RECOVERY 101

Beware, this is going to be a potentially “what did you just say?” entry, so if you think you may end up being upset (which is not my intention anyway, for record), stop right now. I’ll try to measure words and expression as best as I can, but I know I’m about to state some very “potentially upsetting” things so you have been warned. If you keep reading, “do at your own peril”.

This is a rather distressing thought that has been going on my mind lately; by seeing how my blog is going, after having a look around WordPress, I feel the need to let this thought out of my head and into “the wild”, even though I know it has the potential to feed an unwanted shitstorm: is it me, or is there such a thing as a “depression fandom”?

Let me explain before one of you calls 999 and get me locked up either in jail or in a mental unit.

I’ve noticed that, out there, there are a plethora of sad, upsetting, and negative entries (not in the sense of “bad”, but more like “a story or a personal entry not conveying a positive message”); the vast majority of them receives an incredible amount of views, likes and comments. The ones where the message is more uplifting, positive (as in “I was suffering from this but with the help of that I’m now in a better place”) are kind of not that popular.

Maybe it is just my impression and it is all in my head (wouldn’t be the first time either).

Maybe it’s just me noticing more “negativity” because I’m in this new mode; after so much therapy and positive work, I see my mental illnesses getting further and further away from me whilst I ride in the sunset, and I would like to see (and bring) more messages of hopes to encourage and help people be on a more positive journey with me than to “drag them down” with my sorrow stories.
Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these stories shouldn’t be written, read, shared, liked, published, you name it: I firmly, strongly and undoubtedly believe that these stories have an incredible importance, both for those who write them (writing is a wonderful therapy, I for once use it to clear my mind) and for those who stumble upon them, read them and feel less alone in a world that rarely proves to be kind to them. So yes, if it is not clear enough, I want those stories out, if you have them in your heart please let them out. Don’t be ashamed of them: you may not know, but your stories maybe will inspire others! Someone, somewhere, right now, is looking for them.

What I’m scared of it that these stories will stop being an helpful anchor for someone desperate to know he/she is not alone with his/her mental issues, but an ugly chain of negativity and sadness, as in “the more I write about negative things, the more likes I’ll get, the more I’ll dig deep in my negativity to get more likes” which will basically end up upsetting the writer (because believe me, even if I try to make my issues sounds funny, it is not a pleasant experience to re-live them and put them black and white) and attract the wrong kind of audience: not the one who can relate, but mostly those who enjoy “laughing at someone’s misfortunes”, and those who could relate would end up thinking “oh my, there is not a single thing out there that makes me want to try and get better”.

ab6621389e98c6d924fa44bd9f58599fI know, I’m panicking over nothing probably. I just… I just would love to let people suffering know that there is hope. There is. I recently lost a very close relative (my mum’s sister) to mental illness, because she thought she had no hopes. Fucking hell, I thought I had no hopes, when I planned my own way to check out of this world. I was luckier: I didn’t completely lose the plot, a glimpse of me still begged me to fight, I grabbed that incredibly minuscule flame with all my strengths, and here I am three years later, sitting on my sofa, enjoying all the beauty that life can bring. I could have never, ever dreamed to be in these shoes just six months ago. Maybe next month I’ll be back at crying my eyes out every night, who knows.

Whatever the future will hold for me, I don’t care. I now feel the urge to shout the following to the world: don’t surrender, please. You may think you are useless, that your life of pain is not worth living and you know what? I thought exactly the same. I know how it feels to stare right into the void, with a heavy heart, your mind spinning and nothing, no one, zero reasons to live through another hour, let alone a day. You know what I also know? That you are worth more than what you think you are. That you pain, yes, that ugly, fucking monster in your head, doesn’t define who you are: it is part of you, but only a part. You are you: there is no ne like you, never was, never will be. Isn’t that something special in itself? I think it is, and mind you, I thought I was better off six feet under not long ago. Forget what people decided to label you with: weirdo, ugly, stupid, boring, annoying, mental…. Fuck them. They are them, you are you. You are what you decide you are. If you don’t want your mental health to define you, you have the inner power to make sure it won’t. Own your weirdness and fuck who doesn’t get it, because guess what? there is nothing to get about it! This is your offical permission to disobey: your mental illness, other people, yourself. Do you, and you only, because there is only you and you are enough.

Listen, I’m not “miss positive guru 2018” and I don’t give as single shit about becoming it either. If you really want to know, I’m single with not really much hopes to find someone (hey, single mum here, it’s not like I’m out and about living the life and meeting people), I am not wealthy, I have no friends close by outside my colleagues, so don’t think I’m one of those rich and famous sanctimonious coaches who blurbs about positivity and shit whilst doing “Ka-Ching!” on the side. I am an average Jo (ok maybe a Joanne!), I consider myself I survivor, and I still sail in this sea of shit, even though right now I seem to have reached a lovely, pacific, quiet little island of my own.

