Anxiety and Fear of Strangers…

women s daisy dukes
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve been saving this up for you. Just in case you thought you were a tad unhinged, I think I’ve now overtaken you and reached the top of the class in that department.  (Nb Photo with lassie above is not me … even I wouldn’t clean the car in heels …)

A glorious day in Scotland, and it was not raining, in fact the weather was positively tropical. Everyone still wears their coats though, after all, it’s common knowledge for the Glaswegians that if it’s not raining, it’s about to and if you’ve not got your coat, you’d be well advised to nick someone’s else’s.

By now I think you will have understood that ‘The Car’ is my husbands true love (along with Jaffa Cakes, women with long legs and beating me at Scrabble). With time on my hands, I figured that an outing to the car jet wash was the order of the day.

I must confess that being somewhat mean with money (the old fear of dying broke with 5 children from 5 fathers in a studio flat in the darkest depths of some God-forsaken city surrounded by beer cans and cigarette butts regularly rears its ugly head) …. moving onwards and away from that particular thought … this forces me to not be frivolous with the old notes and to generally get out the bucket and sponge and wash the car myself. However, a moment of madness and a simple trip to the car jet wash ensued. Or so I thought….

My money is in the machine. I’m not wasting a penny. The timer is going. I sense urgency to get the darn car clean; I have only eight minutes to complete my task and the clock’s ticking … they don’t call it a pressure washer for nothing. What started out as a blast of water that ricocheted off the car onto my face, was quickly replaced by bubbles. A lot of bubbles, with force.

The hose is stuck under a tyre; I’m flicking it away, it’s caught on the stumpy aerial on top of the car, I’m flicking it away again … every flick comes with a drenching of white bubbly car detergent all over yours truly. Eyes stinging and streaming, I look as though I’ve entered a wet t-shirt competition for the over 60’s – it’s really not a good look. Perhaps wearing a coat would have been a good idea.

Suddenly the hose is snatched from my hands by a huge Scottish man who barks at me in a language I can only assume is native to the farthest part of The Outer Hebrides …. I comprehend nothing. I snatch it back …. However, I am now not alone in being covered in bubbles.

His eyes are narrowing and yet he once again lurches towards me to grab said hose with more of the guttural, phlegm-inducing sounds which I can only assume are more words …. ahhh but I’m quick off the mark here! I can see Angelina Jolie in myself as I swiftly dodge his swipe and point my brush at his face, bubbles exploding over his huge chest and now bubble-splattered hairy face.. God he’s enormous. “Go away!” I squeak. He responded with words that my brain couldn’t register, except for two, “help” and “mad”. He shakes his head in bewilderment at me, bubbles flying from his beard.

Dear God, he was trying to help me. Another squeak, “Oh … Bugger!” Back-tracking required with speed.

“Um, gosh, thanks awfully. But um, I rather enjoy this …. see?” When in fear, the frightfully British accent lurches forward overtaking all normal speech. The thought of a burly Scot vigorously rubbing the paint off my husbands pride and joy was too terrifying to contemplate, so I now spend the next two and a half minutes pretending to simply adore washing cars as I rub and squirt and spray with gusto and all the time gibbering and thanking him profusely for his offer. He looks baffled, bewildered and somewhat wet.

At long last, the timer rings and the furious noise and force of water diminishes, and I am left standing in relative silence opposite a mammoth soggy Scot with bubbles in his beard and a now flaccid hose which rather halfheartedly gives a final and rather pathetic little spurt of water before dribbling onto the ground. “Sorry.” I mutter and hand it to him, whilst ineffectively wiping at his bubble-soaked jacket. I wisely leave the beard alone as I make out another two words, “Focking nootter …”

“Yes, you’re quite right … awfully sorry.” It’s the Noel Coward accent again, but I’m in the car pronto and making a hasty exit.

Sometimes you know, even if people look scary, they’re as kind and soft as … well, they’re just not. Think I’ll stick to the bucket and sponge in future – infinitely safer.

