Self-esteem Discussion and Anxiety Update

Discussion, life

Previously, I have spoken about my personal experiences with anxiety and how it has affected me in the past. With moving to university one week ago, not only do I feel as though my anxiety has rocketed to various heights, but my self-esteem has been challenged and pushed to levels that I have struggled to cope with – so I figured I’d provide a little update about my anxiety triggers and also how these and my self-esteem have changed throughout the summer and my first week at university.

Moving to university in a new city was daunting. Of course there were the usual nerves – about moving into a flat with nine strangers, starting a subject that I was unsure of actually being good at and having to face the challenge of putting myself forward to try new things. I was fearful – as I always have been – of ‘putting myself out there’ and I knew that studying Journalism at university would require me to do so.

Since being at university I have taken part in netball trials, thinking that after coaching it in secondary school and having been playing the sport from a young age there may be an opportunity to play competitively in the university team. Little did I know that 60+ people had planned on turning up for trials; many with previous experience in international and county teams. There I was: red-faced, sweaty and shaking after running around in my goal attack position. Then I was hit with embarrassment upon being told I hadn’t made the team. Seeing so many other girls getting through and being chosen for the team, also still well presented after 2 hours playing the sport, made me feel pretty c*** about myself.

My anxiety has been triggered numerous times on nights out but I have found this to have worsened recently. Throughout the summer I found myself to not enjoy regular nights out in Cambridge, and would panic in clubs in Spain – with being in a different environment. At one fresher’s event last week I had to leave early – it was a foam party but I never even saw the foam. I became overwhelmed by the huge number of people surrounding me and I felt so small and vulnerable. Panicking, I found it hard to breathe – fully aware that staying at the event would not help me at all, I walked back to my flat angry at myself for panicking. How come everybody else can survive a night out? Why do I work myself up into a panic as soon as I’m in a large crowd?
I think seeing other people having fun but often showing little respect for everybody else around them causes me to both feel angry and anxious and I prefer to remove myself from these situations. Although I feel guilty, and do not want to ruin the night for anybody else.

Although I am loving being at university: with getting to know the people I live with; exploring a new city; studying a new course; and gaining more independence whilst living away from home – there are still anxieties that are preventing me from fully enjoying the experience. I am just grateful for the new friendships that I am building here at university, as well as the old friendships that still offer me help from afar. It’s comforting to know that those friends still at home will always be there to give me the strength and courage to get through the change that is currently occurring in my life and those new friends help me to just have fun and enjoy my life and opportunities here.

xoxo

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Saturday 3rd June 2017 in London

Issues and Opinion, life

On the night of the London Bridge terror attack, I was in London. I spent the weekend in London for my cousin’s hen party, and although we enjoyed our celebrations, I felt it wrong to do so. I cannot ever imagine how horrific it must have been for anybody involved or effected by the terror attack that took place on Saturday 3rd June 2017.

Being so close to a terrorist incident puts everything a little more into perspective. Previously I have been saddened by such events, however have always felt so distant from them – it’s as though the coverage on the news is all just a nightmare, and although watching it shows the reality, I have only viewed the aftermath through a TV screen and as I watch, I do not want to believe it is actually happening. Although I can try to empathise with anyone effected, I was never able to do so because how could you ever imagine being in the situation? So I’d steer my mind into thinking it’s far away from me and there’s not much I can do to help.

When you’re in a city at the time of an incident, it is terrifying. Although I was not directly involved, I have not been able to abolish from my mind what had happened.

For the few weeks previous to our London weekend, I was constantly reassuring my Mum we’d be okay. With her fears of cities and London growing in correlation with the increasing number of terrorist attacks, she was worried about the weekend. And for weeks I was reassuring her ‘We’ll be alright’, ‘London will have more security following the Manchester attack’, ‘the city will be on high alert’, ‘the emergency services will be prepared’. But I had a doubt in the back of my mind, and I felt bad for constantly saying ‘we’ll be fine’ without actually knowing or feeling confident in that myself. Over the days before our trip, I remember saying to myself ‘something is going to happen’, for some reason I just had an instinct that told me that there was going to be an incident on that Saturday night.