My heart breaks when I hear that someone decided this world was too heavy for his/her shoulders; when I hear, or read, people suffering saying they are alone, that no one gets them, that few friends stuck with them, that are getting bullied, isolated, dumped, you name it… I know how horrible it feels. I know. I have been at the receiving end of all these things, sometimes more than one at once. I just can’t stay here and watch it happening without trying to do something about it, without at least sending a positive message out there, a little light of a candle in the darkest of the nights.

I decided that if I am here, if I survived my journey, it can’t be just because “I got lucky”. There is a meaning to this, probably bigger that what I can see at the moment, but in the meantime, I decided that I will do my best to:
1 – share more positive things / messages;
2 – be more grateful;
3 – spread the love;
4 – reach out to everyone I can and say “I’m here if you need a shoulder to cry on”;
5 – to give hope, to inspire the will to find that fucking hope.

tumblr_m79hzkXhaK1ra41m8o1_500There is so much shit in this world already and I refuse to be part of it or contribute to make more of it. Please, please, I’m begging you, join me in this quest, let’s reach out to fellow sufferers, let’s stick with each other for good or worse, let’s appreciate us more. If you are a friend, an ex-sufferer, a relative, whatever, please be kind, support us, cheer for us. You may think that your words are just nothing, but for one of us may mean a reason to fight another day.

 

WELCOME TO MY TE(I)AM

I cannot believe that it’s been just three months since I lost my shit one final time and I decided to embark on a definite, committed journey to personal change and development. I cannot believe all the miles I walked in these shoes so far, the things I have done, the changes I made happen, and all of this has been possible because I finally decided to ditch the “I’m hopeless, nothing can change” attitude, I left behind my “poor me” mentality and I asked for help. Most importantly, I decided to finally believe in me, to give myself a chance, to stop giving all my love, energies, money, and time on others and give it all to me. Selfishness at its best.

It took massive courage and an even bigger leap of faith, for someone like me, to push myself to do it, but I was so desperate that it was either that or death.

I realised that one reason I have never changed in the past, even though I claimed I wanted to (multiple times), is because I never really wanted to. I mean, really. One thing is saying it “I want to change”, but actually working to change is another kettle of fish. There are plenty of excuses in the world that one can use to stop him/herself from pursue his/her goals, and believe me, I was the undisputed Olympic Gold Medallist of excuses. So much mental energy wasted, I know now.

My biggest shift in mentality though has been allowing others to help me. Even better: actively searching for help, and not playing victim in the hope that someone would hear my pleas and be emotionally blackmailed into volunteer to help me. This is “oh, I so wish someone would do this for me (insert whatever you fancy)” are not allowed anymore. No more “hope”, no more “wish”, no more “if only” etc. Every time I want something, I ask myself:
a) can I get it by myself? And if so, what is the most efficient way to get it?
b) if I cannot get it by myself, can someone help me, or guide me?

The revelation came in a weird way; I was studying Accountancy (something I better be back at studying asap, by the way….) and one of the first few things that I read was something along the lines of “companies work better than a single person as they can achieve bigger goals in a shorter timeframe, they can take advantage of a pool of talent, the workload can be divided amongst multiple people that can therefore multitask activities in the pursue of what the company has set as the aim”.
When I read it, it was just “something I had to understand to answer a multiple-answer’s question in a test”; more recently, I came to notice how this rather simply concept is, in fact, the key for someone to reach his/her personal goals – and I was doing exactly the opposite of it (and guess what I got? No way near what I wanted).

It is hard, extremely hard, soul-crushing hard to ask for help when you have always been a rescuer, someone who lives by helping others all the time but never ever dare to help herself, or who never allows others to help her to “not bother them with my shit” (because it is mine and therefore not important at all). It is a mammoth task, when you have that mentality, to put yourself in a position where you recognise you cannot do it alone and you actively ask, “please can you help me do this”.

bucketWhy should it be that way though? What is the shame? Even Spongebob got it! Did anyone give me a medal for going through what I’ve been through with only myself to rely on? Nope. Imagine if everyone would be like this: the world would stop. Even behind every tennis player, every successful CEO, every “rich and famous” single person, there is a team of people who helped him/her getting there at the top. The thing is, you don’t need to train to win Wimbledon to have a team of people helping you reach your goals. You just need to find the right people and “hire” them to help you, whether friends or professional experts, and stick to what they say you should do. It took me a bit, lots of “swallowing my stupid pride”, but in the last three months I’ve come up with an amazing “Team Silvia” and it is working like wonders.