Katie x

Do you ever judge people wrongly? Do you ever act like a complete fruitcake?

Anxiety and The Fear Of Being Conned!

basket bicycle bike cart
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

A few days ago I went into the local cycle shop to prepare for my trip through France. The Colonel had advised me to buy a repair kit and an extra inner tube or two. Pas de problem!

However, it is tragically my horrible nature to distrust everyone (except policemen, firemen, the nurse back in Glasgow who does the best “screening tests” for women (apologies gentlemen), some relations and Delia Smith).

I also distrust pretty much everything too (in particular, the locks on the doors, my ability to keep house plants alive and my hairdryer which is on its last legs and I’m sure about to die/explode/cause a house fire).

Trust for me is a tricky old business. As a somewhat anxious old bird I am convinced that I am going to be ripped off, conned, or the innocent young man outside the house is in fact a burglar casing the joint. I fear that everyone is a wolf in sheeps clothing, an axe-wielding murderer and I am the proposed victim. Why? A bit of history and I’m slightly unhinged I suppose.

So a trip to the cycle shop was, in my mind a perfect opportunity for someone to pretty sharply realise that I am a complete novice in this department, to take full advantage, and within ten minutes I’d have them sucking through their teeth, shaking their head and I’d be be leaving with a boxful of gadgets, tools and a warning that cycling on my own from north to southern France was not only inadvisable, but dangerous. (Unless of course I bought their most expensive bike, complete with a six week course of maintenance lessons). And not being the most assertive of women, I’d agree to it all. Then of course I’d curse myself and have to go through the arduous task of begging the Colonel to take it all back for me as I was too much of a wuss to have said a firm “no” in the first place and I certainly couldn’t bear the humiliation of setting foot in the place again. Wet? Abso-bloody-lutely! I am a complete girl’s blouse.

Apparently, this all stems from a lack of life skills, yet again.

Ahhh, but I am learning! I am a new woman! I have had therapy to combat this. I too can be assertive …

So leaving Claude the bicycle chained up outside, I headed into the shop with a confident smile and a breezy gait, (how a gait can be breezy I’m not entirely sure, but you get the gist), determined to look as though I was knowledgeable, capable and therefore unable to be taken advantage of. Ha! I’ll beat the buggers!

Perhaps the fact that everyone in there (and they were all men) was head to toe in Lycra and I was wearing a very pretty floaty little number might have been the first giveaway (see my post Finding Etta which might explain why I figured cycling in flippy skirts was a good idea).

So I gulp, give myself a mental pep talk and go for it.

“Please may I have a couple of inner tubes and a basic bike repair kit?”

Fabulous! Well done me … not a stutter or a wringing of hands in sight ….

The young man behind the counter with orange hair, a matching beard and a lot of earrings raises an eyebrow. “What size tyre is it for?”

Fuuuuuuck …..!

Ok I’ve been caught out. I have absolutely no clue. Should I have brought a tape measure from my sewing box? Time to come clean. Time to admit that I’m clueless. Time to put myself at risk of being conned. Fear kicks in, panic is knocking at the door. I am vulnerable.

I give a defeated sigh, accepting the inevitable, point to my beautiful Claude outside the shop, and say, “Um, I think I might need your help with that.”

Forty five wonderful minutes later and I have several new best friends and am sitting behind the cashiers desk (Jon is his name) on his computer showing not only him, but also four of the Lycra-clad men the wonderful website (The Atlantic Cycling Route) detailing the route of my proposed trip in August. Claude, my EBay purchase is now in the shop being twiddled with, checked over with great enthusiasm from my fellow cyclists, so much so that screenshots of the website were taken, a wife was telephoned and Claude has had the complete once-over. Rather amusing n’est pas?!

So I floated back on Claude, flippy floppy skirt thankfully not catching in the newly oiled chains (my new friend Jon behind the desk gave it a bit of ‘lubrication’ for free … (dreadful word I know, apologies …. a bit like moist, soiled and toilet … it’s the ‘oi’ words … shudder … can’t bear them) and I headed home on a high with simply the two inner tubes and a repair kit, plus some funny little plastic things to get the tyres off which he threw in for free. (I think he realised that I didn’t actually have a clue how to change an inner tube … I thought it involved a spoon end or something and a bit of a wiggle).

