Anxiety: What It Took Me A Long Time To Learn

I’ve suffered with GAD for as long as I can remember. I remember realising I had something odd going on with my mind when I was in about year 5 or 6. I was having OCD tendencies, which I knew I wanted to stop and made a mental note to do the opposite of what my mind was telling me to do.

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Members of my family suffer from OCD so I knew it was something I’d been exposed to, but it still surprises me to this day that as a child I knew this was an issue and something that needed stopping.

It wasn’t until many many years later I was diagnosed with GAD and found out that this was something another member of my family suffered with. And it wasn’t until a few years after that, that I read a blog post online that really helped to change the way I dealt with anxiety.

I honestly don’t remember where I read the article. I was doing research for a blog post in my job and happened across the post, with relation to something else. But the post struck a chord with me.

Simply put, the author noted that she’d been trying to suppress her anxious feelings. They’d been weighing her down to the point where she was saying no to meetings, new business and opportunities. She’d been allowing her anxiety to define her and it was preventing her from moving forward in a business sense. Until one day she had a breakthrough. She decided she would greet her anxiety – acknowledge it. She moved forward knowing that she would have this reaction and instead of causing herself more stress trying to fight it, she described herself moving forward with the anxiety walking alongside her.

She soon found that it wasn’t there as much. Because she’d decided not to pay attention to it so much, not use up her energy analysing it or fighting it, that it wasn’t getting the attention it wanted and so it didn’t seem as important as it once had.

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This idea was really powerful to me. I hope it is to you, too.

Anxiety is a big snowball of horrid. You have it, you analyse it, you feel guilty for it, and then you have more of it. It’s a cycle that seems so unnecessary and is very tiring. It can debilitate, numb, paralyse. It’s in no way fun.

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It’s different for everyone, but I hope, if you suffer, that by reading this you might find some sense of relief. It won’t work every time, it doesn’t cure, but it might offer a little respite on occasion.

 

Why I: Got Married Young

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I’ve had a few people ask in the last few months, how I met my husband. So I thought that the next post in my Why I series, could be about why I got married young.

I look younger than my actual age, and when people hear that I’ve been married for almost 11 years, they instantly ask my age.

I’m turning 34 this year and I married when I was 23. People always say that’s really young to get married, but I say if you know you want to marry someone it doesn’t really matter how old or young you are!

I met G-Man when I was 19, through a friend’s boyfriend. Our official story is that we met at Glastonbury music festival. The truth is we had met a couple of months before that, and had even had a conversation at a party but the evening wasn’t about meeting boys and so our encounter was brief.

So, when we met up at Glastonbury we were able to have proper conversations, relax and watch music together. And he stayed with me and my friend the whole time he was at the festival.

There was definite sparkage between us, and I knew I liked him. We saw each other pretty much every day from that point on. After about a month I knew this was something serious and the rest, as they say, is history!

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This was the first photo of us together, in my bright orange bedroom!

We look a little different now!

We got married in the garden of a little private manor house in Hatfield, under the roof of a mini garden pavilion, whilst our friends and families sat theatre style outside on the lawn. I walked up the aisle of lavender and it was the shortest but most-perfect ceremony. A beautiful September day, small wedding and fantastic start to our married life together.

Over the years, I’ve had friends ask me things like ‘how do you know when you’re ready to get married?’, ‘how do you know you want to marry someone?’ – and I almost always answer the clichéd ‘you just know’. And that’s because you do – you just know. As certain as you know you’re alive, you just know. And if you’re questioning it, then that’s between you and your partner to work out.

I love my marriage. We get on like a house on fire, we’re best friends and though we used to argue, we know how to argue productively now. I wouldn’t say we even do argue any more. He’s the best thing in my life, and I’m happy every single day because of him.

I don’t want this to sound soppy, but everything I’ve said is true. He’s a proper gentleman and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my days with him!

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Why I…. Stopped Wearing A Bra

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Yes, you read that right. I stopped wearing a bra over 6 months ago. Before I carry on, I’m just going to give my Dad, who I know reads my blog, permission to stop reading this post. Don’t feel bad, I wouldn’t want to read a post about my kid’s boobs either.

I think the last time I wore a bra was at my friend’s wedding last year, and before that maybe Spring last year.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not walking around totally hanging out. I wear bralettes instead. But I want to write about what a difference it’s made to my life.

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Firstly, I’ll let you know I was never blessed with a full rack. I’m a small 34B, sometimes slightly bigger depending on hormones. I’ve never found I fit a bra properly, even in my size there will always be a gap and one boob is slightly bigger than the other so there’s nothing I can do about that. I can never just walk into a shop and pick up my size or buy online, without trying on first to make sure it fits.

I also have a twisted rib cage, so my ribs dip in on one side and protrude on the other. This isn’t a problem in everyday life, but means I can’t wear anything with boning or longline underwear. It also means underwire is often really uncomfortable. I never worked out why a cup size as small as a B would need underwire, but here we are!

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Because of my small size, I would always choose bras with ample padding or something to try and push me up, but as I got older I realised I preferred a more natural shape. I began to get used to my size and stop longing for a larger chest – something to fill out a shirt or bikini in a more feminine way.

