IT’S BEEN A STRANGE YEAR.

IT’S BEEN A STRANGE YEAR.

Timehop told me that it’s been a year since I started this blog. A year since I decided to tell the world (well, probs just my Facebook friends and a couple of people that follow me on Twitter) about my experiences with anxiety. I guess now is as good a time as any for a little life update.

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First of all, the anxiety thing.

It got worse before it got better. I finally realised that I really needed to make a change; what I was doing just wasn’t working. It meant leaving the 9-to-5-Monday-to-Friday, at least for a little while.

I got myself a job pulling pints in the local pub (something that I’ve always enjoyed) and set my sights on working out what I wanted to do in life and how I could work without working myself into a self-perpetuating anxiety spiral.

Professional Word Person was born.

So I decided that I wanted to work for myself. That way, I would be in control of my workload, the kinds of projects that I worked on, and the kinds of clients that I worked with. Problem was, I had no idea what to do.

I was having a nosy round Fiverr, looking at the kinds of things people do that make them a bit of money. Then I saw it: proofreading. I like proofreading. I’m good at proofreading.

Perfect.

That night, I set to work cobbling together a website and very quickly realised that it didn’t have to stop at proofreading. I can check words, I can edit words, and I can write them too. I guess I’d be a professional word person of some sorts. It started off as a bit of a joke, me being unable to nail down exactly what services I would provide, but it kind of stuck.

Looking to the future.

That was five months ago. Tomorrow is my last shift at the pub; I finally have enough projects and ongoing work to take the leap and make my business my sole source of income. I am a full-time Professional Word Person.

I still have bad days, and it’ll most likely be a long time before I find myself going months without at least a small dip. But that’s okay because I am thoroughly enjoying myself. I have made new friends, I’ve put myself out there at networking events, and I have found great satisfaction in getting paid to do something that I love.

If you’ve got this far, thank you for listening. If you’ve followed my blog from the beginning, thank you for providing me with a platform to write away my problems. I hope this won’t be my last post, I hope that getting paid to write doesn’t ever take away my love for writing for myself.

Until next time.

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IT’S ALL GOOD.

IT’S ALL GOOD.

Something happened today – something that hasn’t happened in a while – I decided I wanted to write. About what though? I’m still not quite sure, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out along the way.

I feel different to how I felt six months ago – I feel more like myself than I’ve felt in a while. I feel like a better version of me. I know that sounds completely ridiculous and completely cliché, but fuck it, I’m not writing this to sound profound or ground-breaking. I’m writing this because this is how I feel. I’m writing this because I’m actually enjoying writing it.

Some other stuff has changed too – I have a new job and I have new hair (okay so I have had blonde in my hair before, it’s never been so snapchatable though). I’m walking to work every single day and I’m actually enjoying it. That might have something to do with my FitBit and its ability to tap into my competitive side. My competitive nature hasn’t always worked in my favour – turns out if you’re rubbish at stuff, being competitive is pretty shit. Luckily, it’s easy enough for me to smash my step goal when I’m walking over 2 miles each way every day (sorry Olivia).

Some things are still the same. I’m still trying every day to write at least one thing that I’m grateful for. If I could recommend one thing it would be to do this – it helps to keep everything in perspective. It’s also quite nice to read back over all the lovely things you have in your life.

I’m still being mindful (or at least trying my best). Turns out walking for 70 minutes every day is pretty good for taking in my surroundings, taking in the weather, taking in the people walking around me. I don’t listen to any music (that may be because I don’t own any headphones that don’t fall off my pea-head when I walk…) and it’s actually pretty nice.

    

So that’s about it really – I started typing without really knowing where I would go with this and here I am. 

TLDR – it’s all good.

Until next time,  

 

GOODBYE, OLD FRIEND.

GOODBYE, OLD FRIEND.

I know I haven’t posted in a while, but now seems as good a time as any.

Today, I lost an old friend. He’d been in the family for 16 years; we rescued him at about 18 months old which made him almost 18 years old. That’s pretty good going, even for a mutt.

We all knew he wasn’t well. He couldn’t digest his food without lovingly sprinkling enzymes on there for him, he was incontinent, he couldn’t hear very well (although we’re all pretty sure that was selective), he couldn’t see very well, and, in the end, he couldn’t really remember where he was. We knew it was coming, but it was still pretty gut wrenching when it happened. He’d been part of my life for as long as I can remember.

When I think of Max I think of the first time we took him out for a walk and played fetch up on the quarry top; we watched his little head appear above the tall grass for a split second with each bound; we were so excited to finally have a dog. I think of the mischief he would get up to with Sid when they were both young enough to reach coats, clean washing, and food on the kitchen worktops. I think of so many family holidays in cosy cottages, with long walks in forests and on beaches finished off by curling up in front of a roaring fire. My whole childhood, he was always there.

Max – you were just a small part of our lives, but we were all of yours. We gave you the happiest life we possibly could. We’ll miss you old man.

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THAT ANXIOUS FEELING. 

THAT ANXIOUS FEELING. 

