I WANT IT ALL AND I WANT IT NOW

(Queen fan till death!)

Do you want to change?
Do you want to see change happening in your life?
Do you want to quit your bad habit, whichever it is?
Do you want to improve your life, whatever that means to you?
You lucky person, you ended up in the right place, because in this blog entry I am going to tell you the most ground-breaking piece of information ever existed amongst us fellow human beings that will change your life forever, I promise. I will save you tons of money on self-help books, endless hours on YouTube watching motivational speakers, TED talks, life gurus and coaches, you name it, because I’ve done the homework for you mate. Aren’t I so kind?

One of the most annoying things I have heard so far, when people asks me about my ongoing journey, is the following “oh, I wish I had your determination to change, but”. Generally, I just shrug my shoulders and smile, but inside I know I’m dying to answer “oh, well, what do you expect me to do, extract determination like a serum from my body and inject it into you?”. I wish it would be possible, I’d be millionaire in the space of couple of weeks, but it’s not. However, I am about to reveal the unspoken secret that will leave me just as cashflow strapped as I am, but that hopefully will spare me hearing that sentence ever again.

Brace yourself.

You know what the real, simple, dead stupid secret to “making change happen” is? WANTING IT.
That’s it. You are one decision away from the change you want to make happening. One single decision, which sounds along the line of “I WANT IT”. No ifs, no buts, no maybes, not wishes.

I want it. Full stop.

There is you on one side, your goal on the other, and the only thing you have to do to get to your goal closer is wanting to reach it. Sounds to simple? I thought that too. Especially when I was with my arse on the floor crying in total misery because I got dumped, my life was shit, I looked like shit, my mental health was shit, my finances where shit (thank you boiler for making it even worse), my au pair left me fending for myself, it was fucking nightmare everywhere I looked. This is where I took the most important decision of my life: wanting to change. Enough of living a life I hate: it’s 2018, there are options out there, I was born in the lucky side of the world where I can access these information, the help, the knowledge etc. just by clicking on a search engine, there are endless possibilities to make my life better: enough crying, let’s start working, because I don’t want to be the person that a dumb asshole can shatter in a moment by dumping her; I don’t want to be the person struggling to cope with her mind; I don’t want to be the person who looks herself in the mirror thinking “my body is just shit”.

Ok, I have to admit, there is a catch. Ah-ha, you’d think, here is the “small print” part of this. Yes, there is. See, there is “wanting” and “wanting”. You may want something, you may dreaming about, I don’t know, Jennifer Lopez body like me, or quitting smoking (been there, done that), quitting bad habits (yep, got that one too), stop stalking and texting your ex (…cough cough…), having a more balanced mental health (thumbs up), getting a degree, changing your career, the list is endless. It’s all fine. The only obstacle between you and your goal is that nasty “BUT” in your head that stops you from acting. You have to want your object of desire so badly that you are ready to do anything it takes to get it, like your life depends on it. This is the only catch.

If you are not 100% fully committed, it won’t happen. You won’t be able to put up with the struggles that you’ll find along the line. You can tell yourself “Tomorrow I’m going to stop smoking / start dieting / going to the gym….” And you’ll see that that tomorrow never comes. Or maybe it will, but the next day you will be back at square one. You can tell yourself all the lies you want to hear, you can come up with a myriad of excuses to keep your ass solid on your comfy couch, you can pretend to have all impairments existing in the world, fine by me, I’ve been there and done that for all my life so far, but: don’t cry when things will not happen, when the scale will not show any weight loss, when you’ll still be puffing that cigarette, when your liver will burn at the sight of any degree celebration, or when you still haven’t saved a penny for your desired boob job (ehm ehm….), or when you’ll cry in bed staring at your ex-boyfriend new collection of whor…ehm…..

You have to want it that badly. Once you do finally want it, like you never wanted anything before, like whatever life throws at you it’s “fuck you life, I’m unstoppable”, like you go full speed ahead no matter what, guess what? change will happen. Guaranteed, 100%, would bet my house on it.

