#25 Grateful for Close Ups

fullsizerender

When the mind goes a little…

CRAP

THINK PINK

THINK BRIGHT HEALING LIGHT

THINK OF A STRAIGHT LINE

IT’S GONE!

FUCK

I CAN’T

I CAN

NOPE, I REALLY CAN’T

I DID IT ONCE I CAN DO IT AGAIN

You catch my drift.

Such chatter rides my waves, mainly storming up when I’m outside, when my anxiety roars ‘you’re agoraphobic, you can’t go outside without a fight!’

Screw it, there’s no fight to be had anymore. I don’t want to fight myself!

I don’t want labels anymore either. I don’t want to call myself something that doesn’t sit comfortably with me… and today I decided to think of myself as calm, at peace, able to go outside without feeling ‘weak’ (I think I may eliminate ‘weak’ from my vocabulary. No one is weak, we all have boundaries in different areas of life and these boundaries can always be expanded, should we choose).

So today, as I woke feeling particularly empowered, I thought ‘I’ll take advantage of this calm’ and went out for a run, then for a walk, then for another walk with the dog. High flying these days, ey? 🙂

As I was out with the pooch, I felt the worry rise – of course it was going to, I’ve become so accustomed to ‘the fight’, worry wanted to play the rebelling game. What helps, what always helps is noticing nature. The birds, the grass, the muddy patches on the grass and the trees. The trees are medicine. I know I’ve said this before, over and over. Today, as my anxiety wanted to perform centre stage, I was distracted by falling head over heels in love with one particular tree – anxiety didn’t stand a chance.

fullsizerender

… And the close ups, oh boy. The colours, the textures, the light reflections, the rough and the smooth. Calm had come in the shape of a tree. Ask and you shall receive.

fullsizerender

Thank you for up close and personal. For beauty that is often overlooked as we worry or rush or think of our ‘to-do’ lists. NOW was (is always) full of natures miracles and what better way to spend our time, loving all that we are a part of, art by Gaia.

 

#12 Grateful for Moments of Madness

Moments of madness inject my thoughts with creative overflow. I am grateful for this. I am grateful when chaos settles, condensation moistens the air and all clears so I can notice the view.

Madness is seeing the world in a way that exceeds conservative imaginations, to look beyond the valley towards details of distant unknowns. To smoothly soar into realms thought crazy yet visited by millions before, where ancestors dwell to recognise their awakenings in us.

No human has gone without moments of madness. Yes, some may feel more deeply than others but art and literature and music thrives in minds hosting such diagnoses. We are all tales of mad happenings, we are all the duality of sanity and madness yet these words are only a consequence of human understandings, understandings that cannot begin to comprehend the magnitude of our expansive senses. We cannot hide from corners our ourselves so today I am grateful for knees cradled as I curl within dark spaces of myself. To know myself is not to fear myself. I no longer want to fear who I am.

#10 Grateful for Days Lived A Million Times Over

img_7381

Have you had one of those days when you feel like you’ve lived it a million times before and you’re lost in the routine?  Today was one of those days. I find routine kinda uncomfortable. I know we’re habitual creatures, we like to know the ways of things, to not dwell for too long in the unknown but I really find routine difficult. I’m not sure why, I’m sure I could look into my psychological profile and find a reason as to why this may be but at the moment, I’m trying to lesson my thinking and heighten my feeling. Today I was firmly cemented in the feeling of routine and that made me squirm.

So, in my attempts to feel not think, and for the first time in, well ever, I thought ‘fuck it, I’m not even gonna try and fight this’. So I didn’t. I just felt crappy and uncomfortable and did absolutely nothing to distract from feeling and asked no questions.

Then, with no reflection or forcing answers came a deep knowing, like I’d known all along (which I have but just ignored) that it ALL boils down to control. Routine ties me in, it binds me to whatever it is I’m to do regularly. This could be anything from taking a multivitamin everyday, to committing myself to a relationship. Everything becomes routine eventually and this sets an alarm of ‘I gotta get free from this because it’s beginning to control me, not me controlling it’.