First person recruited in my team? Well, my psychotherapist, of course. Yes, self-help books, yes, meditating and shit, yes yes yes to think positive, motivational speakers, motivational posters, motivation everything but: if you struggled with your mental health and other issues all your life, and no amount of self-work took you to a better place, maybe, just maybe, you need to hire help. End of. Stop with excuses. You can read in a previous entry the story of how I got my head around doing therapy. Only in my wildest dream I thought I’d be the person who faces her present with a positive attitude and who looks forward to a bright future. ME. I could have barely managed to think of myself alive to live another hour just three years ago, let alone “the future”.

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Yours truly with my Personal Trainer after a very gruelling session. She made me pray for a sudden death

I always wanted a fit body, like those Instagram trainers, all nicely lean and muscly just the right way. I have always had the potential to have that body, but did I ever bother to do the hard work? Of course not! I was a proud couch potato. Unhappy, and secretly jealous, but still bragging about me doing shit nothing. I decided to go to the gym and do exercises by myself: after all, I’ve been a sporty person all my life, I know how shit works, but guess what? Results were not happening. Why? Because I thought I knew my shit, but I was just a deluded fool. I could have surrendered, easily, and say “see? You will never get there”. Instead I decided to hire member number two of Team Silvia: my personal trainer Farrah. I told her “I want my ass to be as fit as Jennifer Lopez’s one”. She tailored my diet and exercises, made me sweat real hard, and with a positive, “I want it and I’ll get it attitude” guess what? two months afterwards I can already see my legs shaping up nicely. Silvia alone 0 – 1 Team Silvia. By the way, my protein shakes are delicious, I should open a “protein shake” shop.

I always struggled with my skin. Hormones have not being kind with my face. Oh, and I’m not that girly-girl, it is not in me, and because of this I struggled in places like spa and aestheticians: I always felt like a fish out of water, I don’t like people I don’t know to touch me, I hate massages, a lot of treatments triggers panic attacks (to give you an idea, a friend once bought me a Spa session with a facial included: I let the voucher expire because just the thought of it triggered a barrage of panic attacks) and, most importantly, I always thought there was no point of doing anything because I’m ugly as fuck, so it is money wasted. When I decided “enough is enough, I can’t do it on my own”, I stumbled upon this small, independent spa in my town, one of those shops you wouldn’t necessarily notice as it is not in a main street and not part of a chain. Reviews were amazing, and I decided to give it a go. The ladies running the spa understood “how to handle me” quite quickly and made me feel at ease from the get-go: I told them it was all new to me, but that I hated how my skin looked and I needed help to get the beauty inside me shine in the outside. The patiently worked with me at my own pace, made me feel comfortable and made me laugh even when they saw I was nervous as fuck from a mile. I went from “I don’t do these places” to “I’m coming here every day even just to wave hello from the window”. Eve & Adam Spa is defo Team Silvia, it is “the team within the team” and I couldn’t imagine my life without those ladies.

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I bought them flowers as a “thank you” for always being on my side. I love them more than words can express!

Funny fact: when I did the Dollhouse photoshoot, and I had to have a manicure and pedicure, I ran in the spa almost crying: I never had a manicure or pedicure in my entire life. I mean, NEVER. The thought of it filled me with dread and horror. I felt anxiety building up just by reading the email saying that I had to have them, let alone at the thought of me being in the salon with my nails painted. My ladies booked me in, “say no more, don’t worry, we got your back”. I had an anxiety attack whilst walking to the spa, and the only reason I went ahead is because I trusted my ladies more than my fears. When I showed my hands, I felt so embarrassed and part of me wanted to die there and then. I felt SO out of my realms, and I had no choice but to have it or fuck the photoshoot the next day. Half an hour (and so much laughing) later, my hands were very lady-like. The next day, my feet were just as perfect. Turns out, it was not only “not too bad”, but I quite liked it. I kept it even after the shoot. As I’m writing, my nails are covered in a very purple shellac, and the more I stare at them, the more I love them.

All my real friends are now part of “team Silvia”. My close friend Marge knows that every time I am negative, or that I dress scruffy “like a chav from Jeremy Kyle”, or if I say bad things about me, she has to immediately tell me off (or slap me hard should I fail to comply). I have colleagues checking up on me constantly about everything and anything I need reminding when I’m too lazy to put the effort by myself. Even my desk is now “Team Silvia”: I tidied it up (everyone though “that’s it, we lost her, the end is nigh”), I put a picture of Britney and some motivational “JLo ass” reminders. I’m not baby-stepping into this new Silvia, I’m cruising in my shiny red Ferrari and I’m not taking any prisoners.

I had it of relying on “hope”; it is a very lazy way to tell yourself to do nothing, and then if you get it you are “lucky”, if you don’t, you stay miserable because “life hates you anyway”. Enough of this shit. ACTION, NOW.

If you are in doubt about changing, about how to do something, if you are in a “Maybe Monday….” Mode (and that Monday is never the right Monday to start), stop with your narrative and just DO. NOW. Write on a piece of paper what you want to achieve and, like me, ask yourself: “can I do it by myself? If not, who can help me?” and plan it. Recruit the help, select your team. Do it right now, because right now is the right moment to start. Text your friends, google the experts, be proactive and MAKE. THINGS. HAPPEN. The universe will reward your efforts, believe me, but if you plan on living out of hopes…. You are going to be massively disappointed.

