London – Day 8: Staying In

Saturday – I didn’t really do much today. I got food poisoning which was kinda inevitable in a place like this! Also with my anxiety I don’t really want to go too far, especially when I don’t need to!

I just went over to the nearby Costa in the morning for a coffee (decaf!) but it was kinda busy (like everywhere in London) and was hard to focus on my work. I have loads of homework to do and I’m kinda behind with exercises for class (MSc Computer Science)  cause I find them so hard!!

This afternoon, there was a car accident near the Natural History Museum – no fatalities thankfully – but  got people panicking ’cause there’s been a lot of terrorist attacks in the city using vehicles to run people down, but the police now say this wasn’t terrorist-related, just an accident.

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London – Day 5: Loneliness

It’s lonely here (for me)… others seem to make friends easily… I witnessed one girl make 9 friends in about 3.5 seconds. She just went over to a group and was like, “Hi”, “What- this, what-that?” You know, like asking lots of questions. But she was smiley and happy and young and pretty so of course people want to be friends with her. I’m not her so people don’t want to be friends with me.

Sometimes I say “hi” to other women and I get a response in a foreign language which reminds me this is an “international” community. Of the English speakers I hear Ozzy accents more than anything else but apparently they’re not Ozzies – they’re New Zealanders – but they sound like Ozzies.

I’m about 10 years older than a lot of people here so I sort of feel like a “mom”. I notice they refer to people my age as “the adults” but don’t really have anything to do with us. We’re on different sides of the fence. Psychologists say that at each stage in life there’s a sort of “death” – I forget the official name of this theory – who we are changes between baby and toddler, toddler and child, child and teen…etc. Although we may retain the memories from the past, we become fundamentally different people. Maybe that’s not true for everyone but for me I think it is. I can’t relate to the 20-something experience anymore, not that I ever fully could…

Many people here are ambitious 20-somethings. They travel the world having “experiences”, they talk about where they’ve been before (Croatia…New Zealand…), where they’re going next… (Tokyo… Dubai…). Stuff I can’t relate to. I’m 30-odd (old enough to have a teenage kid) and I travelled 200 miles from home and had panic attacks. Although I guess I was more ambitious in my 20s but I’ve always been a worrier and been cautious about where I go and what I do. I travelled America and Europe in my late teens and 20s but nowhere as exotic as these people go.

As I get older I find I’m more interested in comfort and familiarity than wild adventures. This experience has made me really understand that development and also understand that the unobserved life (the quiet life), at least for an introvert, is worth living and sometimes much more enjoyable than the observed life.

London – Day 4: Around the Hostel

Tuesday – today I tried the shower at the hostel after 3 days of not trying the shower for fear of it being cold or germy or cold – I hate cold showers! Well it was hot so at least that’s something! Especially with staying here a month, cold showers would be unbearable. But the shower only has one button which ominously has a “cold” blue button and you have to keep pressing it every 3 seconds to keep the water flowing which is annoying AF. And it was germy and awkward cuz there’s no where to put your stuff while you shower except outside the shower where it may disappear and 50 people used it before you went in there.

I notice there are many long-termers here. It’s so common that when I checked in for the maximum 30 days the guy on reception asked me to let him know early if I planned to staying longer. Some people seriously “live” here. As hostels go its not bad – near a tube station, curtains on the beds (bunk beds), ok bathroom (even if it’s a mile away from the bedroom) and people leave me alone. But it’s not a home, it feels like a refugee camp.

If I can stick this out I intend to stay other places – a new hostel every month – because… there may be somewhere better and its more interesting to move around but I would consider returning here at some point. My main goal right now is to make it through the week. We do a different module each day at university so I don’t really know what to expect at this point and that uncertainty is fuelling my anxiety. If I get through the week I need to get registered with a GP to get more meds for my anxiety and get counselling – although the though of doing those things fills me with anxiety.

London – Day 3: Doctors & 1st Class

Well today I went to the walk in centre to get help for my anxiety cause I couldn’t even function like that anymore. They did some checks like blood pressure, temperature and stabbed my finger with a needle – ouch! – to check blood sugar. Everything physical checked out fine from those tests.

The doc would only give me a low dose of betablockers to help cope – and only 7 days worth. Tight or what? Problem with having social anxiety is I tend to be reserved so I guess a doc doesn’t believe how bad my panic attacks can be. I could have done with something a bit stronger because I’m having to take a few to feel ok.

