Living with Anxiety

Hello.

I’ve wanted to blog about my anxiety disorder for such a long time, and today I’m finally ready to sit down and talk about it. I’ve spoken to the Journal about my mental health and shared my story over on SpunOut, but I felt like it was time to write about it here on Scribbles By Kat.

I’ve been battling with anxiety for over two years now. There have been many difficult moments during this ongoing battle, from extreme panic attacks to isolating myself from friends and family and from difficult GP visits to emotional counselling sessions. It hasn’t been easy, but as time goes by I’ve learned how to live with my anxiety.

Back in 2015 my anxiety was extremely bad. There were days when I couldn’t leave the house or get on bus or speak to anyone or visit the city centre. I was crippled with an intense fear and waves of worry flooded my mind. There were days when I cancelled plans with my dearest friends, because I was too anxious to get out of my bed. There were days when I stood at my bus stop and let dozens of buses pass me by, because I was too anxious to move and go into the city. There were nights where I had to leave bars because I just couldn’t deal with the crowds. There have been days when I’d leave to go to college and then turn back home, because I couldn’t handle the bus journey or being with my classmates or delivering a presentation. There have been sleepless nights and panic attacks and constant tears.

Anxiety isn’t cute or trendy. It’s not about being shy or bashful. I can’t just ‘get over it’ or ‘be more confident’. It’s not about being too sensitive or too nervous. It’s a serious mental illness that many people fail to treat with respect or care.

I am learning to live with my anxiety disorder. I still have my bad days, but this year there have been more good days than bad. I still have panic attacks, I still suffer from sleep paralysis triggered by my anxiety, I still struggle to go into the city centre, I still find it hard to breathe, I still get intense heart palpitations. I still have days when my mind is full of worry and dread and unbearable negative thoughts.

There are so many people that dismiss anxiety. There are so many people who don’t take it seriously. There are so many people who believe it doesn’t matter. There are so many people who don’t treat it like a real illness.

“You’re just a bit shy.”

“You need to go out in the fresh air more.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re just being silly.”

“Stop looking for attention.”

“You’re just over-reacting.”

However, there are people who are making a difference by opening up and talking about mental health. When writing about depression in Reasons To Stay Alive, Matt Haig says “Depression is also smaller than you. Always, it is smaller than you, even when it feels vast. It operates within you, you do not operate within it. It may be a dark cloud passing across the sky, but- if that is the metaphor- you are the sky.

You were there before it. And the cloud can’t exist without the sky, but the sky can exist without the cloud.”

I remind myself of his words every single day. My anxiety isn’t in control of my life. My anxiety isn’t bigger than me. My anxiety isn’t more powerful. My anxiety isn’t going to win.

People will dismiss anxiety. People will mock you and belittle you and disrespect you when you speak about anxiety. People will tell you to ‘get over yourself’ or to ‘shake it off’. People will tell you that you’re being over the top or attention seeking, but you’re not.

This is my anxiety story and I will continue to fight against my disorder, and I will continue to talk about it, no matter how many people knock me down. Living with anxiety is an ongoing battle. It is a real disorder that needs to be taken seriously. We may live in a country where many people dismiss mental health, however, together we can change things by talking about anxiety in an open and honest way.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

-Margaret Mead

Sincerely Yours,

Kat

 

3 Quotes That Always Brighten My Day

The sun may be shining, but I’m not feeling too great today, thanks to PMS! I feel gloomy and moody and unmotivated, but one thing that always cheers me up is reading through the quotes that I scribbled in my journal. The power of words will always outweigh the negative feelings. I thought I’d share some of my favourite quotes with you today. If you aren’t feeling sassy or cheerful, these quotes will help brighten your day and widen your smile.

1: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

-Ferris Bueller

2: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

-Maya Angelou

3: “With the new day comes strength and new thoughts.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Here’s to brighter, happier days.

Sincerely Yours

Kat

 

 

Shape of You

I’ve got freckles on my back

And pasty pale skin.

I’ve got stretch marks on my stomach

And light grey eyes.

I’ve got curly brown hair

And scars on my thighs.

I’ve learned to love my body, even the parts that make my heart sink when I look in the mirror. I remind myself of it’s strength and it’s power and it’s duty to protect the organs that keep me alive. My body’s purpose isn’t to squeeze into a pair of jeans from Topshop.

