I Opened the Window and Influenza

As previously mentioned, I’m really out of practice with blog-writing/ writing in general, so I’ll stick to writing (or attempting to write) fairly short posts over the next few weeks. These will probably be a bit random in terms of subject and chronological order.


I mentioned in a previous post that after coming back from Namibia, I seemed to be coming down with repetitive bouts of the flu. One day at work, at the end of November, this lead to a rather dramatic (and somewhat embarrassing) turn of events.

The weird thing about this particular flu-like illness (other than that it kept coming back over the course of a month or so, after me feeling like I was completely back to normal) is that I would go from feeling completely fine to unable to get out of bed, in the space of only an hour or two. During this particular shift at work, it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks. I started to feel very run-down and very cold, so I told my manager I that I wasn’t feeling well, put my work fleece on, and had a short break for a few minutes. A couple of my colleagues could see that I was unwell and said that I should probably just go home, but having always been a conscientious person, and not wanting to let my colleagues down, I tried to just keep working.

A short while later, I started to feel very dizzy and like I was about to throw up, so made my way back to my department as quickly as I could. My manager and team support people were busy as I got into the department, and so, feeling awful, but not wanting to be rude, I ended up leaning over one of the trolleys (as I felt like I was about to pass out), hoping that someone would notice me and ask what was wrong. It’s both funny and alarming that even when I’m feeling really unwell, I’m still anxious about interrupting people/ getting the attention of other people. After a few moments, my manager turned around, and I simply lifted my head up from the trolley and casually asked “Is there something that I can be sick in?”, then told my manager and another colleague that I felt like I was about to faint. A look of horror suddenly came over my manager’s face, and she and the other colleague rushed over to try and keep me steady. At the same moment, I felt like I was about to faint there and then (I had tunnel vision, just like I did before I fainted/ nearly fainted in the past), so I immediately sat down right where I was. I actually felt better (in terms of no longer feeling nauseous) once I had regained my vision, but because I’d nearly passed out, had a temperature, and still felt unwell, 3 first aiders were called to my department, and my manager (who seemed really worried about me, especially as I had recently been to Africa) decided that an ambulance should also be called. I started freaking out about my health at this point, as I really didn’t feel that things were serious enough to call an ambulance, but started to worry that something may be seriously wrong with me. This wasn’t helped by one of the first aiders telling me that the rash on my right hand/ arm looked a lot like insect bites. They also pointed out that I was shaking (due to the adrenaline kicking in to keep me conscious), but for a change, I actually wasn’t that bothered about it. Normally, having someone notice my shaking (or other physical symptoms of anxiety) would lead to me getting even more anxious.

The paramedics arrived really quickly and took all my vitals, and my blood sugar. They could find nothing physically wrong with me other than a raised temperature. However, given my recent African adventures, they decided that I should be taken to A&E just to be on the safe side. As I had been sat right at the entrance to our department (thus preventing my colleagues from returning/ processing trolleys), my colleagues all had to wait outside the department until my manager asked that they take an early break. I was taken out of our department in a wheelchair (just in case I fainted or felt faint again), with most of my colleagues looking on, which was rather embarrassing. I sheepishly said hello to one of the colleagues who had advised me to go home as I left, and she basically said “I told you so”>

I ended up sitting in A&E for about 2 hours before (thankfully) being told that there was nothing seriously wrong with me and being discharged. The doctors/ nurses reckoned that the weird rash on my hand/ arm was just some sort of allergic reaction, probably related to my eczema. Although I was much relieved, I felt pretty awful about the whole thing, as my sister had to miss classes at university, and my mum had to take the rest of the day off work, in order for them both to pick me up/ make sure I was okay. The member of staff who told me that it was likely just a flu-like viral infection seemed quite annoyed with me as well, and – even though it wasn’t my decision to call an ambulance – I obviously felt really terrible about wasting the time/ resources of an ambulance that could have gone to someone in a much more serious condition. I just hope that the medical professionals I’ve seen before about my fainting/ near-fainting problem are correct in saying that it’s related to anxiety, rather than a sign that something is physically wrong with me. In the CBT group that I attended, the therapists told us that it was practically impossible to faint when very anxious, due to all the adrenaline, so I do find it all a bit odd. Perhaps I’m just someone who faints easily.