But why do I have to control anything? I thought I had this all figured out over a year ago but news flash, I really don’t!

One thing I do know is this: I’ve never really found an outlet or understood how to process the amount of feelings that rummage around my mind minute by minute SO I have to find a way to control the way I’m feeling by controlling something outside of myself as I’ve often believed this to be the only thing I have control over. Logically I know this is BS, I know the reality I experience is a result of what I’m thinking so trying to control what’s outside of me is basically saying I’ve no control over what’s going on inside. It’s like I’ve lost all trust, in myself. I don’t feel like this everyday, but I am grateful when these feelings do rise as although it’s tough to sit in whatever comes up during those moments of ‘losing’ control, feelings that often arise during the routine of everyday, I know that each time I get to feel discomfort, it’s a new understanding that unfolds.

Life is hard sometimes but tough days squeeze doses of forgotten courage from frightened bones and this give us the sweet nectar to soothe and revive tired wounds.

#7 Grateful for Claustrophobic Journeys

My nan is staying with us for a few weeks, she’s 90 and she’s incredible. She’s takes zero medication (apart from iron supplements but as an Aries like me, her iron levels are the first to deplete with stress) and she still does everything herself (the cleaning, the shopping, the cooking etc.) her energy levels are enviously high and she gets in and out of the car like an excited kid. So, as she’s with us and likes to be out and about, we headed out of the city to visit an old church (900 years to be exact) just to take a look around and soak in the local tranquility.

fullsizerender

On our way out to the country we went though a part of town that triggers a million of my anxiety feelers. I’ve always found the energy stagnant and unsettled. It’s very close to the first secondary school I attended but left due to bullying after a year. It was the go-to place for teenagers wanting to cause trouble or just ‘hang out’. Neither I wanted to do but both I tried as I was young and wanted to fit in. Needless to say, it didn’t last for long, the bullying started because I didn’t want to scare old ladies in the dark so ended up going to another school with better energy and a less intimidating environment. Today, again, this place triggered me. I am 34 yet still feel physically and mentally triggered by memories of feeling totally powerless and vulnerable. I am an avid believer in embracing fears to find understanding within them. If you just ignore, fears NEVER leave and manifest in ways that may appear un-related to the original stem but nonetheless they sprout from buried pains. Not always easy and can make you feel like you’d rather die than do it but today I had no choice other than to feel contracting feelings. Once the feelings rise, the words of encouragement in my head dim a little, all seems to lay low to let the influx of busy, anxious, low buzzing energies flow. The car was full, the dog was grumbling because he wanted to go to the toilet and the clouds above were low. All closed in.

fullsizerender

The car had to stop, to pull over, letting me open the door to breathe. To feel my feet on the ground and stare at fallen leaves and bare branches. It’s the only way to resume some colour, to slow down, to focus and breathe through the rise of thorny physical sensations. There is a positive to this experience, I didn’t want to go home, to curl up and beat myself up for ‘letting panic take over’. My colour returned, we carried on to the church, I walked into the field behind and smiled at the glorious powers that can whip us, beat us and heal us all at the same time.

fullsizerender

I am so grateful for this claustrophobia to rise within me today. I found a strength I knew I had but was afraid to tap into. I delighted in the outdoors and knew the air was my medicine. For an agoraphobic to feel that, well for me it’s pretty exciting stuff. I also recognised my trigger. I understood what was happening and why. I was able to smile at my reactions and tap myself on the back for being the human that I am. That was enough for me today, surrendering to the human I am. I don’t need to ‘change’, I just need to embrace every fleck of colour surrounding the pupil of my soul.

#3 Grateful for Bright Moon Mornings

fullsizerender

I woke at 6.50am and my first thoughts were (after my self-love prayer – that is essential morning pep-talk)  ‘how can I get out of going for a run’. I was the naughty school kid trying to play the ‘sick’ card to my PE teacher but the PE teacher was me and this morning, I wasn’t taking any shit.

