To medicate or not to medicate?…that is the question

The topic of whether medication is the correct way to address depression is controversial. People seem to attach a negative stigma to seeking help through medication, as if by not tackling depression alone you are somehow weaker. This is simply not true. Whilst I agree that medication cannot be the sole treatment for any form of mental illness, there is absolute proof that it really can make a difference.

Of course, the use of medication really does need to go hand in hand with therapy, as mental illness is exactly what it says on the tin…within the mind. It is essential to get inside our own minds and really pick at what it means to be in our heads, what our flaws are, what drives us, and what needs to change in order to be positive and healthy. Whether this be in the form of meditation, CBT or simply talking and voicing your thoughts, therapy is healthy, it’s positive, and its a step towards a new mindset.

For me personally, I have done the therapies and used them to my advantage (not always, I resented talking and trying for a long time), ultimately leading me to be the person I am today. I have tried CBT, hypnotherapy, meditation, holistic therapists, healers, talkers, relationship counsellors…you name it. I’ve been helped of course by all of these individuals who have shared their advice with me, and now I am lucky enough to be in a place where I don’t feel I need to speak to anyone anymore. I do use this blog as a sort of therapist now, with freedom to express myself, my thoughts and feelings and the ability to read back on who I used to be yesterday, as I grow into the person I am supposed to be tomorrow.

Despite this, I possibly may not be here today without my medication. I do feel that there is such a negative attitude towards the use of antidepressants. The truth is, the use of a small white pill does not make you weak, it actually makes you strong. It means you stepped up and asked for help. It means you’re giving in to the fact that you can’t simply “fix” everything. It also is not a ball and chain attached to your ankle forever, it doesn’t mean that when you start you can’t stop. It’s an extra boost in your time of need.

The use of antidepressants doesn’t come without it’s negatives, and its a big decision to start taking them. Side effects, memory loss, weight gain…these are some of the negatives that people discuss in relation to these medications: Article regarding negatives of antidepressants. Will they help? Will they make things worse? The thing we need to remember, is that there are negatives in putting anything into your body – one week we’re told bananas are brilliant for you, the next they give you cancer, too much fat is bad for you, too much water can make you unwell etc etc. The other thing to remember is that the use of these medications is only appropriate when advised by your doctor, and should never be abused.

My personal experience is one of positivity. I have been on antidepressant medication since I was 15 years of age, and now being 23, I have been able to see objectively how they have changed my life over a period of time. How do I know they have made an impact? Well, I no longer want to end my life, which is a massive indication! I am less irritable, more out going, more positive, more able, I have more get up and go, I have more energy. I notice when I don’t take my meds for a few days, either through forgetting or through running out of my prescription. I become irritable, fidgety, lethargic, emotional, aware of a deep sense of sadness, lazy and uninterested. These are all the traits I used to have everyday prior to my medication. I find myself feeling more balanced on my medication and more able to face life. My antidepressants work on my mood and also my anxiety, allowing me to lead a more stress-free life, balancing me out to be a more capable individual.

Never be influenced by the stigma attached to taking medication for your mental illness. Remember it takes bravery to step up and ask for help in any form. Be brave. You are not confined by your illness, use every stepping stone available to get yourself back on track.

What are your experiences with antidepressants? Are you for or against? 

Just be an adult already!! 

Something happened over the past few years. It happened when I wasn’t looking. I was no longer a child, I was no longer bound by the rules of my parents, with nobody to answer to. I didn’t have to tell anyone where I was going, what I was doing or what time I would be back. I became an adult. 

What age does this even truly happen? Growing up, we seem to believe we’re “adults” by the time we’re 16, 18, 21. It’s a subjective theory in all honesty, something that is relative to life experience. I definitely remember feeling fairly adult at the age of 12, battling with what I saw to be “grown-up” depressive moods and thoughts, protecting myself from my aggressive step father and dealing with my ongoing internal monologue. That felt fairly adult to me. But in reality, it was a young girl, a very lost one at that, dealing with a world of adults who showcased very negative thoughts, emotions and relayed them onto my vulnerable brain. 