I have been the queen of half-arsed efforts all my life. It was sooooo easy to barely try, fail, moan, blame how life is so unfair, tell myself I was too stupid to achieve stuff etc. All around me people were busy doing and improving, getting nice jobs, doing this and that, and all I was able to do was sitting at the window, jealous as fuck, wishing a fairy godmother would come round, do some magic and ta-dah! Life sorted. I’m sorry to break this news to you (and myself, every time I wake up hoping to be reborn in JLo and instead finding I’m still myself), but it doesn’t work like that. All successful people, the real successful people, they are who they are because they worked hard. Yes, even the Kardashian: do you think it’s that easy being filmed 24/7, keeping the looks, the money, the “K-Empire” just by sitting on your arse? You wished! As much as they all make me cringe and vomit, you can’t deny that it takes work to keep staying in the limelight, plotting the next big scandal, arranging the next paparazzi shot and earning money.

You won’t become a musician just because you have a bit of talent if you don’t put the hard work in. You won’t win an Olympic game if you don’t train every single day as hard as you can. You won’t lose weight if you are not prepared to follow a proper diet, tailored to you by a proper medical expert dietician, and throw some exercise in the mix (and maybe some psychological support, because let’s face it, it’s not easy at all). Every time a “but” comes in your mind, this is where the temptation to fuck it all up and be back at not changing comes: this is when you can either choose to overcome that “but” in your head, or to succumb to it. I always chose to succumb up till June this year, where I was so low, so beaten up, sad, shit, disaster all around that I decided it was time to be the phoenix who rises from her ashes, rather than just be ashes.

I read somewhere on Facebook a woman claiming, “I’m sick and tired of hearing people saying “you have to want to change, like you could snap out of mental illnesses or else just because you want to”. Part of me agrees with the sentiment, naturally: of course, you can’t just tell yourself “I want to not be depressed” and boom! You are dancing in the streets celebrating your newly-found glorious mental health. Of course I am not talking about serious illnesses which require medical expertise and treatments (if only people could beat cancer just by wanting it, wouldn’t that be great?). Of course, I ain’t that dumb to think “the power of the mind conquers it all”. And yet again, I also don’t agree with what that woman said. The fact that your situation is difficult doesn’t mean that your only option is to just be passive to whatever is happening to you. You can help yourself to improve your situation, whatever that may be, if you really, really want to, and there are amazing examples out there (Katie Piper anyone? I mean, if she is not inspirational, who else can it be! Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai? Shot in the head, left for dead, now studying at Oxford?). Of course it is not easy, but you face struggles with a different mindset when you really, really want something, rather than when you decide you are defeated even before you begin.

Mel Robbins, a very amazing motivational speaker, yesterday put a post on Instagram saying “It’s not that you can’t, it’s just that you don’t”, suggesting that you should give a go and swap your “I can’t” with “ I don’t” every time you face something – and see how it sting. Her point (which I fully agree with) is “Taking action is a choice… and so is telling yourself you can’t”. So yes, if you are currently reading this thinking “just bullshit, I wish I could… but”, try to overcome that “but” and see what happens.

You won’t be disappointed.

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I believe in you. And today, I want to remind you— that you CAN do this. You can lose the weight. You can build that business. You can finish school. You can survive this breakup. You can save enough money for that bucket list trip. You can fall in love again. You can do whatever you are willing to work for. And here's the deal, I know you "know" what I'm saying is as true as a compass pointing north. So today, try this little trick to make yourself "do" it. – Today, when you start saying “I can’t” swap in “I don’t” and see how that feels when you admit the truth to your self. I'll tell you how it feels— it stings. Taking action is a choice… and so is telling yourself you can't. I'm betting that if you say "don't" it will be a slap of reality. And, that sting you feel might snap out of the "can't" excuse and jolt you forward into action. Today, call yourself out – me know if you’re going to take this challenge and comment #ICAN

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NEW SELF 1 – 0 OLD SELF

Oh my, it was quite a while since I wrote something on here. I’ve been very busy and so, so tired, so much that my brain was just not coping, and my level of forgetfulness increased drastically over the last days (someone won the lucky chance to hear about my latest forgetfulness experience on a very embarrassing Instagram confession… by the way my dear friend, I managed to retrieve my stuff in the end!!). Oh well, it is what it is, I have no shame in admitting that I’m a bit bonkers at time!