I was sort of the talk of my workplace for days after my near-fainting episode, which was quite embarrassing. It’s nice to know that people care/ were concerned though. Honestly, the lengths I will go to just to skive off work, eh? 😛 The only good thing about the whole ordeal was that I got to relax, stay in bed, and do nothing but sleep and binge play Oblivion (the Elder Scrolls game) for three days. (Yes, I’m a massive nerd, and this is probably part of the reason why I didn’t have a boyfriend until very recently. 😛 But I make no apologies for that. It’s an old game but it’s a good game). Unfortunately, playing video games is something that I only get to do once in a blue moon these days, and I do miss the sense of adventure and escapism that they bring. (Again, nerd alert! You’re all free to run away now.)

Anyway…sorry for the word vomit. Life has been crazily busy lately (in a mostly pleasant way), hence the lack of posts. I haven’t forgotten my blog though.

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23

Amazing still it seems
I’ll be 23
I won’t always love what I’ll never have
I won’t always live in my regrets

– ‘23’ by Jimmy Eat World

I rediscovered this song on my ipod the other day (after having not listened to it in years) and it reminded me of how much progress I’ve made over these last few years. I remember frequently listening to that song, and couple of other songs from that album, when I was 16 and severely depressed, wondering what the state of my life would be like when I was 23, and wondering if I would even still be alive then. It was a negative song for me back then; a forecast of a bleak future, in which things would be even worse than they were when I was in high school, and in which I would still be just as incapacitated by anxiety, still be suicidal, still be self-injuring, still have no friends, and still have no chance of being in a relationship or holding down a job. I didn’t think I’d ever have any semblance of a social life, and I definitely didn’t think that I’d ever be able to travel to a different continent all by myself. Like the song lyrics say, I thought I’d be alone and lonely forever, trapped in a vortex of depression, and with suicide being an eventuality. I never imagined that things would be so different to how they were back then.

Now, at the age of 23, listening to that song reminds me how far I’ve come and how much better life is now than during my breakdown at the age of 17. It’s like night and day. This is the longest period of me feeling good about how my life is going since my last year of primary school. I do still have days where I feel as if I’m starting to sink into (mild) depression again, and I start to really worry about the future. I worry because I know just how bad things can get, and how easily everything could fall apart again. If you have ever experienced a mental health condition that has greatly reduced your quality of life, you’ll know that fear of relapse all too well. I fear my anxiety worsening again, and losing the progress I have made. I fear another episode of severe depression most of all. I’m not sure I could get through that again. However, things have certainly been snowballing in a positive direction over these last few years. I’m hopeful that if I can keep challenging myself and using what I’ve learned, this progress and positivity will continue. Even if things do start to slide backwards, I’ve gotten better over the years at recognising when this is happening, and taking steps to address it. If I’ve recovered from depression and greatly reduced my anxiety in social situations before, it stands to reason that I can do it again if life throws me a curveball.

I haven’t had suicidal thoughts since before I left university, and it’s been much longer since I seriously thought about self-injury. While my anxiety does still impact upon just about every area of my life, I can do A LOT more now than I could a few years ago. On a day-to-day basis, my anxiety is certainly a lot more manageable. Without meaning to sound overdramatic, I’m so glad that I didn’t end my life 5 years ago. I would have missed out on so many happy/ positive experiences. I have been very lucky, and I’m grateful every day, for every little thing (for example, yesterday I was able to start a conversation with a colleague that I don’t normally talk to). I will never take the SA-related stuff for granted. Life isn’t perfect, but I have a job (where I’m gradually getting better and better at talking to colleagues and customers), some more travelling planned, a boyfriend, FRIENDS (we aren’t close and I don’t see them very often but have been seeing more of one of my friends in recent months), and I have a social life. All of that is huge!  I also had great birthday this year (I normally don’t really look forward to my birthday as in the past, it served as a painful reminder of how far behind everyone else I am and how socially isolated I was/ still am to an extent). I felt loved by the people in my life, and was spoilt rotten!