I do that a lot. I think of something that could prevent me from doing what it is that I think I don’t want to do and low and behold, it manifests in some form of another. I’ve made myself pretty physically sick by wanting and asking, almost begging my body to ‘fall-apart’. Our minds are so fucking powerful.  When I think about when physical sickness has dominated my life, it’s been when I mentally believed I wasn’t strong enough, or worthy enough, or I didn’t want to commit myself to anything as I’d already failed before I began (in my mind, anyway).

I’ve been witnessing this behaviour and each day I try my best to override the ‘I can’t’ with ‘YES I CAN’. Of course if I’m having a really bad day I’m learning to not give myself such a hard time, beating myself up is what got my anxiety so fired up in the first place. This morning was a usual morning in the history of me and before I’d even put on my running gear, I was like ‘I’m too tired and my monthly cycle is due in a couple of days so my body won’t be as strong as usual’… but instead of agreeing with the story I’d just made up, I called Bullshit on myself.

I looked out of the window, saw the bright morning sky beyond the condensation on the window and smiled at the still visible full Moon. I swear she was whispering ‘go for that run you Moon goddess’. So I did, I went for the damn run and I enjoyed it. Yes, Ok I felt a little tired but I got out the house and I did it, for that I thank the crisp, beautiful morning and the power of that magic moon.

#2 Grateful for Urban Decay

fullsizerender

There’s a road at the end of my street which has, to put it nicely, been forgotten. The weeds have grown over… well everything and a large building, once a factory of some sort, (I’ll have to do some local history research to find out what for) is now boarded up. It was painted white many years ago as it’s been that way since I can remember and I’ve lived around these parts (off and on) for 30 years. It’s not what you’d call conventionally pretty and has unfortunately taken a huge brunt of my anxieties over the past few year as to why I’ve wanted to escape the area. I know, I know, it’s not the area (well it is a little), it’s me wanting to escape myself but that’s another post for another day :).

So, this road at the end of my street which is also next to a 10 lane carriageway (noisy bugger) is a road I prefer to avoid. When you have anxiety you tend to project your ‘stuff’ onto places/things or people. In my head it’s gone something like this…. ‘I can’t go to that place because I had a panic attack there and it must be full of bad vibes as I feel weird every time I go so I avoid that place like the plague’. It’s been a conversation I’ve had with myself for many years about many places, places I am now slowly re-introducing into my life, like old lost friends. I’m finding new ways to look at spaces I once found difficult or triggered a fear or feeling that unsettled me. It’s all about new perspectives at the moment, so that is my aim, to find beauty in the overlooked and inject fresh energy into places I’ve felt were stagnant or have triggered insecurities.

Starting with the building at the end of my road.

fullsizerender

Getting up close and personal stopped my usual ‘I need to walk quickly down this eerie road’ self-talk and prompted stillness as I decided what I pictures I wanted to take. I had to look, properly, not just skim the surface as I think about something in my head and not notice the beauty that really can be found everywhere.

img_7409

In doing so, most importantly, I enjoyed those moments of examination. I smiled as I roamed around the outskirts of the building, noticing more than I’d ever done before.

Now I want to explore more and that feels bloody fantastic. The excitement that comes when we discover new is the best feeling. I think that makes us feel so incredibly alive, when we want to discover, to examine, to appreciate. That is the high I’m on right now as I write this, I am so grateful for this decaying building, for it’s beauty, for being an undisturbed resting zone for precious creatures…

fullsizerender

And for teaching me today that no place is ever the monster that I once believed it to be. All the sadness and pain and frustrations I’ve associated with a place, they come from within and even if an environment vibrates lower than another (everything is energy after all) there will always be a corner where beauty can thrive and searching for that corner is the most fun of all.

Old Friend

fullsizerender

Hello anxiety, old buddy, old pal

With intentions to keep me out of harms way

Building those bridges to comfort zones

That I eagerly crossed, back and forth each day.

I’ve taken you places, so many to count

With syncing strides as we’re one of the same

You’re no stranger to me, or demonic force

Yet upon you I’ve laid such hurtful blame.

