“Who we become in life is based on the choices we make when we reach a fork in the road” – Keith Stinnette.
Sorry I’ve been a stranger as of late.
I know my previous blog posts have centred around more serious topics, but over the past few weeks, things seem to have taken a change in direction.
Lately, I have gone back and forth with the idea of writing a blog post which focuses on positivity, confidence and happiness.
But I couldn’t help but have some niggling thoughts in the back of my mind.
I said from the outset that this blog is not my way of preaching to you all, nor is it me trying to get sympathy for what I’ve been going through.
Since day one, it has been about sharing my life experiences, significant events, and my general progress throughout this journey.
And no, my recent blogging hiatus isn’t because I’ve fallen into a black hole and wallowed in self-pity, sadness and general doom and gloom.
It’s because I actually felt good.
I felt like I didn’t need to vent my feelings to you all, because my head was in a good place for once.
But then, why should I only share the bad times?
Why should the good times be pushed under the carpet?
So, in today’s blog post, I wanted to share some good news I received at the start of last week.
I HAVE A NEW JOB!!!!!!
(Excuse the over-use of exclamation marks, but I think I’m allowed to be pretty damn happy right now.)
That’s because it’s not just any job. It’s my dream job.
A dream I’ve had since I was in my early teens over a decade ago… (*reality check – I am now officially old*).
Yes. On Monday, I will officially be employed by none other than… the BBC.
As a Broadcast Journalist.
For BBC Sport.
BBC SPORT!!!!! *Screams internally for the millionth time*
Considering I came out of the interview utterly convinced I had messed up, waffling every answer and coming across as far too enthusiastic.
I cried for what felt like hours afterwards, because it meant so much to me.
I was gobsmacked to have even been offered the interview, let alone the job.
And what makes it so much more of an amazing personal achievement for me, is the fact that the interviewer (and my new boss) actually said to me that he thought I had “boundless charisma, enthusiasm and confidence”.
The girl who cries at the thought of social events, being the centre of attention, or stepping outside the threshold of my front door.
Just those five little words made me smile bigger than I had done in a while.
I can’t tell you how nice it is for someone to believe in you and think you’re charismatic and confident.
So, I hope you didn’t mind me sharing this bit of news with you.
It doesn’t make me boastful. It doesn’t make me attention-seeking. It makes me proud of myself for getting my dream job at the age of 23.
I’m nervous to walk in to a room full of men who might instantly see a girl and think *Oh what does she know about sport?*.
I’m nervous that my depression and anxiety will try to ruin the greatest opportunity I’ve been given in years.
But I’m also determined to prove myself wrong.
I’m excited to make a name for myself in the industry.
So as I mentioned in my previous post, I used to be quite confident and enjoy being the centre of attention. However, I’ve found that the older I get, the more I shy away from nights out and socialising.
I tend to stick to my comfort zone, which means I rarely go beyond the realms of my normality – spending time with my fiancé and my family.
I haven’t been on a night out without having my fiancé there by my side for support since October 2015, and even since then I’ve only been on 3 nights out when Matt was there.
It’s quite sad because I honestly feel like a shell of my former self.
Now, I would like to say I don’t care about what people think of me. But I do.
That is, except for when I’m falling down the stairs of a club with my best friend Soph, but that’s an entirely new blog post in itself…
A few months ago, one of my good friends invited me to his leaving party as he is going to America for a year. The date loomed over me like a dark cloud, never shifting from the forefront of my mind.
I could have conjured up some bullshit excuse and avoided going. But my fiancé is his best friend, so I had to show my face.
One thing I was paranoid about was the reaction to my blog.
Even though it’s been overwhelmingly positive, I was terrified of walking in to his house feeling like everyone’s eyes were on me.
Like I was the elephant in the room.
I didn’t want people to feel like they were treading on eggshells when they spoke to me, in case I ran off crying.
But if I didn’t show up, I was giving in to the demons. I was letting them win.
*Hahaha, look how weak you are. You can’t face people anymore.*
And that thought filled me with dread.
But I masked my feelings with layers of makeup and walked in to my friend’s house with my head held high, proud of myself for getting so far.