I only hope that I can help to raise awareness of social anxiety disorder, and help other people who are in the situation I was in at my lowest point, or worse. My heart truly goes out to you all, because I know how painful and isolating a condition this really, and how life-destroying it can be. I really wish there was more I could do, though I am encouraged by the number of people who have commented on my blog or emailed me to say that my blog has helped them to feel less alone, understood, and/ or more positive about the future. I’ve had a couple of people email me with requests for interviews before, but have been too anxious to go ahead with anything so far. I’m also torn between doing something like that to raise awareness/ educate people, and losing the relative anonymity that I currently enjoy on this blog. I like my privacy, and I’m not sure that I would want my family to read this blog. Though perhaps in future, once I’ve reduced my anxiety even further, I will be ready for that sort of thing.


EDIT: I’m sorry if this post sounds really melodramatic and/ or self-pitying at parts. I just try to write as honestly and openly as possible about my experiences. Please also bear with my terrible writing, as I’m still trying to re-learn how to write blog posts after not blogging regularly (or writing at all) in so long. (My brain having turned into mince as the result of a brainless job is not helping – I swear my vocabulary and intelligence are decreasing by the day). I’m going to make an effort to try and write a new blog post at least once a week for the foreseeable future.

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Someone call the papers!

I mentioned in a previous post that I was attempting online dating again and that I might be meeting up with a guy from one of the sites. Well we did end up meeting up, and things have gone really well so far. I’ll need to write about our first date at some point, actually, as it makes for a funny story, in terms of how mortifyingly/ hilariously (depending on how you look at it) awkward I am. We’ve been going out for almost two months now, and I now have a boyfriend (!!!) Trust me when I say that no one is more surprised than I am! I was thoroughly convinced that I would never be in a relationship, given my mental health issues, unattractiveness, and low self-esteem. I still can’t really believe it now. This is a very prolonged and elaborate dream that I’m having. I really don’t want to mess this up, but I’m worried that all my issues that I mentioned above will inevitably ruin things. He knows all about my social anxiety and history of depression, and has so far been extremely patient and understanding, but it is still a worry. I have zero relationship experience (and not even much experience with friendships), and, as I mentioned before, being in a relationship/ getting close to someone is the area in which my anxiety and low self-esteem are most intense. I am also absolutely dreading meeting his parents (he has already met all of my immediate family, but his parents live up in the Highlands, so it will be some time before I have the opportunity to meet them, if everything continues to go well), even though they seem like lovely people. Everything in a relationship is so new and daunting to me.

While I’m of course really happy about finally having found someone I really like (and who apparently likes me) enough to be in a relationship, I am having huge issues with cognitive dissonance. For example, I can’t believe him when he says that he really likes me or that he finds me attractive, because most of my previous life experiences have taught me that I’m unlikeable/ unlovable, and that I’m hideously unattractive. Therefore according to the sum of my life experience and conditioning, he’s lying. And then I get suspicious and start to worry about what else he might be lying about. Stupid brain. All of this has made me realise that low self-esteem is my biggest issue/ obstacle. I’m currently reading a book on self-compassion in an attempt to address this. Another thing that I’m worried about is that I have intense anxiety/ issues around physical intimacy (I find it really difficult to talk about that kind of thing, but will hopefully write about it in more detail at some point, as I imagine it’s quite a common issue in those of us with SA). Even though he’s been super patient and understanding about this so far, I worry that my issues with this will eventually cause his patience to run out. Anyway…negative rant over.

