake. But I can’t seem to get past that momentary anxiety in the moment. I need to take a leaf out of my best friend’s book. He is going on a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia in May, and we are discussing his trip via text as I write. It’s going to be a total culture shock, and he has already planned all the awesome things he is going to do. It is going to be a completely new experience for him, and instead of standing on the precipice of mild discomfort at the thought of all that different, he is going to throw himself wholeheartedly into it. And rightly so!

Don’t get me wrong, I love new things. I love trying different food, and exploring different places, and finding out what different things result in the best orgasm. I do a lot of day trips on my own when I get the time, and indeed my trip to Tasmania was a solitary one. But I think I allow my small anxieties to get in the way of having really fulfilling experiences. And I would like to change that. When he first mentioned he had booked his trip, my friend asked if I would go to Vietnam (at some point, not to join him on his trip) and I said, honestly, that I would. Because as I said, I love having new and different and exciting experiences. But I think, despite being a pretty solitary person in general, that overseas travel is something I would like to do – at least at first – with someone else. Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that a life lived in fear is not really a life fully lived. After all, how can one really enjoy all the wonderful things life has to offer, if one is too busy being nervous about the unfamiliar?

I’m not big on personality overhauls, mostly because I think it’s impossible to change who you are. But there’s nothing wrong or impossible about changing smaller aspects of your personality. So I’m setting a goal for myself. My trip to Tasmania was the start, but I want to do things, without my moments of anxiety stopping me. I am going to try and do things outside of my comfort zone; really put myself out there, and throw myself into life’s experiences. My best friend has inspired me, so I’m gonna make him proud. You watch, I’ll be a thrill seeker in no time!

Tiny Positivity in an Otherwise Miserable Fortnight

My life is in the midst of falling spectacularly to pieces. I haven’t even been living in the city for a month, and already I’m missing home. And you know things are bad when I actually miss the town that had me feeling so stunted and stuck. I can’t work out if it’s just the adjustment period, or the bad headspace, or if it’s the combination of all the little things that have built up and turned into something so much bigger. Perhaps all of these things together attribute to this mess of mine.

It’s been a bad couple of weeks. I’ve been waking up every day to a wretched combination of existential dread, and depression, and it makes getting out of bed exponentially harder. I can’t shake it, so instead I have to go to work and feign normality and if not outright happiness, then at least some modicum of mild contentment. This week they finally got me into my new shop, which should have been awesome. But after a few days of drama, unnecessarily irate customers, the worst set up in the history of shop openings, and technical difficulties that make my job incredibly complicated and inconvenient, I can’t say it’s been a super thrilling ride thus far. The plus side is that the shop is new, I’m working on my own, and I can set it up how I like. The downside is that a franchisee if buying it in November, which means all my hard work is for the benefit of someone else. And to make matters worse, I just got out of the creepy, poorly organised shop that messes with my head and had me in tears last week, only to be told that when the franchisee takes over, they’ll put me back there six days a week. My increasingly fragile mental state might not be able to take it.

And then there’s those technical difficulties I mentioned. In addition to the troubles at work, a couple of weeks ago my laptop decided to stop cooperating. The dreaded black screen of death reared it’s ugly head, and I’m left with a laptop full of writing that I can’t access. It’s frustrating, especially for a creative person like me, who relies on being able to create to keep herself sane. My best friend/hero/emotional saviour is sending me a laptop to keep me going, so I have that to look forward to. I just have to work out a way to extract my hard drive from my poor defeated Atticus so that I can salvage my work. And if that wasn’t enough, yesterday my phone died with the same problem. With no explanation, it simply refused to turn on past a blank screen. So there goes all my photos, recordings, messages and phone numbers. I spent a larger portion of yesterday trying to set up a new phone but the inconvenience was certainly enough to make me throw my hands up in frustration.

In amongst all of this is trying to navigate the city (I’ve been lost a lot), working out how to happily live with someone else, trying to organise my one day off into some small measure of productivity and the underlying anxiety about uprooting my entire life for the possibility of something better that had, thus far, been very far from my expectation.

But despite all this, there is some light ahead. I woke up today and for the first time in two weeks, I didn’t feel like burying my head under the covers and hiding forever. The sun is out and there’s a real feel of spring in the air today. A hint of positivity peeked out from where it had been hiding and I am ready to tackle this day, and anything that comes with it. I’m hoping that this is the start of an upward curve. No pressure, Little Positivity. You just get me through today and I’ll be content.

