(BREAKING THE) LAW OF ATTRACTION

My metal friends will forgive my almost Judas Prieast-y quote!

I used to be highly sceptical of things such as the “law of attraction”, the “power of the mind” and stuff like that. I considered most of that stuff hipster bullshit, or crap written on self-help books that only benefits the writer making money on false hopes, not the reader getting out of their misery. When I embarked on this journey of mine, I stumbled over and over across these things, and since I decided to not give anything for granted anymore, even if may feel a bit stupid at times, I decided to kind of open up to the possibility that this bloody law of attraction thing may be true.

Marge, my dear friend, every single time she saw me dressed like I just got out of bed and picked the first things I found, with no makeup and looking like I couldn’t give a fuck about life, always told me off saying “if you dress nicely and look nicely, you will attract nice stuff; if you dress in crappy, baggy clothes and look like shit, you will attract shit”. I used to laugh about her remarks, because my Kreator hoodie has been my second skin for years now, but the further I progressed with the gym and therapy, the more I started to wonder whether what she kept saying (and still says!) held some truth in it. And I started changing the way I portrayed myself to the outside world.
I didn’t really pay attention to what was happening around me, since I have been too busy focusing on what was happening with me, but last Friday something happened that woke me up from a weird sleep-of-the-mind moment and made me think “actually, if I needed proof that Marge is right, here is one right before my very own eyes”.

So, I had a very horrible night where I didn’t sleep well. I was nervous, I had a nightmare after the other, I was cold, then hot, then cold, then itchy, I just couldn’t rest for more than five minutes in a row. I blamed the full moon and my pre-menstrual hormones and tried to get over it, but in the morning, I felt dreadful. I dragged my sorry self to the office, all sluggish and lethargic, in a rather upset mood. I worked as much as I could, then I decided I had to have a walk to clear my head, and since I had to courier some documents, I took the chance to take few minutes break and walk to the loading bay in my office’s basement. Once I got there, the security guy Mo greeted me with a big smile and a hug. He saw that there was something not adding up, and immediately started to encourage me and make me feel better: “no, don’t be like that, go to the gym, I see you every day going there like all moody and coming out energised and happy, you can do this, you work so hard, I believe in you, go and do some lifting, get the happy hormones fighting the sad ones, show me you can do this!”. I left the loading bay with a smile, thinking “yeah, he is so right, I should just forget about everything, go and sweat a bit at the gym Silvia, come on”. I didn’t go there in the end (I have been way too busy to leave my desk) but I kept a more positive mood all day long.

I kept thinking about Mo’s words all afternoon and evening. It made me reflect about the massive support and love that the people who are in my life right now are demonstrating and showing to me each victory I nail, and how all the haters, negative soul-eaters are so far away from me, whether because they got rid of themselves on their own accord or because I pushed them away (consciously or subconsciously). Only few months ago, if I had a bad mood day like that, I would have got a barrage of negativity back that would have reinforced my feelings of shittiness. Now, if I’m on the lower side of happiness, people rally to bring me back to a more positive place. It’s like I’m running this marathon of life, and whenever from time to time I take a stumble or I’m too tired to keep going, someone offers a hand and gives me the energy boost I need to go further and further, without having to proactively asking for help; people are cheering me on the side of the track, and even though at times it is painful to keep moving, I know I can count of my friends to be there when I need them. I guess my new, more positive outlook, inside and outside, has attracted more positive people who approach me with a more positive attitude.