This week has been very demanding, but incredible at the same time. I feel that the universe, or some energy out there, you name it (I don’t believe in God since I’m a Buddhist sympathiser, but I guess that if you do, you can say it’s him?) it’s making me experience stuff to show me how much I’ve grown and changed so far. Or, if you like a more rational experience, I’m experiencing things as I go, I immediately reflect on what the old self would have done instead and notice the striking difference. I prefer the universe option, I like to keep my spiritual side up and running, but each to their own right?

With my closest friend and partner in crime Marge, organisation for our office Christmas party has kicked in big time. No more talking and thinking, now we are venue searching, negotiating, planning, scheduling, placeholding, the whole nine yards of event organisation top to bottom. We have asked a bit of help to an event planner who kindly sent us a list of venues that would suit our company best. Since Marge received the list, I didn’t know what to expect. We arranged to meet near Soho, since all venues at the top of the list where there: when I gave the list a glance, and when I saw the first venue mentioned on that spreadsheet, my heart sank.

St Martins Lane Hotel.

Now, unless you are a designer / architecture student, professional or just passionate, this hotel won’t mean a single thing: it’s “just” a very fancy, quirky, expensive, high-end hotel. If you do belong to the categories I mentioned, you know that I’m talking about one of Philippe Starck’s jewels.
Well, it happens that I almost have a degree in Architecture. I abandoned my studies as soon as I found a job, because I knew quite early in the process that didn’t have what it takes to get that degree and, ultimately, to make it in that world. I wasn’t smart enough for that subject, and I’m not saying to put myself down: it was honestly not my thing. Not everyone is made to do everything, this is just one of those things I am not made for. I would have been an amazing critic, or an architecture journalist, but anything else was a NO. Now I know I have other talents and this is just a learning experience on who I am not, but at that time, I felt that I was a total, dumb, stupid low-QI failure. All my peers seemed to be so smart, so intelligent, so getting what the professors were talking about, and I was just sitting there like if people were talking to me in Aramaic. They were probably naturally more inclined to the subject, way more interested and therefore putting more efforts in their studies than me, but me being me, I used this as a chance to torture myself and marinade in my self-hate and negativity.
Very few things interested me about architecture, and I remember being fascinated by quirky, interior design. That was good fun because it resonated with who I am. A friend and I enrolled in an interior designer class to complement our studies. We got both mesmerised when our professor made us study Philippe Starck and, in particular, this fascinating hotel. Aside from one exam that still haunts me to this day (San Siro council estate houses…. Gives me nightmares to this day and I’m sure my friend Giada thinks the same), I’ve never studies so hard like for that one. I remember my friend and I knew that hotel inside-out like if we’d have been part of Starck’s project entourage. His genius work inspired every single idea we had. We dreamed of having Kartell’s furniture in our house and to be hired by him. When we came to London on a three-day trip, we walked outside the hotel, daydreaming about being able to walk inside. If someone told to young, self-hating, low self-esteemed Silvia that her future self not only would have walked in, but also talked business with the hotel’s management, she would have told that someone to fuck off. Yet, there I was few days ago, staring at the entrance like years ago, only this time I had Marge telling me to get my ass in and get ready for the ride.
I put a brave face, but believe me, I was dying inside. I wanted to cry. My legs felt wobbly and not just because I was on my heels. So many emotions. I looked around in total awe and devotion. I felt like I was inside a very sacred place. The feeling of being there, walking around, seeing such an amazing work of design and pure genius in front of my eyes rather than just in my student books and dreams… I was blown away. Cherry on the cake was dining at Asia de Cuba restaurant: the food was just superb, and I was feeling like a kid at Disneyland, with all the things that I so loved studying surrounding me. It was just wow.
I spent all evening thinking about it and, as you can see, I’m still thinking about it now. I told everyone who could bear to listen to me ranting about it what an incredible feeling it was. I sat on my bed, still digesting that turmoil of emotions, thinking “my gosh Silvia, if you needed a sign that your journey is making you head towards a better place, I think you got it today loud and clear”.

