A Relationship With Anxiety

Monday, 23 February 2015

Rushing my hand over old receipts and prickly house keys in my coat pocket, I clutch and curve my palms over an inhaler. 
Its shape, awkward and bulky, protrudes out of the cracks between each finger and whilst it's not yet uncapped in my mouth, its weight serves a soothing semantic objective. 
The monotonous daily drill of life had suddenly started to become terrifying. No seats on the tube? Panic stricken. Ten minutes late for a meeting? All consumed. 
Silly things, like getting a fork stuck in the dishwasher forced me crashing down on my knees and the bleak belligerent head of anxiety sucked all of the air from my lungs and demanded thousands of short breathed shut downs. 

I am on the stairs at a party and unanticipatedly I am drowning, deep sea flailing in the puddles under my eyes, clutching my heart like a life buoy that won't float me upwards but is instead rock weighted. I realise I must look nothing short of an overemotional prick off the back of no resolute reasoning or tangible slap to the face but still, a friend stays up with me until five in the morning telling his dark exchanges by way of making me feel normal and the hyperventilating subsides with the rise of a stronger emotional connection. 
It's frenetic unhallowed nature entangled in a warming trust exercise. 

As it robs me day by day of an extra hour asleep, the pangs burrow deeper and irritation grows thicker through the curved fleshy tubes in my body. I ache, I digress, I allow it to be and trudge through it a little more worn. My fingers starred with discomfort, pain shooting like confetti cannons from the base of each digit.

This is customary, a sequence I find sadist companionship in, it hurts with its volatile grasp but it is also laden with excuse cards as to why I'm not always top of my game. 
We've battled against each other for so long that I'm almost just as scared of being free as I am of the suffering it etches out.
It is only now, inhaler in hand, propranolol resting on my tongue and mantra echoing staccato in my head that I realise I don't need it. 

For so long it has shadowed each morning and taken the minutes in each meeting, a second head growing from my shoulder and speaking for me. Cutting the chords I am now desperately trying to set myself free and whilst it is testing in its unpredictable nature, I feel stronger than I ever knew. 

Pancake Porn: Where The Pancakes Are

Monday, 16 February 2015

Huzzah folks! The fourth best day of the year is upon us.
(The first three are obviously my birthday, Christmas and Friday's.)
I don't know about you, but arm me with a frying pan and some hot oil and it usually means someone's going to end up with an effortful time trying to explain an eccentrically shaped burn.
Shrove Tuesday is not the day for desultory trips to A&E, so this year I'm leaving it to Patricia because she knows a damn thing or two about buckwheat.
In 2015, I feel knowing what to do with buckwheat is of fashionable importance.
Nice job, Patricia.

Beth and I made our way over to Where The Pancakes Are at The Proud Archivist, which you'd be right in thinking is where there actually are, some pancakes. 
There's also a very nice canal if you fancy a post-pancake-stroll.
Nestled away outside in a quaint MDF structure, Patricia and her team are frying buttermilk and buckwheat and a good measure of duck eggs.
Already, this is going to be out of my usual 'Orrr, I'll 'av a bit of sugar and lemon on mine please.' 

Indecisive at the best of times, it'd be foolish for you to think I was ready to settle for one stack.
We ordered, in a nutshell, three quarters of the menu.
Kumquats and tangerine cointreau cream, cinnamon pineapples with lime syrup, thyme slow roast tomatoes with avocado and preserved lemons, a bit of cumin, scallions, green chilli and lime and corriander butter- you name it, it was in my mouth.
And also down my jumper. 

If you're stuck for somewhere to get battered (sorry!) I cannot recommend this little spot enough.
Ridiculously exquisite. 
I mean, it's a pancake, it's not supposed to taste that good, but they do.
Also worth mentioning that they're dairy free, incase that pleases you as much as it does lacto-sceptic me.
Patricia will be frying your way to heaven until the 22nd of February and then (let's all hold hands and pray) she will hopefully be opening a permanent paradise in the summer.
My fingers, although podgier than when I first entered, are irrefutably crossed.

