BRAIN ENGAGES, LET THE PARTY BEGIN!

Anxiety is a fickle mistress. One moment she can’t give a toss and is out trying to bed every Tom, Dick and Harry in Christendom; the next moment, there she is slap-bang on my doorstep with a bunch of cheap gas station roses and chocolates I don’t like. I could tell her to get lost… but then again, that would be like smashing a mirror, or deleting my own phone number. Useless. I am still here. She is still here.

If you didn’t guess by now- she is still here because she is me.

I keep forgetting that anxiety doesn’t really ‘get better‘- despite the cliched metaphor, I must say it. Anxiety changes like the weather. It is a slow rumbling of a realization to reach the point where you know there is actually a name for the hot-sticky fear gumming up your brain, and unfortunately, at least for me- I see no quick fix miracle for a fully-anxiety free future.

You may have a clue of what will trigger you to start worrying, but without good coping mechanisms and support- that trigger can turn into a full blown shoot-out. Personally, I’ve noticed three things that make me wanna smoke all my fingers like zoots: the prospect of evening/sleep, large crowds and THE FUTURE!!!!

aha I know the last one is quite dramatic, but it is sincere. Yet, I don’t want to unpick and examine all the affecting psychological complexities that perpetuate my anxiety and resulting bad behaviors; but to try to outline how I know when I’m thinking/worrying too much (verging on a panic attack), and just some lil’ tips of how to soothe that troubled lost-child soul, whoever you are.

STAGE ONE- BRAIN ENGAGES, LET THE PARTY BEGIN!: “OH HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING WHAT THE FUCK ARE THOSE STRANGERS THINKING WHAT THE FUCK AM I THINKING THE FUCK AM I DOING I DON’T DESERVE TO BE HERE WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING WHAT IS THIS WORLD WHERE IS THE NEXT CRUELTY WHY WHY WHY…”

When I say, BRAIN ENGAGES, I am relating a semi-accurate recording of my neurons when they start to get boiled. But all jokes aside, having a panic attack really isn’t fun, and for all those who don’t take them seriously or whatever- SUCK MY TITTIES! 

Normally I feel my body get hotter, it will be harder to concentrate and (especially in crowded places that I don’t know so well) become more disorientating to try and find your way round- which really doesn’t help the incessant throes of inadequacy tossing around in the noggin’s mental soup. But,when I’m at home and feel anxiety coming, I annoy everyone in the vicinity by pacing round and round, wringing my hands and finding it impossible to not tap my feet.

It gets more serious when my breathing gets shallow, the tears flow uncontrollably and my hands cramp up real bad like pins and needles. It starts in the hands, but can travel. Sometimes it gets so intense I won’t be able to walk or move properly at all, I’ll just be a tightening ball of tears and rasping. It is humiliating (especially on public transport).  It is painful- both physically, but more mentally. I feel ashamed and embarrassed of what everyone else must think: “What a wimp”.

But anxiety and I (and yourselves, oh my beloveds) need to stay in my/our lane: you will never know what another person is thinking. It isn’t their heart or emotions or brain or life, so try to be kinder and as my grandma would say: “do attempt to restore some order”.

If your hands are cramping, do all you can to ease them- try pulling the fingers apart or sit on them to stop them seizing up again. Take deep, slow, measured breaths, close your eyes and think of the person/ animal/place that makes you feel the most at ease and sure of yourself. I would recommend trying to call a loved one if it’s possible; if not, and you’re shy and don’t want to ask strangers for help (I try to be trusting, but sometimes you need your own zone) try to find a secluded area that is safe but quite peopleless, and let those waterworks be free from observation whilst you try to get it together.

Keep reassuring yourself if you’re alone that it will all be alright. The truth shifts and changes, reality isn’t forever. You are trying and you are loved. You are not evil and you can love. Be your own cheerleader- but more gentle, sans the irritating valley girl accent and sickening pompoms all rustling like binbags.

 

I am only talking from personal experience, and I’m sure there must be attacks way worse than what I have had to cope with. So if my tips aren’t useful, I am sorry- But if your’e comfortable, please feel free to share your own tips/experiences feelings. (I want to make friends!)