I spent so much time telling myself that I would never accomplish anything in life; that I was just barely average; that I was ugly, stupid, useless; that I would be better off six feet under, no, actually, not even that, I’d be wasting good ol’ soil space; all the things that happened during these years, all the suffering, the pain, the failures, the anger, the dramas, the illnesses…
What I never noticed is that, even though all of this was reality in my head, something inside me never surrendered. Something, some subconscious force inside me, I don’t know, managed to channel them into something positive, into a growing experience; the universe gave me a very loud, final message to bloody get a grip and change, and when I listened and put the work in, I ended up on my two high-heeled feet, stronger than I could have ever imagined of being, in a “I could only dream of it” location, looking at my old-self thinking “well well, you insecure bitch, looks like you were so, so wrong all this time”.
And you know what? whatever is coming my way, bring it on, because if I managed to prove that I can do it when my mental health is at the lowest of the low, imagine what I can accomplish now that I’m working hard and building my confidence!

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F (ORGIVE) YOU (RSELF)

I was talking to my close friend Marge recently about everything that has happened, all the progresses I made, all the road that is still ahead, the things that I want to accomplish now and the aim for the both of us to be healthy and fit for a special photoshoot in 2019 (yes, bitch, you and I are so fucking doing this). Anyway, the conversation at some point focussed on a very interesting point that left me meditating about it for quite a bit (and, as you can see, I’m still thinking about it):

Why it is so easy to forget everyone else in the whole world, including those who hurt us, but not ourselves?

Why we are so hard, harsh, strict, and cruel with us, but we are more than happy to come up with any justification whatsoever for anyone else to lightener up whatever they did (to us, to themselves)? Why it is so, so easy to point the finger straight at us, and keep those “it’s absolutely my fucking fault” feelings held close to our hearts, but we struggle to say “no, actually, it is also your fucking fault mate”? Why we cannot rationally assess what happened, mourn what has to be mourned, come to terms with the feelings that are left and then let go of them, a bit like flushing the toilet and there you go, all the bad stuff is now down the drains?

I was the master of always blaming only myself. Even with my latest relationship: it was my fault I loved him too much; it was my fault I was too generous; it was my fault I invited him to live with me in the hope he’d love me more and more; it was my fault I desperately wanted to believe in something that was not there, and maybe if I listened to my friends, maybe, I would have opened my eyes sooner and spared myself a massive chunk of pain; it was my fault I held on to him like he was the most precious thing in the world; oh, I could go on and on and on for hours. Same for everything else: it was my fault I had post-natal depression, I should have known from my previous mental history that it was a serious threat and not just “something you read on those scary books for first-time mums”; it was my fault I ended up being a single mum, because I should have realised quite soon who my ex-husband was and all his problems, instead I not only married him but I also brought a child into this world; it was my fault I had mental problems, it was my fault I ended up at the hospital with a severe allergy reaction to hair dye, it was my fault, my fault, MY FUCKING FAULT.

True, I am partially to blame for the things above, and all the things that happened in my life so far because well, I was alive, conscious, breathing, thinking, deciding, doing. But all of the blame? I don’t think so. Part of the blame sits in other people’s side, or in things that I couldn’t have controlled or predicted, and if I’m more than happy to forgive them like nothing ever happened, I owe the same treatment to myself, right?