 

It’s difficult to explain the feeling of anxiety, but I’m going to try. I’m not a fan of things that I don’t understand and even less of a fan of things that I can’t explain. I’m also pretty sure I’m not the only one, so here’s to those who want to undertand.

You know that feeling you get when you reach for your phone in the zip pocket of your bag (because that’s where you keep it, that’s where you always put it) and it’s not there? Your stomach drops. You feel tense and agitated. Your mind starts racing through the last few hours of your life wondering what you could have done resulting in you putting your phone down somewhere that isn’t that zip pocket in your bag. It doesn’t matter if seconds later you find it hiding in the other zip pocket, in that second it was gone. You panicked.

Now, extend that feeling. For a few minutes. For a few hours. For an entire day. 

That’s what anxiety feels like. Apart from the fact that some of the time, there is no reason. There is no misplaced phone. Just that gut wrenching feeling that something has gone (or is about to go) wrong.

The good news is, once you know it’s just anxiety, you can start to cut it off there. Yep, I feel anxious, I’m just going to have to ride it out. It’s not quite as easy as that, but I’m working on it. Hopefully one day it really can be that easy.

I know I’m writing a lot about anxiety and not very much about other things, it’s just that it’s such a big part of my life at the minute. I start back at work tomorrow – I’m looking forward to it. It’s a really big step towards getting things back to normal. Hopefully then I can write more about gin and food and all the other things that make life great. 

That’s more than enough crappy feelings for a Sunday afternoon so here are a few feelings that are just lovely: 

Until next time,

  

BE BRAVE. ACCEPT RADICALLY.

BE BRAVE. ACCEPT RADICALLY.

Acceptance: it’s a word that’s thrown around a lot, isn’t it? Radical acceptance is simply accepting things for what they are. No what ifs, just taking the situation as it is and moving on. Doesn’t seem too radical, does it?

It may not seem radical, but it does take bravery. It goes against everything your brain wants you to do.


I’ve just sloshed black coffee all over the new cream carpet

There’s no good in thinking I shouldn’t have taken the coffee into the bedroom. What if I’d just put it down on the table rather than trying (and failing) to place it on the floor. What good will that do? It certainly won’t stop the black coffee from seeping into the nice, new, cream (IT’S CREAM ELLEN, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!) carpet. It will actually make it worse; the longer the coffee stays there, the harder it’ll be to clean.

Radical acceptance is taking the situation as it is.

I can’t reverse it, I can’t turn back time. It’s happened. Better start cleaning. Then probably make another coffee.

Radical acceptance is the way to take any situation, whether it’s something small or something much bigger and life altering. Reflection and hindsight are essential for learning, but dwelling on something that has already happened isn’t helpful and isn’t healthy. It causes unnecessary stress and unnecessary worry. If you start practicing radical acceptance (this is irritating me – is it really that radical?) with the small stuff, it might be a little easier when something really big comes along and screws you over.

Be brave, accept radically. It may seem unnatural at first, but just give it a try.

Until next time,

(Flower graphic courtesy of welivedhappilyeverafter.com)

10 CONFESSIONS FROM AN ANXIOUS MIND. 

10 CONFESSIONS FROM AN ANXIOUS MIND. 

One of the reasons I’ve been writing this blog is because anxiety isn’t uncommon, and I hope that just every so often I write something that makes you think yea – me too. Some of the things I’m going to write about in this post I’ve known my whole life, but others have been a little more difficult to come to terms with. I hope that it gives you a little more insight into my anxiety. Quick warning: this is going to be quite a long post, I do quite like to babble. 

So here we go, 10 confessions from an anxious mind:

  

 
 There are two main fears that contribute to my anxiety and they just so happen to completely contradict. I have a fear of things going wrong (things beyond my control) so I try to take control of them. But then, I have a fear of getting those things wrong, which makes me doubt myself, and I’m right back to the fear of things going wrong. The self doubt is going to take a bit of work, but I’m seriously working on not feeling  responsible for everything and reminding myself that things do go wrong – that’s just life. 

  The self doubt means that I really am my own worst critic. And sometimes I can be quite mean I don’t tend to give myself the benefit of the doubt that I would give to anyone else. This is where my perfectionism kicks in, sometimes I really feel like why bother doing anything if it can’t be spot on? And guess what…IT’S SO COUNTER PRODUCTIVE. I’m never going to get anything done because 99% of the time things won’t be perfect, and I’m starting to learn that that’s okay. 

 
 These are the what ifs. They are dangerous, they lead to me catastrophising (I’ve mentioned this word before, isn’t it a great word?) and they lead to me over analysing everything. Turns out, I don’t always have to be as prepared all the time, sometimes it’s not even my job to be prepared. Being prepared is great, but being scared of being unprepared (to this extent) is silly.  

   Sometimes, I get anxious about the most ridiculous things (and I do mean ridiculous). I know it’s stupid, you don’t need to tell me, but in that moment it’s the most important thing in the world. All I can do is to understand that in the scale of things, it’s probably not that important. I can calm myself down, and just let the anxiety pass. I know that I’ll feel different when it’s over. 