Now, at 23 years of age, I live in my own house with my partner, I’m studying for my degree, I’m learning to be my own person as I expect to do for the entirety of my life. I’m an enthusiast for the world, for travel, for work, for learning and for growth. I love to write. I love to walk. I am an adult. So why do I still feel as if those strings have not been cut from my childhood. I still feel like I need guidance, I still feel as if I need to answer to someone. And I still feel as if I need to cling to my childhood in order to be carefree. 

What I do that counteracts the fact that I’m an adult?

  • Everything I do I seek gratification from someone, somewhere 
  • If I have a sick day from work, I validate the fact that it is ok with a parent, my partner, or family and friends 
  • I explain every decision I make 
  • I justify myself constantly 
  • I live to please others 
  • I still feel unfulfilled, as if being a child allowed me to do more (that ironically I never seemed to take advantage of) and that adulthood results in not being able to really “live”
  • Living in a messy house – expecting someone else to clean it for me 

Why do I do this? 

  • Being an adult was always a negative thing in my younger life – adults were harsh and scary and violent and unpredictable 
  • I care what people think far too much 
  • I seek validation as I am still unsure in my own ability to decision make 
  • I have convinced myself that adult hood means working, paying bills and being unfulfilled 
  • I have a warped view of what being an independent truly means 

How could I step into my adulthood like I mean it? 

  • I need to consistently remind myself that adulthood is just a theory – it’s a concept that simply means I’m older. 
  • Remind myself that adulthood is not scary and it doesn’t mean that I have become a reflection of the adults I knew in my childhood 
  • Remember that it doesn’t change who I am – I’m still a big kid 
  • Don’t allow the concept of being grown up take away my dreams – it doesn’t mean the time frame has gone, it simply means I can choose when, where and why 
  • To learn that whilst pleasing people is ok, it shouldn’t be at the detriment of pleasing myself 
  • Remember that I don’t owe anybody anything. I’m my own person 
  • Believing in any decision that I make 
  • Keeping a tidy house in order to keep a tidy mind. 
  • Helping myself to help myself 
  • Staying in touch with my inner child and allowing myself to play and have fun 
  • Laugh more – laughing and being silly isn’t confined to being a child 
  • Working on my thoughts on what an adult is – not seeing adulthood as boring bill paying, as realistically, it changes nothing. 

I’ve got some great things to work on this summer! 

How do you live authentically in the concept of being an adult? 

3 Days of Demons: Day 1

Happy Tuesday everybody. I’ve had a busy couple of weeks, with 14 days work and university making me feel extremely tired and out of touch with everyone in my life. With things that have been going on, I feel like I’m learning more about myself everyday, and I have decided to do another series of posts, much like my “5 ways” posts a few months ago.
Over the next 3 posts I will be opening up my scrutiny of myself and my behaviours and trying to get to grips with what is going on in my subconscious. In my “3 days of demons” posts, I will be choosing a different behaviour or thought process everyday, as I try and decipher why I behave in certain ways and how I can potentially grow to change them.
It’s, in my experience, vital to be able to accept and understand your subconscious behaviours and thought processes if you stand any chance of changing them and growing. And that’s what I want to do.

I no longer want to be stuck in old patterns and to be confined by the walls of my past. And this is my attempt to do so.
So welcome to my 3 days of demons posts, and welcome inside my brain.

I would love to hear back from you all, and to try and help you understand your demons and thought processes that you would like to change.

3 days of demons day 1: My own worst enemy.

I am my own worst enemy.

How do I know this?

  • I set ridiculously high expectations for myself, and then proceed to beat myself up and punish myself when I don’t reach them. For example, in my current degree, I want to achieve 100% on every piece of work I submit. Now for a degree, with a broad range of subjects covered and assignments that are open to interpretation, this is not always attainable. With every piece of work I submit I do work my hardest, I set aside a lot of time to complete them and I really do strive for the best. In one of my most recent pieces based on the anatomy and physiology of a dog, I got 68%. This is a pass..but not a distinction (It is 2% away in fact). And in my mind I had failed. I felt really disappointed in myself, and like a failure as I had set an expectation that I can be gaining the best of the best all the time.
  • I compare myself to others far too often – why don’t I go on as many holidays as they do? Why don’t I look like that? Why can’t I be good at that? Why can’t I have those clothes? Again, at university recently we had to sit an exam. When I got my results back I was thrilled to gain 94%…until I heard that someone else in the group got 99%. I was really upset with myself. At what stage is it acceptable to be upset with 94%??
  • I get irritable and frustrated and become aware that I need to be alone to wait it out…but I still surround myself with people I love and end up snapping at them.
  • I have far too much belief and hope that others will behave the way I would, and look to myself as the reason why they are not. I punish myself and question my own morals when people let me down. I don’t believe in who I am.
  • I often convince myself I am ugly, unattractive, over weight and that I hate my body – yet I do nothing to fix this.
  • I am often in fear of fear itself. I can be more than confident about going to an event, or doing something with my family etc, until I remember that I’m not a normal person in a normal brain. That negative voice in my head steps to centre stage and reminds me what a panic attack feels like, and I live in fear of having another one.