So you see, all is well with the world. Not everyone is a baddie, in fact, there are some rather nice people out there. And now all I have to do is google “How to Repair a Bicycle Tyre” or I could ask the Colonel. Alternatively my new best friend, Jon with the orange beard, did mention a series of maintenance classes that they have for only £10 a session …. might be an idea, he did recommend a course of three however …

Katie xx

Do you worry about being ripped off? Or axe-wielding murderers hiding under the bed? What are you frightened of?

I Will NOT Succumb to Depression …

canine chair cushion dog
Photo by Steph Munden on Pexels.com

After a fairly good and happy run along the straight and narrow path of being free of depression and anxiety, I hit a blip. Well, the blip hit me actually, in a shovel-on-the-head sort of way.

Perhaps I should have anticipated it, perhaps I became too confident that “I WAS CURED!” and I foolishly took my eye off the ball. The truth of the matter is, that for me, and for whatever reason, this is a long term war and not just a short battle, and never, never can I become complacent about my mental health.

Ahhh but how carefree I have been, how I have been feeling like a “normal” human being. But I’ve not gone to a new yoga class which I know I should do. I’ve been becoming a little ‘antsy and paranoid’ lately and didn’t get to the bottom of it. I even had a couple of glasses of the old vino – well that was a blindingly obvious schoolboy error. God, the shame of admitting it … do as I say, not as I do. Please can you forgive me? Because I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have and I’ve paid for it ..

So it’s been back to basics for the last 48 hours.

In my mind it’s been similar to when the boys were very young and all was going really well. So, I relaxed the rules. I gave them a bit of leeway, a bit of rope (to metaphorically hang myself with later on) and they were allowed to eat choco pops cereal for their breakfast, watch television before doing their homework and not tidy their rooms, and before I knew it … BOOM! I had a couple of tantrumming monsters on my hands, addicted to Scooby Doo and Lego, toy soldiers and the dreaded train tracks not just spilling out of every door, but in fact linking one room to another. I must confess to actually rather liking Scooby Doo but that’s besides the point.

So, I then had to go absolutely back to basics with them, causing upset and trauma to my first world life and remove the chocolate cereal, bad behaviour and Scooby for a few days so that normal service was resumed. And of course, it worked. They, like me are simple creatures, needing routine, structure and boundaries.

And so that is what I have been doing. Treating myself like a child who needs direction. Betty is sulking in the shed, albeit quietly now, and my mood has lifted and I no longer want to hide under the bed with a packet of ginger nuts and a secret cigarette. I have been cycling like a demon, had a bit of beauty therapy yesterday afternoon (actually I now look a bit blotchy which is unfortunate, but it was heaven at the time) and spent an hour in a cycle shop chatting to a very nice young man about tyres. I’m seeing my old Glasgow tennis friends tomorrow and will no doubt be teased again mercilessly about my ‘posh’ accent and how thick I am that I still can’t understand anything they say, but I look forward to it enormously. Exercise, fresh air, no booze, sleep and getting out of the house and talking … and also loving my wonderful friends here – you know who you are.

It’s working, but may this be a lesson to me. I must never become complacent about mental health.

And, if all else fails, a bit of Scooby Doo probably won’t hurt.

Katie xx

Any thoughts? Have you ever had a blip and had to work through it? And how did you do that?

Blasted Cyclists!

person riding on bicycle near trees
Photo by Bogdan R. Anton on Pexels.com

 

Yesterday’s little jaunt of 18.3km and not a centimetre less my thighs are telling me this morning, was an interesting learning curve on the etiquette of cyclists.

It turns out that my peddling companions are, once squeezed into their Lycra, helmet on and fearsome black glasses stretched across their faces are the two-wheeled equivalent to the white van driver, or for those who have not encountered our congested British roads and it’s drivers, that person who sits incognito behind a computer screen making foul remarks on social media knowing that they will never have to reveal their true identity.