It feels so great to finally have someone special in my life. I thought that romantic relationships would only ever be something that happened to other people, not to me. I’ve been so lucky to find someone so caring, patient and understanding when it comes to me and my mental health. I had the courage to be open with him about my issues, and he has accepted me, anxiety and all. I feel like this is someone that I may actually be able to trust and open up to completely. Although there are a lot of things about getting close to someone that make me really anxious, I have become so much more comfortable around him already (probably like a different person compared to how anxious I was on our first date), so I am hopeful that I will continue to improve and won’t let my anxiety get in the way of this part of my life. Even if things ultimately don’t work out, I’ve still really enjoyed our time together, and have some new happy memories to add to my collection. Any friendship or relationship that I have in my life is very precious to me. I won’t take this for granted, and I will certainly cherish this far more than most people.

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Life is Good (update)

I suppose I should begin this post with an apology – sorry for being a bad blogger! I’m finding full-time work (still at my supermarket job) much less stressful, but much more physically exhausting, than university – I seem to average about 7 miles of walking (to and from work, at work, and then walking my dog afterwards) in the average work day, and sometimes walk as many as 10 miles a day. The good thing about this is that I’ve lost weight, and – despite eating so much lately – have managed to maintain the weight. I also feel really fit (compared to my high school days anyway) and I’m probably in the best shape I have ever been right now (though there’s still a lot of room for improvement). The downside of this is that I always seem to be exhausted, and I also never seem to get anywhere near enough sleep these days, though this is also partly due to actually having some semblance of a life over the last couple of months (!!) I hope to make more time for blogging, because I really do miss it, and I have countless updates/ subjects that I want to write about.  However, I’ve had writer’s block every time I have attempted to write a blog post recently. I’m really out of practice, so please bear with me as I spew word vomit all over your screens.

Also, have some optional cheesy background music. Because, let’s be honest, it’s a nice change from the less upbeat songs I normally post on here. Also, damn you WordPress for no longer letting me post youtube videos without parting with my hard-earned cash! You’re just another greedy, elitist corporation!


Life is actually going really well in some areas at the moment, and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed life as much as I do right now since my last year of primary school. Why? For a start, I’ve actually had a social life over the last couple of weeks. After not seeing/ hearing from any of them in ages, all 3 of my friends met up with me in the same week, a couple of weeks ago. I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to have a friendly chat with someone or watch a film/ play a video game with a friend at their flat. Life would be amazing if I had more friends, and/ or if I could meet up with my friends on a more regular basis. Even doing something with a friend once a week would be fantastic. I will hopefully be meeting up with 2 of those friends again over the next couple of weeks, which I’m looking forward to. I’m also hoping to do more travelling this summer – around Scotland, possibly around some of Europe (my youngest sister and youngest cousin were talking about this, and I may join them if they decide to go), and possibly back to Africa for a bit as well – but I haven’t planned/ organised anything yet. I don’t know if my work would let me have my job back afterwards, but if they wouldn’t, I’d still much rather go, and have the experience of a lifetime, than stay in the same monotonous and often frustrating job. I hope to start coming up with actual, concrete plans over the next few weeks. Other reasons as to why I’m enjoying life at the moment include feeling more like I am part of the family, being a lot less stressed since leaving university, and one other reason that will become apparent in my next post. I always felt like the black sheep of the family throughout my teenage years, but (although my mental health seems to be a bone of contention and something that they may never fully understand) I do feel more a part of family life, and more understood by/ involved with my family members. And my mental health/ life in general has certainly improved ever since getting out of that hellhole (university). People used to tell me that high school and university would be the best days of my life, but those were definitely the worst parts of my life so far. Things have improved greatly since leaving those days behind me. I know that my experiences can’t speak for everyone, but I just thought I’d clarify to those of you that have severe SA and are still going through high school/ university, it being “the best days of your life” is utter bullshit. Just do your best to hang in there and get through it. Life is much better now, and I don’t think there is a single day from those years that I’d like to repeat.