These are just a few examples of how I am, or can be, my own worst enemy. Particularly the events related to my degree have recently made me question why I beat myself up so often and am so quick to punish myself for not fulfilling the vision of perfection that I seem to want to be.

How can I fix this?

I definitely need to understand why I seek perfection all the time, perhaps due to the fact that I wanted attention from my parents at a younger age and as I was never sporty I needed to gain their acceptance through my grades and being perfectly behaved. I need to remind myself that others cannot be controlled and I am not responsible for their behaviour – if somebody upsets me or acts in a negative way towards me, this does not take away from me as a person, and it doesn’t change that I am a good person. I need to continually appreciate what I have in my own life, instead of looking at the things that others have, and wanting the things that I don’t need or that aren’t good for me, in the face of needing to be this perfect vision again. I need to learn that “stuff” does not define me. What others have does not mean they are happy. I do not need to be like anyone else, I just need to be me!

I need to reassure myself when I look in the mirror that I am beautiful, because I am me. And I shouldn’t need anyone else to tell me that in order for me to believe it. I shouldn’t seek acceptance for the way I look from anyone else other than the mirror. I should be happy that I have a body that works and functions, as many people don’t. I also need to remind myself that 9.5 stone is not overweight. Whilst I am bigger than I’ve ever been before, that is because I am in a good place with my eating disorders and manage to eat in 9.9 out of 10 situations now. My eating habits are better because I am happier and surely thats more important than a few extra pounds around the stomach?! And if I really want to make a change, I need to stop making excuses and get in the gym, get out in the fresh air or on my bike and get that weight off me!!

I need to spend more time reaffirming the positive voice in my head, and being able to quieten the negative one, before she takes her place in the drivers seat. I need to continue to choose to live a life of happiness and not slip back into old habits because they feel like comfortable old clothes, because the thing is they are not beneficial to me, and they lead me to unhappiness.I need to allow myself to be alone, and to take a breath before I snap at those around me who just want to show me love. I need to remember that at the end of the day, there is only me, I am the only person I can truly rely on, and therefore that person should be the best that she can be, not perfect, not a vision of a billboard or a perfectionist society, but the truest form of “me” that I can be, and someone who is truly happy in their own skin. That’s all I need. I need to support myself, congratulate myself on my successes and appreciate that a success is not defined by 100% perfectionism, but instead it is continuing to try, to use resources, to test yourself and to be better than the person I was yesterday.

As of today, I am my own best friend. Goodbye to enemies.

 

A lot can happen in a year! 

One whole year ago today, I started my WordPress blog. 

12 months ago, I decided it was time to grow, and be honest.

52 weeks ago I found somewhere to share my innermost thoughts, and somewhere to escape to. In the process, I have been lucky enough to be in contact with some of the most supportive people I could have ever wished to know. 
365 days ago, The Suitcase Kid came to life. 

  
So what has The Suitcase Kid done for me? Well, what hasn’t this blog space done for me? I’ve realised that in getting my inner most thoughts and confusions off my chest, I can leave them behind, and let them go. In letting my baggage go, I can lessen the weight on my shoulders and give in to just enjoying my life. 

In the past year, in the main without counselling or therapy, I have become a stronger, better person, in ways that I never thought possible. I have become braver, more honest, more independent, less anxious, less sad, more real, more grounded and more human. I can feel now, I can feel what it is to be happy, to be excited and to enjoy. 

In the last year, I have realised that I can do it. I can live a life of happiness, and I no longer need to choose pain and sadness. 