But blaming you only sets us apart

Like two sides fighting with the strength of one

Was me versus you on bloody fields

Your attacks I would lose but peace was not won.

I don’t ask you to leave and never come back

As my wholeness depends on the lessons you teach

But let us shake hands and soften the battle

And decide it is Love that we both choose to preach.

 

Coffeeless

IMG_6737

It’s only taken me two years of actively trying to remove coffee from my diet but as of today I’ve been without for over a month! This doesn’t sound like too much to shout home about but it is, and I am. In fact I’m sitting on my bed, with an open window and shouting (more like a loud whisper really) to our Eucalyptus tree in the garden as there’s no-one else about, “I’ve finally broken this once-thought-of unbreakable habit!”

The reason this is such a big deal for me is that after each cup, I would beat myself up, daily, and I mean really give myself a hard time. I knew it wasn’t co-operating with my body; in fact, coffee was stirring the rebellious kid inside, knowing I’m pissing myself off with naughty antics but carrying on regardless – acting out in anyway to gain attention. I certainly handed coffee way too much of my time. I thought about my first cup as soon as my eyes opened in the morning. I thought about coffee as I made a pre-coffee beverage of hot lemon with cider vinegar, the good stuff (all be it a little bitter), a drink that actually seems to sooth my body – but on no, I was cheating on the good stuff by dreaming of the bad. Yes, I’d given up my personal power to coffee.

I know coffee isn’t ‘bad’ and many enjoy their daily hit with little effect but for me it was creating havoc and spurring, not only restrictive feelings of panic but a fuelling of self annoyance, hatred even if you want to go to extremes, which I do seem to sway towards. I’d address the bean like a teacher would their tiny-tots “you will co-operate with me today”. Yet, no, it didn’t and after one cup I withstood another hyper reactive morning to everything and everyone. My heart would pound like it wanted free from my body and my palms would sweat – a side note here but I seem to have generally stopped sweating as much since I kicked the habit, plus not smelling so bad – bonus! Coffee just wasn’t working for me, it never did and I’ve been drinking if for 8 years.

I know, I know, it’s not about the coffee at all is it? Coffee is what it is and I made the choice to drink it. Stripped to the bone honesty – it was the habit of hating myself that I was finding hard to let go of. I needed something to get riled about, something to blame for my anxieties even though I knew; deep down, blaming a bean was passing an unhealthy buck. My anxieties were rooted in much deeper soils and coffee was merely the stimulant, raising the seed that needed pure waters, not caffeinated grains. We can believe to know something but putting it into practice is a whole different ball game. We can want something so strongly but this power of wanting can put up the barrier to achieving – basically I wanted to not feel so shit about myself anymore and only I can do something about that.

So coffee here’s the deal, I needed to break free from our toxic relationship, you get that, right? I wish you well, live long and prosperous (your popularity seems to be growing in abundance), aiding others in their early morning slumps.

Breaking the habit was more than saying goodbye to sweaty palms, armpits and feet (yep, I know, odd right). It was more than enjoying calmer and more manageable mornings. It was more than stamping out caffeine cravings and uncontrollable highs. It was one of the many steps I’m taking to honour and love my body and soul in a way I’ve never done before.

May I go forward and explore the herbal tea world, enjoying the many healing properties of camomile or rooibos or any other exotic blend that graces my daily routines. I love myself that little bit more already, happy coffee-less days for me.

Travelling Nowhere

FullSizeRender

I’m not going anywhere right now, as I stare out of the window, watching the rain tap the glass, this view I’ve known for 20 years. Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to move from this place, ever. Often the world appears scary, like a string of heavy beads attached to my ankles, dragging behind them the outbreak of panic, to explode unexpectedly and without warning, this is the nature of agoraphobia.

