Anxiety and the City

“When I die, Dublin will be written on my heart” -James Joyce.

I was born in Dublin 23 years ago. I’ve lived here my entire life. It’s a city with great character and bundles of  history. There are so many places around the county that hold a special place in my heart, from Dún Laoghaire to the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and from my Nanny’s house to Smock Alley Theatre.

Unfortunately, the city itself has turned into one of my least favourite places. My anxiety disorder makes trips to the Big Smoke a complete and utter nightmare. I hop on the bus full of hope for the adventure ahead, but by the time it pulls up on Dame Street I am flooded with waves of panic and overcome with a feeling of dread. Anxiety is defined as ‘a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome’. Symptoms range from difficulty concentrating to headaches, and from nausea to constantly feeling on edge.

I’ve learned to live with my disorder, but I still struggle in the city. However, I don’t want my anxiety to get in the way of me living my life, so I’ve found a few little tricks that help me when I’m feeling extremely anxious in the city centre, and hopefully they can help someone else who is struggling too.

Music

It’s simple but so effective. I know sticking on Spotify isn’t going to cure your anxiety disorder, but it can help a lot, so give it a chance. I find that listening to quiet, soothing sounds can help calm your heart rate and breathing. I listen to Ben Howard, Birdy and Tom Odell when I’m walking around Dublin. Focusing on the music also distracts you from worrying. Slow music can help reduce stress levels which will ease both your body and mind when your anxiety rears it’s ugly head.

Company

My friends have been an incredible help to me. They’ve supported me when I’ve had panic attacks, reassured me when I felt stressed and understood that sometimes the city can be too much for me. If you speak to your friends in an open and honest way about your anxiety disorder you will feel a lot better. They will take t into account when you’re making plans. Your friends will make sure that you’re okay and will always keep an eye on you. Talking about mental health is difficult, because a lot of people can be dismissive, but your friends will understand and do their very best to help in whatever way they can. Knowing you have your friends support will help make outings to the city easier, and ten times more enjoyable.

Organisation

This has been the most helpful trick for me so far. Planning your trip into the city will ease your mind and will help you stay focused. Pick out the cafe beforehand if you’re meeting a friend for coffee. Decide what shops you need to visit on your journey into town. Sticking to a schedule will keep your anxiety at bay because you will feel in control of the situation. Chanel your inner Monica Geller, but maybe leave your label maker at home if you’re heading out for cocktails with the girls.

Sincerely Yours,

Kat

Advertisements

3 Things I Discovered When I Lived Alone

I’ve always wanted to be in a John Hughes movie, but Home Alone would not be at the top of my list. However, I found myself channeling my inner Kevin when my family went on holidays for two weeks without me. Staying home alone seemed a lot more exciting until the dishes started to pile up in the sink. It wasn’t as fun as I expected it to be, but I thought I’d share what I learned from the experience here on Scribbles by Kat.

  • I need to learn how to cook: Let’s take this moment to appreciate my amazing Nanny Gretta, because if it wasn’t for her I would have been living off toasted sandwiches for the entire two weeks. In my head I dreamed of having fancy giant breakfasts like they do on Gossip Girl- pancakes, waffles, pastries, fruit, freshly squeezed orange juice and gallons of coffee every morning. However, I struggled to make a slice of toast without burning it. I think it’s time to brush up on my cooking skills or my dreams of hosting a swanky dinner party in the future will never come true.
  • Music makes everything better: I really underestimated the amount of housework my Mam has to do everyday. From hoovering to making the beds, and from washing clothes to polishing the furniture. It seemed daunting at first, but one thing that helped get through the never ending list of housework was music. Every morning I played my favourite albums at full volume as I pottered about the kitchen. The La La Land soundtrack and Spandau Ballet’s greatest hits were my go to albums, much to my neighbours delight- many apologies for the appalling singing. Playing music whilst I did the housework made it ten times more enjoyable, however it may have taken a lot longer due to the numerous dance breaks I took whilst hoovering. I looked just like Robin Williams during the cleaning scene in Mrs. Doubtfire.
  • The difference between being alone and being lonely: I’m an introvert, which means I gain energy from being by myself, rather than in social situations. I love spending time by myself. I go to cafes alone. I go to the cinema alone. I go shopping alone. But that doesn’t mean I like being lonely. There is a huge difference between being alone and lonely, and being lonely is one of the worst feelings ever. I didn’t think I’d miss my family as much as I did, but coming home from work and not finding my Mam watching Fair City and Dad reading the newspaper was awfully sad. Also, being home alone at night time is so scary, especially when your brain makes you believe the Demogorgon from Stranger Things is outside your bedroom door.