Or so I thought…
Despite being showered with compliments from my friend’s family members and people who had never even met me before, lulling me into a false sense of security as I sat there thinking *But you don’t know who I truly am*, the time came for us to go out in Birmingham to a club.
I was overcome with fear.
The fear of what complete strangers would say to me when their minds had been compromised from excess alcohol.
Now I’m not being self-centred. It’s just what happens when you have anxiety.
You feel like everyone is burning a hole into your body with their eyes, when in reality they’re probably just looking for the bar.
Let’s cut a long story short.
My temperature soared. My heartbeat increased exponentially. The waterworks started. I felt like the room was closing in on me.
I was having a panic attack.
I ran out of the club in search of fresh air, trying to escape from the monsters that had suddenly come out to play.
A complete stranger noticed my frantic dash for the door and stopped me in my tracks to ask me if I was okay.
“Yes” I replied, but I was trying to convince myself more than him.
I just wanted to get out. I wanted to go home.
The whole thing was suddenly overwhelming, and I burst into tears after the sudden realisation that I wasn’t okay.
I was so close.
I wanted to make myself, my fiancé, my friends and my family proud that I had ventured out of my house and actually enjoyed myself in a room full of people.
But instead, I had three panic attacks in less than an hour.
I should have felt good. In a room full of drunken groups of friends dressed in Converse and denim shorts, I was the girl with a full face of makeup and a purple dress and heels.
You could spot me a mile off in the midst of inebriated middle-aged men.
I felt like the most overdressed person in there, but I should have felt confident.
A stranger told me I was a 10/10, which is the first time I’ve ever been told that.
But my soul was crushed inside, gripped by the feeling of failure and disappointment.
I had to resort to leaving, my demons laughing hysterically at my pathetic attempt of enjoying myself.
And to be honest, it’s left me even more terrified of going on a night out again.
I felt like I was doing so well, but now I feel like I’ve taken 10 steps backwards.
Setbacks are something every person has to overcome, but I feel drained every time I have to muster up the energy to get over the next hurdle.
I think I’ll just stay at home watching Love Island with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s next time.
“My anxiety is silent. You wouldn’t even notice a change on the outside, but I’m honestly so stressed I can’t even manage simple tasks. People call me lazy when in reality I’m just overwhelmed.”
That hits the nail on the head for me.
I’ve previously shared my experience of having depression, and today I’m moving on to something I now realise I have battled for many years.
Now for a bit of background about my life. I am an only child. Growing up, I loved being the centre of attention. I was always posing for the camera, or trying to be the loudest in the room. I went to a stage school, entered (and won) dancing competitions, went to cheerleading lessons (don’t laugh…), was always the first in class to volunteer to help out… You get the idea.
*Inserts photo of my in my modelling days…*
In 2003, I moved from the county of Warwickshire in England, to the “Paradise Peninsula” also known as The Wirral in Merseyside. I arrived, bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed, on my first day at my new primary school. I was introduced to the class and assigned a “buddy” to help me settle in.
I found myself lulled into a false sense of security, thinking all was going swimmingly.
Then, I opened my mouth, revealing my heavy Birmingham accent to a class room full of Scousers (who you think wouldn’t be so quick to judge, but how wrong was I…).
After that, I would constantly have people asking me to say “five” – because apparently hearing a ten-year-old stranger pronounce it as foive was like an alien had just made an appearance on Earth.
I slowly felt the bricks of my walls building up around me, blocking people out as I sheltered away inside.
To make matters worse, I was the clever girl. The one who passed all her exams for private school. The one who got the highest mark in the year for the 11+.
*Why can’t I just be normal?* I remember asking myself.
Fast forward to September 2005, and my first day at a private all-girls’ school. A place where if mummy and daddy weren’t the CEOs of Apple, or the King and Queen of the United Kingdom, then say bye-bye to any chance of popularity, or being liked/accepted/fitting in.
Now, my group of friends included some girls who remain, to this day, my best friends. We’ve been through so many things together. People may have come into our lives along the way, but they don’t truly have the same connection that we did back in high school.
We weren’t exactly picked last for sport’s day, but we weren’t the hot topic on everyone’s lips either. We just existed. We probably didn’t leave a lasting legacy on the school. But those girls made a lasting memory in my mind, so that’s all that matters to me.