Not quite.

blog2Whatever happened, we just hold on those negative feelings; we torture ourselves day in, day out. We let the blame on ourselves fester our lives like a lingering, horrible smell that you cannot get rid of, no matter how much you keep your windows open (ending up freezing to death) or how much air freshener you spray (so much that you created your very own ozone hole). We let the pain infest our wellbeing, and we hold on so tight to this rotting corpse of what happened that we cannot see a way out of our own personally crafted hell. Why? Why we behave like this?

Hear this: you won’t be an asshole of epic proportions, an egoistic maniac, a twat, a horrible person if you are kind to yourself and admit “actually, it is not ONLY my fault here”. You are not excusing yourself from your fair share of responsibility: you are just not being responsible for everyone else’s. Martyrdom won’t make you a saint: you won’t gain more friends, more popularity, more medals, you name it, only because you bear the pain of the world in your heart saying, “IT IS ALL MY FAULT”. It took me ages, ageeeees to see this (and therapy, lots of it).
For fuck sake.

Of course, with my ex I made a lot of mistakes. A LOT. But.
blog1BUT, but he was not in good faith. He used me, abused me, he tricked me into believing he loved me just as much as I did, he used my feelings against myself, he gaslighted me to hide his flaws, his insecurities, his problem, so that I could only be focusing (till the brink of mental unit recovery) into mines and not on his. He took me for granted, he hurt me for his amusement, he took advantage of myself, my belongings, my feelings and when I was not of any use anymore, he dumped me like a bag of garbage in the bin, washed his hands and off he went.
So yeah, I may have been stupid, I may have been whatever I have been, but my heart was pure, my feelings were true, I was kind, I was real, and honest, and there is just so much you can do when someone so manipulative and with hidden agendas step in your life ready to cause havoc for their own benefit. So yeah, fuck you, twat, here is your fucking (massive) share of blame, now rot in hell away from me thank you very fucking much. I forgive myself. I don’t forgive him, no, I just won’t give a shit about him, because as Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies”. I got no time for this.

Of course, it was partly my fault for everything that happened to me so far. But always, 100%, all my fault? No. Would that make me an asshole for thinking this way? So be it. I rather be a happy asshole than an unhappy, tortured, and depressed saint. Thinking “ooooh, it was all my fault, I brought this to myself, I will never be able to forgive myself for what happened” will only leave you where you are, hurting. I know because I’ve always been that person. Life went on and I was still there, sat in a corner, crying and shouting “WHY I AM LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME”. Well, the answer was “because I decided to be like this, to not let the fucking go of all these feelings, of all this pain, instead of embracing better things”.
It is a massive shift in mindset. It requires being honest with ourselves, I mean REALLY honest, not just “I feel like I have to feel like this or else people would think bad of me” honest.
Mind you, I’m not saying we should just wash our hands of our responsibilities, of our faults, because that would be absolutely wrong (and you’d be a total asshole). Just see what happened for what it was, forgive and forget.

Yes, sometimes there are things that are solely only our own fault, like when Thursday I ended up overeating till oblivion at the Indian restaurant and then praying for a quick death whilst suffering the most horrendous aftermath, or in general not being up and running with my accountancy degree because I haven’t been arsed to open a book so far, or having my face covered in spots because I was too lazy to take my makeup off and fuck you Silvia, what a moron! And you know what? We can’t be perfect and super diligent all the time. Sometimes we do stupid things. Everyone does. No point in banging our heads on the wall (not too much anyway): these are things that we did, for good or worse, and if we analyse them, we would be able to find positive lessons for the future (hopefully, though I know that, provided with another amazing Indian buffet, fuck you, I’d be swimming in curry with not a single regret WHATSOFUCKINGEVER).
What I am saying is, it would be good to rationally assess what happened, not just rush to grab all the blame that exists and then torture ourselves, marinating in the negative past forever: it is not a race, there are no prizes to be won, the only outcome is inflicting ourselves with more pain than what we should inflict. Once you assess the true share of blame, learn the lessons to be learned and then let it go for good. Forgive yourself, promise to do better, DO better and move on.