It is there to protect the heart that pumps blood around my body and the lungs that are the reason for every breath I take. My body protects my brain, which is full of ideas and memories and dreams. My body protects the bones that are the reason I can walk down the street and dance around the kitchen and hug my parents.

Your body’s strength is mesmerizing, so the next time you start to worry about how your legs aren’t long enough or how your tummy isn’t toned enough, remind yourself that your body is strong, your body is your great protector and your body is your home.

Hopes and Dreams for April

Happy April! Is it just me or is 2017 flying by at the speed of light? I’ve been spending the vast majority of my time working on my final year assignments, however April is my last month in college… forever, so it’s time to wave goodbye to Harvard Referencing and essay writing, and focus on myself this month.

So here are a few things that I’d like to do in April

1: Go on a solo theatre trip

I’ve been dreaming about visiting Smock Alley Theatre, which is one of my favourite places in Dublin. This month I’m going to pluck up the courage and go on a solo theatre trip during my Easter midterm. I fell in love with Smock Alley when I went to see Spring Awakening there in 2015, so another visit is well overdue.

2: Read more

I’ve handed up most of my assignments, which means I can finally read for fun again. I’ve set myself a target to read four books in April. I’m currently swooning over Rainbow Rowell’s novel Eleanor and Park, which is a set in the 1980’s. She sure knows the way to my heart.

3: Marathon Training

I’ll be taking part in the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon on behalf of the Make A Wish Foundation in June. The marathon is such an empowering and moving day and I cannot wait to take part again this year. However, I need to start training again and now that the evenings are brighter I can finally go on some sassy power walks. If you’d like to support the Make A Wish Foundation you can make a donation over on Kat’s Fundraising Page

4: Take Care of Myself

I took part in a mindfulness workshop in college and it made me realise that I haven’t been taking care of myself or my mind lately. The stress of my final year has had a bad impact on my mental health so I’m going to focus on taking better care of myself this month. I’m going to meditate a few times a week and possibly purchase one of those dreamy adult colouring books to help me unwind in the evenings.

Have you set any goals for this month? Tweet me @katkatkatt

Here’s to a month full of happy days and new adventures.

Sincerely Yours,

Kat

6 Things That Made Me Smile This Week

I was lucky enough to take part in a mindfulness workshop in college on Wednesday. One thing that helps boost mindfulness is gratitude, so I’ve decided to start a positivity journal. I’m toying with the idea of visiting Paperchase and splashing out on a new notebook *swoons*, but today I’m going to scribble here on my blog and share a few things that made me smile like the Cheshire Cat this week.

1: My Mam minds my little cousin Molly three days a week. She brightens my mornings and never fails to make me laugh. She’s such a placid kid and is a joy to have around the house. This week she ran around the house doing dinosaur impressions, which made me laugh so much.

2: I handed up my special subject assignment, which has been stressing me out for months. It’s one of the biggest college projects I’ve ever worked on so I was over the moon when I handed it up on Tuesday afternoon.

3: Riverdale is back. I am crazy about this show so that two week break was a true struggle. Oh it’s so great to see Jughead back on my screen. I’ve got the biggest crush on Cole Sprouse.

4: Twist and Shout by The Beatles played on the radio as I drove to college with my Dad. That song always makes me smile because it reminds me of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

5: I bought new denim shorts that make me feel really body confident. I struggle to find shorts that fit well because I’ve got huge hips and a slim waist, but finally I found a pair that make me feel super sassy.

6: My skin is clearing up. Bon voyage spots! I’ve been drinking more water, eating more fruit and using the L’oréal Fine Flowers Gel-Cream Wash and it seems to be working on my angry red blemishes. It feels good to have clear skin again.

What made you smile this week?

Sincerely Yours

Kat

5 Things That Will Make Mornings Easier

Waking up at 7am is never easy, especially when you’ve stayed up past 2am watching Parks and Recreation the night before. Luckily I’ve discovered a few tips and tricks that have made this early mornings a lot more bearable.

1: Brush Your Pearly Whites

It’s a simple task, but if you brush your teeth first thing in the morning you will feel a hell of a lot fresher. Plus nobody wants to tuck into into their avocado and toast when someone with awful morning breathe is sitting opposite them.

2:Music

Music that reminds you of a happy memory will increase your mood. Serotonin levels can increase after you listen to music so make an upbeat morning playlist on Spotify that you can dance around to whilst getting ready. Lately I’ve been playing Green Light by Lorde and You Make My Dreams Come True by Hall & Oates in the mornings.

