January 2019

I’m sitting in a uncomfortable chair. Chin jutting forward towards the screen of this computer. Crossing and uncrossing my legs.

But it’s not just the chair it’s me. I have shifted somehow and feel uncomfortable in myself.

It’s not the first time I have felt like this.

It’s the age old question. But who am I meant to be? What am I meant to do?

I feel I am stumbling purposely from one thing to the next. Nothing really seeming to fit.

Or maybe I am stopping things from fitting. Resisting stability. I am only 26, does it really matter this unsettled feeling?

Yes, because I am feeling it. I have read what others have written expressing similar sentiments. Feeling lost, un-tethered and porous like a sick amoeba.

I adjust the way I am sitting, back straighter, pelvis tucked. Little to no difference. Ugh.

Last week and over the Christmas break I threw myself into yoga and swimming, peppered with a little rowing and running. If I felt uncomfortable I just moved. Moved away from the feeling. Was I running away?

My first week back at work and back in London was really hard. Walking up a slow steady incline with a cart laden with heavy books and a dodgy front wheel. Hauling myself into the new year.

Heartbreak is indeed a slow burner. It has been around 6 months now and still flares up burning in my head and chest. An ice cold heat. Rejection. It takes quite a bit of my energy (and some from friends and relations) to keep on stomping in my stomping boots.

When obsessive thoughts kick in it can drain away the work I have done to ‘heal myself’. What did I do? What’s wrong with me? Was it my anxiety? Was it my body? Am I disgusting? Does he think I am disgusting now? I start to believe my negative answers to these questions and tirelessly seek reassurance from my close friends and mother.

I start to feel that I must be a tiresome friend. I start to see weary expressions on their faces. Projections of how I feel about myself.

Ignoring these thoughts and suspicions I continue trundling up the slow and steady incline.

I don’t know when I will reach the top.  I will that there is a plateau just around the corner or maybe I will find a floor pump to pump up that dodgy wheel.

Swim

The promise of a wild swim had drawn us down to the dried up bed of the Rio Higueron. Traversing the steep slopes through mango and avocado groves like cumbersome mountain goats, I realised where you go down you have to come back up. A daunting prospect even in the late afternoon in Southern Spain, the concrete still hot enough to slowly fry an egg. But we were committed to finding the Pozo Batan, a small reservoir that I had read about before arriving in Frigiliana. Strolling along I began to fantasise about the soft cold water rinsing the film of dust and sweat from my arms and legs. I imagined the suspension of my body, blissful weightlessness, completely connected to the water.

 

Growing up on the coast in South Wales, I have always felt an affinity with water. This relationship is materialised by a habit I indulge when visiting bodies of water. I collect small stones, pebbles and shells, just one from each location. In limiting myself to one I not only ensure my collection remains manageable, but I also placate my mum and dad who are increasingly irritated by my substantial and growing collection.

 

Each step brought us closer to the pool; I could almost feel the water now. Earlier that day my mum had inferred that out of fear of potential drownings in a secluded spot, the local council might have fenced off my oasis. Ignoring the niggling voice in my head and hoping the rumours proved false I forged on along the basin.

 

The sun passing behind the top of the valley submerged us in warm shade as we followed the natural curving line of the arid riverbed. Rounding the apex my face fell. Huge iron fences, at least two and a half meters high, rusted in the evening light. We would not be swimming. The water was a true blue, even turquoise in the shallower sunny spots. But I was not in it: looking at it and walking around it, but not in it. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a car, my pulse quickened, it was a police car. Despite knowing that we weren’t breaking any laws my mouth became dry and my palms slippery. I was beginning to form sentences in my head, explaining that we were only looking and not trying to break-in (even though I wanted to). The officers started their engine, rolling over the uneven ground towards us. I held my breath as we moved between the bushes and shrubs obscuring their view. Several scenarios most involving my arrest and or death forced themselves through my mind. Ultimately my anxiety proved completely unnecessary as the car just crunched off down the riverbed and out of sight.

 

 

Turning back to my oasis, finding the feeding river, we followed it upstream. “What would we do if a wild dog were to attack us right now?” My mum’s throwaway comment set my amygdala to high alert, finding that my head didn’t want me to follow the stream further I sat down beside it. Tentatively I reached down and let the flow course around my fingertips (hoping I wouldn’t find it was a stream of sulphuric acid, it wasn’t). Benign, cool and soft, it would have been perfect for swimming in.

 

Dejected we walked back along the basin toward the roads snaking up the sides of the valley and to our “apartamento”. Absentmindedly my eyes scanned the ground and there it was, my stone. Our walk wouldn’t be fruitless after all. It was a perfect fit, cool and reassuringly heavy in my hand, a perfect swap for the lost promise of a swim.

IMG_20160815_182115
Stone, Rio Higueron, 2016

I like to think that my anxious thoughts about electric fences and electrified or poisoned water wouldn’t have stopped me from swimming, I can’t be sure but they would certainly have made me hesitant. I recall fleeting feelings of relief as I realised the pool was inaccessible. I would not have to overcome my anxiety or ‘expose’ it. Now I wish I had been able to, but I will have to be content with the stone. The next time I come across an oasis I will swim in it.

 

Taking some time off

This is a sentence that crops up a lot on the blogosphere… “so it’s been a while since my last post…and here’s why” or words to that effect. And yes I admit it has been a while. But this is not really my diary and Im not too keen on apologising for my absence when I doubt that it was even noticed. But I guess that’s what I am doing here anyway.

Nothing theatrical has happened, I didn’t get swept off my feet by love and end up marrying someone, nope I just went travelling, came back and started a masters and just left my blog here to ruminate on the meaning of its existence and its purpose.

It played hard to get and eventually I begrudgingly realised that I needed to return to it. Well if we are going to “be real” I will be honest. I put my masters degree on hold as a result of severe anxiety. Similar in feeling to the seat falling out of your wicker chair, and dropping you into the black space beneath.  You find yourself a reluctant contortionist. Shifting into shapes and identities trying to find the you-shape, which at the moment is folded in two, feeling cramped and terrified.

But with a heap of love from family and friends and some VERY helpful CBT I am unfolding again, approaching something like a me-shape.  Stretching back into myself, though it will be in a shape that I haven’t been before and I know that the shape will change continuously from gardener to musician to actor to art-historian, the me-morph.  I digress, basically I want to be honest about my experiences with both anxiety and depression but also with love, hate, beauty,all that other shit too, oh and music which makes me feel all those things. Depression and anxiety may directly inform my writing or simply pop up as themes every now and then keeping me on my toes.

I may just be adding my voice to the chorus, but this is a choir that must continue to grow, increasing transparency about absolutely everything in the human experience. I will share the things that terrify and elate me and hope (maybe dream) that this can move us towards a more understanding and transparent world. A safer one.

Dare to dream and keep an eye on that wicker bottom.

WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: