It’s been a while now since I wrote a post from the heart. As much as I love writing about skincare and the next new lipstick I’m loving, sometimes you have to go ahead and write something that comes from within. Something that’s good for the soul, you know?
I actually wrote this post over a year ago and stored it away privately debating whether to hit the publish button or not. But today, I decided to click that little button and share my story with you.
For a while I’d felt out of sorts. I was constantly exhausted, had anxiety and felt very uncertain about what the future held. I think those feelings are probably normal for the self-employed (and anybody else) from time to time. After all, it’s a constant worry about keeping the ball going and making sure that the plates don’t go clattering to the ground. It’s a constant battle to stay relevant, work hard and still maintain a work/life balance (whatever the heck that is).
To look at my social media back then, you’d never have known that things were less than perfect. And that’s kind of my point. The thing is, it’s not always easy to tell when somebody is feeling low or struggling with their load. After all, our social media channels have fast become the place to showcase our best moments that we want to remember. Not the not-so-great moments that we’d rather pass right on by. It’s become commonplace for friends to take a quick look over Instagram, see smiling, happy faces looking back and them and presume their friends are doing well and feeling good. The need to ask somebody how they are and what they’ve been up to has been lost thanks to the increase in social media. I’m sure many of you are just like me: I save those not-so-great moments in life to share with close friends and family that can talk me through and help me see my worries from a new perspective. As my dad says, there are no problems, just solutions. It’s a good way of looking at that roadblock in your way.
Secretly, I think most people tend to suffer from anxiety from time to time. Maybe even daily. But from the safety of behind closed doors. There’s a horrible stigma attached to anxiety and it’s something that needs to change. It’s something a lot of people don’t understand or know how to deal with when people around them are going through it. It can seem trivial to some, but it can be absolutely life-shattering for those going through it.
You’d never know that just visiting the supermarket at times in the past made my legs feel weak, my heart pound like it was going to break out of my chest and my voice shake with fear. Lord, I think we all feel a bit of anxiety when the cashier at Lidl is throwing our food down the checkout at the speed of light. Admittedly, it didn’t happen every time. Sometimes I was the most confident version of myself possible. But some days, the anxiety could feel crippling. It’s a strange little thing, anxiety. I teach groups of young ladies in schools all about makeup, I teach grown women about confidence, and I meet and make over numerous clients where ‘the fear’ doesn’t even come into it. Sure, I get nervous about speaking to large groups at times (who wouldn’t!), but nothing close to an anxiety attack. Nothing like those all encompassing feelings that make you feel like you might just hit the floor.
On the day of writing this very post I was sat in my local Starbucks. My heart was pounding, my anxiety was soaring and that horrible sickly feeling was bubbling over inside me at the thought of being one of ‘those‘ people sat in a coffee shop working away on my laptop. You know the type, those “wi-fi hoggers” taking up the best seats and making one coffee last an hour. But why did I feel like that? I couldn’t tell you. It was like I’d become so consumed and worried about what people were thinking of me that I’d worked myself up into a frenzy. But do you know what? Not one person in that coffee shop gave a damn about what I was doing because they were all too busy doing their own thing. It was full of mums with their children enjoying babyccinos, business people tapping away on laptops or phones, and people sat reading their books and enjoying their flat whites. Nobody cared what I was doing, nobody was paying attention. I suddenly felt a little less flustered.
One evening I had a panic attack out of the blue. I suddenly felt a crushing in my chest and throat and felt like I couldn’t breathe. I stumbled across a man on YouTube talking about coping techniques as I frantically searched for a calming video. What he said really struck me and knocked me for six, yet it wasn’t anything prolific whatsoever. He simply said ‘panic is something that’s built to protect you. It cannot hurt you.‘ Hearing this instantly calmed me a little. ‘It can’t hurt me?‘ I thought. ‘So if it can’t hurt me, what am I so afraid of? Just roll with the feeling and breathe it out.’ And that I did. I was surprised how quickly I felt soothed. It didn’t cure it, but my goodness it eased that chest crushing feeling and breathless panic significantly. I took to drawing to distract me and soon found the calmness seeping over me in my world of monochrome pencil strokes.
The reason I wrote this post is mainly because of an experience that I’d had. I was feeling anxious, upset about things that were going on in my personal life and was really not feeling all too well either. After a rough night the evening before with several bouts of sleep paralysis (something very common in people who suffer from a lot of stress or anxiety), I decided to head out for a drive. I pulled into my local Starbucks drive through to get a chai tea latte with the weight of the world on my shoulders and my hands shaking (I promise I do a lot more in my days than visit coffee houses but I like to treat myself now and then!) and suddenly I met the Baristas’ eyes through the window. She gave me the biggest, most heartwarming smile – the kindest smile I’d seen in a long time. It sounds silly, but it was one of those smiles that are truly genuine. Something strange happened – in an instant, my stomach muscles relaxed, my heart felt lighter and a huge smile spread across my face mirroring her. She passed me my cup with a flourish which also held a huge smiley face drawn on in black ink. In that instant I knew that I was going to be just fine. I was doing okay. The world wasn’t such a scary, mean place after all and there was a lot to smile about.
The point I’m trying to make is that, for somebody with anxiety, or even just anybody at all, a little kindness goes a long way in a somewhat sometimes lonely world. Ask somebody how they are doing, smile at a stranger and spread a little kindness and love. It can make a huge difference to somebody and have such a positive impact.
Today is a new day and a new life for me (and I’m feeling goooood! Cue the big band!) Sure I feel a little nervous and anxious at times about new challenges but I’ve learned to embrace the fear. Look that fear in the eye and hit it head on because once you step outside your comfort zone, amazing things happen. They happened for me and they can happen for you too.
‘Have courage and be kind’ always.
© Rachael Divers 2018.