It's okay to say no to sex

Monday, 9 February 2015

I am a yes woman. 
Want another drink? Yes! Second helping of food? Yes! Do my personal tax returns for me? Yes! 
(No but really, give me your tax returns, I love it.)
I am somewhat inherently unable to say no. 
Perhaps due to watching that film about being awash of negative responses opens up the key to eternal happiness or just plainly, because I don't want to be rude. 
This in turn has led me into situations as a young woman, I honestly would have much rather have declined. 
I have the power to say no, I am coherent and intelligent and mature enough to know that 'no' is indeed in my vocabulary and has as much power and prowess behind it as I need or want it to, I'm just often too scared to use it. 
I also use it so infrequently I forget that declination can be just as euphoric as complying. 
That there are also positive sequels awaiting after the 'N' word. 

A few months ago I started dating a really lovely guy. 
Genuinely, bloody wonderful. 
A fantastic example of when saying yes worked in my favour.
I'd say yes to dinner and then yes to drinks and then yes to same time again next Tuesday
Naturally, as a given in any progressing relationship I was often proposed a night at his, a suggestion that leapt as quickly as the compliments that proceeded it after the last round of drinks.
"No, I think I'm going to go home tonight. But thanks!"
I'd smile, half at him and half bemused at myself as this foreign word raged off my tongue. 

He understood and would get off with me a bit, running his hands over six layers of coat and scarf and go on his merry way back to his flat on his own. 
I, jumping on the tube alone sat anxious. 
Would this be the final time I could say no? Did he think I was a prude? Or frigid? Oh god, am I a cock tease? 
Shit, I should probably just say yes and have sex with him. 

It'd bounce feverishly in my head as though they were tangible things to be of concern, as though I was using language thats influence had an expiry. 
It's not that I didn't find him attractive, I'd probably mentally undressed him across the table more so than he'd ever done his older sisters hot friend, and being physical outside of the bedroom gave me that sort of ruffled and discomposed teenage pang I'm terrified I'll lose sight of by the time I'm 30. 
I just didn't want to have sex with him yet. 
I liked the pace of what it was for the first time in my entire life and wanted to prove to myself that my fear of being 'a girl for now and not for later' was purely paranoia and not true. 
That someone might want to keep having dinner with me because I can quote The Simpsons in the same breath as Dawkins and do insanely unattractive yet highly entertaining things with my eyes. 
(One goes left and the other spins backwards, it's amazing.)

I have in the past told myself that guys won't want to be my boyfriend unless I step it up physically, quickly.
Forgone is my wit and intelligence, they'll probably lose interest unless I take off my top. 
I consciously removed my self right to say no and would reluctantly say yes in hope it'd mean he'd fall madly in love with me, carve my name on a tree, buy me a house rabbit for Christmas and introduce me to his mum. 
Those things never happened. Obviously.
I'd wake up in the morning with a vague stain of awkward regret on his bedsheet and go home never to hear from him again. 
I'd then, in some kind of ugly self berating paradox, blame myself for coming across as easy and that obviously he wouldn't want me to be his girlfriend because I answered all the naked questions and gave away my mystery too soon.

News to me, you don't keep mystery in your pants. It's in your head. 
Also, a huge portion of that is ridiculous. 
I can hear you all vomit in unison at my cringeworthy delusions, rolling your eyes at how I've over analysed something relatively simple to a degree of neurosis- but it's really bloody difficult to get out of that psychological cycle once you're in it. 

This embroiled path of solicitude over sex has stemmed from two things. 
Boys in the past have made jibes at my lack of sexual confidence, I'd always seen myself as a relatively undesirable chubby girl and whilst they might teach you how to put a condom on a banana at school, they definitely miss out how to turn on your inner Asai Akira goddess when you need it. 
Additionally, I have said no in the past and boys have ignored it. 
This is something that needs exploring in less of a light hearted tone as this article has been implicated, but it has rendered me voiceless on a number of occasions causing me to be riddled with negative connotations towards sex. 
I've been grabbed and touched outside of my own will and want despite showing no consent and have been handled as though my perspective is irrelevant. 
In ways, and at times, this has made me feel saying yes is easier than dealing with the aggression and confrontation of saying no. 