You may call me harsh, but an hour or two daily around the streets of London and through the parks for the past three weeks has taught me that they’re a competitive bunch, who have no idea of personal space, cycling side-by-side, ignoring the designated cycle lanes, chattering obliviously with their fellow cyclists, upsetting even the most docile natured drivers and never saying thank you by means of a teensy little hand wiggle or nod when someone actually gives them a wide berth. Pah! Such rudeness!

However, I will admit, that whilst writing in fury, I’m generalising somewhat … but I write what I see, every single day.

There was however a very nice chap at the lights whom I asked advice from about where I should be positioned in the road at a particularly tricky junction … he replied, “No clue, just cycle fast and straight and everyone will get out of your way, mostly.” It was the “mostly” that concerned me, so I wobbled to the pavement, pretended to look at my map, and when the road was completely empty continued on my merry way.

Through Richmond Park I pedalled like fury, sadly overtaken by every other cyclist, most irritatingly by a young lad and his companion, an elderly man who I can only presume was his his great, great grandfather … it’s just like skiing, having the little blighters shoot past you with a whoosh of snow as I bellow at them to give me some fucking space. (Sorry about that, just thinking about it gets me reaching for my happy pills and a glug of Bach’s Rescue Remedy.)

I did at one particularly low point see a most capable (and enormous) man dressed in rather fetching red and white Lycra with a large cross on his back, and feeling safer being close to a Red Cross worker (or in my mind, a paramedic), tried even harder to keep up with him. No joy I’m afraid, and as I realised whilst watching his rather muscular bottom disappearing up the hill in front of me, he was in fact a professional Swiss team competitor … in training. I really must work on my flag recognition.

So I arrived back at home yesterday feeling slightly despondent to see the Colonel had been organising and tidying the garage again. If he found evidence of my recent shopping expedition by way of a few rather nice shoe boxes, he didn’t pass comment. He did however give me a rather lecherous look and despite my being disgustingly hot, sweaty and a tad grumpy went in for a kiss … my response, “Quite frankly, on yer bloody bike mate.” I thought that was quite witty, his forlorn face said otherwise.

Today will be a better day ….

Katie xx

How do you rate drivers and cyclists in your neck of the woods?

Depression, Anxiety and …. Exercise

Depression, anxiety and exercise!

pair of white lace up sneakers on top green grass
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

 

I know you want to hit me with a shovel, but ummm ….. exercise DOES work. Yup, sorry about that, but unfortunately, it does.

I remember going to the doctor’s surgery many moons ago (Do read The Doctor if you want evidence of my previous mental state) and being apoplectic with rage at his suggestions and yet, months later when the medication had eventually taken the edge off the depression and anxiety and I was able to think just a little clearer, I started the only form of exercise I knew, tennis.

Odd isn’t it how the doctors, therapists, magazines and papers are all telling us to use exercise to beat depression and anxiety and yet still, we are enraged and hate them all for their irritating and pathetic suggestions. “I have a disease, going for a swim won’t change that!” and “How can I go for a run when I can’t even get out of bed?” we shrill. “Don’t you understand how I feel, how can I possibly go for a cycle ride when I feel like this?” we shout.

And yet, and yet, they do keep banging on about the wretched benefits of it, even the celebrities we idolise seem to be talking about it. Bastards the lot of them. They just don’t understand. Don’t they know how darn exhausted we are?

However, when you have those endorphins and dopamine coursing through the body (don’t even question trying to fight those chemicals), the brain is occupied (no possibility of thinking about death, dying and misery, whilst focusing on a small yellow ball flying at eighty miles an hour towards you), the laughter, chatter and screams of hilarity filling the court (and often neighbouring courts) make any downward spirals of negativity stop firmly in their tracks with an almighty screech of rubber on tarmac and a handbrake U-turn. And as for the light, sun and fresh air … well I personally couldn’t find any of those whilst hiding under my bed with only the drooling dog and a family pack of multi-flavoured crisps for company.