An example that is just happening as I am writing. Today, a lovely (ok, it is grey and raining here, so not lovely at all) Saturday morning, instead being a lazy mess, instead of spending it buried under 60 kg of blankets and duvets, sipping my espresso and watching Netflix, I had to wake up at 7am, and I’m sitting on my sofa, writing this (which makes what I’m about to say a little bit nicer), whilst an amazing British Gas Engineer is installing my brand new, 3k in 10 years of my life instalments, super cool boiler. The old (ok, ancient) one, died this summer once, fed up with its tremendous noise, I turned it off. Least I knew, at that time, that I turned it off for fucking good.
Yes, it is, for the vast majority of it, my fault: I never bothered servicing it.
Fuck it, I knew when I bought the house that my boiler was as old as to be in a museum, but I decided against taking the hit then. I then never bothered enquiring about a new one, and maybe changing it last year, or the year before. I just didn’t want to care.
And guess what, my care-free behaviour came back to bite my arse. So here I am, freezing my ass, longing for a hot bath and a Caribbean climate in my house.

Is it truly all my fault though? No. Fuck me, no. I had other expenses in these three years and half I’ve been living here that were more pressing and urgent. I took my chances, I decided to bet on the boiler to keep me going for as long as possible, and boy, my good old friend did a magnificent job. In addition, I had a useless ex-husband who was too busy doing his very best to leave us on the breadline, creditors at my door thanks to him, and I had to choose on whether to prioritise food on the table or which bill in scary long arrears try to clear first; on top of this, I had childcare to organise, my mental health to deal with, a lot of shit to take care of, and the boiler was the least of my thoughts. I took one last roll of dices this summer, but my boiler told me to fuck off. Fair enough. I’m not blameless, but I won’t torture myself. It happened, I’m dealing with it now, I have my punishment in the form of ten years instalment repayments, fuck it. I had a good moan, but I will also have a very long, extra luxurious bath.

Another example? It is all my fault I don’t have the gym body of my dreams? Not all, but 95% yes. I have been too lazy, too silly, too careless, too focussed on hating myself, on telling me “you cannot do it”, “you are not good at all”, “your body is shit anyway”, etc. than to actually do something about it, like, well, going to the gym and exercise, follow a proper, healthy diet, listen to a personal trainer’s instructions etc. Now, I can choose to keep blaming myself forever, especially when I see my results now and I think “why the fuck didn’t I do this sooner”, or I could just forgive myself and use the energy to squat some more, instead of blaming me some more. Guess which my choice is: JLo, I’m coming to get you.

Hey, in the category of “stuff I like to blame myself”, let’s not forget: sometimes shit happens, and it is a fact of life. You can try and make plans, you can give it a go and predict it, but hey, sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. You can either face it, deal with what happened and put it behind your back, or you can cry in a corner with your problems getting bigger and bigger. And bigger. It just happens! Don’t beat the shit out of you for it, it is what it is, as painful and annoying as it is.

blog3Besides, let’s think about it for a second: why others should get a free blame pass anyway? Why can’t we just dump their shit in their garden, rather than cluttering ours? We are not less important. Our feelings, ourselves, are just as in need of recognition and care as theirs. You are not doing yourself a favour by being harsh and not forgiving yourself, and you are not doing THEM a favour either. You cannot control other people, you cannot make them do things, or feel the feelings you want them to feel, but you can decide to not lift their fair share of weight in the shit that happened, if that is the case. You can happily let their blame go, because holding a grudge is just more pain for you, and you can also let your blame go as well, because you can tell someone to fuck off for good, but you don’t have the same luxury with your very own self.

I’m not saying it is easy, it is actually hard as fuck, but believe me, all this pain is just not worth it. It won’t serve you, it won’t teach you, it won’t make you a better person: it will just hurt you. As hard as it may sound, you are worth more than living in a constant hell. If you like to visualise stuff, imagine yourself writing down the list of things you want to forgive yourself about, imagine setting fire to that list, watch it burn and then let it go. Forever. Done, FINITO. You can also physically burn a real list (provided you go in a safe place, because you don’t want firefighters storming in your house) if you want to make the experience more realistic. It is up to you to find your way, so long as you start practicing kindness to yourself a bit more.