I have to get registered with a GP down here soon because I NEED to stay on these meds. But I don’t have a proper address yet so… I don’t know how to work around that…. Some people say meds aren’t good but I’ve suffered with anxiety med-free my whole life and you know… sometimes meds are necessary. All this mindfulness crap… well I’ve tried that to death. When you’re really bad, its not enough (not for me anyway). I’m tired of feeling this way. Other people get proper meds so they can live normally, why can’t I?! I’m tired of having to fight all the time to be taken seriously.

Anyway I had my first class today, in the afternoon. Just as well I went the walk in centre early (8am) ’cause I was there 3 or 4 hours! I waited forever just at the pharmacy… not even a queue, but they were slow AF like they were making the meds from scratch themselves.

Anyway this lesson was good in a lot of ways ’cause I could sit at the back and was mainly anonymous and invisible which is perfection right now with my anxiety issues. Most of the time is spent independently coding so that’s good. Only downside is I find a lot of the tasks hard ’cause I suck at math.

I feel super lonely here (in London) because nothing is familiar and I  have no cats to cuddle and make everything better.

London: Day 1 – Anxiety!

This is “the first day of the rest of my life” so people tell me. I’m heading to London from the North of England to do a Masters degree in Computer Science. Because of finances (I’m broke), I will be indefinitely staying in youth hostels where I’ll have to share dorm rooms with around 30 other people.

*trigger warning: post discusses triggers of anxiety and panic attacks

I’m not very enthusiastic. about anything anymore. In my 20s, everything was exciting. Now in my 30s, the opposite. People say that can happen with depression and/or anxiety but I think its just because I’m getting older. I still keep thinking as if I’m in my 20s lie, “Yeah, I’ll go to London and do a masters degree!!!” In my 20s, that would have been sooo much fuuunnnn!!! But, in my 30s, I feel mentally and physically ill equipped for such “fun”. I guess there’s still a remnant from my 20s which causes me to do these crazy things.

I have social anxiety and depression. My anxiety levels have been higher than ever in the weeks leading up to this journey. Everything scares me: people scare me, flocks of pigeons scare me, the London underground definitely scares me. It’s so hot and so noisy, it’s like screaming banshees are surrounding the train! I am trying numerous things to combat this anxiety (except proper therapy and drugs… but I may get to those soon if this carries on) but nothing is working well enough.

I’m like a time bomb, unable to control my own mind and body. I feels so fragile knowing I can’t trust my own self to stay conscious and calm. At any given time I can go from “ok” to very not ok and I have no idea when/where. It is a horrible feeling. I also feel very alone because I don’t know anyone in London. As an introvert with social anxiety, I usually try to avoid people (even more so since this recent situation!) but right now I wish I had a friend to talk to.

Changes

I’m gonna to be taking a break from this blog for a while. As an introvert/socially anxious person, I feel kinda overwhelmed running 3 blogs! Not that I have to run three blogs but my teaching blog is good for my development as a teacher, my coding blog is good for my future computer science course and unfortunately that leaves this one being the least “essential”. I don’t feel I know what to do with it anyway, it’s kinda random, lol. There’s nothing wrong with random but I don’t feel I always show my best side here, I do rant and rave quite a lot and I think what my friends would say if they came across here (eek!). Sometimes it’s good to let off steam but, even on the internet, it seems these days there’s nowhere to hide!

Anyway, I intend to resurrect this blog, possibly under a new title once I move to London and will use it to document my experiences there. But that is a couple of months off so if any of you reading this follow me, I’ll understand if you’re not following me when I come back. I’ll still pop in here and there to see what everyone else is up to and I wish you all wonderful experiences and lots of exciting adventures.

Aliquo xx

Sometimes A Change Of Perspective Is All You Need

So, I mentioned previously how I’ve been trying to get my 4-year-old book finished. Not my 4-year-old’s book. I don’t have kids. Children are the spawn of Satan.

Anyway… glad we cleared that up… so anyway…

Recap: 4 years ago I started a book; 4 years later it still isn’t done. And finishing it has been my goal for every summer for the past 4 years.  This summer is really like: “Get it done or I’m burning it!” I mean, I’m sick of looking at this now!

So, let me skip back to January briefly: I had 20 chapters of hot mess and no motivation.