I spoke to my therapist about it a while ago, and she said that, aside from any spiritual connotation that one may want to see in this law, it does indeed have some truth in it: the more you take care of yourself, inside and outside, the more you work on yourself to elevate you from negativity to positivity, the more people will notice the change and shift their behaviour accordingly, because if they don’t, you would not put up with it (consciously or not); more so, you would be attracting more positive people not because of some mojo-voodoo-whatever magical thing, but because you’ll be more positive and won’t stand whatever dragged you down in the past: you’ll be savvier choosing those who surrounds you because you will recognise the negative stuff that you worked so hard to get rid of, and you won’t chose to befriend someone who doesn’t match your new you. Indeed, this is what is happening to me. The more I think about it, the more I see it in the people around me, especially in those that weren’t there before I started this journey but that now I can’t imagine my life without: everyone is kind, enthusiastic, generous, encouraging, inspiring, empowering. Of course, some negative influences try to show up here and there (ex-boyfriend I’m pointing the finger at you) but you know what? I’m in such a different mindset that I don’t really give a single shit about it. Like, not even a remote one, no matter how hard I try (and I don’t). If these new people are those I’m attracting in this journey, well, I’m doing something good and I’m in the right path.

436172-Wayne-W-Dyer-Quote-The-law-of-attraction-is-this-You-don-t-attract

Which made me think… I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and I saw a video posted by Alex Rodriguez gushing about Jennifer Lopez working hard as hell for her fans and doing an amazing job (I know, I know, I’m obsessed, I really am): it was just beautiful, you can tell he is one hell of a proud man who is madly in love with his woman. It made me cry: I never had a man so proud of me that he’d scream it out loud for the whole world to hear, or even just for me to hear it. I always been treated like I should have been grateful to be in a relationship in the first place, and that it was a sort of a miracle they picked me instead of the plethora of better / hotter / smarter women they could have picked. You know what? I’m done with this shit. I deserve my very own A-Rod. Someone who will be proud of the journey I’m in, someone who will be solid on my side, who will be my number one supporter. Someone who won’t gaslight me to hide his insecurities, but that will push me to conquer any goal I set myself to achieve. Someone that will lift me up when I’m down and shower me with love and affection. I know my heart, at the moment, is locked away and has said to the brain “pretend I don’t exist, I’m on an indefinite leave, you are in charge mate, enjoy” so there are approximately zero chances for the above to happen, but hey, who knows, maybe, one day, when the time will be right, the laws of attraction will give me another massive present?

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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.

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.

 

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).

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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.

STRIKE A POSE

I think I shocked quite a few people, lately, with some of my daring pictures on Instagram.
When you spend a lifetime portraying yourself as the as the ugly weirdo in a heavy metal t-shirt, who can barely put some basic make up on her face and who is as feminine as Godzilla with a skirt, the sudden change to a rather hot babe with full make up, false lashes, sexy underwear and not giving a single fuck about showing off can be quite a big “WHAT?”.

Honestly? I’m loving it and I’m having such a jolly good time.

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mastering the truck driver look at the office (for the record, this is Nico Rosberg hat!)

I’ve spent every single day of my life, up till not long ago, convincing myself that I was irremediably UGLY AF, Supreme Court final judgement issued, no appeal, over, that is it, deal with it.
I never even dared to entertain the remote possibility that, actually, I may not be that bad, and that maybe, just maybe, with a bit of effort, some guidance and a different mentality, maybe I could be the person I really am and not the one I decided to be (the one who looks (and feel) like a pub toilet after a Saturday night).

I never had a mirror in my bedroom up till January this year. No joking. Why should I have had something reflecting the image of a body I always hated with a passion? I barely had one in my bathroom and that was more than enough to make me start my mornings and end my days with a “oh no that ugly face again, look at you, jeeez you are hideous”.

I have wasted so much time, so much energy, putting myself down and diminishing myself; if only I had been less negative and more positive! I tried to be the people pleaser whilst flying as low as possible, because I was one of those who thinks that it’s only other people who can be looking good, successful, interesting, good, etc. Even in my relationships, I fell for the wrong men, thinking they were awesome even though they were barely average (or downright twats) because I couldn’t think of deserving anything better.