On the anniversary of The Suitcase Kid, I would like to thank you for reading and keeping up with me, for checking in, and for making sure I am ok. I thank you for writing your posts, as reading them have helped me through harder days. 

Here is to our first year Suitcase Kid, and here is to many, many more

Why am I proud of myself today?

Ive had a bit of an emotional day today, and if I’m honest, I’ve probably felt it coming on for the past couple of days. I am still recovering from my operation, and still having good days and bad days, the worst of which include taking very strong painkillers and staying in bed all day. I’ve been overdoing it though. I’ve had my family visiting, and as I don’t get to spend too much time with them, I have pushed my body further than I should have, considering today marks 2 weeks since my operation date. My body is still healing, yet I have been out walking, drinking, out for dinner… 

Too much, too soon. 

My body has obviously been reacting to being pushed too far, and as a result I am laid up in bed today feeling very sorry for myself. There has been tears and frustration today. I’ve felt like a failure. It has almost felt as if I have let myself down by stopping, and for not being able to carry on. My body reacted to being pushed to its limits by making me sick, dizzy and feel all out of sorts. 

I decided it’s important to listen to my body, and to recognise that I need to rest. My body is still in the healing process, and whilst I’ve done some lovely things over the past week, I am not super human! As I’ve been feeling wrongly disappointed in myself today, and a little flat mood-wise, I decided to make a conscious effort to remind myself all that I should be proud of myself for. And once I got writing, as always, I was surprised by how much I had done in the way of success. 

Let me share…

   
 
In case you can’t read my very messy scrawl, I shall share with you: 

Why am I proud of myself today? 

  • I got out of bed, when I really didn’t feel well enough too – I chose not to wallow in my self pity 
  • Today, I truly recognising that I succeeded last night – I ate dinner, in a restaurant, a busy restaurant, with my family. I was ok – and I even had fun! 
  • I ate breakfast today – I tried at least! Even if it did resurface, I recognised that I was not sick because I ate food, but because I was unwell, and they are different! 
  • I went for a walk. 
  • I listened to my body when I knew it needed rest and cancelled plans to do so – I come first! 
  • I allowed myself some alone time because that is exactly what I needed. 
  • I set up a direct debit to my local animal charity, and have sent an application form to become a volunteer – I feel so good about this. 
  • I fought off anxiety 
  • I let myself cry because I needed to! 
  • I forgave myself for being human. 
  • I wrote this list – which allows me to see how much good 24 hours can do! 

Writing this list has made me see that allowing myself to be human, needing to rest, and celebrating my successes is just what I needed today. 

Every negative day must have a positive point, it’s just about seeking it. 

Learning to love my flaws

I recently went on holiday…. which I still can’t believe I’m actually saying, as the old me would have flinched at the thought of leaving her comfort zone to venture to a different country. But anyway, yes I recently went on holiday and as a woman, taking off your dress or coverup by the pool and at the beach to reveal your not quite perfect bikini body, was one of my biggest anxieties.

Now, I live in the UK, where we probably get one week of summery weather a year, and the rest is bleak, overcast or rainy and as a result I don’t really get to wear a bikini so much at home. I’m not a dieter, and I don’t really exercise other than walking my dog everyday, due to my medical issues. Whilst I am lucky to have a fast metabolism thanks to my stick thin mother, I do carry some good old love handles and some extra orange peel around my thighs. As you can imagine then, I have body hang ups. Like everyone, there are parts I really hate about my body, parts I don’t mind, and parts I would gladly have a little nip and tuck if I could!

So there I was, pool side, anxious to get down to my scimpies and reveal my body to the other holiday era. (I don’t know why I thought they all cared by the way, but self esteem and insecurity doesn’t work rationally) Despite this initial holiday bikini fear, as soon as I took off my coverup, I felt free. It was like taking off a heavy, wet coat and feeling ten times lighter. For some reason, I just no longer cared. I was free, having fun, and didn’t give a hoot about who was looking at my cellulite.

I want to share this moment with you…


This is me, as a 22 year old woman, embracing my body.

Hello love handles, cellulite, the little bit of muffin top that hangs over my jeans, the boobs that aren’t quite as big as I’d like and the thick legs I got from my father. I embrace you all. I embrace the things I do like, even though they are few are far between.