Critical thinking, sky-musing and bad-ass rhetoric are my jam. But if this mental problem-solving is causing you occasional strife, it perhaps doesn’t make you a wimp or uncaring to not see all the atrocities of the world as soon as you awaken, which could possibly put you on edge from the time you finish your coco-pops to when University Challenge comes on (and the team you wanted to win, lose- obviously.) At the end of the day, worrying is just caring too much. There is nothing wrong with caring (goddammit, the world needs more caring people), but if you want to live a life of love and really make a difference to all the people and problems you want to help, you gotta love yourself first. I feel like such a hypocrite typing that as I still routinely hate myself on a daily basis. But I am trying. And that is what matters.

So, to return to you: you gotta do what makes you happy because when you are happy is when you’re truly alive. Shindig to Presley in your knickers. Kiss a snail (maybe not, are they germy?) Call your grandma and talk about what singer she fancied when she was 15. Write out your feelings in haiku or acrostic form and then perform it for your dogs (to clarify- I’ve never read my own poems to my dogs) Hell- watch fucking Dick and Dom in the Bungalow with a zoot and some ovaltine. YOU DO YOU BABES!!!! and your’e not being selfish or lazy or stupid. You are being happy and not self-destructive. This is good. Repeat and repeat (whilst not neglecting ‘adult’ duties or defining fun as exclusively additive substances – haha)

Sending all my love to those who struggle with anxiety, any difficulty or disability that makes life a bit more of a slog. We will be alright. 

xoxosxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxxoxoxoxoxo

mind fart

I promised I would start making writing on here more structured. Being an anxious drama queen who soothes fears of inadequacy and failure by completely ignoring or avoiding the offending threat, often means this blog is neglected whilst I swerve my attention to less sustainable lifestyle choices… I shall not digress further. But, despite just claiming that I want to make this space more structured and reliable for posting content which actually has a clear intention; today’s post shall be a ramble. A mind shamble like a beach walk through London gutters filled with alligators and pink rivers. A big old bramble of ideas or something like that which I thought of when I was probably a bit high, and probably just a littleee bit sad or worried. But always hopeful- and today’s post is about hope and how I thought maybe we could not let it crush us with its brightness and potential big and heavy as whale smiles. A thought about hope that is catered to the inevitable failures of this capitalist, racist, misogynistic, anthropocentric world (so many words- not enough people to hear me…)

Basically, my brain thought thus: Just because your dream worlds cannot be replicated in the materiality/ reality around you, does not make them any less valuable or less real- they still are a part of you and the life/ lives your body encounters living each day. Don’t expect your dreams to be a plot for the success of your life, let them already be your life- let imagination and surreality all slither and intoxicate and wedge themselves into the drudge-space of other eyes deciding who you are- let your goals and thoughts and ideas (even worries, that you can constructively and conceivably change) that make you feel  sincerely content bathe you in obscurity. Be obscure and so wrapped up in your hopes that it doesn’t matter if the rest of the world doesn’t notice/ care/ is insane/cruel/ unfathomable. ask yourself what your REAL dreams are and why (world peace or slimming down to a size 8) – if they even are your dreams originally in the first place and who you would be with no one to see/ experience your being…

Don’t expect the material conditions and circumstances of your present life be the end product of what your mind is capable of. The mind is more hopeful with its energies and movements and imaginations than the actual weight of the world with its limited resources and space and time can achieve.

Basically (I hope I don’t sound preachy, if so- my sincerest apologies): Let your mind colour your life and live submerged in that colour simultaneously. be your own rose tinted glasses and know the world is only as beautiful as you can conceive it to be. BE A WIERDO DREAMING NERD FOREVER!!!!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxxoxoxoxoxxoxox

Women fly when men aren’t looking

I still feel a bit tired and for no fathomable reason unnervingly wierded out since coming back from my birthday weekend: this makes me feel guilty, seeing as I have nothing to complain about yet still want to stab my self with a million forks (wierd image, I know- but it’s what hit my mind first)

I saw some artworks at the Tate Modern; Carrie Mae Weem’s red sadness and protest of the enslavement of black African people into black slaves of America- ‘I saw and I wept…”; Red photographs cased by poetries etched onto glass frames. After the Tate Modern, I met up with Daisy and we went to Oxford Street to look at pink feathered jackets and blue sequined denim jeans that looked like they belonged to a mermaid with legs. We met up with Flo and walked down to Foyles, scanning shelves of books, but of course focusing on the beloved aisles of poetry- I was so flamboyant. I brought books brand new.

In the evening Zab came- we got ready in make-up and fancy clothes; I feel in all my pettiness, this is where some seed of current confusion of stabbing forks was sown. In the weeks leading up to this celebration, I had been so excited to make myself look and FEEL hot/sexy/ powerful bla bla bla in this little red dress. The reality is I felt bloated and ugly and pure second rate compared to my HEAVEN SENT GORGEOUS friends, and got changed immediatley into a less than glamourous outfitt (think Paris Hilton’s ugly sister who was locked up in the highest hotel room, forced to live only on Twinkies). I am not saying this in order to try and obtain any sympathies, on the contrary I am saying it because it is the truth of incomphrensible emotion. It is white first world problems, and it makes me feel even sillier for knowing what I should finally (at nearly 21) know is bullshit, my brain still pushes onto the child within me and makes the child inside cry and want to hide.

This small, miniscule discomfort of not wearing the dress I’d imagined us partying in should (and truly, thank god, DOES NOT) overshadow all the fun we had travelling round London; talking of poetry in Foyles and the feminist library, being intellectual and going to see the beautiful Queer exhibition at the Tate gallery; laughing in parks so hard I could pee and dancing to trap music on the stairs of St. Pauls, then collapsing into our hotel room with plush double beds and a boquet of flowers (we’d eaten all the cupcakes by this point).

I hate this ungratitude of the disobedient side of my brain focusing more on how my stomach and hips looked in a dress rather than on the smile of our faces in the strobe flash of photos we took. I may not be, nor ever shall attain supermodel status or looks- but that in no way inhibits capacities for love, for loving my friends and the time we had- all the times more awaiting.

I realise now how easy it is to focus on one tiny negative thought instead of cherishing the memories of how lucky I am on this planet- a father who organised it all, the train drivers who got me there, and my friends who took the time out their jobs to come see me.

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SHOUT OUT TO MY FRIENDS FOR PUTTING UP WITH MY EXTRA BULLSHIT AND SELF-LOATHING ALL THE TIME!!!!! XOXOX

Today’s post is already verging on being lenghty, but thats okay because it’s for a special lesson and occassion. Without further adiue, here is today’s post- it is from a book I bought in Foyles by Jeanette Winterson, one of my favourite authors. The small book is simply called ‘Love’ (the quote I use is orginally from “Why be Happy when you could be Normal?“). xooxooxoxoxx

“Love is vivid. I never wanted the pale version. Love is full strength. I never wanted the diluted version. I never shied away from love’s  hugeness but I had no idea that love could be as reliable as the sun. The daily rising of love.” 

 

Canines and Hijabs

I keep thinking how remarkable it is that a being with no audible voice in my life, with no tangible dexterity of any human language is capable of teaching me so much of Love. I am referring to Flush, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s pet spaniel who Virginia Woolf wrote a book about after reading the Browning’s love letters.

I watched many interesting talks today about Muslim women; whether the hijab is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ (Personally, I no longer believe in ‘right’ or ‘wrong’- just kind and unkind, happy and unhappy- these things warp and change day to day, but they do not pretend to be as monolithic and grand as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ try to be), about the visibility of Muslim women and what it even means to be Muslim anymore in all the lies and stereotypes we are fed every day for the ends of perpetuating profit, blood money.