Anyway, I always found myself envying “The Populars”, because they seemed to have it all. The good looks, the friends, the money, the amazing lifestyle. Of course, now I realise how materialistic and narcissistic it was of me to think that way.
But some people would pass comments like “Oh there’s atty gal” (translation: the girl with the attitude) – because I wasn’t afraid to speak my mind and stand up for myself or my friends.
One day in sixth form, I had about three free periods in a row with my best friend Soph, so we decided to get comfy in the common room and watch some TV. I decided to change in a flattering bright blue Greece football shirt, and fluffy pink pyjama bottoms (don’t ask), much to the horror of a girl in my year. She decided to ask me, in front of the whole year, “Why are you wearing your pyjamas, Laura?”.
To which I replied: “What the fuck has it got to do with you?”
Again, don’t ask. I must have got caught up in the moment, because years of bottled-up anger obviously exploded and I had finally decided to grow a pair of balls and stick up to “The Populars”. Yay me!
You might think I’ve gone off on a tangent again, but I’m just trying to give you an idea of what I was like as a teenager.
Now, let’s skip to university. Separated from my friends and unable to face the thought of moving away from home, I went to a uni 30 minutes’ drive from my house. I commuted every day for 3 years. I didn’t go on one night out with people from my course. Even now, I barely even speak to people I used to be in lectures with. To be honest, it was like my body was physically there, but my mind wasn’t.
I withdrew from people.
I was the girl who turned up for lectures, and no one ever saw on campus because Oh she’s gone home again.
I knew what was my comfort zone, and that was being at home.
Now, I wasn’t an extrovert. I went out my friends most weekends (and made a complete twat out of myself most weekends). I just didn’t like the unfamiliarity of people I couldn’t 100% trust.
After uni, I secured my dream job of being a Journalist and moved back down to Warwickshire to the house where I grew up. The first few months were hard. I was on my own minus the two or three days a week that my Dad would come and stay to keep me company. I used to either drive back to The Wirral or down to Hertfordshire to see my boyfriend every weekend. I couldn’t stand the thought of sitting in the house alone.
Alone with my thoughts.
In October 2015, my boyfriend came to live with me. I love living with him, it’s so nice to wake up and go to sleep next to him every night. He’s my best friend, my shoulder to cry on, my roomie and now my fiancé.
But he’s also the only person I have to talk to around here.
I’ve been here for 2 years next month, and I’ve not been on one night out. I have done a full-360 and turned into a social recluse.
I reluctantly agree to plans (if they ever come up), the day will arrive, and I’ll cancel.
I feel like I’ve forgotten how to interact with people.
I think people are judging me for my current state of mind, and are scared to say anything to me in case I burst out crying or do something silly.
People are walking on eggshells when they’re around me, so they wont want me there.
That’s a mantra Ive repeated so many times, its become etched into my brain.
I have no one to talk to, when my fiancé is at work. I begrudge him going out with his friends because I just can’t physically, emotionally or mentally deal with being alone.
And to admit that is really quite sad.
I have the attitude of “Oh, well I’ve been here for 2 years and people still haven’t made the effort, so why should I?”, but in reality, I’m just so scared to get up and walk out the door by myself.
I need someone to hold my hand. Supporting me.
Yes, I’m alone in the house right now writing all this down.
But that’s my point.
My mind is ticking constantly, and the thoughts just want to burst out.
So I write them down.
Over and over again, I find myself wishing I was a better girlfriend, a better friend, a better daughter.
A person who lets her boyfriend live his own life without the fear of breaking down because her anxiety eats away at her.
A person who wasn’t already trying to think of a believable excuse to get out of an upcoming social event.
A person who doesn’t envy her friends going out with their other friends.
But that’s just what anxiety does.
It makes you overthink.
Maybe, one day I’ll wake up and my mind will be peaceful and clear, with birds singing by a gorgeous sunset like a Disney film.
But for now, it’s a stormy day, with thunderbolts and lightning clouding my judgment, and darkness looming over my thoughts.
I’m working on it.
P.S. If you’re reading this and you’ve stuck with me through 1,400 words, THANK YOU. You are loved. You are amazing. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.