  If something makes me really anxious, in that moment it consumes me. You can have a solid, logical proof that we will be there on time – if I’m convinced that we’re going to be late, there’s no shaking that feeling.     I WANT TO STOP. I WANT TO NOT CARE SO MUCH. I WANT TO BE ABLE TO SWITCH OFF. If only thinking, you now what, everything will turn out okay was enough. But it’s not, which is why I’m trying so hard to stop the worrying from ruining my life. 

 
 Sometimes, there isn’t even a reason for my anxiety. Unfortunately for me, that doesn’t quite sit right with my wonky brain – there has to be a reason for feeling this way. This is when I make up problems where there aren’t any, which doesn’t make a happy Ellen. I can convince myself that the the world is ending just because my body says something is wrong – there doesn’t have to be anything wrong. Just ride it out. 

  As we’ve already established, not much can stop be worrying and feeling anxious once I get myself into that frame of mind. Telling me it’ll all be fine doesn’t help – I know deep down that you’re right but the anxiety keeps on taking over. But it does tell me that you care, and that you want me to be fine, and that’s really comforting.  

 Even if I look like there’s nothing going on up there, chances are there’s actually a million different things going through my mind at any one time. I’m probably looking a little vacant because I’m struggling to work out where to start. My mind is like one gaint to do list that is constantly being added to and constantly needs prioritising.

 
 It is perfectly possibly to be a raging extrovert and still suffer from problems with anxiety. I am living proof. I’m outgoing, I don’t often get nervous in big meetings or interviews and yet I still spend my life living in worry. I love to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself on a daily basis, but my mind betrays me by making the way I want to live my life intolerable

 

PHEW

I’m not going to try to tell you that these confessions are in any way representative of every person suffering from anxiety, but they are representative of me (and I’m sure plenty of other people too). It’s important to remember that it’s these realisations that have pushed me to get some help as well as trying to work through these insecurities on my own (of course, with the help of my wonderful friends & family).

I also didn’t realise all this at once, it’s taken most of my life and a good few therapy sessions to even come close to understand what’s going on in my fuzzy, jumbled head.

Until next time,

  


A LETTER TO MY 16 YEAR OLD SELF. 

A LETTER TO MY 16 YEAR OLD SELF. 

Let me start with the eyebrows. One day, in the not too distant future, you’ll discover the eyebrow pencil. At first, you’ll go a little (a lot) over the top, but you’ll settle down, and by the time you’re my age, you’ll have nailed it.

And while we’re on the subject of makeup – stop using bronzer. Let me just repeat that so it goes in… stop using bronzer. Bronzer is not your friend. Hurry up and discover blusher. Please.

Everyone knows you’re wearing extensions. You’re not fooling anyone.

Glad we’ve got all the appearance stuff out of the way nice and quickly. There’s much much more, but I’ll leave it here for today.

I know what’s happening – I’m you, remember. And I have six years on you. You’re forcing yourself to like coffee by drinking cup after bitter cup. You’re an adult now, adults like coffee and it’ll help you stay awake even longer to Tumbl until the sun comes up. Stop. Give it up. Coffee is a trap – once you like it, you’ll never give it up. 

I know your GCSEs were great, you think you can do anything right now. You do let it slip with your A levels a little, but you will redeem yourself with a first class degree. Way to go.

University will be okay. No, it’ll be good. But don’t believe all the hype – for some people, it’s not necessarily the best three years of your life. People need to stop saying that, it just sets you up for disappointment. You will work hard, get a great degree and meet three people who will be in your life from then on (yay Alex, Danté & Sophie).

You’ll move away to Manchester for uni. You’ll love the city. You’ll want to stay. But let me tell you this, and you might not believe me right now, but Sheffield is where it’s at. You’ll move back here and it will be the best decision ever. You’re currently building a life here. GO SHEFFIELD.

The friends you have at the minute aren’t your forever friends (wow, doesn’t that sound tacky? Tacky but true). Your proper help-you-hide-a-dead-body-friends are just around the corner. You’ve known most of them individually for a long time, but it all comes together next year.

Don’t worry, he’s just not in your life yet. That’s not for another four years so you’ll just have to hang in there for a while.

Stop worrying about not knowing what to do with your life. I know right now you think you might want to do French & Law, but just cut the crap. That’s not you and you know it. But it’s okay, you’ll get plenty of opportunities, and then you’ll fall into a job you’d have never expected – and you’ll love it.

Speaking of worrying, in five years time, your appendix will almost burst because of your worrying. Turns out, those stomach migraines – just your appendix grumbling. It’s out now, no more problems there.

Finally – you’re not just a worrier. It’s not normal to worry that much and about so many things. It’ll take you a while and a bit of a breakdown, but you’ll figure it out. It’s controllable, it’s manageable. It doesn’t have to be your normal state of being.   Way to go 16 year old Ellen. You muddled your way through those weird teenage years and you turned out pretty awesome.

What would you tell yourself at 16?

Until next time,