Just in case anyone’s interested, here are the talks I listened to-

  • What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman’s hijab? | Samina Ali | TEDxUniversityofNevada

  • What We Don’t Know About Europe’s Muslim Kids and Why We Should Care | Deeyah Khan | TEDxExeter

  • The Muslims You Cannot See | Sahar Habib Ghazi | TEDxStanford

 

  • The Muslim on the airplane | Amal Kassir | TEDxMileHighWomen

I think we should all try to be a bit more like Flush in these times when myth pervades over smiling at strangers in the street. When I watch my dogs on our walks, they never slow down to a pace of shyness when a new puppy lollops out on our horizon- my dogs sniff, they they circle and play; I like to imagine in human terms they would be saying “Hello fellow Soul, how do you do?

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The only reason monsters exist is because we make them. Which means we can also un-make them, and I guess that must start with ending fear. Understanding that each human, regardless and yet resulting from colour creed gender age etc ect, is a plethora of nerves and arbitrary intellects. No one is a closed book ending, we must stop conducting this society as if we are robots; we must think like dogs. I treasure what Virginia says: “Flush knew what man can never know- love pure; love simple, love entire; love that brings no train of care in its wake; that has no shame; no remorse; that is here, that is gone, as the bee on the flower is here and gone.” 

Today’s poem is by a Farsi poetess, Forough Farrokhzad- an Iranian modernist thinker whose poem ‘Born Again‘ is so beautiful and strong she gave me shivers, my arm hairs stood up on the tube. ‘Born Again‘ is rather long, so I didn’t want to include it here; instead here is ‘Gift‘… xoxoxoxoxoxooxox

Gift

I speak out of the deep of night
out of the deep of darkness
and out of the deep of night I speak.

If you come to my house, friend
bring me a lamp and a window I can look through
at the crowd in the happy alley. 

Forough Farrokhzad

higgedly piggedly but alive

“I understood how stingy and cheap and arrogant and ungracious I had been. Because it easy to love and sing one’s love. That is something I am extremely good at doing. Indeed, that is my art. But to be loved, that is true greatness. Being loved, letting oneself be loved, entering the magic and dreadful circle of generosity, receiving gifts, finding the right thank-yous, that is love’s real work.”- Helene Cixous, The Book of Promethea

I apologise for my lack of writing on here recently; it isn’t a lack of passion or lostness that’s the cause of no keyboard clicks, just higgedly pigggedly feelings that make me choose wine in the late afternoon over routine. I don’t drink because I hate my life- I drink to unlock an oozy lump at the core, like a communion with this unknown animal with claws and feathers which governs the human.

I was walking my dogs today and concluded it is no whimsy or flaw that ‘God’ shown in a mirror is ‘Dog’. In fact, I would be so heretical as to add that sometimes Dogs are much much better than bookish Gods- Dogs lick you and jump at your knees when you tell them your’e sad; God sometimes just sits there, and the point they’re trying to make is that only through suffering can you learn. But dogs just don’t see suffering like that. They see it and act because it is kind to help when you can.

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I looked at the sky and it was a comfort. I wish I could describe it as I know Virginia Woolf could, but I’ll just use my own words now. I used to think that Jacob Ladders smouldering water in air as cotton-gold warmths was heaven claiming us; that the light was the congregation of wing and the push-up from soil thrown on coffins reverberating upwards.

I think I’m wrong. That light was power because it is giving, bathing us constantly but we only care when it’s beautiful and we see it. I don’t believe in the finality of give and take anymore- we give and get then give away what we got again. Nothing stays but nothing ends either.

 

 

This entry is a bit directionless (not pointless, mind). But we must go with the flow. I managed to work the till by myself at the charity shop. I no longer wring my hands in worry or pluck my hair from the scalp when boys I talk to don’t reply; no longer do I contemplate all the reasons I am wrong and not worth a 30 second reply. I sit. I read my books and dream of “A Life! A Lover!” not A Life! A Husband!”  (ily so much Virginia)

Today’s poem isn’t my own, but by Caroline Bird. It made me smile today and that sometimes is enough (thank goodness)

