How to Survive Being Single at Christmas

**Disclaimer: this post is NOT to be taken seriously. Merry Christmas all you non/lovebirds. Continue reading “How to Survive Being Single at Christmas”

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Get Brave: How to Deal with Anxious Behaviour

“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.”

Jodi Picoult, Sing You Home

Anxiety is in the news. Hurrah.

Well, not “hurrah” because the statistics are pretty damn high and it seems that more and more of us are plagued by irrational feelings, self-doubt and anxious behaviour that we don’t know the cause of, and we certainly don’t understand how to handle.

I’ve made no secret of my own on-going battle with anxiety and have mentioned it a few times on Emma Is Writing. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m about to bring it up again because it is important.

I am not ashamed of being affected by this condition, but there was a time not so long ago that I was so embarrassed by my irrational thoughts, feelings and behaviour, that I kept them to myself, locked them all away only to coax these thoughts out at night and let its contents invade my sleep and sanity.

I had insomnia for five years, which is hilarious because now I love nothing more than a good snooze.
I was medicated for two of these but weaned myself off sleeping tablets when I didn’t like how lethargic they made me feel the next day. Plus they gave me a mouth like a badger’s bum which, for those who get hangovers, is not a pleasant experience.

I know this may seem like a crazy amount of time to suffer in silence but, for me, my anxiety and insomnia started off as a product of a traumatic event it my life and then it just festered because I let it.

By day I was OK, fully functioning at work, holding down a good social life, but I was still a fraction of my previous bubbly, happy self. I often felt like I was watching myself laughing and having a good time but not actually feeling that elated. I felt like a fraud.

For me, night time was when I would eventually let these thoughts invade my head. As mentioned in a previous blog post, things finally came to a head when my mum spotted the signs.

I’m not being dramatic when I say that I felt like everyone was against me. That my friends must dislike me. That I was a bad person and deserved the bad things that happened in my life. Looking back I recognise these as irrational thoughts. Let’s face it, even I think they’re pretty bonkers.

I still struggle with other people’s perceptions of me and can sometimes find it difficult to cope if I argue with people or have a particularly bad day at work, and I will probably always be affected by this, but I am learning to address these thoughts and feelings. For me, often talking them over with someone else is a good way of banishing them all together.

So why am I talking so openly and candidly about this mega personal issue? It isn’t for sympathy. I can assure you that I thought long and hard about being so frank in this blog post for fear of upsetting others, including my friends and family, but I decided two years ago when I started Emma Is Writing, that I would like my little space on the internet to be a positive place where people can realise they aren’t alone.

According to Stylist magazine, anxiety is “fast becoming the most common affliction of the modern age.”
Sarah Fletcher, who wrote this recent article for the popular magazine, narrates a story that resonates deeply with me. She writes:

What’s surprising is that anxiety – a feeling that starts in the amygdala region of the brain (the section that controls intense emotional responses) – is quickly translated into a physical reaction…the reason that happens,’ she explains, ‘is that anxiety is essentially our fight or flight response. All very well (and useful) when faced with a wild animal who fancies a light snack, not quite so appropriate when we’re trying to locate the fitting rooms in the Topshop sales.
The problem is that in our non-stop, fast-paced existence, sometimes our brains are simply unable to differentiate between physical and non-physical threats, meaning that our bodies are on edge far more often than they should be.

I hear you!

She goes on to reveal the shocking statistics of anxiety amongst adults in the modern world.

“Anxiety is all around us, and it’s on the rise. A 2008 Harvard Health Publication, Anxiety And Physical Illness, stated that out of the estimated 57million adults who have anxiety disorders, two thirds are women. In 2013, the Office of National Statistics published statistics that showed nearly 20% of the UK population over the age of 16 displayed evidence of anxiety and depression, with women (21%) more likely than men (16%) to report symptoms. Dr Michael Rutherford, a psychiatrist at London’s Springfield Hospital agrees: “Women are two to three times more likely to suffer from anxiety than men.”
“Anxiety disorders affect a significant proportion of the population,” adds Dr Rutherford. “But many suffer in silence.”
The real figures are disguised by the fact anxiety is such a nebulous beast. The term covers everything from post-traumatic stress disorder to phobias, to OCD and panic attacks. To complicate matters further, it often goes hand-in-hand with depression, making it harder still to pin down.’

It is indeed a “nebulous beast.” Often we feel down, worried, and a bit blue – our busy modern lives see to this – but how do we recognise that its becoming a problem and, most importantly, how do we overcome these irrational feelings?

It is utterly terrifying to be in the grasp of such uncontrollable thoughts, especially when you experience the physical manifestations of the problem – panic attacks and insomnia are no walk in the park, I can tell you, but luckily there is more and more being done to help identify these issues and help people to overcome this, often, blip in their otherwise healthy lives.

Along with the informative article, Stylist have come up with a helpful list of tips to combat anxiety, or at least alleviate the symptoms. It’s all about training your brain to think differently and taking the time out of your busy life to put yourself first and think about your own mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.

So, although World Mental Health Day has come and gone, I’d like to propose we all take better care of ourselves and that we all get a little braver. Share your stories with each other – and me – don’t be ashamed, help someone who you think might be having a tough time, and just look after each other.

Thanks for listening, you gorgeous lot.

