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?

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?

Finding Etta!

pexels-photo-190335.jpeg

The strange thing about cycling is that it’s impossible to feel any form of depression whilst your thighs are burning, your lungs are screaming, cars and of course other proper cyclists are zipping past, as you force 20lbs of metal and rubber up a hill. Your mind is rather, occupied, shall we say.

Equally, tootling gently around the sunny London somewhat quieter streets and the pretty parks with the breeze in your face and the warmth on your back, seeing the world close up, a feeling of complete unadulterated happiness, of living in the moment totally encapsulates you.

My first trip out was to the sorting office to pick up a couple of parcels. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. According to google maps, a mere 6 minute cycle ride.

I returned home 38 minutes later, and no, there had not been a queue at the sorting office.

I saw two gorgeous old Renault 4’s (along with the Citroen 2CV my favourite ‘pottering along a French country lane’ cars) a beautiful steel grey and white whippet which I knew would have delighted the Colonel, I met a very grumpy old woman whom I had thought I was helping across the road (clearly not) and I discovered that it’s quite hilly in southwest London. I found that I’m good at indicating left, but not right (a rather wobbly affair ensued) and the problem with having a bicycle is that there are no hazard lights, so when all else fails or you’re going to do something highly illegal, you can’t just push the button and everyone knows to avoid you. Simply stopping in the middle of the road on a bike could have serious consequences for the shiny new bike and the considerably older and not so shiny me. I did it once on a mini roundabout (it was going awfully well, but then I had to do the indicating right thing, wobbled rather a lot, so stopped in the centre of the mound of the roundabout). Probably best not to repeat that one. Of course the one advantage that I have, is that when I go on my big adventure in France in August, the mini roundabouts there you go anti-clockwise so I’ll be indicating left, so no wobbling! Hurray … a doddle! (It is anti-clockwise in France isn’t it? Hang on, which way will I be indicating? …. ) And frankly, drive too close to this cyclist at your peril … and possibly mine.

I love looking at the houses, the gardens, the people, the dogs, seeing, really seeing everything. Noticing the detail. The glorious feeling of freedom.

Do you remember the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid film and the beautifully shot, idyllic scene on the bicycle with Paul Newman as Butch, and Katharine Ross as Etta, with the music of Raindrops are Falling on my Head? Well, when I’m cycling that’s how I feel. I am Etta! (Albeit not there in the looks department and I don’t have Paul Newman sitting behind me but you get idea). It’s a time of complete happiness and of being at peace with the world.

So I shall venture out again today and find my inner Etta, that simple purity of enjoying a moment in time, for loving something for what it is, happiness and peace …. unless of course there’s a roundabout to navigate.

Katie xx

What gives you that feeling? Anything else worth trying? All suggestions very welcome (apart from anything smutty or involving a vat of chocolate, or a combination of the two). X

Getting The Anxiety Under Control

pexels-photo-382177.jpeg

Odd, but true …. Since the scuba diving experience (Scuba Diving With Anxiety) I appear to have control over my anxiety. (My left ear is deaf as a post, but this I can live with.)

Just because scuba diving was quite frankly an opportunity for me to impersonate a mermaid whilst jumping into the Finding Nemo film doesn’t make it any less of a moderately extreme activity. One teensy mistake, and oops, out of oxygen and poof! You’re dead. Yes, I know what you’re thinking and I agree, I’m sure there are safety procedures galore, but the fact of the matter is, we need oxygen to survive. Personally I’d put it up there in the dangerous category alongside jumping out of an aeroplane with a parachute that one of my children has sewn together.

Now, this having been my first dipping of the toe into the scuba diving world, I was unsure as to whether at 12 metres down, if trouble arises, one can just bob back up to the top or whether eardrums burst and a case of the bends follows … no clue, but in fact, my ignorance probably worked in my favour. Because, it meant that there was no option but to use breathing techniques to get my panic attack under control, and under the expert tutelage of the rather delightful ‘French Kevin’, I did.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve practised my breathing during yoga whilst down-dogging with the best of them; bottoms in the air, the huffing and puffing from neighbouring mats sounding rather like a maternity ward; but in truth I’ve only breathed on a rather superficial, shallow level.

Realising the gravity of the situation and understanding fairly smartish that I HAD to deal with something deeply uncomfortable, and potentially life threatening, I didn’t faff around with pretending to blow on a little piccolo, oh no, I took on the entire brass section of the orchestra. I was no longer Katie, wife of the Colonel, cake maker, gardener and peacekeeper, I WAS KING OF A SODDING GREAT TUBA. I huffed, I puffed, deeply, slowly, deeper, slower … all I could hear was air moving in and out. I focused, I concentrated, I breathed.

And erm … I hate to say this … but it worked.

We’re talking less than ten minutes.

A bit like going out for a walk in the fresh air when you’re feeling a bit blue does make you feel better (even if you want to hit the person who suggested it with a shovel). Annoyingly, it does work.

Why is it annoying? Because it implies that my depression and anxiety have been ‘in my head’ if you’ll excuse the pun. And they haven’t … It’s a disease, a proper disease in which medications, therapy and doctors have had to intervene. So how does something so basic as breathing beat every pill hands down?

You see, the breathing and focus took over the fear. The breathing and focus were stronger than the panic. The breathing and focus won.

So when being in a tiny cramped minibus with a low ceiling and a claustrophobic panic attack found its way crawling up again, I started blowing on my tuba again. (The Colonel did look a little quizzically at me, I can live with that and the deaf ear). Minutes later, all was fine. The moment had passed. The rest of the journey was unremarkable, not particularly comfortable but frankly no more so than for anybody else. I suspect that it’s also slightly a case of having done scuba diving, taking a bath with a mask and snorkel on is simply child’s play.

There have been a couple of other moments since, and again blowing on my tuba has each time, more and more quickly reduced the anxiety to nothing, no more than anyone else has on a day to day life.

It works.

It’s hard work fighting a war with yourself, your mind, but we’re so much stronger than we actually give ourselves credit for.

Remember, it has to be done with gusto … passion … intensity. Put down your piccolos, pick up your tubas and remember, the purpose is to make the breathingand focus win the battle against the panic and anxiety. Give it a go … a really loud, pushing out a baby, blowing on a tuba go. Happy days!

Katie xx