Although things are going really well at the moment, I’m still feeling rather discouraged about the possibility of making new friends. There seem to be very few people my age on meetup.com in my area, and I still haven’t gotten weekends off, so I still can’t even go along to the women’s cycling group that I’ve wanted to go to for ages. I went along to a different meetup.com group last month, but I found myself wishing that I hadn’t gone. I was the youngest person there again (though not by decades this time), and was the only female there until the organiser (who was over half an hour late) arrived. I couldn’t really relate to/ converse with anyone in the group, and was so tired from work that I was just about falling asleep. I did manage to eat a meal in front of a group of strangers, which was no mean feat, but I spent the entire meet up just waiting for it to be over, so I could go home and sleep. So yeah…I don’t know how on earth I’m going to meet new friends that I can truly connect with. I can’t just give up though. I wish there were better ways of making new friends available to me. I even thought about starting my own meet up group, but I still don’t feel ready for something like that. It’s still too scary.

I still have not the faintest idea what I’m going to do with my life after travelling, and I start to feel really down any time I start to think about it. I meant to see a careers advisor at my university a while back but I ended up getting too upset about the whole thing. I need to see someone about it soon, and start asking myself some soul-searching questions, or I may be stuck in a monotonous job that I dislike for the rest of my life. I know that I tend to catastrophise this sort of thing, and that I’m currently enjoying life even with a monotonous and frustrating job, so life will not necessarily be unbearable (in my head it will be) if I don’t end up in an enjoyable/ meaningful job. I would very much like if I could do something meaningful with my life though.

I’ve stopped seeing mental health professionals after completing a 12-week group CBT programme a few months ago (I need to write about this at some point), and (as no one I saw ever helped me much, and I’m doing so much better on my own) I feel this is the right decision for me. I still have so much frustration over the way I was treated by people who were supposed to be helping me, and over all the years I wasted in pointless therapy sessions. I hate that the potential misdiagnosis of autism is still hanging over my head as well. I never felt truly understood by anyone I saw, and some of them had not one iota of empathy. But that’s another rant…

In other news, my mum started dating again around this time last year, met a really nice guy, and they are now engaged. I was a little bit shocked that they were engaged only 8 months after meeting each other, but I’m sure they both have enough life/ romantic experience to know what they’re doing. He (my future stepdad) moved in with us a couple of weeks ago. Having so many people living together in a fairly small house is a bit of a nightmare at times, but he is a really nice guy and has made a real effort to get on with my siblings and I. I was so nervous the first time he came round to the house that I actually went and hid in the kitchen, but I’m so, so much more relaxed around him now. I’m really happy that he and my mum are both happy. We – the six people living in my household, and also my dad and his friend/ flatmate – are all going to Florida for a 2-week holiday in May (I had never been to another continent before I went to Namibia, and now I’ll get to experience 2 new continents in the space of less than a year!) I had worried that it would be awkward with dad being there, but he and my mum have remained really good friends, and he can always go off and do other things with his flatmate if he wishes. While I’m really looking forward to the holiday, going to Florida most likely means that both my future stepdad and my dad’s flatmate will have to find out about my scars, which I’m dreading. My mum, with my permission, has already told my future stepdad about my scars (though he hasn’t seen them yet), and thankfully, he does seem fairly understanding when it comes to mental health problems. But I am absolutely dreading having to tell my dad’s flatmate about it. I’m not sure he will be so understanding.

My mum and stepdad are also going to sell our house (though it may take up to a year or more for it to be ready to be put up for sale), and buy a new house about 2 or 3 miles away. There will still be enough room in their new house for my siblings and I to move in if we so wish, but lately, I find myself wishing that I could move out. My youngest sister has also spoken previously about wanting to move out as well, so we could possibly move out together and maybe with our other sister as well. It’s going to be so weird to see the house that I’ve lived in for the last 22 years of my life going up for sale; the house where I grew up. Everything is changing lately. But it all seems to be changing in a positive way. I have some more big steps ahead of me.