Beginning of February: I knew it was too bloated so I hacked off 8 chapters. I felt motivated!

But then… it was still 12 chapters of hot mess so I lost motivation again.

Last week I was feeling ready to throw it out the window.

But, along comes this guy I know – Successful Guy (TM). I mean, he wins at life and makes me feel like a massive loser. But I like to hang out with him to try to sponge off whatever good vibes he’s got going on.

So, I went on this long rant to him about my book and in one word (or two…) he gave what was ultimately the simplest and best advice ever but for some reason I hadn’t thought of it: “Sub-headings” he said matter-of-factly over the rim of his cappuccino.

Sub-headings! Why the F didn’t I think of that?! Man, I was so motivated after talking to him (and I’m usually about as motivated as Grumpy Cat), I immediately went to the library and printed off one-third of my book…

The idea is I’m just gonna tackle it as 3 sections, I’m gonna spread it all over my floor and get out highlighters and colored pens and get my sub-headings in, and bullet points, and wrestle this tiger!

I’ve already started on the first third and – wow! – suddenly things are coming together! And all it took was a change of perspective. Where previously each chapter was some big, untameable beast, they’re now contained into neat, happy little sub-sections. And it’s had the added benefit of improving the readability and design of my book (I’m also adding some pictures, which helps too!).  I had previously started to hate it ‘cause it was just a big black and white lump but the hate is fading now it’s starting to look like something concise.

I’m not usually good at advice but there’s some: if you have some project you’ve been fiddling with for x years: change your perspective, think of how you can look at it in a new way than before – ask people for advice. It’s funny how just talking to people sometimes can clue you into something when you can’t see the woods for the trees.

Now all I wish is that I could just write and create all day and didn’t have to go do boring grown-up stuff!

 

Experiments with Henna Hair Dye

Ok, so I have a habit of trying and testing things and never bothering to tell anyone how it went or posting “progress” photos (like when I got braces, or when I tried microdermabrasion…). Well, anyway, I started experimenting with henna a few months ago so here’s how that went…

How it started was I dyed my hair bleach blonde for many (many, many) years. My natural hair color is too ugly to ever consider not dyeing. But every time I dyed my hair blonde (out of a bottle because: hairdressers are expensive and my anxiety prevents me from going) I could never get the “new” color of the roots to match the “old” ends, so I stupidly just kept dyeing my whole hair every 6-8 weeks…. with peroxide… I know, right?!

Fast forward many years of treating my hair like crap and last October I finally got up the nerve (and money) to get a cut at the hairdressers and the lady straight up told me: my hair’s disintegrating!

By the way, my hair had been in terrible condition for years and I just thought it was my hair type… oops! I know this makes me sound typically blonde that I didn’t know I was wrecking my hair :shrug: I’d been dyeing it so long I just didn’t think…

So, after this she said I could continue to just dye the roots blonde (at a hairdressers) but I didn’t want to do that (anxiety/money) but I also didn’t want to keep damaging my hair so that’s when I started looking into henna.

I’ve only used it twice so far but I’m hooked! What I like about henna is not only does it not damage your hair but it actually improves it’s condition (which I desperately need).

Here’s my brief run down of some pros and cons…

Pros

  1. Improves hair’s condition
  2. No more expensive than regular hair dyes
  3. Can help heal hair that has prolonged damage (like mine!)
  4. Henna color can build up over long-time use and make your hair vivid and shiny.
  5. Vibrant colors (of red)

Cons:

  1. Hope you like red. Henna comes in light red, medium red, and dark red. Ok, also brown (brownish red) and black (black-red) and straight up orange.
  2. It stains everything (including you, so be careful!). You only need to spill one drop and – that’s it – kiss your white blouse goodbye!
  3. Can be problematic if you want to return to traditional dyes.
  4. It’s like mud when you put it on!
  5. You’re supposed to leave it on for hours! What if the doorbell rings?
  6. Can reduce the curls in curly hair (my hair’s a lot straighter since using henna, but the curl returns as the dye fades)
  7. Can fade fast (until it builds up), especially on light hair
  8. Can leave your hair feeling dry (this can be fixed by moisturizing your hair)

While this looks like more negatives than positives, I really like using henna! Sometimes I miss my blonde but I get way more compliments as a redhead and it makes me look less tired – and of course, my hair’s in better condition.