Megan Married Herself

She arrived at the country mansion in a silver limousine.
She’d sent out invitations and everything:
her name written twice with “&” in the middle,
the calligraphy of coupling.
She strode down the aisle to “At Last” by Etta James,
faced the celebrant like a keen soldier reporting for duty,
her voice shaky yet sure. I do. I do.
“You may now kiss the mirror.” Applause. Confetti.
Every single one of the hundred and forty guests
deemed the service “unimprovable.”
Especially the vows. So “from the heart.”
Her wedding gown was ivory; pointedly off-white,
“After all, we’ve shared a bed for thirty-two years,”
she quipped in her first speech,
“I’m hardly virginal if you know what I mean.”
(No one knew exactly what she meant.)
Not a soul questioned their devotion.
You only had to look at them. Hand cupped in hand.
Smiling out of the same eyes. You could sense
their secret language, bone-deep, blended blood.
Toasts were frequent, tearful. One guest
eyed his wife — hovering harmlessly at the bar — and
imagined what his life might’ve been if
he’d responded, years ago, to that offer in his head:
“I’m the only one who will ever truly understand you.
Marry me, Derek. I love you. Marry me.”
At the time, he hadn’t taken his proposal seriously.
He recharged his champagne flute, watched
the newlywed cut her five-tiered cake, both hands
on the knife. “Is it too late for us to try?” Derek whispered
to no one, as the bride glided herself onto the dance floor,
taking turns first to lead then follow.
-By Caroline Bird

Spectrum Hearts

Today is when love was first legalised in glorious Britannia. By love I mean freedom- I mean not being afraid if you wanna kiss your neighbour’s lips- the boy who likes cricket and has freckles like strawberry seeds. Or your girl next door; her hair crimson at dusk and webbed topaz at dawn lolling shoulder blades. Love means bodies without fear: it means we see ourselves truly, without pretence or glamour.

It makes me feel such shame that we locked this away and threw away the key in ‘honour’s’ name for too fucking long. The glitter was dulling behind bars, and feet that should have been slow-dancing on wedding floors were stagnating in cells instead.

I am of the opinion that we are all a little bit gay on the inside: that people who deny themselves a little taste of colour are so mopey and angry at others because they’re jealous. So the old saying goes- happiness is the best revenge. What happier revenge than love; what do people try to stifle more in this world than compassion? I am only young, but I have my opinions. Thus says my brain: Love, desire; they’re persecuted because they are needed more than wanted, they are powerful beyond definition of language.

I am so proud with of the punk/prog/ gay pride progressions my country has made since it’s (fluctuating and never truly ending) dark ages. But other countries still deny their citizens the right to hold hands with beloveds in summer bloomed parks. To kiss in front of cinema screens; or to wed, that gold ring and memory forever. My love and thoughts go out all the way to those still trapped and afraid- I use my freedom of expression to hope, to will for yours. LGBTQ+ community: you are loved, please don’t feel ashamed or wrong or deadly. You are beautiful like festival colours and flower smells. You are beloved unto this soil, and please don’t let yourselves go down due to ignorance. You are seeded strong- will last out all winters.

Today’s poem was written when I was 16 and at a Pride March with all my friends. I remember feeling so alive, so liberated and joyful to be in the sun without fear on that pavement, holding up banners and shouting aloud into the sky and shop window faces. Happy LOVE. That’s all there is to it; LOVE, LOVE, LOVE xoxoxoxoxox

 

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PRIDE

I belonged there, dancing.
I belonged there- in the sherbet
fizzing July sun; laughter
and drums spectrumreaching
ears as second nature.  Pavements
baked in this crowd, excitement.

A carnival of colours marrying hope
with young fuckery on London’s
summer seasoned walkways.

Gimps and holy men and
inflorescence of old dykes holding
hands- our people glittering.
Mirages of possibility finally conjured
into warm heavythumped blood.
Souls sing “FUCK YOU”
and peace- no longer a classroom fantasy
but flesh, a commitment or kiss.

Dancing did so I whole
belong. Sweaty palms agripped
placard as grail- awakening,
awakening childlike loving
glee and must never be lost.
We shuffle with crowds, not noticing
how every step, each movement
is only a dust-breadth;
resembling twigs floating down
greenweeded river in this concrete
jumble- we pay no mind to swans staring
out shop windows or the dwindling
of scaffoled hours. The present was a
Present- and that’s where I
belonged.