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Social Anxiety on This Morning — wE’Re AlL mAd HeRe

I just wanted to share this, just in case anyone missed it the other week there. The author of wE’Re AlL mAd HeRe discusses her own experiences with social anxiety, and her new book (a guide to coping with and beating social anxiety). I found this incredibly inspiring, and will definitely be reading her book at some point in the near future. It’s refreshing to see a book written by an actual social anxiety sufferer, for other social anxiety sufferers, rather than by a mental health professional who thinks that they understand but have no first-hand experience of the condition. It’s also very inspiring to see her coming across as so calm and composed on live TV, despite her anxiety.


Yesterday I appeared on This Morning to talk about my book and my experiences with social anxiety. Was I nervous? Let’s just say that during the journey to ITV studios, I forced Dan to have a ridiculously in depth conversation about all the potential plot twists in Westworld. Literally EVERY single one. (It was 8:30am, […]

via This Morning – the day after… — wE’Re AlL mAd HeRe

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So I’m Back…From Outer Space…

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…Or more accurately, from Namibia (a country in south-west Africa), where I spent 5 weeks at a wildlife sanctuary, including one week at a research site. Overall, it was an absolutely amazing experience and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I kind of wish I’d had the courage to do something like that sooner, but it doesn’t matter – I’m just so glad to have been able to do it in spite of my anxiety. I saw, and learned about, so many different animals – both in captivity at the sanctuary, and in the wild – and met so many different people, from all around the world. I feel that it really helped me to grow as a person, and although I’m still a very unconfident person by typical standards, it has helped with my confidence immensely. People at work have actually commented on this, telling me that travelling has brought me out of my shell, and that I seem like a more confident young woman. No, my anxiety didn’t magically cease to exist while I was away, and it was really tough at times, but I have fond memories of my time away, and again, other people have noticed that my face lights up whenever I talk about my trip. I’m so lucky to have been able to travel so far afield and have had so many new and pleasant experiences. I think my social skills have improved a bit, and while I still don’t particularly enjoy small talk, I can see now that it does serve a very important purpose. Also, this probably sounds quite trivial, but something that I struggled with before travelling was making eye contact when talking to more than one person. I used to only be able to make eye contact with one person in the group, but while away, I managed to make adequate eye contact with everyone, and I’ve been able to do so since returning from Namibia as well. I’ve noticed lots of small but important things like that. I’ll write about my trip in much more detail later, either as posts on this blog, or in a private blog.

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Like I said in my last post, I have really missed my blog. You’ll have to forgive me for being quite rusty at blogging (I’m already being hard on myself for the low quality of this post), seeing as how I haven’t regularly written posts in over a year now. I’m also feeling a little bit stupefied, as I often do at this time of year (more on this later), particularly when it comes to forgetting words, so please bear with me. I have so many updates to write, and so many other things that I want to write about that I’m actually feeling a little bit overwhelmed, but I’ll take it one post at a time. Thank you so much to everyone who has emailed me and commented on this blog over the last year and a bit. It’s so nice to know that my blog has made some fellow social anxiety sufferers feel understood and less alone. Many of your comments/ emails have made my day, so thank you!

I did mean to write an update weeks ago, but a combination of work and coming down with some kind of viral illness got in the way. The doctor actually said that my symptoms (cycles of high body temperature followed by chills) meant that I had to have blood tests done for malaria, which (despite the fact that I didn’t visit a malarial area of Namibia, and didn’t visit during the malaria season) was quite disconcerting. I also had to take my own bloods all the way to the blood lab at the hospital, while I was feeling very unwell and flu-like, which wasn’t much fun. Thankfully (and as expected), it wasn’t malaria.