On our way to London my mind would not relax and all I kept thinking about was what I had said to myself. I started to picture things and I began to feel nervous and anxious about going out in the city.

Once I was there, things were okay, I’d calmed down and managed to reassure myself ‘it will all be okay, we’ll be alright’. Repeating this phrase over and over again, the hen weekend started and we went for a lovely afternoon tea on the Thames. When it came to paying the bill at the end I asked my mum to pay my part on her card; I only had cash and I told her we should keep the cash in case we need it later on in the day. After the afternoon tea voyage and a ride on the nearby carousel, we went back to our Airbnb to get ready for our night out.

The time had come, we were all dressed up for the night ahead, and leaving as a large group we made our way to a restaurant/bar/club in Soho (100 Wardour Street). Whilst enjoying ourselves we received a text at around 10.15pm, from my cousin who was not able to come on the weekend, asking if we were all okay and we were soon made aware that there had been reports of a terrorist incident at London Bridge. Not knowing fully what was going on, we made our way to the nightclub we were booked into for 11pm. Once I’d received signal news notifications were pouring onto my phone, updating me on the events of the night in London. With reportings of the incident on London Bridge and then in Borough Market alongside a reporting of an incident in Vauxhall (which at the time was not known to be unrelated) we were fearful that this wasn’t the end of the attacks. Running through my mind were worries that there were going to more attacks around the city, and although London is so big, I was terrified that there would be an incident where I was, just around 2 miles away from London Bridge.

Knowing I was so close to the incident, I felt completely out of place. I was not happy to dance and celebrate with people suffering just down the road. I found it hard to watch so many people fuelling themselves with alcohol and simply revelling in the club – maybe they were ignorant to the events but I was not willing to participate. So four of us from the hen party decided we just wanted to go back to our Airbnb, and get a cab straight to the door. I have a fear of tubes anyway and with everything going on in the capital, I just wanted to be back somewhere I felt comfortable. Leaving the club we wandered the streets, trying to find a main road to hail a black cab, but once we’d found one, all the cabs were driving straight past us, already full with passengers.

We waited what felt like a long time for a cab, and after being approached by many rickshaw cyclists offering their service, one cab driver slowed and wound down his window. He already had passengers, but after asking us where we wanted to go, he dropped them off down the road and returned to pick us up around five minutes later. I was so pleased to be in the cab, and as we were talking the driver said that he didn’t usually work on Saturday nights, but while at home with his family he had seen the news on TV and came out just wanting to get people home safely. I felt so grateful for his pure generosity and kindness, and after paying our driver – with the cash I had saved as a precaution from the afternoon tea – I was so thankful to be back in the apartment we were staying in. Although everybody from the hen party left the club in smaller groups at different times, we all got back safely.

For many days following the incident, I felt guilty. I felt bad for just running away from what had happened, just to get back to somewhere I felt safe. Although there was nothing I could do to help those who were involved, and I was a couple of miles down the road, I felt terrible for just running away. Because there was nothing I could do, I felt guilty. All those suffering and involved should never have been put in that situation, and I find it difficult to process the whole event and accept what had happened. It felt to me that the city had gone into a panic, other people out in the streets were simply wanting to get home, but it had become even harder to find a free cab. I panicked and just wanted to be somewhere I felt comfortable and safe, not enjoying celebrating just down the road from those suffering.

My Mum also found the days after very hard, constantly saying ‘what ifs’ and telling herself that there were ways we could have dealt with the situation a lot better than we had done. She was upset over how exposed we had left ourselves in the street when we were trying to get a cab. All I could do was say ‘But we’re okay’, and ‘We’re here now, so it doesn’t matter how we dealt with it at the time’. But for that I feel guilty. With the huge number of people who were sadly killed or injured, or those that were witness to what happened, as much as we try to erase the night from our minds, we know that their families and those survivors are left with their lives significantly changed in some way. They can’t just run away from what happened like I had done.

