Something crossed my mind yesterday that actually happened in December a couple of months ago, I’m not sure why I only thought about it again yesterday, but I thought it was something that I should tell you guys anyway.
*note – trigger warning, this post isn’t graphic as such but I will be talking about mental health & self harm – please click off this post if any of these will affect you, stay safe loves*
When I was leaving work yesterday and began walking to my car, the second I stepped outside the air was so clean and fresh and cool, but not cold. The sky was light but not extremely bright and I just thought about how beautiful everything looked – it had been raining a few hours earlier and so, you know that feeling of the calm after the storm as they call it (I spoke about that in this post) where everything is dewy, bright, fresh and yet also extremely calm after the rainclouds have floated away? The weather was like that, and as I was walking to my car I was just looking up into the sky taking it all in and my first thought was wow, this would be the perfect weather to go for a walk in right now.
Which then led me to think back to December, when I went for a walk. (I am trying to make a point here, stay with me). I feel like I’ve spoken about depression in my posts a lot more than my anxiety, so I’m going to try and focus on the anxiety more in this one – I’ve had anxiety ever since I can remember, as in, I don’t know if there’s ever been a point in my life where the thought of doing anything remotely social / different, whatever you wanna call it, didn’t made me feel sick to the stomach. When I was a child, my anxiety was so bad that I literally felt like my heart was going to collapse, not kidding. I didn’t understand that it was anxiety at the time and just thought that everyone else felt the same way, until I got older and realised that it basically wasn’t normal. My heart would physically hurt in my chest because it was that bad, I felt like I was going to die – but at 10 years old like I said, I just assumed everyone got ‘nervous’ at things the same way I did.
Skip a few years ahead and I get my precious angel child, Teddy. I was 15 and obviously one of the things you do with a dog is take them for walks, right? I’d been asking for a dog since I could even say the word and finally I had one, I was so excited to take him out but as a lot of you know, anxiety likes to ruin pretty much anything that brings happiness into your life. I did it anyway, my parents had finally bought me a dog and I wanted to show them that I wasn’t going to let them down, plus I wanted to go outside with him since I’d been so excited about it. Despite feeling physically sick at the thought and like I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than leave the house at that moment, I dragged myself out of the door anyway and pushed myself to do it, and it was so, so difficult for me. I felt like I was in a living nightmare and that my heart was going to collapse at any moment – this was literally just from walking my dog which, I feel is a pretty normal thing to be able to do but somehow like everything else, it just wasn’t for me.
I managed a few walks and then that was it, I couldn’t do it. My parents used to go for evening walks anyway so they ended up taking Ted with them and that was the end of it. Over the course of the next 5 years I probably walked my dog twice and the sad thing is I’m not even kidding, I wish I was. Obviously, he goes for a walk every single day – my parents take him, but in terms of me actually taking him for a walk myself, I did it twice in 5 years.
I love going for walks in general because it’s a great way to clear your head, but the only times I’d ever leave the house to do this would be if I was having an ‘episode’ as I like to call it and needed to just get out of the house right away, or if I was doing the dreaded dog walk (which I’ve probably done a total of about 7 times since we got him) and so as you can imagine, the expectations vs reality of walks for me wasn’t exactly the best.
The last time I went for a ‘walk’ was November 2016 – I’d had an episode and I just needed to get out of the house, I took Ted with me and we were out for about 20 minutes before it started raining and he wanted to come back home (yes, he literally wouldn’t walk any further) and so I walked home, dropped him off and went back out again. It was freezing cold and pouring with rain but I was in such a manic state that I didn’t care, I was just walking and walking and I’m going to be honest, I was planning on harming myself. I switched my phone off and walked around the woods for what felt like hours until I finally calmed down a bit and sat on a bench for what felt like another few hours, I was freezing and drenched from the rain but obviously, I didn’t care – everything was so dull and grey and when I did eventually decide to come home because it was getting dark I got into a huge argument with my mum, I was screaming, slamming doors, threatening to move out, until I eventually went into the bathroom and cut all of my wrists / arms up. I don’t know what came over me but if you understand what I’m talking about by ‘episodes’ you’ll know that something just comes over you and it’s like you’re not even in your own body. I just remember snapping back into reality at the end of it and seeing blood everywhere and wondering what I’d even done. I hadn’t self harmed for a long time and suddenly without even knowing what I was doing, I’d ended up right back there.
My point is (I told you I was gonna get there eventually), that it was a horrendous day for me and that was really the last memory I had of going on a ‘walk’, because luckily since then I haven’t had another episode that’s resulted in me leaving the house and walking off like that again.
So, skip back to December (2017) a couple of months ago, just over a year since my little episode, and I decided to go for a walk. I’d finished work for Christmas and had been off for about a week already but felt like everything I’d done in that time had been based in the house, I’d gone into town and when I came back home I just thought to myself no, I’m not ready to be back inside yet. It was one of those really sunny, crisp Winter days and so I asked Ted if he wanted to go for a walk, his little face lit up and his tail started wagging and he went and sat waiting for me to put his lead on, I almost cried. I’d been wondering at first whether I should do it because obviously, anxiety was screaming at me NO! DON’T DO IT. STAY INSIDE. DON’T GO OUT THERE. but I was like no, fuck you. I’m going.
So anyway, I took Ted for a walk and it was beautiful. The second I stepped out of the door I felt nothing, I was just a girl taking her dog for a walk on a sunny day, people were walking by and smiling at me and Ted was so happy skipping around with his winter coat on and I felt no anxiety at all – it felt so natural that I didn’t even realise it hadn’t affected me until I came home and was like wow, did that just happen? I don’t know what came over me but something had changed and I honestly think part (if not most) of it has been down to creating this blog and enabling myself to change my mindset and share it with other people. If you’ve read my posts from last year you’ll know they’re very uplifting and based around self love – which I’ve always felt but never had a place to actually write it down for other people, like I’ve said in the past, I’ve only ever written for myself in journals and things so I think creating this blog, meeting other likeminded people and being able to write to you reading this and tell you that you’re the most amazing person in the world and you can do anything – that’s helped me more than even I can believe.
The point of this post is that suddenly, it was different. Without even realising, things had changed. The anxiety was still there at the actual thought of doing it but once I pushed past that and got outside everything went away. I feel like a lot of people’s anxieties are based around the thought of doing something but once they actually start doing it, they’re okay – that’s the anxiety I longed for. Mine was just, I felt sick at the thought of it and I felt even more sick doing it, and that’s still the case in certain aspects of my life but I hope that with little things like walking my dog, it’s gone for good now. If I can push past that voice in my head and the churning in my stomach, I’ll be okay. Even though it may only be a simple, little thing to some people, it was a huge thing for me and something that made me so incredibly happy because I was able to do it, when I basically never have before.
The main part for me is that it showed me how much I had grown and changed without even realising. It’s like, you cut your hair off and feel like it’s not growing back at all but then someone sees you a year later and they’re like “Wow, I can’t believe how much your hair has grown!” – I’m obviously with myself everyday, and so I felt like my ‘change’ might have only been something I was telling myself in my mind in order to trick myself into believing I was getting better, but a year later I put it to the test and it honestly, genuinely worked. My mind really had changed, I really was growing and evolving, I really was becoming different.
All of this came from me looking at the sky yesterday and thinking how I’d like to go for a walk in it, and now here I am writing this. I can’t help but think as I mentioned, that half of this is down to you guys being here for me and supporting my writing – giving me somewhere to express my thoughts and feelings, and actually allowing myself to believe (and prove) that I can and will get better. I love you guys so much and thank you as always, for being so amazing.
All my love from the normal girl who loves to take her dog for walks,