You know what I realised? Hating yourself is quite a demanding, hard, and tiring job. It takes quite the effort. You are always, constantly, continuing thinking of horrible, negative stuff about you, and your brain is in an unstoppable spiral out of control full of hate, from the moment you wake up, till the moment you go to bed, without any breathing space.
Then, to add salt to your very open and bleeding wounds, you start comparing yourself to others. I don’t just mean the celebrities in their ultra-doctored and intensely photoshopped pictures: any other human being, living and breathing, is a chance for you to dig some more into your non-existent self-esteem.

Oh, but this is not the end of it!

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I have been famous for not being capable of having a picture taken without pulling a stupid face

You so hate yourself that you cannot possibly contemplate, not even remotely entertain the idea that someone may disagree with you and see you for the lovely person you are (inside and outside). No, no, no, no! They MUST be wrong. Worse. Not only they are wrong, but they must know they are and therefore they are teasing you. They are having fun at your expenses. Needless to say, you reject any compliment like the plague, and you are quick to answer back shit like “pretty? ME? Dude your eyes need checking”, “What? Are you joking? I look like a bin bag in this dress” etc…
I am not proud to admit that I took this habit of refusing compliments to the next level: I intentionally annoyed the hell out of anyone (friends, colleagues, partners) with my refusal till I ended up making them feel bad, I have forced them to listen to all the tripe I thought about myself to the point I got them so extremely fed up with me that they just stopped complimenting me altogether in order to avoid having to yell at me (or slap me).
I know.

I portrayed myself uglier than what I am because this is the reality I wanted to believe in. Being the victim of my own image meant that I didn’t require any effort on my part to change: I was just passively accepting this as a fact because I knew that changing is H A R D. And I didn’t do hard because I’m lazy at the core and I would have missed a chance to moan and make myself miserable a bit more. I did lazy, commiserating, “poor me” and helplessness. Gosh I was such an unpleasant mess.

I’m about to break this news to you: if you want to love yourself, you got to learn to do it. Even better, you have to start trying to love yourself, one step at the time. Just that. Try. No other options for you. You can either stay miserable all your life (and believe me, I was headed towards this road without a single care in the world) OR, you try to improve. At worst, you stay as you are. But if you try and make a real effort, change will happen. Guaranteed.

I was talking to a very good friend I met on Instagram, who is on a similar journey to mine (you know who you are 😊 Love you!) and we were discussing about my gym body. I told him that I’m nowhere near the body I plan to have, but that I’m working hard towards it, and if only I didn’t spend all my life hating myself, I would already be at that level now. All I had to do was just…

Try.

Don’t get me wrong, I make it sound so easy, but giving yourself the push to try… it is hard as hell.

I read tons of self-help books, all giving great, helpful suggestions on how to start change, what to do to start believing more in yourself and lift your self-esteem.
Convincing myself to follow those advices was a piece of cake: of course I’m going to write some lovely positive affirmations!
Hell yeah I’m going to stop my negative thoughts before they kick in and replace them with positive ones!
Absolutely, don’t worry, from now on I’m going to do all these things, you watch me.
Then the time to actually try and do these things came, and guess what? I freaked out. Because I convinced myself it was pointless. Because I felt stupid. Because my mindset was always in a “I’m a helpless loser” mode. Because what if. Because I knew better. Because nothing can possibly work on someone like me. Because I was so (insert negative thing) that not even a miracle could make me any different. Ever felt the same as me?

Well, guess what? Give yourself a much-deserved chance. I did it. And hear this: you got nothing to lose and all to gain. Don’t think “it is not possible”, shut that thought and re-wire it into a “let’s see what happens!”.