OVERPROTECTED (BY MYSELF)

Apologies if it took me a while to post this. I have been very busy at first, then very unwell in the last few days: I think I caught some sort of stupid stomach bug, who knows, and I just couldn’t type anything at all. Or thinking anything at all!

Aahhh I hate being sick!!!

As we speak, I’m currently in a defensive, ultra-protective mode. I feel like if I could, I would hug myself constantly and tell me “I love you, don’t worry, I’m here for you, should anyone come closer they’ll get hell, keep focusing on what you are doing”.
For the record, there is nothing threatening me or potentially hurting me, whether physical or mental, I know it rationally, but I can’t help and have this feeling of “you better keep an eye around you”.

I think these feelings are the result of me finally coming out of the very dark place I slipped in when my relationship ended. No, better: from the very dark place that I allowed my ex to put me through, and from the realisation of what I actually had instead of what I decided I wanted to see in our relationship, which was… well… the very opposite of what a loving, caring, uplifting and affectionate relationship is. Hard to admit when you spend two years in a massive illusion.

I feel like I’ve woke up from a very horrible nightmare, and I’m reassessing everything my relationship has been (and, most importantly, what it has NOT been): the pain and tortures I’ve been put through, whether by him or myself trying to win his love, or trying to feel worthy of the crumbles of love he threw at me when convenient; what his behaviour really was; the lies; the abuse; my stubbornness at believing in love when love never was there, not even for a single moment, and how stupid I have been to hate myself so much for allowing such a twat to hurt me and traumatise me for his fun.
Yes, to his very own admission, he used me only for his needs, and to do that, he faked any feeling he said he had for me. Most of the tortures he put me through, were for his own amusement, such as flirting with other (hotter) women right under my nose and showing it to me. He hid his own insecurities by deepening mines. But, this idiot that I was wanted to see in this disrespectful behaviour like a kind of proof that he loved me because he was “testing me” to see how strong my commitment was. To see if I were really worthy of his amazingness.
Bloody hell, can you believe how incredibly dumb I have been? If I could be swallowed by the ground where I stand as we speak for the embarrassment I caused myself, that would be great.

It took me an awful lot of time and therapy to now realise that he was just mean for the sake of being mean. A proper twat of epic proportions, evil to the core, negative to bits, a total leech, and the only thing that got proven there was what a massive imbecile I have been.
Lesson learned: if you have low self-esteem and hate yourself, if you are desperate to fill a void inside you with any turd who crosses your way, if you hope to solve your issues by relying on someone else to do the hard job for you, these are the kind of people you will attract: the ones that will leech on you till there is nothing left, who’ll treat you like a commodity till they need you (for whatever: sex, money, company….) then dump you like garbage when you do not serve their purposes.

Thank you brain for finally waking up and telling him where to go (hopefully, to hell, one-way ticket).

What my issue is now though, is that I am in this weird mode where I see enemies of my wellbeing everywhere. I know I’m exaggerating big time here, and I apologise in advance to any PTDS sufferers out there reading this, but I feel like I’m in a post-traumatic situation.
Let me explain.
I was chatting to this lovely guy the other day. It was all nice and fun, till I got a joke that sounded in my mind like a “flirtatious” attempt. Listen, it was so innocent, that you must have had some mental issue to see anything remotely upsetting.
Still, like a horrible flashback, I pictured myself in my old shoes not long ago: checking his Instagram to see which other women I was competing against, or which other women he was cheating on me with (whether just by sexting or by actually having sex with); I saw myself in bed with him, whilst he had fun at humiliating me by showing me pictures of hot women to dig at my insecurities and self-esteem, the kind of hot women I could have never be like, and receiving a very detailed list of all the plastic surgery procedures I should have done to in order for him to think I’m good looking (botox on my forehead, a nosejob, a boobjob, a facelift, you name it); I saw myself spending nights crying, being hurt for fun; I saw myself being disrespected; I saw myself treated like rubbish even though I went above and beyond the call of duty to make him happy (being extra generous, extra loving, extra understanding, extra everything).

I had a panic attack.

No joking.

I suddenly felt out of air, heart racing, my head spinning, the dreadful feeling of being about to explode and die.

I dropped my phone like it suddenly became hot as lava.

I still cannot shake those feeling from my head even though few days have passed since that episode.