We stopped dating after a while, he stopped texting and I stopped looking at L'Agent Provocateur with no intention of purchasing or parading in it. 
Initially, I thought it was probably because we went on six dates and he didn't ever have to pretend he had a meeting at 9am to get me to leave his flat before his house mates woke up. Or even worse, make me breakfast.
In reality, it's probably because we just weren't right for each other. 
Because that, is also a thing. 

I look back and I'm glad I said no, I have no regrets.
No is a valuable word and we should all give ourselves the confidence in possessing it proudly. 
You have to learn how to say no without an ounce of guilt, respecting and taking care of yourself is crucial and setting boundaries is healthy.
Equally, if a guy stops texting because you haven't had sex with him yet, he was probably never going to buy you a house rabbit after you'd given him a blow job anyway. 

"What do you DO?" - Le Meridien Hotel

Monday, 2 February 2015

"What do you do?"
A panic trickles hot down my throat and straight back out audibly into the conversation as I stutter a five paragraph essay in twenty six seconds.
"Oh me? It's a bit of this and a bit of that. I'm a freelance producer, writer, digital consultant, stylist and blogger."
It's usually hard to tell who winces first at how ridiculous that sounds pouring out of a nineteen year olds mouth., let alone mine.
In the questions most literal sense, my answer literally would be "Mostly, I watch The Devil Wears Prada in my pants eating cold curry and then I might do a cry and then have a nap."
Sadly, that answer never receives the raucous applause that my wannabe comedic alter ego so desperately craves.

I have absolutely no idea what I do, I just do it occasionally, get paid for it and stick it in my Twitter bio, obviously.
I've purposefully lived my life this way since I left school at sixteen because A) it's non committal and B) it gives me unprecedented access into the exploration of what else can be. IE. I've got not the smallest clue as to what my career should and will be therefore I shall stick my finger in EVERY pie and hope for the best. 
I've been avoiding facing this in a remotely adult way for all too long.

Whilst I can joke and jibe until a metaphorical farm animal returns home, not knowing what I'm doing has caused me a great deal of financial instability and anxiety over the last few months so I forced myself to sit and give it some real sophisticated thought. I knew I'd just slip the dulcet tones of Miranda Priestly on in the background if I were to stay at home, so I took myself somewhere where I would actually relax. Le Meridien in Piccadilly. Oh sweet marbled floors, you.
I checked myself in, threw on a white towelling robe and found an old Desert Island Disks episode with Russell Brand and just shut off.
Momentarily at 1am I stood out onto my balcony and entertained the idea of smoking a cigarette listening to Hozier through the battered speaker on my phone and watched and waved at drunken London. 
Then I realised I probably looked a bit of a prick and got back into my marshmallow kingdom of a bed.

Sometimes I'm not sure how I feel about adults, mostly because they often ask me what I do and also because I don't want to be one, but the adults at Le Meridien are really quite good.
They ushered me into a nice little room to check in, gave me what at first I thought was suspicious looking pill (but later turned out to be a refreshing hand wipe once wetted) and then DELIVERED ME ECLAIRS TO MY BEDROOM TO AID MY LIFE DECISION MAKING. I like them. 

I stayed up until the early hours, workshopping, pondering, inviting friends over to check out my one-night-only paradise and I awoke feeling fresh and with an opinion concise. 
I mulled over my final announcement in The Terrace Bar eating through anything and everything that can be filed under 'continental' and slammed my fresh apple juice down with cathartic glee.
No more nonsense, no more desk space avoidance or grandiose cover letters - this little space you're sat washing your eyes over is now my job. 
"Hello, my name's Charly Cox and I am a full time blogger."
What does this mean for you? Obviously, more blog posts. Also, a video every week on my YouTube channel. I'm bloody excited.

A thirty five second walk from Piccadilly Circus tube station (I know, because I counted), Le Meridien is ideal both in its location and also in doing what it's supposed to do.
A beautiful roof over your head with no need for novelties, damn good food and lovely adults in waistcoats. Definitely worth a visit.

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