You can’t imagine how hard I struggled to tell myself that I was worthy. It took me more than a month to stop laughing and think “yeah right” every time I said to myself “I am beautiful”. But I didn’t surrender. No way Jose, this time we don’t do half-arsed stuff.
I have always been proud of surrounding myself with positive, loving, caring and inspiring people; when I embarked on this life-enhancing mission of changing the way I think, act, and see the world, I “hired” them as my special angels – change assistants: to ensure I didn’t back down, I asked all these friends to listen to what I said carefully, and yell at me should I have said anything bad about myself. Anything! Slap me too, if I don’t stop. Believe me, having someone telling you “ENOUGH” Rephrase it positively!!” every time you open your mouth is incredibly helpful, mainly because your negativity is so rooted deep down in you that you don’t realise how bad it is unless someone points it out at you.
I have forced myself to say “thank you” to any compliment, without biting back or saying anything else. Thank you and a smile. That’s it. Gosh it was sooooo hard. More so, I started to actively compliment myself: damn I cooked an amazing dinner tonight; good job Silvia, that was great; look at you, going to the gym even when you’d rather be in bed, you go girl. No more “you are shit” and stuff like that, no.
Since I knew one of my worst defects is being a massive lazy arse, I ordered a colleague to drag me to the gym no matter what. Boy she did. I almost got scared of her!

However, the best thing I ever did was to allow myself to see me through all these amazing people’s eyes, and just embrace what they saw rather than staying stuck with what I saw. I started to think: look, if all these wonderful people I love, cherish and admire have nothing but praise for me, and I’m the only one who thinks shit (beside the twat I was in love with, who was just that, a twat) …. Could it be that I’m the one in the wrong?
I let their love fill my empty heart, and I used their skills to learn and improve myself: I am useless at shopping for clothes? I dragged a friend with me and gave her the power of treating me like a human doll: show me what you think I would look good in! I had a photoshoot with a dear friend of mine, and she showed me that even with not a lot of makeup and not “fresh from hair salon” hair, I could look good. I sat and listened to them, trying to grasp any tip, any advice on how to look and act better. I even said to my desk-neighbour “kick me if you see me slouching on my chair (my physiotherapist thanks profusely). I hoarded makeup, and I asked the shop assistant good tips, then I spent endless evenings on youtube trying and testing stuff to learn how to do nice looks without ending up looking like a clown or a prostitute. I pampered myself with a new haircut, a facial, some new gym clothes and a better diet.

I am still nowhere near where I want to be, but one thing is sure:

Yes, I am beautiful.

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I need few things to fix, but yes, I am a really beautiful woman.

I have a big heart, I’m a loyal friend, I’m funny, I’m sweet, I’m fierce, I’m strong, I’m powerful, I’m full of love and I am positive force. Whoever thinks differently about me is more than welcome to fuck off back from the shithole where he/she comes from (excuse my language). I’m independent, I have a job I love to bits, I love abundantly, and I am surrounded by love; I am sure that the universe is now gearing up to bring me all the goodness I deserve.

If you are reading this and you have been in my same old, negative shoes, feel free to reach out to me. If you are in need of a sign that will turn your life around, here it is: just do it! Just try! I am just like you and I’m still walking down this path, stumbling, and falling at times, but still going strong, because I don’t want to live that negative hell anymore. Listen to me, give yourself this chance. Forget negativity, that won’t lead you anywhere but misery. You are unique. You are special. Leave your past to rest, focus on today and start loving yourself. Don’t feed your negative narrative and push away whoever tries to bring you down.

And in the words of the wonderful Whitney Houston (may she rest in peace):

I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed, at least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me they can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all inside of me

HELP! I NEED SOMEBODY! HELP!

I hate being weak.
I hate people thinking that I’m weak, and even more so, I hate when people can see my weaknesses.

I HATE IT!

The only person I allowed to be in the presence of a flawed, frail me, has been my ex-boyfriend, because I convinced myself that he loved me so much that he would have helped me heal my issues with his love.

Yeah right, it didn’t really go to plan this one…

When he dumped me and all I had was, well, me, and I realised how helpless I was, I decided to do the bravest, most upsetting, panic and anxiety attack inducing thing I have ever done: I admitted defeat; I acknowledged that, there and then, I was in no mental state to move on from that shit.
I raised my hand and I asked for help.
Not just reaching out to friends though.
I mean, I asked for PROFESSIONAL help.