The repetitions of her in my life-
collapsing yet again into crossed legs
on park floor fuzz in old trainers,
smiling as she starts off the roll-up,
sunning ourselves as strawberries
would. (If we had time to contemplate
such metaphors.)

We are enraptured in NOW,
this gay teenage fantasy-
warm wine swigged straight from the bottle
and we not yet 18, sparkling giggles down
our throats; rucksacks
smuggled on rails.
Face-paint smudged by
caresses- smiles and shouts;
this delicate stasis.

No worries of beating red
sticking to teeth like glue-
No terrified of myself dissolving,
dissolving…

It was my pride-
our pride of all hopes,
We belonged there
all the heart long.

Perils of hope

“I’ve been a romantic for so long
All I’ve ever heard are love songs
Singing oh-oh-oh, go on, I dare you…”    – The XX, I Dare You (from ‘I See You’)

I’ve fucked to this song, it seemed romantic at the time, but now the thought of being in such close proximities is frightening- a fluttering kind of fear. In fact, when I was in that ill-timed romance, I would listen to this whole album on repeat. Now all I can stomach is ‘Lips’, with its echoes and cloistered hopes. It makes me feel beautiful in my hurt at what’s past and my hope of repetition: that I am not a mayfly. I still haven’t brought myself to play ‘Say Something Loving’- the melody is too cruel for now. All I remember is what I thought young love was meant to be and then how disparaging realities cut our short known thread: first slow dancing to Eric Clapton and kissing his eyelashes when dawn scattered filigree patterns across our bodies in bed, then stood alone on the pavement- denied one final hug.

I keep thinking what I did wrong, because it seems ridiculous but so predictable to me that despite all the love songs I listen to, and all the sonnets and ballads I memorise the first boy to buy me pink roses should end it all with “fuck you”. I feel like a scribble of rose. I feel so sad and confused that it passes for my feeling alive.

I am being dramatic I guess. Too open and slutty with my foul desires- but I miss hugging; I miss feeling secure not with words but with touch. It was beautiful and primal, and absurd and pathetic. But it’s better than this, not that I didn’t partake in such sordid pastimes when we were together- I think that’s why he dumped me. I get sad and then I get drunk and then I get sad again; the cycle of life.

I know I have to be hopeful; but it’s the beautiful things that are hardest to hold. Loneliness has put up a barrier between the world and my heart. I wan’t to love it, like I wanted to grow to love him- but my lungs are filled with pesticide and the body is already compost. All I wanted was inflorescence, to see spectrum in bus windows and each millions of pores in my wrists dancing. The world as it is but seen; seen and felt to the ledge of infinity.

I don’t know what to think, relying so much on the whimsies of strangers; I am floating with motes and negative space and it must mould my home. To observe and take nothing.

Today’s poem I wrote when I still had florets of spring under my fingernails and pulsing flush through heartlines. I value my life to the stretch of my limbs, but it is so hard with this green light of Gatsby’s- the belief I can craft dreamings flesh.

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Morning poem

I did not see the iris move,
I did not feel the unfurling of my love…” –Anne Ridler, A Matter of Life and Death

Eyelids petalvein a light crafted birdsong in this morning unhampered by curtains-
His arms drawing closer, new details culling sleep.
I nudge old night sand into focus; no
dreams to report;
he kisses my angelsprout
bones.

That’s what lovers do-
fuck before breakfast, outwake the alarm and
be late for responsibilities.

I don’t care about grades.

Two mugs;
sunder statuesque sun in their infancy; unhunkering
corporeal heat, held in by shut windows
towards pale blonde slightness.
We both fold awake before the buses
will come-
we render primal intimacy;
he blows raspberries all over me.
I notice light motes small as
our toast crumbs painting his room
this day’s air daffodil.

I am learning softness-
“Farfalle”.
If dawn could undulate down in the body-
where would I feel it first?

Instincts recalibrate, reconcile those
hours spent dumb to news reels. He put
peanut butter first; then
strawberry jam like our duvet covers
on top- he is growing into
my small mercies.

Two mugs,
not one to wash up,
later on- we
tasted the same
sugar dropped,
silverspooned tea.

I’ll clean them whilst he coos
in protest.