Anxiety and the Unknown

I’ve just returned from a three day stint in Sydney for training for my job. And it was one of the worst experiences I’ve had in recent months. But not so much because of the job, or the training. Rather, the reason this trip rates in my top five most awful situations in recent times is because of the sheer level of anxiety that was involved.

I have known I was set to go and do the training from the very first day I worked. It was explained to me in the beginning; two assessments, one done in the shop and one done in Sydney. The shop assessment was piss easy, and I breezed through it like a dream. This time however, the impending assessment felt like a heavy weight chained to my ankles, and it was slowly but surely dragging me down into pits of anxiety and depression. And, like a stone into a pond, it had a ripple affect that stretched to unrelated aspects of my life.

My boss kept telling me ‘you will be fine, I’ve seen your work and it’s good, don’t stress’. Ha, sorry dude but it’s not as easy as that. I had myself worked up in such a state of anxiety that I actually seriously contemplated injuring my right hand so that engraving would be impossible and I would get a stay of execution. Suffice to say, I didn’t go that far but I got pretty close. And the scary thing about it is how seriously that anxiety affected me.

The closer the assessment date got, the more miserable and nervous I became. My sleep became more erratic. My interest in everything waned. I was subsequently overly emotional and I cried enough to fill an ocean. And I kind of took it out on my best friend a bit, and that made me feel even worse. And then the day was here and I could do nothing but board the plane with a growing sense of trepidation, whilst silently wishing something would happen to prevent take-off.

I arrived in Sydney and when I eventually got the the hotel a bit after 9:00 pm, I was so exhausted that I just crashed in the hotel. I didn’t bother with dinner, or even a shower. And when I arrived the next morning, I sat awkwardly at a table with two other guys doing their assessment and said nothing to either of them. The thing was, it was the unknown that had me in such a state of fear and stress. They were sending me to an unfamiliar city, with unfamiliar people, in essentially test conditions. I felt lost without my car to explore, and so I spent my three nights alone in the hotel room with nothing but my homework for company. But once the first day was out of the way, it’s amazing how much better I felt. And though the last three days have been stressful – my job literally relied on me passing thing assessment – once I knew what to expect, and what I was doing, everything became easier.

This is probably the worst experience with anxiety I have ever had. Sure, I get nervous in crowds and meeting new people makes my hands shake, but this was an all encompassing fear that I couldn’t shake, and one that had far reaching effects and consequences. I can honestly say that I’m glad that infernal experience is behind me, and I hope I never have to go through that kind of anxiousness again. For the record, I passed my assessment. The only good thing to come out of the last three days is that I get a pay rise. But at least now it’s over, and I never, ever have to do it again. Ever.

Help, my Life is a Mess of Stress. (But at Least my House is Clean!)

I’m pretty frustrated with a lot of things in my life lately. Restless once again, I’m in a position where I wake up every single morning in a state of stress and anxiousness. My head gets overwhelmed with all the things that are causing me to silently panic, and before I even fully realise it, I’m subconsciously setting myself up to have a bad day. It’s not that I’m doing it on purpose, but because I’m so anxious about many things in my life at the moment, I can’t relax, I can’t calm down and I can’t enjoy the day.

It is Saturday. When I woke up this morning, I got up to pee and then went back to bed and hid under my covers. I have an unfinished dress in my sewing room for a client that I could be fixing, or seeing as how it’s quite nice weather, I could go out and soak up some sun and enjoy the day. But instead, I stayed in bed and went over everything in my head, trying desperately to come up with a solution for my current predicaments. It ultimately failed, and I succeeded only in giving myself new things to stress about.

So instead, I got up, made myself a Milo and power cleaned my house. All my frustrated energy went into making my humble abode spotless. In the last hour I have done dishes, washing (and, as I have just discovered, flooded my laundry because the hose slipped out of the sink…ugh), made my bed, folded and put away my clothes, vacuumed the floor, dusted, cleaned the bathroom and counted the coins in my coin jar. I can’t work out how to solve my life problems, but I sure can clean.

If someone would like to offer me a job that pays $1000 a week, give me a pill for motivation and inspiration, find a home for my bunnies that better suits their needs, and gives me at least ten more hours in every day, I would be forever indebted to you. Someone? Anyone? Help…?