The only way to heal is by forgiving; sometimes, we have to forgive others and let them go. Sometimes, we have to forgive ourselves, and until we do so, we will never truly heal.

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.

COOKING UP A STORM

I have always been an extremely skinny girl. You could have easily counted my bones if you’d seen me naked. I take it from my father, who was just as skinny when he was young. Having said that, I have also been underweight all my life because I barely ate. Just as for being a tomboy, to me not feeling hungry and eating the tiniest amount of food was nothing strange.

I just never felt the need to eat. No, I have never been anorexic, nor I ever had any eating disorder. I was born with it. I grew up nicely and hit every milestone with a swiss clock precision, but I simply ate nothing at all. My mum, who has always been an extremely anxious person, had me checked millions of times by any doctor she could find. My father still recalls the embarrassment of having a doctor who just left the house crossing his path with another one that was about to get in, waving at each other and commenting “first child syndrome?” “yeah, good luck!”. Anyway, no matter how many consultants my mum rang, the diagnosis was always the same: “Madam, your daughter is just not hungry enough”.

You would think that, after 100+ doctors, my mum would just resign to the fact that there was nothing that could have “healed” me from this “horrible issue”, but we are talking about my mum here, who always knows best and who definitely knows more than any doctor in her (often deluded) head. I don’t know, to this day, why she took it so personally and why she made such a drama about it (she still does, by the way: when I told her the other day that my personal trainer at the gym put me on a diet – to build muscles – she screamed blue murder because “YOU? DIET? YOU ARE SO SKINNY YOU LOOK LIKE ANOREXIC”). All I know is that, even though she was doing it for my own good, she made my life hell on Earth.

fotoOK, to be fair to her, in addition of not feeling the need to eat, I became quite soon an extreme pain in the arse with my fussy eating habits. The combination of having an extremely low level of hunger with an extremely high level of fussiness and squeamishness, meant that almost everything triggered my “nope, my stomach is closed” feeling. Believe me, it was so dead easy to upset me. If cutlery, glasses and plates were not absolutely spotlessly clean (including no water stains) I just couldn’t bring myself to eat, and because I have a very sensitive nose, these better not have smelled of eggs (it is still one of my pet hates today!). Meat had to be cut into microscopical pieces, because I would have spit everything back on the place if any amount of fat reached my mouth. My plate had to be half full. Pasta had to be barely cooked. Fruit had to be as unripen as possible as I couldn’t eat it if sweet (I still have a thing for sour flavours) and in case it had a stone in it, like peaches or apricot, my mum had to dispose it before I saw it or – shock horror – touch it: It makes me feel weird just thinking about it (And writing about it, aaaaahhhh), it gives me goosebumps and it totally freaks me out.

Lunches and dinners were dramas, with my mum trying to feed me anything she could and me refusing it. The story was always the same: she put food on the table, I would barely touch it, she proceeded in losing her cool, frustration would rise to the roof, she would demand I eat, then she would start threatening, then yelling, then my father would intervene by barking at me to fucking eat my food and I would end up crying staring at my plate, praying my food would just evaporate like water in the heat. This drama at some point changed though: my mum discovered a medicine called Carpantin: it was liquid, it had a sweet, absolutely vile taste and it made me drowsy as fuck. I think my mum made me drink litres of it throughout my childhood. It stimulated hunger, and it kind of worked as, during “the cure”, as my mum would call the month or so she made me have that shit, I ate more than I normally would. Whenever I saw those bottles in the medicine’s cabinet, my heart sank. I don’t remember why, at some point, this hell ended (I think that there has been a shortage of it and my doctor just stopped prescribing it because “enough is enough”).