It is currently 01:36 in England, and I am struggling to sleep due to: a) the fact that it’s a gazillion degrees in this hotel room, b) my fiancé thoughtfully decided to fall asleep on my pillow, leaving me sans-pillow, and c) my tummy is rumbling louder than an erupting volcano.
So, because this blog is called Nocturnal Musings of a Girl, I guess it’s only right for me to ramble on some more about my life, how I’m feeling today, and other boring topics.
*Maybe I’ll bore myself so much I’ll fall asleep*
Hey, I suppose I am in Wales. Guess I could count some real-life sheep…
After my first blog post, I was shocked and so humbled to receive dozens of supportive messages from friends, family members and even people I hadn’t heard from in years.
I didn’t bare my soul for the attention.
I did it to help myself try to come to terms with my problems, thank you very much.
Which is why I was so disheartened to hear a very small minority perceived my honesty and bravery in a different way to everyone else.
One person decided to make a comment along the lines of: “Oh, I thought Laura was the strong one.”
While this comment may seem harmless and tame, it stuck a chord with me because of one simple reason.
We are allowed to have our bad days. Every single one of us.
Whatever happened to praising people and lifting them up for telling the truth?
This world is full of perceptions, lies and cover-ups.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting a fanfare or a medal for speaking my mind.
But I did admit my failings and weaknesses, which I think is pretty damn braveif you ask me.
Aside from that, I wanted to say a big, fat thank you if you messaged/called/reached out to me on social media/shared your own stories with me following that post.
I felt nauseous and anxious when I hit the Publish button, but the response threw me totally off guard.
It meant so much to me that people could resonate with my journey, and felt they could talk to me about their own experiences.
I’m in no way trying to preach or force my thoughts on you, but I do think I’m half decent at giving advice, so I’m always here if anyone needs to talk.
I think that’s what will help my recovery.
Unfortunately for my fiancé, my idea of talking is a DMC (Deep Meaningful Conversation to my more mature readers) at 1am after he’s finished a 12-hour shift running around on his feet all night.
He probably does listen, or at least that’s what I tell myself.
Even if he doesn’t reply because he’s drifting in and out of sleep, I find it cathartic to verbally let go of my feelings.
I don’t have a magic cure.
I certainly don’t want antidepressants to be a lifelong commitment.
I don’t have a therapist.
I don’t sit in my room chanting mantras, telling my inner self that all is well.
But I do have a voice and I do have a support system who won’t tell me to shut up if I’ve waffled on for over an hour on the phone.
And do you know what?
People may doubt me, but I am a strong *young adult* – ew – who is trying to learn to love herself.
Pessimistic relatives can say I’m weak for having depression, but I firmly believe it will make me all the more stronger.
I can’t wait to prove people wrong.
Until next time,
P.S. One thing I do know is that Matt has now decided to give me my pillow back, so I finally get to hit the hay.
So. I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a blog for quite some time now, but more often than not, I find myself interrupting the thoughts in my head, asking myself is that something you want people to know.
And that right there is the first reason why I decided to finally pluck up the courage to sit down, open my MacBook, and start typing.
We live in a society where we only share the best parts of our ‘highlight reel’, so to speak. It’s like when you watch a trailer for a film and you go to the cinema, only to realise they showed you all the best bits in the trailer and filtered out all the crappy parts.
Our social media pages are the trailers to our lives.
We never share the bad things, because God forbid someone finds out we aren’t perfect like our Instagram page makes us out to be. But one thing I’m coming to realise is that: it’s OKAY to have bad days. It’s okay to feel down about how you look or to feel like the world is on your shoulders.
This first blog post might be too deep and people might think I shouldn’t divulge some of the information I’m about to, but why not? What’s the worst someone can say about me? That I’m too opinionated? That I’m not afraid to speak my mind? That I’m attention seeking?
To be frank, part of the reason I’m doing this is to give myself a space where I can vent to someone besides my fiancé or my mum. I think they deserve a break, so here I am lying in bed with a million and one thoughts circling around in my head that I felt I should share with the critics, online trolls and impartial strangers of the Big Wide World.
So here goes…
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The big confession that’s kept you reading this far down the page.
I have depression.
I also have anxiety, because apparently someone decided to see just how far they could push me.