For weeks my mind has not been able to erase this night from my mind, and coming to terms with what happened has been difficult. I was so close to what happened and at the time I felt terrified, but now I’m left with the memories, the guilt and the what ifs…

What if I had been just 2 miles down the road? What would I have done? Did I do the right thing to run away from what had happened?

For this incident I could not steer my mind into thinking it’s far away from me and there’s not much I can do to help, because factually it wasn’t. I regretted telling my Mum nothing would happen in London that weekend.

I have been effected by what had happened, but I am so thankful that there are still so many good people in the world who would go over and above to help others to safety.

My Personal Experiences with Anxiety

Discussion, life

Over the past six to seven years I have come a long way. There are some things that I have only ever spoken and opened up about to a few people. Over a number of blog posts I would like to discuss some aspects of my life that I feel should be openly discussed and not pushed to one side to be ignored by society. In this blog post I will talk about my own experiences with anxiety.

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear that can be represented in so many different ways and can be determined by a huge number of factors. It is completely normal and everybody will experience a sense of anxiety at some point in their life; however in some people it will show more so than in others, and in some people it will have a greater effect than on others. Learning to cope with your own anxiety can be difficult, but it is achievable and there are a number of ways to improve how you manage your anxiety, how you reduce your anxiety and how to identify your anxiety triggers (I have linked some sites at the bottom of the page that I found of help, as well as an online test that should help to identify your own anxieties).

Personally I have struggled with my anxiety. In some circumstances it has made me feel isolated, I would constantly ask myself questions: Why am I like this? Why is nobody else having a panic attack right now? Why can’t I do what everybody else is doing? What is wrong with me? Why am I not like everybody else? In some circumstances it has caused me to lock myself away and stop taking part in certain activities. And in some circumstances it has affected my ability to socialise, or even take part in everyday activities such as shopping or attending lessons in college.

I’d say my anxiety levels were at their worst and heightened throughout secondary school and sixth form. The first year at sixth form was definitely a learning curb when it came to my anxiety, as I felt under more pressure in various areas; including achievements in college, meeting new people and conversing and working with people in lessons. My anxiety affected my willingness to attend lessons because I would feel uncomfortable in class, I wouldn’t be able to speak up and I found the work challenging – but felt as though everybody else around me was succeeding. So one year into college I’d had plenty of tutor meetings, I’d been put on the referral list and was monitored on the lessons I attended. Due to isolation – from not feeling good enough for a class and feeling as though I had nobody to talk to in some classes – I entered a downward spiral of not going to lesson, not completing work and therefore feeling even worse in the next lesson I attended. I became fearful of attending lessons and so would choose to not go. At the time it was the easiest option.

I have such vivid memory of some of the times my anxiety really took over. One day I was in town shopping alone, and suddenly all the noise became a constant buzz that seemed to me as though it was getting louder and louder, sounding like laughter. My mind painted an image of every single person in the shopping centre turning to me and laughing, completely mocking me. I felt so small and as though I was suffocating. I felt completely isolated and just wanted to run away, with my thoughts going crazy and my whole body shaking, I just wanted to scream. I was having a panic attack and I just felt extremely dizzy. The only option I had was to divert upstairs to a bench, listen to some music and try to feel more on top of my emotions. After around half an hour to an hour of sitting there, I eventually felt the courage to return to shopping, but the whole event formed another fear. Because I was unaware of what exactly had triggered the attack – which was most likely a number of factors – I was so fearful of being alone in public because I was both embarrassed and scared about the physical effects. There have been incidents since in which I have had to call a friend to help me and walk me back to somewhere more peaceful, because I have just burst into tears or felt completely weak and faint.

Attending events such as those in nightclubs or the junction in Cambridge became all the more difficult throughout sixth form, and numerous times anxiety would reduce me to tears in queues and lead security to think twice about allowing me into such events. It made it all worse, with ever-growing fear that anxiety would completely take away my freedom. There were also some people who made it worse. And some that I had strong relationships with were often unaware of the extent to which some very small actions of theirs would affect my thoughts and worries – but they couldn’t help it because a lot of the time it would just be me seeing things to be worse than they actually were.

Anxiety has stopped me from taking part and going on to do so many things in the past. Learning to drive still hasn’t happened, and at nearly 19 years old I still have not had a single driving lesson. I guess at 17 my anxiety made me feel so small and nervous, I was afraid of sitting in a car with an instructor, I was afraid of being responsible for a car and anybody in it, and I was afraid of being out on the road. I had a fear of being in control but also of losing control and so until this day I still have not started driving.

Although anxiety has taken its toll in so many areas of my life, I now know how to better manage it. After many conversations with teachers, the college counsellor, study skills advisors, friends and through online medium, alongside researching self-help and deciding in my mind that I had to take back some control, I learnt my triggers and I learnt how to better deal with those triggers. I cannot sit here today and say that my anxiety has completely disappeared, as there will always be triggers around and I will come across new anxieties throughout my life, but I can sit here and say that I feel a lot better and less fearful.

Two years ago I would not have ever imagined how much I would desire to go out on and absolutely love a night out. I would never have thought I’d have met so many new people through conversation. And I would never have thought that soon I may be going on my first ever driving lesson and I kind of feel excited about it!

I have decided that anxiety will not take over my life, and as much as I may sometimes struggle with my anxiety, I am determined to take back control in my life and be able to have more freedom to take part in the activities and events that I do want to take part in but have felt that I couldn’t take part in, in the past.

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https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/your-feelings/anxiety-stress-panic/managing-your-anxiety/

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/anxiety-and-panic-attacks/self-care-for-anxiety/#.WW-6EoTyvIU

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Anxiety/Pages/self-help.aspx

https://www.psychologytoday.com/tests/health/anxiety-test

A Summer’s Day in Southwold: Wednesday 12th July 2017

life

After a lovely summer’s trip to Hunstanton with friends last year and being lucky enough to have beautiful sunny weather we thought we must embark on another beach trip this year. After deliberating about where to go that’s not too far to drive to, that has things for us to do there, but also where we wouldn’t have to spend too much money, we decided on Suffolk’s Southwold.

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I had never been to Southwold before – or at least I don’t have memory of ever going – but it is a lovely, small seaside town in Suffolk, a scenic drive around two hours from where we live.

We haven’t had such luck with the weather this week, so although Wednesday was indeed sunny and cloudy and relatively moderate temperatures, it was VERY windy. But this did not affect the fun we had on our trip – in fact it actually added a bit of comedy to the day.

Upon arriving we parked in the pay and display car park near to Southwold’s pier. Upon my friend placing the ticket on the dashboard in her car, a huge gust of wind took grasp of the ticket and it went swirling out of the car door and swiftly flew away. I RAN. There I was running through cars and people, pottering along the road in my low heeled sandals, desperately following the ticket in true fashion of Chris (the Hero Boy) in The Polar Express. All I knew was that we had just used up all of our change to buy the £6 ticket, we really could not afford to lose it… after running what felt like a lengthy distance, the ticket diverted left through an open car space. Catching up, I turned the corner to see a low wall behind a row of beach huts and then the open beach the other side. There was no ticket. I searched under the nearby cars – nothing. I searched along the wall – THERE IT WAS. I was so pleased I’d got it, taking strong grasp of the ticket I ran back to our parked car, greeted by the applaud of, not only my friends, but the car full of people in the space next to us. Smiling bashfully, I handed the ticket back to my friend and this time with both care and speed she placed the ticket in the car and slammed the door shut in unison. WE’D DONE IT.

After the dramatic arrival in Southwold, we then headed along the sea front, past the town centre and to the other end of the beach, sitting ourselves between sand dunes for protection from the thieving wind. There we sat for a good hour to two hours, with our packed up lunch of rolls, crisps, sweets, cans of Fanta, mini cocktail sausages and grapes, making the short trip to dip our toes into the sea and capture a few boomerangs for the Instagram stories. I enjoyed watching a group of people tremendously kite surfing in the waves, occasionally flying up into the air before crashing back down into the breakers, like sea gulls dancing in the sky before swooping in on their prey. After our picnic and when we felt we’d exhausted the windy beach, we strolled along the promenade, back to the town centre, to visit a couple of shops – including the Adnams shop, because of course you cannot take a trip to Southwold and not visit the highly stocked Adnams beverage, gift, food and homeware store.

