This is the first thing I’ve written in a couple of weeks.
I’ve missed it pretty terribly, each day I’ve woken up and thought ‘today is the day, I’m going to write and it’s going to be GREAT.’ I’ve tried all of my usual rituals and routines – make the bed, wipe down the desk, lay out clothes, shower, sing Halsey really badly/loudly, meditate, put on a creepy ASMR video and… nothing.
I need my rituals to get anything done. I wrote recently-ish about dealing with some mental health issues (you can read that here if you want) and it felt so incredibly liberating that it sparked a surge of confidence and optimism in my usually wibbly wobbly brain. But then a couple of things happened.
I went to the shop. The shop is a lovely 5 minute stroll from my front door and that day in particular was about as perfect as a day can be. The trees were fiery orange, the air was crisp and the those cute little mushrooms (I fully believe they’re fairy houses but we won’t go into that) had popped up everywhere. It was like an Enid Blyton book minus the racism. This was my first time leaving the house alone in months and I was terrified. I clutched my girlfriends Hearthstone keyring, a habit she loves because it allows her to pretend I give a poop about World of Warcraft when in actuality I’m just clinging to any chance that magic might be a little bit real and can get me home when something inevitably goes horribly wrong. I made it to the shop, impulse bought three boxes of tea cakes and the rest is a blur. All I really remember is clutching my chest and using the limited amount of oxygen in my stressed-to-shit lungs to wail about how the tesco delivery man would be arriving soon and I hadn’t tidied the kitchen yet. I cried so hard I almost threw up, I hyperventilated so much that my chest ached for days and I scared the living shit out of my poor, amazing girlfriend who held me tight and made me tea and poptarts.
This led to the next thing, Thought Bubble. A few months ago we booked tickets, flights and a hotel for Thought Bubble, a kick-ass comic convention in the UK. It was to be the ultimate happy birthday to celebrate turning 24 later this month by meeting some of my all-time faves and people I adore and admire the fudge out of. A couple of weeks after buying the tickets my agoraphobia started getting worse but for the first time I could sincerely say that I was trying my very hardest to get better. I was doing everything I possibly could and clinging to this amazing light at the end of the tunnel to get through endless attempts to rewire my tired little brain. I read and reread comics by Kate Leth, Noelle Stevenson and Marguerite Bennett and tried to figure out how I could possibly put into words how grateful I am for them. I emptied 90% of my closet and chopped off my long hair to take any tiny amount of related stress out of each morning. I set a strict routine and programmed cute little pop-up messages on my phone telling me in no less than 50 emojis that it was now time to shower or meditate. I started meditating. I started having nightmares about the flight, a big part of agoraphobia and my brand of anxiety is a fear of being trapped so being in a plane isn’t exactly my idea of a fun ol time. In a confined space, way up in the sky with no escape route sounds like hell to me. And so it took over. I focused on getting through the (almost embarrassingly) short flight, I put all of my energy into feeling ok about the glorified catapult death machine but I forgot about everything else. The four-hour trip to the airport on a bus that can’t stop whenever I need air full of people who don’t and shouldn’t have to care that I need the upstairs front seat or else I’ll melt into a gross lump of pure panic on the floor. The airport, a massive building, busy with people and full of twists and turns and too big spaces with not enough escape routes. Then the damn plane. Then what? Say I survive all of that and make it to Leeds, then what? Another airport! A train! Then we have the hotel, a big building far from home with too many floors and elevators and winding hallways. Then the convention, full of almost all of my faves but also what feels like billions of other people and so much noise. And the very worst part: if something happens, if I panic then it’s back to the train, back to the plane, back to the airport, back to that 4 hour bus journey. I had managed to push all of this to the dark, shadowy part of my brain, convinced myself that if I could manage an hour on a plane everything would be perfect, hell I’d probably be healed!
So my poor, wonderful, kind girlfriend had to remind me of all of it and I swear I heard my heart break. I was truly devastated. I still am, to be honest.
The next things were smaller but still shitty so fuck it I’ll include them. My phone broke, just straight up died and took my carefully constructed schedules and cute af pop-ups with it. Then my laptop joined it in tech hell. I felt like everything was breaking. I know it’s dumb, my phone and laptop are just things, I know that. But they were broken, my plans were ruined, my hopes were in pieces, I felt broken. It almost feels a little like being a teenager again, when everything is so big and important and has a sense of urgency and finality that’s way too heavy but so damn persistent. Except when I was a teenager I was always wondering what my life would be, future tense. But this? This is my life. Everything I thought I would do, everything I thought I would be when I imagined myself as an almost 24-year-old is nothing but laughable right now. In a lot of ways this unexpected me is better than any me I could have imagined. I’m in one super fucking loving relationship, happily living with my gf for almost four years now and in a little town I never would have considered but have fallen head over heels for. I have incredible friends willing to drive four boring hours to spend Halloween and to paint mugs and eat too much pizza and dance to Drake. I’m writing about comics and making videos (I mean…sometimes) and meeting lovely people from all over the world. Right now it’s just hard to focus on those things, those warm and fuzzy things are being a little overshadowed by agoraphobia, anxiety, panic and a great big case of the sads. But those things have added billions to my HP, don’t get me wrong.
Thought Bubble happens this weekend and I won’t be there. I will be here. I am always here. Because I’m afraid of everything. It’s tiring, I’m exhausted and fed up and developing a scary little habit of dissociating. And I have a headache like all the time.
So I haven’t written. I’ve just…been. A little lump of human doing nothing and feeling sad while deadlines pass and the dishes pile up and up. Also I have a cold so I’m less human more snot-monster right now.
I guess the whole point of this post is… it sucks. I’m not doing very well and my constant need to seem ok is too heavy for me to carry anymore. So I’m being honest for a change. I’m sad, I’m tired, I’m drained, sometimes I’m not here but I’m always trying. There hasn’t been a moment when I haven’t been trying.