Indeed the world can be a pretty scary place but I’m not sure if it’s the world I’m afraid of, I’m not sure I want to wear the badge of confinement anymore. What if I truly am an adventurer, a free spirit, soaring effortlessly through all the BS of life, just carefree and connected and whole? Maybe my fear is not the world being a scary place at all, maybe I fear that if I let all my limiting self beliefs go; my soul would soar higher than I’d ever imagined it could.

I’m not afraid of wide open spaces, I dream of wide open spaces, and Cadillac’s and desert exploration and all the wonders of continuous road trips going anywhere but here. I’ve never considered myself a traveller yet my imagination always carries me to places unknown, to lands where sweet love songs are heard in the breeze, where love knows no boundaries and I’m not talking about the ‘I’ve fallen in love with another being’ kinda love, I mean lands that bring you back to the love you lost within yourself. I’ve dreamt of living in America, in the jungle, in wooden huts surrounded by bears and mountains. I’ve sailed the roughest seas, resting in the expansive sense of self that only the ocean can coax through the iron walls we’ve built as protection from no one but ourselves (basically boarding ourselves into our own hell). I’ve met many strangers in my dreams who have enriched my life, just after the few seconds of random conversation, who knows where that spark of verbal action stems from but oh boy do I love the wackiness of ridiculous conversation…. How incredible life could be if all weaved more ridiculous into their blanket of reality. Each night I see the whole world, my world and not knowing where I’ll end up next is the enticement my body needs to sleep soundly most nights.

I travel so frequently to such distances in my imaginings yet when life gets a little strained or uncomfortable I feel like I’m wearing ‘shrink-me’ socks and my size resembles that of a mouse. My overly familiar surroundings cave in, I’m caged and all I can manage is the walk to the kitchen to make a calming tea.

I know there’s a deep physiological reason for this, hey that’s why we go to therapy, right? There’s an opinion about everything we do, every habit we adopt. Every belief about ourselves stems from an experience, driving us to form a sense of our own (often warped) reality from momentary happenings. What complex beings we are, or are we? Are we overcomplicating because, as humans we like to believe we’ll find the answer to everything but really, how can we as we only see/hear a fraction of what’s happening in this vast, magnificent universe – that’s a whole lot of not knowing in my book. Maybe, just maybe no answer is needed, or no answer can be forced. Maybe we are led to our own interpretations and that’s enough. As we loosen our grip on needing to know, the changes that benefit us most will happen automatically, like magic. I may be making little sense to you, I am slightly confusing myself right now but maybe that means I’m on the right track, maybe!?

I do believe that we are led. If I think about past relationships and situations that have caused me heartbreak or upset, they are eerily similar, unintended at the time of course, but the patterns have repeated and the amount of damage is always of similar weight.

So, why am I so tied to a place that I’m so desperately trying to run from, why do I feel like I’m being led to nowhere? Many reasons spring to mind as to why this may be. Am I supposed to stay here to learn more about myself (yes, these past couple of years have been a bitch but I’ve learnt more about my inner workings than I ever thought possible, I’m deeper than I thought!) or is that just an excuse, a coping mechanism that aids the deep ache for more than this, of being in this familiar place where everything and nothing happens, all at once? Am I delaying any actions of relocation due to fear? (Yea, this one probably stands out as being the most possible)

Oh hello new thought; am I just looking for constant distractions, anything to steer myself away from the fact that I’m obviously running from someplace inside, someplace that makes me feel consistently uncomfortable? Ok, these words I’ve just written are beginning to feel like words I should really take notice of.

This is why I believe we are led, that struggle and conflict in our life can teach us and when we don’t learn, the lessons keep appearing, in differing forms. This, I believe is why I’m where I’m at, right now.

I’ve read plenty of quotes stating the above and in the many self-help books I’ve digested over the past few years, this subject demanded attention. Yet, my understanding of this has ripened only recently, brought about by the agoraphobic behaviour I seem to have slipped so seamlessly into. I’ve never taken full responsibility for my actions, ever. I’ve felt absolute frustration at others, played the blame game over and over, trying so desperately to understand why others are acting out of such hate, causing such hurt – I must be right and they must be wrong. I’ve hated, I’ve wondered why this shit keeps happening to me yet my endeavours to bring about personal change has fallen short, but why should I change when the world just acts so randomly against me?