My body may not be a temple, but it’s mine. I’m lucky to be able and agile and I’m here, saying I love my flaws. Because my flaws are what make me, me. And I’m coming round to the idea that me isn’t all that bad.

Post operative power

So here I am after my operation, in a lot of pain, but very proud of myself for the way I conducted myself. I travelled to the hospital not feeling too anxious, and constantly reminded myself that I would cope with whatever came at me. I tried to remember that I’d be fine, and to be positive. It’s normal to be anxious when something like this arises in your life, but remaining in control of the anxiety is so important, and I managed to do so. I felt in control and powerful. 

The endometriosis has been removed, and I’m hoping for a speedy recovery to step towards my new, pain free future in which I can live my life with no holds barred. Until I feel better, I’m tucked up in bed with my dog and Pretty Little Liars – my new cheesy US series obsession. 

I feel lucky to live in a country where healthcare is so easily accessible, and lucky to be able to have an operation to make me feel better. I live with a grateful heart for all I have. Now I move on from this. 

New job, new life, better health, happiness, hopes, dreams, holidays, freedom, new experiences, laughter and learning. This will be my life from now. 

Impromptu changes

Due to having my operation tomorrow, and with plans to leave my current job at the NHS in September to pursue my veterinary nursing career, I had planned to have 1-2 weeks off work to recover, and then work my notice period until my course began. Today however, my path has been changed by an unforeseen fork in the road. 

I went into my current job today, and handed in my notice whilst discussing the fears for the operation in an informal chat. It was put to me that I could leave the job, today, fully paid, until my course begins. Sound too good to be true? It sounds good, but it is true – Probably due to the fact that I’ve been a pain in the proverbials as an employee since my arrival. I have kicked up a fuss, stood up for myself and others, had a lot of absences, argued with bullies in the workplace…gosh I sound like a treat! 

6 weeks off is amazing. It’s rare. It’s lucky. But I feel odd. I don’t feel happy. So why do I feel down about having 6 weeks fully paid rest bite? I’ve had a think, and this is what I came up with…

  • The anxiety about my impending operation tomorrow is all consuming. I can only feel that. I am a bundle of anxious energy, as can be expected when the thought of an anaesthetic in the morning is at the forefront of my conscious. 
  • Change. Us humans don’t like change do we?! Which is ironic seeing as everything changes every day really: the weather, the time, our skin, our age, our experiences, our knowledge, alongside the bigger things that change too. Change is one of the only things we can guarantee will happen in our lives. I think I’m feeling slightly unsettled at the thought of this not being the plan I had in my head. The plan has changed, and whilst yes this new plan is better, I’m a woman who likes a plan. I think the sudden nature of my change in direction has made me panic a little. 
  • I question if the path I have chosen is the right one. Should I be leaving a stable, well paid job to become a student? But then I nip that thought in the bud. I was born to be a vet nurse. And I will be. 
  • I feel a bit sad. Why? I bloody hated that job. It’s funny that when things are no longer in our lives we miss them, when all we did when we had them was whinge that we wanted them gone. Don’t get me wrong I did hate the place, I thought it was corrupt, miserable and badly led, however I made some good friends whom I know will be lifelong, learned a lot about myself, trained in a new area that I can always go back to in later life, gained experience and have been through things which shall only make me stronger. And I guess I’m sad that I’m leaving the good behind. 
  • I guess I also feel a little cheated out of a last day, a bunch of cards and presents and a proper send off. A quick goodbye in the middle of the day kind of says under valued. I guess for a 10 month stint, and for being a right royal pain in the arse, I can’t argue. And I get 6 weeks paid leave – which I must remind myself is better than a cheap box of chocolates and a card signed by people i won’t see again. 
  • Undeserving of the rest. All I’ve done is be a pain and be off sick, why do I deserve the break? But really, I do deserve a break. I need rest after my operation but also rest before 3 years of intensive learning to attain my goals. And that is vital to me. I never allow myself chance to just relax, I feel guilty as if there is something else I should be doing. I need to learn that doing nothing is something, and resting and relaxing is good for me, and I do deserve it. I work hard in 3 jobs and I deserve it! 

It’s funny though. I’m experiencing feelings I didn’t realise I would have through leaving a job I never enjoyed. 