I tried to rationalise these feelings: after all, my “psychological freedom” is way too recent to pretend I’m ok, so much that it is normal, right now, to have a phase of “refusal” and “I can’t do this ever again”. Time will heal, the right person will come round, I will be a different person by then and all these things will be talked and put behind my back easily. I can’t expect to be out from a kind of abusing relationship like nothing ever happened to me. I would be in extreme denial if I didn’t assess what happened and pretend that not a single instant of it affected me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m using this trauma as a positive input to learn a (very harsh) lesson, to work on myself and on my strengths, to make sure I have clear in my mind what I don’t want and what I don’t want to experience ever again, but still, a little panicky voice in my brain is whispering “and what if you’ll never heal?”. Worse, part of me, when I’m tired and my brain is overloaded, tends to think “yeah… maybe I won’t heal”.

I don’t like to be so defensive.

gymI don’t plan to be in a relationship anytime soon, for god’s sake no, but I would like to get to know people before pushing them away like they have some sort of incurable plague that will take me to an early grave. Funny to think about it, I used to be so eager to not be alone that I would have put myself out there asap in the hope to find someone, and now I’m sitting here thinking “I can’t bear the thought of another man in my life”. It’s like… like this potential new man would be detrimental for the journey I’m in, unless he’d be a very amazing one. Can I be bothered to find this amazing one, at the moment? Absolutely not!

So for now, I’ll just stick with me. You know what? I’m actually loving it. I’m loving me. I’m a jolly good fun. I’m discovering this new amazing person and I’m too busy falling in love with me to look around and fall in love with someone else. Let’s see how things will pan out, shall we?

CRIPPLING ANXIETY IS MY CARDIO

I suffer with anxiety.
Well, I always suffered with anxiety.
udo4I think it is fair to say that anxiety has been my loyal, faithful partner for as long as I can remember. The only partner I wished would have cheated on me and leave me for good! But nope, not a chance in hell…!
Anxiety has affected the vast majority of aspects of my life, and even now that I’m therapy and I am more equipped to fight it, I still feel the stomach turning, the bowels moving, the breathing getting heavier and that frigging feeling of an anvil suddenly pressing my chest and making me gasp for air.

People think anxiety is just in your brain. Yeah right, maybe when it is mild.
When it’s crippling, and severe, and ruling your own life, you’ll soon see the nasty, physical effects of it: feeling sick like you are about to vomit; having to keep track of every toilet, everywhere you go because you know your bowels won’t wait for you to talk yourself out of your sudden attack; feeling like your blood pression is suddenly going down and that you’ll soon faint; your face getting covered in spots as soon as your stress level hits the fan…. No, nothing pretty indeed. I wish there was a mental illness who made you look red carpet ready….

Anxiety has been my worst enemy at times, especially when it stopped me fromudo5 experiencing things, participating into various activities etc.. How many times have I avoided the gym because I was too anxious to faint? How many Sundays have I spent dreading going back to work on Monday? How many times I have avoided meeting friends because I was too anxious to feel sick after eating?
To be fair though, it also saved me from a lot of stupid stuff: I have never ever dared to entertain the idea of trying drugs because of my anxiety, but at the same time, whenever a doctor puts a medicine in front of me, I struggle to convince myself to take it (as we speak, I’ve been six years taking only paracetamol such is the anxiety about everything else).

udo6I don’t want to write a sad, commiserating post about anxiety though. No no no, I’m not in the mood, and one of my best features is the fact that I’m an amazing clown and I can laught about anything regarding myself… and don’t they say that laughter is the best medicine? Well, I would like you to join me in some of my most hilarious anxiety episodes. Come on, anxiety can make you do rather crazy stuff at times, it is only fair that we use them for a more positive aim!

Episode 1 – the dreaded dentist

I was… I think…. 20 years old. I know I was older than 18 because I was driving my own car. Anyway, I used to have a phobia of the dentist. When I was a kid, dentists in Italy (or, at least, then ones I saw) were more like butchers than teeth’s angels. I know for a fact that more than one person has been traumatised like me and had to endure a life of crippling anxiety whenever they had to have their teeth fixed.
I have avoided the dentist like the plague since my teens. I have been so scared and traumatised that I preferred to keep my wonky teeth rather than having anyone sticking their hands in my mouth. Unfortunately for me, a single, annoying as fuck wisdom tooth decided to pop in my mouth, and I had to resign myself to the fact that I had to have it removed.
A friend of my mum told her that she had a great experience at a hospital nearby where I lived. With a feeling of doom and gloom, I decided to face the situation and book an appointment.
Worst thing that can happen to someone with anxiety? Waiting rooms. You are there, on your own, in these kind of ok rooms, and you feel like an animal trapped in a cage waiting for your turn at the slaughterhouse. The more you wait, the more anxiety builds in you. If you have the nurse popping in and out calling a name that is not yours, it feels like you just barely dodged a bullet. So, there I was, trying to not vomit, faint or die of heart attack. My legs were restless. I felt like I was sitting on a hot surface. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t think straight, I could barely, just barely keep a straight face and not cry.
The nurse called my name, and I kid you not, my legs became the consistency of jelly. I walked towards the dentist room like “dead man walking”. The dentist was quite nice, I must admit, but I couldn’t listen to anything he was saying: I was in panic mode. I sat on the dentist chair and I felt trapped. I started to sweat like all the water in my body suddenly wanted to get out.