But it doesn’t act so randomly against me, and I’m no longer typing detached words, I’m feeling these teachings so deeply inside my ocean of understanding, where true knowing lives and always has. In this moment I’m feeling all the restrictions I’ve built so sturdily around me because this is exactly where I need to be and feeling this claustrophobia is medicine. I’ve been led to a land so stagnant the only way out is to start breathing love back into my roots, to start watering the broken flowers and watch life sprout so abundantly as I tend to these soils I’ve so wickedly stamped on, forgotten, left to feel the abrasive and unforgiving frost, suffocating my vitality, suffocating me.

Who knows, the vibrant lands in my dreams, the adventures, the discovery, could all be to come. To stand tall in the place I seem to fear so much, to take off these ‘shrink-me’ socks and believe, to listen, only then will I be ready to truly explore all that my soul craves. There really is nowhere for me to hide, no dramatic distractions, whatever my soul has been so desperately needing me to recognise, I’m ready to hear. Whoever thought healing was going to be easy… it’s not (my hand is up, I hoped for an easy, bright healing ride, never gonna happen!). Right now, falling to my knees, to give up needing to know or needing an explanation, opening myself up to receive, to surrender is the only option left. Tonight I hope I visit someplace familiar in my dreams and instead of feeling the need to run, I’ll hug a stranger and show them the sights, the places I know so well, the places I’ve grown to love.

Labels

IMG_6370

Labels, I don’t like them. However, being a vegan (yep, a label) does warrant a need for labels on certain foods, i.e. has a cheeky pinch of milk powder gotten into this whole-food power bar, or is there animal bi-product in this bottle of wine? (why ALL wines are not vegan is beyond me). I try to live as simply as possible, not thinking about designer labels and trying desperately not to label and judge others due to their political views or dislike of animals (although in my eyes, animals are the best)

So there you go, I can’t deny that labels have taken on a vital role in our society. We are labelled as soon as we are named as children. We’re labelled at school to help with the testing system, seen as mass rather than individuals. We’re labelled at work with our job titles. We’re labelled depending on the colour of our skin or the god we worship. Labels are un-escapable, not just in the modern world, they’re part of our history and traditions too. It distinguishes left from right, the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’, it can give people a reason to feel powerful, the hierarchy of society – high to low. It’s safe to say we invest much of our sense of self into the labels bestowed upon us, or the labels we willingly adopt to fit in, merging with a tribe that suits us best. However, the most damaging labels can be the ones we give ourselves, building a limiting story and often being so far removed from our souls purpose that ‘failure’ is the most believed label, even before we give life a good shot.

However, over the past few months I’ve been discovering there are moments when labelling yourself can be the most healing decision, the only decision in order to surrender into feelings. To label the pain in order to admit it, no matter how dark, this can often be the only way to move forward.

“What’s happening to me, why am I feeling like this, am I going mad? Oh shit, I’m a crazy woman!” Leaving ourselves open, like a free for all for every emotion, not knowing why or how or what we’re experiencing can be the scariest thing of all. This has been my reaction to life for the past… well many years now. I’ve not wanted to label any of my thoughts, I’ve been leaving my front door open for a miracle to casually float into my erratic space and clean up the trash I’m pilling high. All has been a whirlwind because of my refusal to admit to myself; to lean into my discomfort, to scoop up the rising issue that I’ve been battling over the years. The truth of the story is, the agoraphobia I once ‘suffered’ many years ago has returned and it ain’t going anywhere, not right now anyway.

I didn’t want to admit this to myself as I’ve been here before, riding the road to recovery when I was 15. Being labelled agoraphobic at such a young age was one of the most difficult paths ever I’ve taken and this is why I don’t like labels, this is the story I’ve been running from, trying so frantically to erase.