3: Prepare Your Clothes

I understand that rummaging through your wardrobe and ironing at 8pm doesn’t sound ideal, but preparing your clothes the night before will make your morning less stressful. Say goodbye to mornings where you spend most of your time running around looking for a pair of matching socks and your favourite stripey t-shirt.

4:Wake Up Your Brain

We all feel lethargic and a bit doddery in the mornings, but one way to combat those feelings is to get your brain into action. Read the newspaper or a few pages from a book. You don’t need to read half of Ulysses, but reading in the morning will make you feel focused and it helps generate creativity.

5: Join The Breakfast Club

This tip is not about befriending Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald, even though that sounds like a dream. One vital thing you should always try to do in the morning is to eat breakfast. It’ll boost your energy levels and keep your inner hangry gremlin from being unleashed when the ticket machine at the Luas doesn’t work. Eat whatever tickles your fancy, whether that’s a bowl of coco pops or the Ron Swanson option- bacon and eggs.

“Start each day with a positive thought.”

Sincerely Yours,

Kat

Embracing the Quiet Days

I woke up early this morning and pottered down the stairs. I filled the kettle and waited for it to boil. I made some coffee and rambled back upstairs to my bedroom. I sipped my coffee, dreamed over the pages of my book and scribbled in my journal. There’s something so beautiful about calm Saturday mornings.

I think it’s important to take a day off to unwind and to breathe. Saturday is the only day off I have from college or work, so I always try my best to make it the best day of the week. I don’t do anything extravagant or daring on this day off. I actually do the opposite, I sit back and recharge my batteries.

I thought I’d share three things that I love to do on these calm days.

1: Drink coffee in bed

My mornings consist of hitting the snooze button far too often, rummaging through my presses for a pair of tights that aren’t ripped, and rushing around to the bus stop with an empty stomach and bag full of assignment briefs. I don’t get to go on peaceful morning strolls or sip coffee in my local cafe as I watch the world go by. The first thing I do on a Saturday morning is pour warm coffee into my favourite red mug, curl up in bed and embrace that moment.

2: Read

I’m a massive bookworm, but due to the never ending pile of assignments I have to do, I never have enough time to power through my TBR list. I’ve been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for what feels like a lifetime now. In the mornings I try to give myself at least an hour to curl up in bed and just read. Reading is the perfect escapism for me and it never fails to calm me down and helps me forget about my worries.

3: Go on a solo date

I’ve been going to the cinema and to cafes by myself a lot more lately and I love it. I’ve become a lot more independent and confident. Some days I feel too anxious to go out so I sit in and catch up on Call The Midwife, or listen to music on Spotify; I’ve fallen in love with the latest Ed Sheeran album. Spending time alone helps me become more mindful and focused. I’m constantly surrounded by people whether I’m in work or in college, so it’s nice to have some time alone with my thoughts every so often.

What do you do on your days off? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @katkatkatt

Sincerely Yours,

Kat

Waiting For The Next Chapter

Back in my final year of school I stood outside my English classroom with my favourite teacher, we spoke about how my grades had dropped dramatically and about how my writing wasn’t as strong as it used to be. “You’ve lost your spark” she said with concern. And she was right, I had lost my spark, because I knew that I only had a few months left in school. I was ready to leave. I was ready to complete my exams and move onto the next chapter of my life.

At the moment I have two months left in college. I will complete my HND in journalism in two months and I’m more than ready for graduate life. People have noticed that my spark has dwindled again. I’ve grown tired of college; tired of the same old routine, the classes, the 18 bus route, the early mornings and the never ending pile of assignments weighing me down. I can see the finish line, but I still have one more hurdle to jump over before I get there. But, I’m growing impatient. I’m ready to leave now, right this second. I’m ready to wave goodbye to my college and my classmates and to move onto a brand new chapter.

I’ve been daydreaming about the freedom I’ll have once I walk out the door of my final class. I’m not too sure what I’ll do when I complete this course. I may work full time in a local cafe or move to Canada or study something completely different. Maybe I’ll join a pottery class or spend the summer in the countryside or start volunteering again. I might write the book I’ve always dreamed of or find a full time job in the city or apply for an internship at a newspaper. I could move across the world or simply down to Cork. The list is never ending.