Bit of a background here: I fought with my mental health since my teens. I already said in another blog post that I come from a family, on my mum’s side, where everyone has something not quite right in their head. Yet none of us ever dared to even think of going to see a psychologist, or a therapist, or anyone, really.
I grew up hearing things like “oh you don’t go to the shrink, only total coo-coo people go there” or “I don’t need to see a shrink, no way I’ll say stuff to a complete stranger, he’ll think I’m crazy, will only stuff me with pills and besides, what can he/she actually do to help!”, “it is so shameful and embarrassing, do you want people to know you are mental?” and so on.
Trying to improve your mental health by seeing a specialist was something you didn’t do and didn’t even dare to mention.

Once, when I was 17 years old, I insisted to see a consultant because my crippling anxiety was starting to take a toll on my physical health. I had to beg for months, and in the end, I ended up with the crappiest psychiatrist working in my city, because what was important was not his/her capabilities, but his/her surgery being as far away from where I lived as possible, and hidden too, to ensure that no one would have ever seen me going there – or else, shame on me, my family and my relatives for years to come. This woman I ended up seeing was rude, she didn’t let me talk, she handed me an antidepressant’s prescription and dismissed me there and then: needless to say, I decided my relatives where right after all and there was no going back.

Over the years, my anxiety only got worse. It didn’t help being bullied at work for two years solid by my manager. I reached a nice equilibrium when I moved to London, because I was too busy settling down in a new country and in a new job, so I didn’t have the time to think “wait, how am I doing?”. All went down the drains after my pregnancy: yes, the dreaded Post-Natal Depression (you can read more in my previous post). I knew it was a possibly, I read about it, I thought I knew what to do… till I had it: 3 long years of constant panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I slowly crawled out of that hell alone and I re-built a kind of “new normal” counting only on myself and no one else. I sometimes think it is a miracle that I’m here, writing, living, and breathing and not being locked in a psychiatric ward (or six feet under).

I knew I was not perfect, but I thought I was doing ok: I mean, I was alive. I was happy. I put up with divorcing, with being alone with a kid, bills to pay and a mortgage, I had friends, work was good and I loved it, I had an amazing boyfriend…. till he dumped me, and at that point life hit me in the face like a truck.
I was not ok anymore.
No, worse, I have never been ok, I only pretended to be so.
Everything I pushed in a remote corner of my brain (hating myself, hating my body, being a weirdo, being alone, you name it) not only reached the surface, but BANG! It was like being run over by a train on full speed.
I had to do something though, come on Silvia, you can do this bitch, you overcame worst things!

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I even bought myself flowers every week!

I became obsessed with “doing”. Anything. So long as I didn’t have to stand still. In the space of a month I read at least 15 self-help books (and some really did change my life) and I got still a handful around the house waiting to be read; I meditated every single day, twice a day minimum; I pushed myself to go to the gym and put some REAL effort in my exercises; I wrote my affirmations and I repeated them over and over again non-stop like a lunatic; I forced myself to think positive things, to have faith in the universe, to block any negative thoughts on the spot…. and yet the only thing that I could not manage to do was asking for help. Psychological help.

Let’s face it, you can do all the exercises in the world, you can follow all the sound advices that experts and caring friends give you, but you are barely scratching the surface of something that it is deeply rooted in you. This is, at least, how I felt. I tried very hard to avoid it, even though all the signs pointed in that directions. I fought it hard and I gave myself a million of excuses to not do it, including “I cannot afford it” and “who’s going to care for my son when I’m in therapy”.

Still, in front of the mirror shouting “I am so beautiful. Check these abs, wow, I am so fierce” I felt this…. void. It just wasn’t enough. I bit my lips and decided that I had it, that was officially it: if I really wanted to see changes, I had to stop being so up my arse, let go of my past and just

ask.for.help.