My biggest complaints are the fuss of applying it and the speed with which it fades. And the red tends to fade to orange on my hair… but hopefully as the henna color builds up and my bleach blonde grows out, this won’t happen as much.

These are the henna dyes I tried:

Name: Hemani Henna Burgundy powder

Cost: £8 for two bags (2 x 150g)

Where: Ebay

Amount used: 1 bag per go

Developing Time: 3 hours (you can leave it as long as you want)

Result: Fiery dark red (on my ex-bleach blonde)

After 2 weeks: Chestnut-ginger

Opinion: I love it! Because it’s a powder it’s easy to apply and even though the color was supposed to be burgundy, the fiery deep red looked awesome. I’m just sad it faded so fast.

Name: Lush Hennna Brun

Cost: £9.99

Where: in-store

Amount used: The whole block

Developing time: All night (you can leave it as long as you want)

Result: Brun

After 2 weeks: Faded brun

Opinion: Jeez, this was a massive block and hard to turn into mud-liquid, it also dried my hair out a lot and the color wasn’t very bright. Most people I know who use henna recommend the Lush one but I wasn’t impressed. For the price and quality, I prefer Hemani.

Tip 1: Be careful to read the ingredients when buying “henna hair dyes” cause some are not natural henna and cause damage to your hair.

Tip 2: If you want to go back to dying with ordinary dyes, it’s best to consult a hairdresser first.

Tip 3: Try natural henna shampoo to help maintain your color longer.

Tip 4: For darker or lighter shades, use e.g., lemon juice in with the mix or tea/coffee.

And finally…

Here’s a well-rounded guide by someone with more motivation than me:

http://m.wikihow.com/Henna-Your-Hair-Red

 

Why are 30+ Women So Invisible?

(*That picture is me standing in the road lookin’ for 30+ bishes)

I’m sorry but, where the F are we? All I see are 20yos and 40yos. Where is my tribe!? I think this is part of my insecurity about being 30+ is that it seems like no other woman in the world is 30+!! Even these damn 29yos seem to be remaining immortally 29!

And, when I do spy a 30+er, then they have a row of kids and a husband and they’re the good little housewife. In fact one woman on the internet told me: “30+ women are happier to stay in the kitchen.” Ok, she didn’t exactly say that but pretty much… She said they’re happier to be at home looking after their evil spawn than achieving anything. Pff! Great! What use is that to me?!

Hey, if you’re a 30+ housewife, I have nothing against you personally – it’s your life, you should do whatever makes you happy. I’m just annoyed I can’t have business lunches with you (‘cause you’re too busy being a man-&-baby-slave) :cough cough: What? No… I didn’t say anything…

Unfortunately, I’m in this weird category of not being the 30+ man-&-baby-slave but also not being the 30+ editor-of-a-fashion-magazine but also not being the 30+ Bridget-Jones-type-crying-over-desire-for-man-&-baby-slavehood but also not being the 30+ happy-to-just-“be” type.

I guess my issue is, I don’t see 30yos like me anywhere! I don’t see 30yos who are single and career-driven but just starting out, just starting to try to get on the treadmill. Everybody is either already there or they’re not interested in being there.

And I really want to go “do lunch” with single, 30+ career-types – this is a freaking dream of mine!!!

Ok, this is what 30 is supposed to look like:

First off – straight up – I look like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, ok? No, no, in the dream mofos, in the dream!

Next, I’m in a fancy café having tea and scones with other 30+ single, powerful, child-less, career-minded women. We all own our own homes and cars, we’re all geniuses, we all look awesome and are confident in who we are and where we’re going in life, oh and we’re all wearing awesome clothes like cashmere coats and stuff.

I want this dream, goddamn it! I’m gonna be 40 in 8-point-something years, and time goes fast in my universe so that’s like 8 months to me! I’m gonna be 40 in 8 months and my “business lunch with the girls” window will close forever. I have nothing to show for my 30s! They’re shit!

I know y’all will say “things can get better…” Well people told me that when I was 5 and 10 and 15 and 20 and 25 and now I don’t listen to people’s bs anymore, ok? I can’t catch a break, the universe hates me.

Instead of being Meg Ryan and wearing cashmere coats and having luncheons with the girls, I’m a lost, gawky-looking, acne-scarred, trout-mouthed, bug-eyed, anxiety-ridden loser living in a rented room with no friends or money.

My life is way off course here!