Along with my #itsnotgrimupnorth series where I wax lyrical about all things Manchester, I’ve decided to start another new series on the blog! (Hurah, I hear you all cry) called #getbrave where I’m hoping I can get you lovely lot involved with sharing words of wisdom, tales of inspirations and ways to keep each other motivated.

Sometimes all people need is a little support, a chance to shine, or just someone to listen. Lets help each other out!

Like the sound of this? Visit me over at Twitter @EmmaYatesBadley or leave a message below with your pearls of wisdom

Get Brave: Turning the Big 3-0

“I don’t believe in ageing. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun. ”

Virginia Woolf

In four days I will be turning 30 years old. I have four days left of my twenties. Four. That feels so incredibly strange to say – or type – out loud. I am having a bit of a difficult time with the realisation that I am no longer a twenty-something.

Am I finally going to have to behave like an adult? Is this the year it will finally hit me and all of a sudden – like a light bulb moment – I will suddenly understand all the intricacies of the grown-up world?

Probably not. Deep down, I still feel eighteen. I suppose – and hope – this never changes.

It’s a tough age for us women. We’re no longer entitled to the extended adolescence that is the Terrible Twenties, instead we are urged to move forward, make decisions, join the real world, and – quite frankly – its fucking terrifying sometimes. I’ve lost count of the amount of people who’ve asked me if I have a boyfriend, husband, children, or plans for them in the near future. I can barely decide what I want for dinner, let alone what I want to do with the rest of my life, and I feel like I am on a strict timeline now. I have mixed emotions about this.

On one hand, it’s about time I got serious. It’s time I think about what I want to do and what I want from my life, purely because it will make me happy and a little more stable, not because someone has told me I need to settle down.
However, on the other, I am increasingly frustrated with this need to lump people in age brackets and dictate to them what they should be doing and by when.

I overheard a woman the other day saying it was her 30th birthday soon. A fellow Libran and October baby, I told her I was also facing the impending thirtydom.

“How do you feel about it?” someone else asked her.

“I feel fine,” she replied, fiercely. “I feel better than I did when I was twenty-five because I have more now. I have a house, I’m not quite married but I am engaged, and I have a stable job. I feel ready for it.”
“Define more,” I wanted to ask. I mean, look at my situation. To some people – and occasionally I am one of these – my life at 29 might seem a little scary. Officially I am unemployed, I rent a room from my friend, I am seeing someone but it’s in those very early – and exciting – stages and I don’t know what I want to do next week, let alone during the course of the next five years.

I’m not going to lie. This got to me. I felt like this woman was preparing for war, arming herself with “things” to fight off the milestone. House. Check. Husband to be. Check. Stable career. Check. And I felt a bit sad that, as women (and men, I’m sure you feel this too) this is what we chalk our experiences up to. This is what is important.

I’m not saying that marriage, or having a career, or beautiful babies isn’t an achievement, or a worthwhile one – they’re all fan-fucking-tastic (well done the lot of you) rather, we don’t have to have them all at once, in a certain order, or by a certain time. Or at all, if we don’t want.

Married but your job sucks? Oh well.

Got the career but no sign of a baby? It’s OK.

What’s for you won’t go by you.

If you’re meant to have it, you will. It just takes some of us a little bit longer – and a good dose of hard work – to get there. I have always, always wanted to be a writer. I have talked about being a writer for a long time, and how I want to write a novel, but its only now – on the cusp of the big 3-0 – that I feel ready, brave and able enough to go for it. I am almost finished with the first draft of my young adult novel and have made promises to my loved ones that I will at least send it off into the world when its complete.

So yeah, my biological clock may be ticking away like the crocodile in Peter Pan, but I have zero interest in babies right now.

“Oh you’ll have one,” a friend said to me. “You will change your mind in a few years. You’ll see.”

Maybe I will but I don’t like that assumption. Maybe I won’t change my mind. Or perhaps one day something will just trigger that switch. What I am trying to say, I suppose – in a rather roundabout fashion – is that it’s OK to be afraid of turning thirty, or twenty one, or fifty or sixteen.

It’s OK to question your achievements, and want to push yourself further or strive for something else, but make sure you base this assumption on your own values, not those of other people. I can assure you,though, that just by being yourself you have achieved something brilliant

I’ve had a rollercoaster decade. I’ve had great times, I’ve had awful times, I’ve lost people I love, made wonderful friends and lost others. I have experienced interesting things, travelled solo and seen the world, fallen in love, had my heart broken and broken my own in the process. But I am stronger, tougher, wiser, kinder, smarter, sillier and braver as a result.

Yes, I am nervous of what’s to come. I chose to shed my skin and begin again in every aspect of my life. It’s tough especially when you’re compelled to compare yourself to others and judge your lot a little too harshly.

It’s time to shake off the shackles of what you think you should have, and think about what it is that you want to achieve.

Here’s to entering a new decade, you lovely lot, and being happy, healthy and fearless. Because really, that’s all that counts.

Along with my #itsnotgrimupnorth series where I wax lyrical about all things Manchester, I’ve decided to start another new series on the blog! (Hurah, I hear you all cry) called #getbrave where I’m hoping I can get you lovely lot involved with sharing words of wisdom, tales of inspirations and ways to keep each other motivated.

Sometimes all people need is a little support, a chance to shine, or just someone to listen. Lets help each other out!

Like the sound of this? Visit me over at Twitter @EmmaYatesBadley or leave a message below with your pearls of wisdom.