I won’t let the final few pages of this chapter dim my spark. I will be as bright as I’ve ever been. I will fill my mind with positive thoughts and my soul with determination and drive. Patience and positivity will help me reach the end of this chapter.

In two months time this chapter will end. A chapter where I grew and met new friends and learned many valuable lessons. A chapter where I cried and laughed and smiled. A chapter where I achieved my dreams and failed, but continued to move forward, because I can see that finish line and I cannot wait to cross it.

Sincerely Yours,

Kat

Happier

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I have a love/hate relationship with the On This Day feature on Facebook. It reminds me of my secondary school days where I was free and the only thing I had to worry about was passing my geography class test, or having enough money to go see the latest Twilight movie with my friends. However, it also reminds me of my progress. It shows me photos of my past self. I was young, naive and sheltered. I had not yet discovered who I was, the real me, my true self. But today, as I write this post on a train to Galway, I’ve realised that I am happier than the girl in those photos, and that I have changed a lot.

I no longer watch Twilight movies. I finished school and passed my Leaving Cert. I got that B2 in English that I worked hard for. I have new friends. My skin has cleared up. My mousy brown hair is now copper. I’ve developed stretch marks and scars and cellulite. I’ve ran marathons. I’ve studied both creative writing and journalism. I’ve had work published in newspapers and on websites. I’ve read tonnes of books and watched many new movies. I’ve drank tea with my grandparents and pina coladas with my best friend. I’ve danced at concerts and cried at concerts. I’ve hopped on planes, trains and buses to new cities. I fell in love and I’ve had my heart broken. I’ve battled with anxiety and depression and I won. I discovered an unknown love for coffee and The Clash and Hygge. I wear red lipstick and often buy clothes because they remind me of The Bratpack. I daydream about living in Canada, Cork and Copenhagen. I worry about my grades and my family and my friends. I sing along to Radio Nova with my Dad in the car. I call handsome actors dishy just like my Mam does. I adopted a cat. I’ve had one tooth taken out. I have fallen in love with the simplicity of spending time by myself. I’ve fallen head over heels in love with John Hughes movies. I’ve sent a message in a bottle and heard back from the person that found it. I’ve fallen both in and out of love with my life. I’ve experienced euphoric highs and heartbreaking lows over the past twenty two years.

But most importantly, I am happier and stronger and wiser than the girl in those photographs from the past.

Sincerely Yours,

Kat

Galentine’s Day

Happy Galentine’s Day to all the wonderful ladies around the world. Galentine’s Day is the third greatest day of the year (my birthday and treat yo self day are the other two). Galentine’s Day was created by my spirit animal/hero/queen Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation. This day is all about empowering your lady friends and celebrating the sisterhood you share. Here are some Galentine’s Day ideas for you and your gal pals.

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1: Host a movie night

The weather has been dreadful over the past couple days, so why don’t you gather up your friends and host a ladies movie night, where you can avoid the snow, rain and wind, trust me, your hair will be grateful for it. The essentials for a successful movie night are: microwave popcorn, malteasers, wine, all three Bridget Jones movies, snuggly pjs, tissues for your tears and fluffy socks. You’ll have far more fun watching Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver fight over Bridget, rather than waiting on a bus into the city in the pouring rain.

2: Go on a coffee date

“Coffee and friends make the perfect blend” is one of my favourite quotes, because it’s too true. There’s nothing better than nattering away with your bestie and sipping on cappuccinos in a dinky little cafe. Why don’t you potter over to your local cafe with your mam, your best friend or your sister and chat over warm cups of coffee. Text that school friend you haven’t seen in months and organise a coffee date. What better day to reunite than on Galentine’s Day?

3: Dance It Out

Meredith and Cristina always danced it out in Grey’s Anatomy, so why not follow their lead and do the same. Get the girls together and attend a zumba class in your local community centre. Stick on Beyoncé’s greatest hits and shimmy around the kitchen with your closest gal pals. Head into the city and go to an 80s club night and dance your troubles away.

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The main thing to do this Galentine’s Day is to show the women in your life just how much they mean to you, whether that’s your sister, your cousin, your granny or your college friends. Galentine’s Day is a day where we can share the love with the women who mean everything to us. Always remember that the ladies in your life will always be there for you and in the wise words of Leslie Knope, ovaries before brovaries, right?

Sincerely Yours,

Kat