“You can’t do this again, you’ve already battled this, you’ve conquered this already so don’t let it come back, you’re too old to be going through childhood trauma again… GET OVER IT! You have to, your future depends on it” Yes, I’ve been that harsh on myself and when I see those words written, just as I hear them in my head, I know I’d certainly never speak to another being like that, so why so hard on myself? This is why writing is so healing and marvellous on many levels. Reading the hateful words I genuinely felt, seeing them on the screen has been the dose of medicine I so greatly needed.

Battle, that’s the word I needed to see, battling myself, battling the labels, battling my way through life so I don’t have to sit through that pain I once persevered. Battling against myself. What craziness to be at war with ourselves, yet it can be the easiest habit to fall into, so readily done each and every day.

I did battle agoraphobia when I was young; I refused to go to school, as it became such an impossible task. I couldn’t socialise, I felt weak, pathetic, the black sheep as I couldn’t do all the things my friends were doing to live a ‘normal’ teenage life. I was at home, all the time. I was reading about alternative methods to heal (blessed with a mum who believed in the holistic path, who shared her knowledge and who loved me unconditionally) as I refused to take drugs, knowing even then that mood suppressants were not the fix I needed. However, as my whole family was included in this battle and we were being inspected regularly by social services, the need for my recovery was getting stronger. The law instructed that I had to get back into the classroom so it became a necessity to find a way to immerse myself back into the scary world, even if that meant jumping before I was ready.

Every effort was made to mask the open wound; I had GCSE’s to take and due to persistent reminders from the external world that I’d surely fail in life if I didn’t take my exams, I had no choice but to plaster up and face the world. I hated being the sensitive girl; the girl who wouldn’t go to the pub or the sleazy clubs that seemed so vital in the girl-snogs-boy process (it was the 90’s, snogging was our favourite word). I didn’t understand why I felt this way, even after a year of therapy the mystery of this complex mind matter continued. I’d been classed as mentally ill and I needed to be like everybody else to prove I was no longer sick.

I see now that although I did recover in order to continue with school, finish my exams and go onto university, I was running off the wrong fuel, adrenaline was overriding the pain, I’d planted my seeds in completely the wrong conditions, they were suffocating.

I did get back into the world, I did make it to the pubs and clubs and drink vodka most weekends even though it tasted like every sip was stripping away a part of my intestinal wall. Although I was back in the game, I’d made it, I’d battled an illness that was only working against me, my soul was deeply aware that I was so far removed from the real ‘me’. The cracks were deepening and I was craving something else… of course at the time, I didn’t know what.

The label of agoraphobia that I’d once found so debilitating, so isolating and uncomfortable is one I never thought I’d be facing again. “I can do it, I’m powerful, I’m bigger than my fears, I’m strong, I’m strong, I’m strong” Yes, I am all those things but I am also sensitive and shy and scared sometimes and I cry about things that happened over 15 years ago. And that is all OK. I’m done with battling, war never leads to peace, war never leads to forgiveness and love and acceptance.

So here I am, I’m labelling myself as agoraphobic, not because I want to slump into the pit of despair about the difficulties in my life at the moment or feed the struggle I face being in busy, public places. It’s not because I want to throw my hands in the air and say, ‘you got me agoraphobia, I give up, I’m not trying anymore’. I’m ready to step into this label again because I want to honour the girl I was, who fought so hard to become the woman I am today. I’m honouring her tears and pleas for self-love when all she could feel was shame and guilt and distance. I want to breathe hope and compassion into every moment of panic; I want to cradle the inner child that never recovered properly, who never got to express her true feelings or desires. I want to edit each page, adding words of strength next to words of fear, to become the healer I wanted to become before the filler of quick fixes hardened across the seeping wound.

I’m labelling myself agoraphobic as sometimes you have to take full ownership of something before you can let it go.

Agoraphobia is only one part of my story, it’s part of my now but that doesn’t mean it has to be written into my future. All I can do right now is inhale light and exhale acceptance until this chapter ends. If anxiety must live alongside my true being then all I can do is promise my soul that I’ll continue to listen and never declare war on myself, ever again.