And to be brutally honest, it’s quite a terrifying prospect for me to write it down and digest it, because it suddenly becomes all the more real.
I’ve tried to shove it under the carpet. I’ve listened to self-help audiobooks for hours on end that try to tell me I can magically manifest my own happiness. That it’s all in my head.
Well, no shit, Sherlock.
Yes, the brain is an amazing organ, but it can also be very bloody confusing at times.
Think about the scenario when you have a devil and an angel on each shoulder, offering advice in times of need. Now take the angel out of the equation, and what do you have?
A nasty little shit of a devil who tries to tell you to do things you shouldn’t, think things you shouldn’t and just generally hate your life.
Now, an outsider looking at my life might say “What does she have to be unhappy about?”, merelymisinterpreting Facebook statuses and tweets and falsely presuming I live in a fairytale world (although, I definitely wish I did, but that’s another story).
But this is where I’ll go back to the ‘highlight reel’ of our lives. We would never dream of admitting our failings to the world. We always want to portray the best possible image of ourselves. We compete for likes on an Instagram photo, and feel worthless when we don’t reach a socially acceptable number. Most of us won’t admit it, but I’m taking one for the team here, guys. *pats self on back*
Now, to get serious.
I was officially diagnosed with depression and anxiety in January of this year, but I’d been feeling low for quite some time. I can’t pinpoint an exact time when I woke up and felt like my world was starting to fall apart, but I could tell something wasn’t quite right.
I should have been the happiest I’d ever been in my life. In November 2016, my fiancé and I went to Walt Disney World in Florida (our favourite place and where we first started seeing each other), and then to New York.
It was my dream holiday.
Little did I know that my boyfriend of over two years had planned to propose to me while we were in the US. I was shocked, elated, overwhelmed, emotional, and totally head over heels in love. It was the best day of my life.
I continued in my little engagement bubble for a few weeks, and then returned home with the typical holiday blues. But over Christmas and my birthday, I felt the black clouds descending ever so dramatically over my life again, all-consuming and omnipotent.
*Here we go again* I kept thinking.
Most of the time, I put it down to the typical excuse; hormones. But I knew something was seriously wrong when I was going to bed crying every night, and waking up every morning unable to face going into work.
I’ll never forget how I felt sitting in the GP’s waiting room with my fiancé, wanting the ground to swallow me whole and make me disappear.
Cutting a long story short, I was assessed and diagnosed.
I was sent away with a willy-nilly prescription for anti-depressants and told to “have a bath and relax” if I felt down.
Thanks, Dr. Not-So-Helpful. All better now!
I walked out, clutching my prescription in my hand, feeling as though I was carrying a huge sign saying I HAVE DEPRESSION and like the whole waiting room could read what was on that little green slip.
I remember being sat in my car feeling mixed emotions of relief that I finally knew what was causing my low moods, and shame at the fact that I was just another statistic, freshly labelled and soon to be processed through the failing mental health system.
Ultimately, my mental health issues won.
I felt unable to carry on working as a Journalist; a job I’d longed to do since I was a teenager. A job I knew I was good at. With an overwhelming sense of failure, I walked out of that office for the last time in February, and if I’m being honest, I’ve felt completely worthless ever since. I feel as though I will break down and crumble at the thought of walking into my next job, dreading trying to impress a new group of people, willing them to like me despite the monsters in my head.
It’s exhausting having to try to give yourself an internal pep talk every day, just to get out of bed.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a driven and ambitious girl. I always have been. That’s why these past 12 months or so have been so challenging to mentally and emotionally process. I feel like my hormones and emotions have been strapped into the world’s fastest rollercoaster, and forced to ride over and over again.
I’m tired. I’m sad. I feel worthless 24/7. I can’t bear the thought of trying to like myself, let alone love myself. Self-love? Confidence? These attributes don’t even exist in my vocabulary. They seem impossible.
That’s the reason for this blog. For me to try, and I really do mean try, to look my demons in the eye and not just battle them head on, but to grab them by the balls and knock them out of the park so they can’t come crawling their way back, ready to infect my mind all over again.
Writing my feelings down might not interest you in the slightest. But if it helps me try to become half of the person I was put on this earth to be, I’m going to give it a bloody good go.