 

My First Tattoo: Random Musings

I’ve been thinking for a while about getting a tattoo. When I was a kid I wanted to be covered head to toe in blue leopard print but as I got older I had to think about jobs and how a tattoo might affect me.

Skip forward many years of tattoo-less-ness and I’ve now decided that I never want to have a real-world job ever again. I never wanted a real-world job in the first place but I just thought I had to do that. I didn’t have much courage to stand my ground and fight for what I want in life. I’m still a shy little creep but I have a lot more courage now than I used to have and I’ve seen how successful people have goals and they go for them with everything they got, they don’t give up. And that’s what I need to do.

From my perspective, getting a tattoo is a way of crossing the line and committing to never having a real job again.

Besides, I’m in my 30s and have been umming and arring over tattoos for a long time so… hopefully I’m better mentally equipped to make that decision now than 10 years ago. In fact, if I’d gotten tattoos at 18, I’d very likely have ended up with the kind of tattoo-hot-mess Justin Bieber has. At 30+, there’s two things I’m much more conscious of: a) I will have this damn thing FOREVER! And b) there has to be some sort of continuity if I have multiple tattoos.

I don’t yet know how much a tattoo is gonna hurt, or how it’ll look on my skin. So, these factors will affect whether I have one or more tattoos. Also, I think they’re kinda expensive, right? So, that’ll be another issue. I don’t have a money tree unlike some people.

I’ve never liked the way I look and I also hate how everyone thinks I’m some sweet, little, mousey woman (why can’t they see my inner bad-ass motherf’er!?) so tattoos would both cover the body I hate and show people I’m a bad-ass motherf’er. 2 birds, 1 stone, dudes!

I currently know nothing about tattoos except, well, they look painful (needles!), they take ages to do, they’re expensive, and apparently, they bleed. They bleed?! Am I right in thinking they bleed?! Like, not just after… but during?! Jesus Christ! How come they never show that?! Like, There’s 5 million tattoo pictures online (btw, what’s with all the blind tattoo artists?! Have you seen some of these pics?!) and loads of info guides and only 1 or 2 mention you’re gonna bleed to death!!!? What?!?!

Obviously, I will research tattoo places in advance and go somewhere reputable. I’m not some 15 year old kid hoping to find a place that won’t check my ID. Jeez… I love when 12 year olds give me advice. “Don’t go to John, he did a really really – and I mean, really! – bad job of my SpongeBob tattoo, man! And now my parents are soooo mad, man! You don’t want your parents being mad at you like mine are with me, it sucks sooo bad, man! Anyway, I gotta go, my mom says my dinner’s ready.”

Actually, that’s how I talk…

It sucks soooo bad, man!

Anyway, someone I know (not a friend, I don’t have any friends) has like 12 billion tattoos so I’ll ask her for some advice.

And what about hand tattoos…? Do any of you have hand tattoos? Last time I was at the piercer, someone came in asking for a hand tattoo and they were like, “Sorry, we don’t tattoo hands, it’s bad skin” What’s the deal? Cuz if I don’t hate getting my first tattoo I’d love hand tattoos (I haven’t even gotten my first tattoo and I’m like “yay, hand tattoos!”), so I wanna know more about this. The girl I know doesn’t have any, which might be an indication that they’re a bad idea, idk. I wouldn’t really care if my hand tattoos looked like shit, I just want to conceal my skinny hands and my E.T fingers.

Because I don’t know how much it’ll hurt (or, most importantly, how much it’s gonna cost!) I’m being sensible for my first one and intent to just get some small outline of a cat (because: cats cute!). I like cats, I’ve always liked cats, there’s no immediate danger of me suddenly disliking cats, and an outline will involve less ink so less pain and less money. It’s a safe bet….

Or maybe a planet… or a solar system, or an alien… or – ooh, an alien spaceship…. beaming up a cow….. -ooh, no, an alien spaceship beaming up… a DeLorean! Wait, no, Mulder and Scully! Or “The X Files” or “The truth is out there” or Mulder and Scully and “The X Files” and “The truth is -“ Ok, you know what? I need to… calm down. Let’s just stick with the stupid cat for now, shall we? Jeez! This may hurt really bad, it’s probably best I don’t commit to a mural!

Anyway, I’ll update you guys when I actually get the damn thing which won’t happen until I talk to that chick I know and find some money. Well, I gotta go, my mom says my dinner’s ready.