In other news, I’m still working away at my supermarket job. For the most part, I have felt much happier and less stressed since leaving university. I still don’t have a clue what I want to do with my life (and the fact that one of my course mates described the job market for biological sciences graduates as “a shambling corpse” doesn’t exactly provide much optimism), but I’m thinking that for now, I will just take a year or so to try and figure my life out, and hopefully save up money to do more travelling, while I’m still young and don’t have any major commitments. Perhaps I am burying my head in the sand a little bit with the career situation (and I have already had many people depress the hell out of me by telling me not to leave looking for a graduate job too late or I’ll be working at the supermarket forever/ they have X, Y and Z postgraduate qualification yet still work in an entry level job), but travelling is currently the only thing I know that I want to do. I know that it’s something that makes me feel happy and that has also helped my confidence, so I’m keen to do more of it if I can. I may do some voluntary work as well.

Social life? What social life?

 I’ve been feeling pretty depressed about the likelihood of making friends post-university, as I don’t really have a way of doing that other than meetup.com, and the vast majority of meet ups take place at the weekend, when I’m working. However, after speaking with my manager, it looks like I may finally be able to have Sundays off. Saturdays would have been better (about 70% of the events I’ve seen seem to take place on Saturdays), but I’m not complaining. I really hope that I can go along to more meetups and make new acquaintances (perhaps even friends, if I’m extremely lucky), though to be honest, I don’t hold out much hope.

I went to a meetup on Tuesday night, to have a meal and see a film with a group, but I was the youngest person attending the meal by about 3 decades. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like talking to older people, it’s just that the whole point of me going along to these meetups is in an attempt to make friends/ acquaintances, and I’m much more likely to be able to do that with people my own age. Everyone was very friendly but I felt very awkward being by far the youngest in the group, and they also kept mentioning things that were clearly before my time, so I just sat there saying nothing, not having a clue what they were talking about. Ah well…at least I was still working on my social skills, I suppose. A couple of people closer to my age joined us for the film (Fantastic Beasts, which, despite being quite tired of the Harry Potter films, I enjoyed), including a woman that I went to high school with. Like me, she was also quite unpopular and got picked on a lot, though unlike me, she still managed to have a group of friends at the time. I sat next to her in standard grade English for 2 years. One day we had to write a poem, and I chose to write one about people who are “different” in some way. I remember that the first line of the poem was “The world is cruel to those who are different, those who don’t belong”, and it was about being strong enough to ignore the bullies and be your own person in a world that tries to coerce everyone to fit into a very narrow and restrictive definition of normality. I remember her saying that she related to the poem and that it was everything that she had wanted to say with her own. I’ve always wondered – given certain mannerisms that she has – if she might have Asperger’s or something. She has always been a little unusual, but also very genuine and a pleasant person. She actually gave me a lift home from the film, which was really nice of her. It would be nice if I could see her at another meetup, but that group doesn’t have many meetups that I can actually attend, and the thought of being the only young person amongst a bunch of older people again puts me off.

I really wish it wasn’t so incredibly difficult to make new friends. I feel like a middle-aged person in that sense already. I’m so grateful for the few friends I have, but it’s not like I see them on a regular basis. We hear a lot about loneliness in older people, but people don’t seem to understand that young people can be very lonely and have no close friends too. I realised yesterday that barring my one online friend, I’ve only had one close friend in my entire life, while I was still a child, and I think that’s quite sad. All subsequent friends have only been casual friends. I’m left wondering if I will always be as lonely (if not more so) as I am now. The future, regarding friendships, doesn’t exactly look promising.