Alas, this chapter has closed.
Hello summer of relaxation, re cooperation, fun, exploring and being happy. That starts right now, lying in the garden whilst my favourite dog in the world places her ball at my feet waiting for me to play with her. Bliss. 

The one where everything seems a little more obtainable 

The thing with dreams is, that they happen when when we’re sleeping, fictional figures of our deepest subconscious. Dreams can turn into nightmares. And that’s exactly what my dreams, aspiration and aim wise, became. They became nightmares that taunted me. Like dangling a carrot at unreachable length in front of a donkey, my dreams were inaccessible to me. They’ve always been unreachable; a fictional parallel that I never truly believed would become my reality. 

Dreams to me meant moving towards something, aiming towards a bigger picture. This felt like a concrete plan, something to worry about a fret over, and this felt scary. Dreams aren’t meant to be scary! Having a length of time to think about a dream made me panic, consider the worst, think of the worst outcomes, and force myself into a panic fuelled frenzy. This is why I gave up on what I truly wanted, because it scared me. The time I had to plan was the time I had to chicken out. 

Time however, is exactly what these days I see as my friend. Time is a healer, the old cliché! Nowadays, I see my dreams as exciting, and something to look forward to. I can make plans that don’t scare me anymore, and I can plan to my hearts content, feeling I’m truly getting somewhere in my life. My dreams are now in sight. 

How have I done this? I’m not really even too sure. I’ve grown, and I’ve changed. I’m evolving…Darwin would have a field day! I have aligned what I really want out of life, what I want to be and do and experience, and I seem to be able to pave a way to achieve it. I can actually feel what it feels like to be excited, whereas my empty shell of the past only allowed me to be exactly that: empty. I am genuinely gravitating towards excitement and change and I’m here, embracing it. 

Some of the dreams I’m working towards? More travelling and seeing the world, completing my vet nursing degree in order to work with my favourite souls in the entire universe and wider, to help animals across the globe, and to start a family. It won’t all happen overnight, it takes planning, and it takes hard work. But that doesn’t scare me anymore. I’m open to the prospect of happiness and fulfilment, and it feels amazing. 

Of course it wouldn’t have been achievable to have grown into believing I can live out my wildest dreams without the support of the people around me, and I do have wonderful people around me. Despite this, it has been a solo journey for me, and I’ve done a lot of this growth alone. For someone who never believed I was strong enough to achieve anything, or to change, I am so proud of myself for working towards my goals, a better me, and living a fulfilled and content life. 

How unlike me? No. Not anymore! How unlike my old self yes, but how like my new self, who has obtainable dreams and reaches for them! 

  

The fear I don’t want to acknowledge 

Ive been thinking about this post for a long time. Possibly since I started this blog, which coincidentally is coming up to its first anniversary! I have been considering how I write it, how I confess to my deepest subconscious fear. How do I write what I don’t want to believe myself? I now see that this blog is my healing space, and in order to help others and myself I can’t keep this piece of my fear jigsaw in the box anymore. I need to analyse it, make sense of it (if any sense is at all to be had) and start working on letting it go. 

What is this fear? Men 

Now this isn’t to say that when I see a man I recoil in terror. I like men, I enjoy the company of men, I am attracted to the male species (which consequently I do believe to be very different to the female species). 

So what do I mean when I say I fear men? Perhaps fear isn’t the right word, perhaps the better phrase would be that men make me anxious. This stems from when I was a child and my mum was with a mentally and physically abusive husband for 8-9 years. This figure of an individual came into my life, disrupted my balance, my cosy and quiet home, my routine, and my happiness. This figure made my home miserable, lonely, sad and aggressive. This figure made me scared and was unpredictable. This figure made my childhood a fight that no child should have to endure. This figure made me feel alone, afraid and attacked. This figure so happened to be a man. Perhaps I do believe that had my dad have married an abusive woman then I would be sat here writing a different blog post based around my anxiety around women. But here we are. 

Whether we feminists choose to believ it or not, most men are physically stronger than their female counterparts, taller and bigger in stature. This is intimidating when used in the wrong context. Watching a man stand over my mother and physically abuse her, or mentally abuse the whole household, portrayed to my childish mind that men were, quite frankly, monsters. Subconsciously I told myself I needed to protect myself from male figures because they would do the same to me: threaten me and hurt me. Seeing the things I saw as a young child and all the way through my teenage years shaped my inner fear of the male sex. It’s not logical, not every man is going to punch me square in the face because he’s had a bad day. But children see through innocent eyes, and eyes that are shaped by what they see, not yet clouded by judgement or opinion. 