I had to do something.

I had to get out of that room.

As soon as the dentist grabbed his mirror to check my mouth, I begged to go to the toilet.
The dentist tried to talk me out of it, but I begged him – my bowels were having none of it, you know, anxiety. The nurse, a bit annoyed, showed me where the closest toilets where located.
With the chilliest, calmest attitude, I thanked them, left the room…. And I felt my legs moving way faster than what I wanted them to move.
And not heading towards the toilet either.
I was running, running like my life depended on it, running like Ussain Bolt trying to smash his Guinness World Record. I’m telling you, I ran like the wind and some more. To this day, I never managed to replicate that awesome performance – I would have been recruited at the following Olympic Games for sure!
I sat on my car, turned my phone off and I drove away as quickly as I could, in case they chased me.
At the time I was crying hysterically, now that I think of it I just can’t stop laughing: gosh, imagine the dentist and the nurse… I am still embarrassed to this day… a bit… (but I’m laughing hard).

udo3
My room at the hospital – after surgery, I found a massive bowl of ice cream. They can remove all my teeth!

I’m happy to say that this year I decided to do something about this phobia: I swear, I googled “dentist for very anxious patients” and I discovered that, at least in the UK, there are dentists specifically trained to deal with patients suffering from severe anxiety. Not only I managed to fix my cavities (yey!), but…. Yeah, I got my wisdom tooth removed! Ok, I had to be highly sedated, but still, I didn’t run away and the day of my surgery I showed up and went ahead with the operation.

 

Oh, and for the record: I even warned my (new) dentist saying “I have a tendency to run away from hospitals”. His answer: “I won’t stop you, but just so you know, taking that tooth out will be a 2 minutes job, and then you’ll be back in your room where a massive bowl of ice cream will be waiting for you”. Fair play to you dentist, you smarty pants!

I felt so proud of myself!! Next step? Straightening my teeth!

Episode 2: meet your hero

In one of my previous blog posts I talked about my absolute, crazy love for heavy metal. Every single time I thought I was helpless and alone, music has been right next to me, giving me last final push to do amazing things I never thought I’d be able to achieve.

This happened two and a half years ago. The worst and most horrendous part of my post-natal depression was finally behind my back. Mind you, I was not doing great, but I wasn’t suicidal either. I was doing ok and I was relieved to be able to live a rather normal life. My ex-husband and I, at that point, were married just on paper: he didn’t stick with me (and he even made things worse for me) when things got rough with my mental health, and now that things were improving and I was re-discovering who I was and how I functioned, it was me who didn’t want to stick with him anymore. To me, overcoming my mental ordeal alone and using only my willpower was the Ultimate Proof of my Strength and Fierce Independence. He proved to be a narcissist attention seeker, and I was not in the mood to feed any of his martyrdom needs.

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My VIP hoodie!

Anyway, I was scrolling my Facebook newsfeed one day and BANG! Great news: one of my favourite singers ever, Mr Udo Dirkschneider, was announcing the ultimate tour of my secret dreams: with his band U.D.O. he would have played all the best and most famous Accept songs. Oh my gosh I grew up listening to Accept, and Udo has always been one of my German heavy metal heroes. Was I going to miss this event? No fucking way in hell.
Without even thinking too much I bought my ticket and my VIP upgrade so that I could meet my hero. I was geared up, I was excited, I was already singing and savouring the moment. I remember it clearly because it was around my birthday in January, and the gig would have been in April. I told my ex-husband what I did, and he said “oh, so you are going alone?”, expecting me to say “do you want to come with me?”.
I just answered “yes I am”.

 

And then I realised.

I was going to go alone.

Like, alone.

Anxiety hit me like a tsunami. A barrage of negative thoughts filled my head: what if I have a panic attack? What if I have more than one panic attack? What if I freak out and I’m in the middle of the room, full of crazy, headbanging metalheads? What if I faint? What if my anxiety gets so much that I can’t even come back home? What if, at night, I get stuck on a train back home and I am in such an anxiety state that I forget English and I can’t ask for help? The list goes on and on and on. I tried to calm down: I still had few months to go before the actual gig, and anyway, its’ not like I’d be held at gunpoint forcing me to go if I decided to not go last minute, right?