What could possibly go wrong? Do I ask for help when I can’t do something at work? yes. Do I ask my son for help when I’m cleaning his bedroom and shit reaches the roof? yes. Do I ask for help to my friends when I’m feeling down, and I need a good chat and an Aperol Spritz on the side? YES. So… I am now in need of help to dig at the core of my problems and I need someone with the appropriate shovel to succesfully do it.

Easy, right?

Of course, I thought. Let me find the right therapist who can help me, yey!

So here is me, googling “best therapist near me” and browsing profiles, all happy and merry. I found one I liked, I read the profile, it fitted what I was looking for. Actually, it felt like “THIS IS THE ONE I FEEL I WANT TO TALK TO”.
I was all geared up. Contact page, here is the psychotherapist’s email.
I’m ready. This is my moment, let me write a lovely email.

“Dear……

my name is Silvia and….”

And I stopped. I just froze.

My hands couldn’t write anything. At all. My mind went blank, all of the sudden.
Then, a tsunami of negative thoughts filled the void: “WTF are you doing? What is this shit? What are you thinking of writing? What do you need? Are you sure you want to waste money chatting away to some stranger? You know the things you could do instead? Plus, what do you say to her? That you are sad because your love story ended? So what? Do you think you are the first one who ever had a broken heart? Come on bitch, you survived worse things by yourself, delete that email, go to the gym instead, have a glass of wine” and so on.

I dropped my phone. I got up, and I started walking around in my living room like a caged animal at the zoo. I’m in this whirlwind of thoughts when, like a lightning strike, I remember a quote from one of those self-help books I read:

The Big Snooze will do everything it can to stop you from changing and growing, especially since you’re attempting to obliterate the very identity that you and everyone else has come to know as “you”
Jen Sincero, “You are a Badass”

That was exactly what was happening. My brain was working against me in an attempt to stop me pursuing change, real change. I grabbed the phone from the floor, re-open that email and I simply typed

“Dear….

my name is Silvia AND I NEED HELP”

I wrote how hard it felt to write this request, how anxious I was at the thought of looking stupid, but that I needed to do it so please guide me into the process.

I paused. I closed my eyes. I had some deep breaths, then I pressed send.
And then I ended up with an anxiety attack!
But, what was done, was done. I asked for help. The therapist wrote me back shortly afterwards and she arranged for a phone call later the day to start the ball rolling.

The first session was… weird. I sat there, eyes wide open, like I was about to be executed at gunpoint. I just didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to do! My therapist put me immediately at ease and gently pushed me to talk.
I started to stutter and mumble a bit. Then I felt more at ease. I said something funny and we both started to laugh. I felt better, and I opened up a little more… and by the time the session finished, I realised I turned into a total chatterbox unable to shut up.
That night, I slept like a baby, happy.

Now, after a month and half, I’m here thinking: why on Earth I’ve been so dumb and stupid to not do it sooner!

I feel like every session is a pampering spa experience for my brain. My therapist engages me in amazing debates, she helps me reflect on the things I say, she guides my thought processes without judging or forcing me, and when I leave, I feel amazing. It is the most selfish thing I have ever done for myself: every week, an hour of 100% me, me, me, me. ME. No one else but me. It is the best thing ever. For someone who has always been “others first”, it is a mesmerising experience!

If you are there, thinking “mmmm I don’t know” please, listen to me: give it a go.
Think of what you’d like from a therapist: I chose mine because, amongst other things, she doesn’t do Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (been there, done that, I HATED IT) and because she is there to LISTEN.
Research carefully: we have been blessed with the power of Google, let’s use it for good things, not just to find the funniest cat memes of the month.
Then, once you got the one who ticks all the boxes, just give it a go: trust me, if you find “the right one”, you won’t regret it, and you’ll thank yourself soon!