The hardest part is the putting on of those trainers. (Read this post next … Short Term Pain, Long Term Gain) After that, it’s a breeze …. one becomes swept up with that extraordinary and distant friend, happiness, and before you can say “Goddamn gym bunnies” your cheeks are rosy, you’re laughing, chatting and organising the next session with newly found friends. If this all sounds a bit too cheesy, the only words of wisdom this old bird can hand out are from that age-old adage, “Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it”. Because, annoyingly, using exercise to combat depression and anxiety and the lethargy that comes as part and parcel of those evil twin sisters, actually does work. It beats it. Game, set and Goddamn match.

Katie x

WHAT EXERCISE ARE YOU DOING FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH TODAY? WELL??

Anxiety and Moving House

Does moving home have to be stressful? Noooooo!

antique crumpled crumpled paper dirty
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

 

Alongside illness and losing one’s job, apparently moving house is up there in the top most anxiety-inducing activities, not forgetting of course divorce, death and going to prison. ‘Activities!’ What a dreadful description … Honestly that makes them sound like a day trip to the beach with a dripping ice cream, striped deck chair and a fishing net. Anyway, apart from the ‘going to prison’ thing which I am hoping to avoid, I’ve gone through all of the above and survived.

I have discovered, that in actual fact moving is not the equivalent of being dropped in the fiery pit of hell. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that it is possible to actually rather enjoy it. It’s rare to be moving house to somewhere that you don’t want to move to … So on the whole, one is moving to a better place, whether upsizing, downsizing or simply to be closer to the equator … hmmm France would be glorious, love Scotland as I do, the weather is truly shite.

So with optimism in abundance for a positive move, a month ago I planned, packed and labelled boxes with vigour and a happy heart. Yes, I was leaving my friends, but if they’d have me, I could always go and visit.

Where was the stress and anxiety when the day arrived? Decidedly absent.

Why? Because of a simple yet forceful positive change of attitude and meticulous military-style preparation.

There’s always something that goes slightly awry … in my case it was the key to a large old linen press so really not the end of the world. It turned up, eventually. As long as the keys to the new house and the kettle is to hand, nothing else really matters.

In the old days, I’d have had sleepless weeks beforehand worrying, stressing myself into a sweat-induced nightmare. And about what? Change and a fear of no control and the unknown.

So now, let’s embrace the new, use planning and preparation to keep charge of as much as we can, and then just go with the flow. More than that we can’t do, after all, this is life that we’re dealing with. It’s short and really should be very, very sweet.

Katie xx

How do you cope with anxiety and stressful situations?

What Has “The Wedding” Made You Ponder on?

band blur close up engagement
Photo by Pixabay on 

 

Joining our wonderfully stuffy and rigid royal family comes a woman of substance. A woman with a mission using her status to make the world a better place and yet somehow she manages this with grace, dignity and incredible likability. She says we all have a voice, we just have to use it. And of course, she’s right.

And after it all, after the last people have gone back to their real lives, after the shops, bars and restaurants of Windsor have cleaned their tables and closed their doors to count the weekends takings, and the street cleaners have filled yet more bags and are starting to get everything shipshape once again, what are we left with?

A wonderful piece of history that’s for sure. But what else? For me, I feel inspired. I feel inspired by a woman, a woman who gets on with life, works like a trooper and fights for what she believes in, in a feminine, graceful manner. She ticks every box and frankly Harry has done very, very well.

So it’s time to get on, stop worrying and attack life and the things I want to do and achieve. Dare I say that I think we could all take a leaf out of Meghan’s book. I know that I will. Enough dramas about the minutiae of life, I need to crack on and not let any more anxiety or depression stop me from living the life that I want.

Let’s run that marathon, write that book and cycle to the south of France …. the clock is ticking, and sure as eggs is eggs, I ain’t gonna want to run out of time!

Katie xx

Are you joining me?!

Are you inspired and if so by whom?