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Then taking a short walk back to the pier, we went to The Clockhouse café – highly recommended by one of the friends I was with, from her memories of a family holiday with their scrumptious hot chocolates, deliciously topped with cream, marshmallows and flake. Although tempting, I went for a traditional English Breakfast Tea, which was served in an adorable, pretty floral teapot. It was lovely to sit inside for a while, to escape from the windy weather and gaze out over the sea and the colourful beach hut lined coast.

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Before leaving we walked the planks to the end of the pier, where a lady offered to capture this humorous pirate themed photo below, and I returned the favour for her and her husband, giggling over the funny characters. Back along the pier we sniggerred at our distorted figures in the magic mirrors and then ventured back down the planks.

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After a tremendous day, we strolled back to the car, stopping to quickly snap a photo of myself beneath the sign for the pier, then returning home. All in all – it was a lovely day out.

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A SUPERB SUFFOLK WEDDING

Fashion, life

I have always loved a wedding. Whether it be one I’m actually invited to, a marathon of Don’t Tell the Bride, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings and Say Yes to the Dress episodes (you name it… I’ve probably exhausted all series), playing my most favourite movie ‘Mamma Mia’ on repeat, or an extensive pinning of everything wedding themed on Pinterest – I LOVE THEM. So I’m sure you could probably understand how excited I was on June 5th 2015 when the time came to celebrate my cousin’s engagement. And now, just over 2 years later, my cousin has been wed.

I guess my love for a wedding may stem from all the magical memories I have of them as a child – when my godmother and father’s daughters got married, when two of my cousins got married and I was lucky enough to be a bridesmaid for one of them, and when many other family members and friends were wedded, I have always loved the enchanting days. All the beautiful and different wedding dresses, the confetti floating over the bride and the groom, the romantic church ceremonies, the glamorous entries in Rolls Royce’s, limos and even a fairy-tale horse and carriage. What is not to like?! Every wedding I have been to has been one of the most charming, beautiful, romantic and memorable days of my life and every one of them has been perfectly captured in photographs, but what better than to write a blog post of my most recent wedding memory?

My cousin’s wedding day: Saturday 8th July.

Although I was not there to see the ceremony in Sorrento, Italy in the latter of June, I was of course at the reception back in the UK. The day was perfectly celebrated in Seckford Hall, Suffolk, a magnificent Tudor House with beautiful gardens adorned with a lake, perfectly aligned by willow trees – that just so happens to be where I was a bridesmaid a few years back. The house serves as a hotel, spa, restaurant and bar and bubbles with Royal history – perfect for a stunning celebration.

With the right royal reception, I was eager to turn out in beautiful attire and with living near Cambridge equipping me with plenty of designer stores I found an elegant pale pink dress in Whistles (as photographed and linked below – currently in the sale and I would DEFINITELY recommend!). Pairing this with metallic silver stiletto heels and a silver clutch bag (both from New Look) I found my perfect wedding guest outfit and being SO excited I was counting down the days.

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On the day of the wedding I felt extremely comfortable, the dress swayed perfectly and with moderately humid weather it was lovely to be in a slightly looser fitting and sleeveless dress. Pale pink is the perfect colour for this time of year. I felt pretty, graceful and chic in my outfit.

The reception itself was flawless, with an Italian themed banquet fit for the queen and the opportunity to pimp your prosecco with pink sherbet, berries and mint, I definitely enjoyed my afternoon. With the dance floor opening later in the evening with a popping playlist for a bit of a boogie, the day was perfectly drawn to a close.

And I can definitely say the wedding has continued to shape my love for a wedding.

http://www.whistles.com/women/sale/dresses/lilian-pleated-lace-mix-dress-24941.html