Being home alone was both a good and bad experience. I’m sleeping better and eating real meals again now that my family are back, however I do miss having full access to the TV, I miss binge watching Gilmore Girls until the early hours of the morning.

Sincerely Yours,

Kat

Home Sweet Home

Thousands of people will be flying home to Ireland from all across the globe this Christmas. They’ll be greeted by their loved ones at the airport with open arms and handmade banners. They’ll be driven home to a warm and cosy house where they’ll sit in the living room with a cup of tea and 101 stories to tell their family about their time away from the Emerald  Isle. 

Christmas is a time where we cherish our family and appreciate our home that’s been decked out in festive decorations. Unfortunately there are thousands of people spending Christmas on the streets this year. According to The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Homelessness Report in October 2016 there are 4377 people who are ‘officially homeless’ in Ireland.

Knowing that someone will be spending Christmas on the cold, empty streets of Dublin instead of being surrounded by family is devastating. But what can we do to help?

You can get involved with the Home Sweet Home campaign, who are working tirelessly to end homelessness in Ireland. It’s time to make the change we want to see. It’s up to us, the people of Ireland, to help as much as we can to defeat homelessness. To donate to this incredible campaign please go to https://www.gofundme.com/home-sweet-home-ireland where every cent you donate will help stop homelessness. 

This Christmas you can also make a donation to Focus Ireland and help stop another family becoming homeless in our country. All you have to do is click on this link which will bring you to Focus Ireland’s donation page https://www.focusireland.ie/donate/ where you can donate whatever you can.

The homeless crisis in Ireland is worsening and it’s up to us to stop it. We can’t let anymore families lose their homes or let people sleep rough on the streets as the rain pours down and soaks the cardboard they have to sleep on. Be grateful that you have a roof over your head this Christmas because there are thousands of people across the country that don’t.

Keep the homeless people in your thoughts this Christmas and make a donation. Hopefully this time next year they’ll be sitting in a warm, cosy home instead of in a sleeping bag on the street. 

Sincerely Yours,

Kat. 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

There’s a sense of magic in the air everywhere you go at Christmas, but like Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz, there’s no place like home. 

This Christmas I’m going to value my home more than ever before, because I nearly lost my Mam this summer. I feel so grateful to be surrounded by my family in our warm (I’m afraid to see the heating bill) home that’s been turned into Santa’s grotto. 

For me, our four bedroom house in Drimnagh is the most perfect place to be this festive season. 

The warm, white fairy lights on the tree twinkle as the sun goes down. 

The window ledge in the kitchen is now home to the dainty Christmas ornaments Mam has collected over the years. 

The three old, tattered Christmas stockings we’ve had since our youth hang from the mantelpiece. 

The Christmas tree stands tall in the front room with our sentimental Hospice decorations placed on the branches. 

The pile of presents under the tree is slowly starting to grow as December 25th approaches.

The stress of college and work and bills and illness is slowly drifting away. Soon we’ll be having festive movie nights and scuffles over who ate the chocolate from the advent calendar a day early. We’ll be celebrating Dad’s birthday and pottering around shopping centres looking for gifts. 

And on Christmas Day, the five of us will sit around the table at home in Drimnagh; and I couldn’t think of a dreamier December.