Where was my own father in all of this? My father is a good man, I never dispute that. Well actually, there have been times I have disputed it, but I always come back to the opinion that he is ultimately a good man, albeit a good man who makes some questionable decisions. My father is a business man, both in the office and at home. He was left by his father when he was 11 years old and I see this as the reasoning that as an adult, he consciously ensures that no man, woman or child undermines him. He needs to be in control and in changer 24 hours, 7 days a week. He has a terrible temper when pushed (perhaps where I get my rage from) and he has once or twice raised his hand to hit me or my sisters, or held us up against a wall to assert his authority. I don’t think my Dad is a bad man, like I do with my Mum’s ex husband, I actually sometimes feel sorry for him. I think he’s got a lot of pent up and repressed anger, which is does not know how to exercise. So, my father as a male figure was, in my childlike mind, soft and squishy yet spiky. He could be everything or nothing. He could be happy or angry. It seemed black or white to me back then. I suppose I felt an instability there  without even really realising it. Again, he could instil fear within me, and I still remember some of our worse arguments like they were yesterday. I saw a man who needed to assert authority once again through aggression and loud masculinity.

On top of my own home life and experiences, hearing my friends share stories of their fathers, step-dads, brothers and boyfriends, and watching  television and films, my negative thought patterns about men were only  strengthened. 

My younger childlike self tried to move past my anxieties regarding men, and so my 16 year old self went out into the world feeling pretty anxious about having any sort of interaction with men, be it colleagues, friends or on a relationship level. As you can imagine, I kept myself fairly clear of relationships for a while. Don’t get me wrong I was interested in men, or boys as they definitely were then, but I would feel sick and have panic attacks if they attempted to get any further than texting. 

When I finally built up the confidence to get into “relationships” (yes I use the term loosely), I chose the wrong people entirely. I chose people who intimidated me, cheated on me, said evil things to me, knocked my confidence, criticised the way I look etc. Of course I wasn’t choosing these men on purpose, I was attracting the wrong people who reflected my opinions on men. As you can imagine I swore off men for a while after this, with any hopes of my fear being uprooted becoming further and further from reality. 

I’m now in a loving relationship that whilst it is not perfect, is in the main a healthy and happy one. However, I have noticed that my m-anxiety (which I totally trademark as a word!!) still rears its ugly head. How does it show up now? 

  • In my intimate life – I have terrible insecurities about being intimate and therefore do not really engage as often as I would like to. This is because I fear the dominant role of the male as in my experience dominant male roles mean hurt, pain and sadness. It seems to be extremely hard to forget my subconscious fears. 
  • Insecurities – both intimately and on a day to day basis, my insecurities vary from nil, to ultimate hatred of my body and the way I look. 
  • Anger – my repressed anger that has been stored since childhood still affects me to this day, sometimes in new ways that I don’t expect. As a result I can say things I really don’t mean to those who I love the most. 
  • Trust issues – my trust with men is minimal, I always have a fear in the back of my mind, the elephant in the room, and I can’t seem to shake it. 
  • I can feel very intimated and panicky around certain male figures.
  • Avoid certain places invade I run in to certain males who make me feel uncomfortable and fearful.
  • Nightmares – I have regular nightmares about men invading my house and hurting me. This is very disruptive and emotional, as you can imagine. 

I am proud of myself to acknowledging and finding the bravery to be honest about this particular anxiety. I know I need to analyse it and probably get help for it, so that it doesn’t affect my current relationship, and future interactions with any males on any level. 

My WordPress followers and blogs i follow here really do make me feel blessed to be able to access the thoughts of like-minded people and gain a new understanding and se advice. If you’re reading this, I would love to hear your take on how you would tackle this particular anxiety, even if you haven’t been through it before. I’m on the way to being fixed, but I’m not at the end of the road, and I’m still willing to seek all options available to me in order for me to live an anxiety, insecurity and depression free life. So I really would appreciate your input and advice, as always it means the world to me. Together, we can support contentment in all aspects of life.