The mantras I heard day in, day out, was that I looked sick, that I was skin and bones, that I looked like a stick with clothes. When I was a child, I almost felt a sense of pride: I looked like a boy and I didn’t mind, I fit into tiny clothes, nobody teased me for being overweight (though in the 80s being overweight was rare) and it just seemed a fun thing, so I was welcoming those negative comments about my body because to me they were something cool.

Well.

Not so much when teenage years started: my peers started to have boobs and curves and well, I still had bones on show. Hearing constantly “you will go to the hospital because you are all bones! “you have only skin attached to your bones!” “look at you, you are so skinny you look sick!”, “you are a stick with clothes on”, “you should stay in the science room as you’d be perfect as a skeleton” went from fun to steadily eroding my self-esteem, and once that was gone, it fuelled hate for my body.

Partly because of my fussiness, and partly because I wanted to gain weight and shush all the “skinny bitch” shit, I started to learn how to cook by myself. My mum is worldwide famous OCD: if anything is not spotless (especially her kitchen), hell will break lose, so she never taught me anything in case I made a mess in her house. I didn’t mind, I wanted to do things my way and learn flavours, techniques and recipes all by myself: yes, I’m a loner when it comes to learning and I thrive when I am left alone to do my own things (this is also the way I managed to get a Law degree: no classroom, just me, my books and a tutor for help).

Turned out, cooking became a relaxing session for my brain: I didn’t have to think anything but what I wanted to eat and what steps I had to follow in order to feed me what I wanted. There was no fussiness, no anxiety, no drama: I had total control on everything: the flavours, the portion sizes, the recipes. Moreover, it helped me be more curious about food, more inclined to taste and give it a go. An amazing world of possibilities opened its doors for me and I loved it because I was the undisputed Queen of it.

Cooking became my life saviour when my post-natal depression took a turn for the worst, and I lived on a chain of endless panic attacks. Guess what was the main thing who triggered my attacks? Yes, food: I became scared of dying of an anaphylactic shock from a random allergy. I know, rationally, that it was absolutely insane, but there and then? No way, Jose. It took me 2 years to discover that the feeling of suffocating and dying triggered by food was due to a combination of asthma and gastric reflux, but in the meantime it was constant horror.
Anything that was not plain pasta (and I mean just boiled, no oil, cheese, nothing), plain rice or water sent me in a terrible meltdown. I lost so much weight in the space of two months that I (truly) became a skeleton with clothes on. No one seemed to care though: doctors brushed me off with “first time mum syndrome”, “it’s just baby blues”, “cheer up and enjoy this moment”, like I was having a blast living in that horrible.

I could have never tolerated anyone cooking for me at that stage. I would have never, ever, trusted anyone to cook exactly how my anxiety dictated and with the only few things that spared me a panic attack. I spent more time than I’m happy to admit staring at my kitchen thinking “here we go again… Russian roulette bring it on….”. I started re-introducing things little by little, one item at a time. Depending on how brave I felt in that moment, or how strong I felt to push myself, I increased variety, I added spices and flavours. It took ages but being the master of my own resurrection has been very empowering (but please, if you read this, don’t feel like there is no help out there: there is. Don’t surrender like me. SEEK HELP. I beg you), but it left massive mental scars that only now I’m managing to heal.

cake.jpg
A cake I made recently to celebrate Seb Vettel’s victory at the Belgium Grand Prix

Now that I’m better, I am back at loving cooking for what it is. Over the last couple of years I have also improved my baking skills, and every now and then I test my creations on my colleagues. Funny thing is, when I started bringing cakes at the office, their feedback was “good”, “nice”, “ok”, “amazing”; now that it happens quite often, they are used to it and their feedback is like Michelin Star inspector: “needs more moisture”, “this was good but slightly too lemony”, “amazing, but decoration could have been neater”.

By the way, since I see that my blog gets read all over the world, if you have any recipe please please please share it with me (any good dhal recipe would be greatly appreciated!)!

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.

udo
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!