But when I started to go to the gym more and wear sports bras, I began to appreciate my size and shape. Sports bras are designed to push in and support, and the more athletic shape is of a smaller chest size. I like that when I jump or run my boobs don’t move too much. And getting a sports bra on and off is hard enough with a B cup size, so I can’t imagine how hard it would be if they were any larger.

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Anyhow, I digress. Since the days of the sports bra I have purchased Calvin Klein crop tops which I love (though the bands are a little thick on my twisted ribs) and then after that I picked up a heap of Hollister bralettes. Not only are these comfortable, they’re pretty. They will go with any tops because they either match or contrast the straps of anything I wear AND they’re cheaper than bras.

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Also because of them being cross and racer back style, the straps don’t constantly fall down. Whoop! I have since bought some gorgeous lace front-fastening triangle bralettes from Victoria’s Secret and a halter bralette from Urban Outfitters. It’s really handy that these are so in fashion at the moment, because it means I have my pick!

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Now, I embrace my small shape. I love the freedom I get from ditching the underwire and I feel so much more comfortable all throughout the day!

Dear Bloggers and Aspiring Bloggers….

Dear bloggers and aspiring bloggers,

You are unique. Just as IRL you are the only one of your kind. I want to see you shine and prosper. When I click on your link I want to see something unique, individual and I want to see your opinion. If you don’t agree with me, I respect you. I want to hear why you feel the way you do. I want to hear your passion and conviction. I love seeing your individuality shine – I praise you for that.

It’s just so sad I don’t see you very often. I click on so many links and see the same old stuff. I see the same products reviewed, I see the same blogs retweeted. It makes me sad that you’re so concerned about getting your flatlay perfect that the content isn’t there. I want to hear about what that expensive skin cream did for your skin after a month of using it, and whether you’d re-buy it. I want to read about what movie you saw and what you thought about it, at the trendy roof-top cinema club in London, and not just see photos and hear about how you managed to make the list. Give me substance, give me depth and make me feel something for you.

When I started blogging around 15 years ago, I was in a minority. People thought it was weird if I told them I wrote a blog, but to me it’s simply keeping a diary. I wrote, and still write, my blog for me. I write what I did, what I saw, and what I think. I don’t have thousands of followers, I don’t need them. (Of course it would be flattering though) I don’t seek acceptance, but I appreciate every follow, every comment and every share. If one person enjoys what I write, then I’m happy. (And usually that one person is me!)

I recently set up a dedicated twitter account for this blog (@Shutterbug_Blog if you fancy following! – I’m still okay with a shameless plug!) and it allowed me to follow blog sharing accounts and bloggers in a closed environment that didn’t flood my personal twitter account. It totally opened a new world to me. It’s a world where people will fight for followers, suck up, and retweet the same blog over and over again ad nauseam (this makes me not want to follow you btw). I’ve found out you can schedule tweets, which seems like a massive waste of time to me. And I’ve discovered a community of Regina Georges. People who will act so cosy with you but secretly it’s a case of sucking up to gain momentum for yourself.

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Obviously this isn’t exclusively the case, as I’ve also met some really amazing bloggers too. These are bloggers who don’t take themselves too seriously, they speak from the heart and tell the truth, and you can just tell they’re genuine. Fake-bloggers (or floggers as I coined them a while back)- I can see through you, and so can others.

The obsession for followers makes people act obsessively. It makes people call out others when they’re unfollowed (seriously, you can find out who unfollowed you and call them out on it….) If I get unfollowed it’s okay – seriously I don’t mind. If you don’t want my content in your feed, then I don’t want it there – no biggy. I actually had someone comment on a post the other day and mention they were actually afraid to attempt a flatlay. That seems crazy to me, but I understand it. The pressure to get EVERYTHING perfect on a blog is so high. But when all you see is the same thing from everyone, how do you stand out? You stand out by showing your personality in your photos. You have an opinion, and if other people don’t agree then you either listen to their counter argument (if they articulate it clearly) or if they’re just darn abusive you let their venom shine out for all to see.

London Beauty Queen wrote a really interesting series of tweets a few weeks back about how it’s not normal for a 20-something to own a new designer bag every week, and followed it this week with a really interesting blog you need to read. What she wrote is so true – what professional and successful bloggers and Vloggers are portraying is often unattainable. When we see celebrities acting the same way we know to take it with a pinch of salt, but when we see people we view as being on the same level as us acting the same way, we suddenly feel bad about ourselves. And eventually we stop being able to relate to them and turn away. I want to read about the pretty, hard-working blogger tripping on the tube. I want to see a photo at their posh burger lunch where they’ve accidentally dribbled sauce down their front. I want to read a tweet where they’re feeling irritated by life, but still plodding on. I want REAL people. Give me REAL people!

So, dear blogger and aspiring blogger, my advice to you today is to remember to write from the heart, write for yourself and remember to be kind. You’re writing a blog for one of three reasons:

  • For you
  • For money
  • For celebrity

My recommendation is to write your blog for you. If the other two come as a result of this, then I’ll give you a high five. Money and/or popularity are shoddy foundations to build your blog on and you’ll end up stressed and obsessive like so many bloggers I see. Happiness cannot be attained from this – you’ll just get a stomach ulcer.

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