Time went by and April arrived. I had that gig in my calendar and it felt more and more like a death sentence the closer it got. Then, the day arrived. I spent a day at the office totally restless. I think I’ve annoyed the shit out of everyone that day. I begged everyone to give me an excuse not to go (do you want me to finish this work? To do anything at all? How about we have a meeting at 6pm….) but… there were none.
Ok, what do I do now?
I decided to take the evening one step at the time.
First, I decided to get there and see how I felt. The tube journey was ok, I mean, nothing different from what I do every single day, twice a day.
Next step, queuing up at the venue’s entrance. Having a VIP ticket meant I had to get there earlier than everyone else, so the place was basically empty. That helped a lot, since it took away the “oh my gosh, all these people and I’m in the middle” anxiety bit. Having said that, someone with anxiety doesn’t really cope well with waiting, and I surely wasn’t happy. I started walking around, increasingly more nervous as time went by. I could feel my stomach twisting and turning. I was about to say “fuck it, I’m going home” when I heard the guy managing the VIP list gathering people for the Meet and Greet.

Deep breath, ok. At least I can meet Udo.

I got into the venue and my heart was racing. I could feel it beating in my head.

We had to go two floors down, and the more steps down the stairs I took, the more my legs became wobbly: I thought I would have ended up fainting, falling down, breaking my head and dying there and then. Without meeting Udo! For fuck sake!

I managed to get there intact. And after few minutes…. Udo came from backstage. I udo1started crying like a baby.
He has been super sweet and kept hugging me till I managed to compose myself. I was over the moon! I kept shaking like electricy was running up and down my body. When we took a picture together, I couldn’t stand still. Udo laughed and said (with a very german accent) “no, stop shaking, we need to take beautiful picture now. And if the first is not beautiful enough, we take another one ok? No panic”. Sweet! He made my day (of course I hugged him again, and again).
When the Meet and Greet ended though, it was time to face the gig alone.

I went back upstairs, and I decided to stay on the side of the stage, avoiding the crowd. The supporting bands did their shows, and everything was ok. Then, U.D.O. time came… as soon as the first song started, I started singing and jumping. By the third, I was in the middle of the crowd. Mid-set, and I was front row singing my heart out. My brain just shut down and filled itself with music. It was the best feeling ever. I cried, I sang, I headbanged, I laughed, I was in heaven.
svenI even waited outside to meet the whole band, and I can’t thank Sven Dirkschneider enough for being a truly amazing guy. It was dark, it was cold (as fuck), I was the only female human being out there, but he spent few minutes with me and made sure I was ok and happy. Sven, if you ever read this, I have never forgotten how kind you have been with me, and I owe you!

 

LIVING FOR LOVE (LIKE MADONNA’S SONG)

I spent a lifetime being a negative person.
Not necessarily towards other people, no: I’ve always been above and beyond kind, nice, helpful, sweet, you name it; I always thought that this was the only way to have people around me: me being negative about myself, and about life in general, meant that I have never believed I could have been appreciated for who I was, but only for me being useful, helpful etc.
Yes, I saw myself only as a rescuer, as a nurse, as the shoulder to cry on, as the one who works her ass off for everyone, getting nothing in return, because I thought I was too ugly, too stupid, too silly, too unworthy.

What the hell.

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this was me – all the time

Funny thing is, when someone dared to tell me “you are such a negative person” I got royally pissed off: how dare you! I’m not negative! I’m nice! I make everyone happy! Worse: when someone dared to try and help me and talk me out of my negative narrative…. The gates of hell opened up, and I’d have been yelling, absolutely furious! No way I need fixing, this is who I am and “there is nothing I can do about me”. Load of bullshit, I know it know.
In hindsight, of course I was negative. I didn’t act the way I did, or do these rescuing things out of love, out of positive feelings: I did them out of worry, so that people wouldn’t leave me alone, in the hope to hold on to people by trading their love with taking care of their shit for them, to try and bribe them into thinking “I can’t live my life without her”.
I never saw myself, or appreciated myself, for the amazing person I am. It was easier to portray myself as the poor victim, the martyr, the unlucky ugly duck whose life has been so cruel with her. Yes, it makes you always in a defensive, lower level, but you are passive at whatever happens, and because of that, you have plenty of negative food to feed your misery. It takes bloody hard work to crawl out of your shithole and stand up for yourself.

Now, after months of hard work on myself, it makes my skin crawl writing these things I wrote above about myself: why on earth have I been so shit with me? Why I didn’t love myself? Why I hated myself so much? It didn’t come easy being where I am now though. It required a massive mental shift. It required suffering the ultimate insult before I could think “THIS IS IT!”.

I decided to choose ME the day I got dumped and my ex vomited all his hate and nastiness on me.

That was the last straw.

“After all I did for you?” I though. “After two years of thinking only about you? All I get is this??”

From now on, I will only think about ME.

Enough with others, enough with giving my all to everyone else but me.
That day, my world became all about ME. ME ME ME ME ME.

ME ME ME ME.

And me, if you were wondering.

I cut the negative narrative straight away: that had to stop.
I was tired of it. Tired of feeling sad, frustrated, unworthy, shit.
I decided that day that I would have worked my ass off to become what I have never managed to be, but that I always dreamed of being: a positive person, with a big, positive and full of love heart, who is (positively) selfish and who is there for the people who really love her, not for those who only want to take advantage of her.