Graduation

 My graduation ceremony was at the end of last month. I was absolutely dreading it, and was in a terrible state of anxiety the night before, but I actually ended up really enjoying it. I even managed to smile in photographs! I had been dreading walking up on stage in front of everyone most of all, but it really wasn’t that bad. I also managed to cope with certain things – for example, collecting my ceremony and reception tickets, finding out where to collect my robes from, finding out where to get my photo taken, having it taken, and making conversation with the photographer (all on my own, as my parents went for a coffee while I was sorting all this out) – a lot better than I would have previously. And while this probably sounds really childish, I used to rely on my parents a lot more with this sort of thing, but I think I’ve become quite a bit more independent since my solo travels. I think my parents were/ are really proud to have a university graduate in the family, and my mum kept saying how proud she was of me for getting through it all and getting great results in spite of everything. I have fond memories of the day.

Online Dating

Meanwhile, in my (non-existent) love life, I FINALLY managed to actually post a picture of my face on online dating sites. That probably seems like nothing to most people but it’s a huge thing to me (and I’m especially surprised that some men have seemed interested in me despite seeing my face), though I’m still terrified that someone I know will find my profile and mock me for it. I just keep telling myself that the possibility of finally being able to be in a relationship and experience love will be worth any amount of teasing. I’m not going to be miserable for the rest of my life (or at least, I will give it one hell of a fight) just to avoid teasing by people who have nothing better to do with their time. I will admit though, joining a site that requires you to pay for membership does make me feel like a bit of a loser. I feel like I’m broadcasting the fact that I’m a socially inept freak who can’t meet/ talk to men any other way. In a lot of ways, I worry that I’m still not cut out for a relationship, and may never be, and would make a terrible girlfriend – I really need to read a book or two on emotional intelligence and on healthy attachment styles. However, despite trying not to get my hopes up, I have been chatting to a couple of guys and may actually be meeting one of them soon (a thought that absolutely terrifies me). I managed to video chat with him over skype the other day (though I wasn’t actually able to say all that much) and he said he felt bad for asking me to do something that made me so visibly anxious and uncomfortable. But I was actually surprised at how quickly my anxiety (which was initially sky-high) reduced. Even if nothing comes of it, I think just actually meeting someone from an online dating site (even if it’s not a proper date) would certainly be a step in the right direction. I think if I ever want to be in a relationship, it’s something that I really need to start working on before I get much older. However, dating and relationships are also definitely the area where my anxiety is most intense and where I definitely have the most issues. I will try to take it one small step at a time and see what (if anything) comes of it.

I’m sorry for dumping yet another essay here. A plethora of updates to come, when I can find the time.

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Hi and Bye

Hello! Long time no blog. Just a VERY brief update to let you know that, yes, I am still alive, and university is finally over! I got my results a couple of weeks ago and managed to get a first class degree! I absolutely HATED my last year of uni, given how bad uni in general  was for my mental health (MASSIVE “mega-rant” coming about this in the future), and I’m still feeling very pessimistic about my future job prospects with a biological sciences degree, but at least all my hard work and stressing and all-nighters have paid off to an extent.

I had intended to write a few blog posts over the last two or three weeks but I’ve unfortunately been so busy that it hasn’t happened. The reason I’ve been so busy is that I’ve been preparing for a 5-week adventure abroad, on my own, which I leave for today. This is WAAAY out of my comfort zone and I’ve felt so anxious over the last few days that I have a constant sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I honestly think I must be crazy for signing up to this. It will challenge my anxiety like never before, and I just hope that I will be able to cope.  At the same time, though, I am really looking forward to this. Hopefully it will really help to boost my confidence. 

I’m sorry that I’ve been so terrible at responding to emails over the past year. Thank you to everyone who has emailed me or commented on my blog, and I’m really sorry if I haven’t messaged you back yet – it’s nothing personal. I’ll try and get caught up on all of that when I return from my trip. I really have missed my blog all these months, and the cathartic/ therapeutic effect of blogging. I have A LOT of updates to write, and a lot of other things I want to write about when I get back. Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough, and I’d better get a move on – I have a plane to catch! Thanks for reading and speak to you all in 5 weeks!

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