You know what I discovered so far in my journey?

I have never been more loved, appreciated, and cherished than since I decided to change for the better.

Since I decided to cut the crap and work hard to learn to love and appreciate myself more, three things happened:

  1. I became more aware of all the love that surrounds me, but that I never noticed because I was too busy focusing on the bad things;
  2. All the people who truly loved me and cared for me went above and beyond the call of duty to make me feel loved;
  3. Those who only took advantage of me, either disappeared or I made them disappear. Heck, I even had the guts to tell my ex to fuck off for good, something I would have never dared to think about just a month ago when I was desperate to have him back! I spent a day shaking and thinking “how did I finally manage to find the balls to do it!!!”, but I never doubted, not for a single moment, that it was the wrong thing to do. Hell yeah it was the right thing. I deserve so much better than this.

I spread love and I get love back ten times fold.

I was walking to the train station this morning and all I could think of was “I feel so loved”. I never had that feeling before. It is just wonderful.

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getting ready for my shoot

I had a photoshoot the other day, something I dreamed about doing (and I can’t wait to see the end result!!!!!). I wanted to see the new me, the beautiful person I am working towards becoming, in a mirror, staring back at me.
The ladies at Dollhouse Photography treated me like royalty. They have been the sweetest, most caring people ever. I told them the reasons I wanted to do that shoot: it was a special present from myself to myself, to channel my inner Queen and show myself what a stunning woman (inside and outside) I am. Boy, they took my words to the next level and made me into a real QUEEN, crown, throne and jewels included. They took all the beauty I had hidden inside me and made it boldly show in the outside, so much that when I looked at the mirror, I thought I was a Million Dollar Las Vegas Babe.
I left the studio in my Slayer t-shirt and baggy clothes, but I held onto those feelings: I did not play a part, I am a fucking Queen. I am a million-dollar babe. I am that woman I saw in the mirror. I am that and even more. I booked another photoshoot straight away, I want it even racier than what I did and the ladies at the studio have been nothing but awesome!

I went to the gym, and instead of being my usual moaning and complaining self, I put extra effort on my exercises: I actively increased my weights, I focused on every single muscle I was exercising, I listen to everything my PT said religiously, and I didn’t back down. Guess what? It was the best session I ever did so far. Today I can barely breathe, but I see my goal getting closer and closer.

It is funny to think how much effort I put into negative stuff, and being a rescuer to everyone, only to get back grief, pain, hurt, and how little it takes to be positive and love… and end up at the receiving end of a proper love shower!

The day after I saw my ex the last time, we left in kind of nasty terms: even though we had a decent time together, he joked saying “why don’t you go away? I can’t wait to get rid of you”. It stung at first, but then I though “what a turd…”. I stopped the negative feeling right away: his loss, not mine. As soon as that happened, like a sign from the universe, my colleague texted me a picture of himself with my boss and a close friend of mine saying, “where are youuuu come here, we are in your favourite pizzeria, quick, I’m ordering an Aperol Spritz for you”. A year ago, I would have said stuff like “naaaa, I’m not feeling it, I’m a bit down….”, hoping to fish some commiseration and “poor you” messages (I know because that is exactly what I did in Boston with my colleagues, and I missed out on an epic night out because no one said poor you, they said “bring your ass here instead of being miserable alone”. I chose misery. What an imbecile). This time I thought about it, then I texted back saying “get that Spritz on the table, will be there in 10 minutes”.
I had a blast.
My boss kept buying me drinks, and last thing I knew I was not in the pizzeria anymore, I was in my office swinging a cricket bat shouting and being all competitive with my colleagues: “Krishna, throw me a nasty one!!!”. How come I didn’t break anything I don’t know. Some guardian angel must have protected me that day.
We ended up having a night out at pub nearby to watch England vs India cricket match, drinking some more and just laughing. I came back home hammered, but… it was just amazing.

Again, like if I needed another proof, when you love and send love out, love comes back to you. When you send negative feelings… that is all you’ll get back.

I like this new mental place I am in.

For once, I’m just sitting at the back and enjoy what happens around me, rather than frantically chase the wrong kind of love. I don’t need love, I don’t need to beg for it. I have it. Granted, it is not a “relationship” kind of love, but who cares? I’m not really up for it anyway right now.
If you are there thinking “you are so lucky, nobody loves me” or stuff like that (like I used to think), stop that thought right now. Give yourself the chance to be positive for a day, or even half a day: you’ll be surprised at the things that will happen to you. And if nothing happens? Make it happen! Book yourself a pampering hour / day! Sit in a park and read a book! Blast music out loud and dance till your legs become jelly!
You only need yourself to be happy, and once you master that art, everything else will fall into place.