Halloween has been and gone, and with it, the annual discussion over inappropriate costuming. Each year, the discussion gets a little louder, a little clearer. Each year the people going “this is not ok” grow in number, and the angry people who want to wear whatever they like get a little more angry and defensive.
Consent has been in the press this week again, thanks to a couple of young men who were deeply personally insulted and affronted at the nerve, the sheer bloody gall, the CHEEK of their presumptious places of learning, to include them into an invite that went to all students to voluntary consent courses.
It’s an irony that when I am not having a bout of anxiety, it’s hard to recall and write about exactly how anxiety affects me (in a similar way to how you can remember that a tattoo hurts but you can’t recall the exact pain itself) but when I am in the midst of an episode I can barely string two sentences together. Thus it’s taken me several weeks to write this post, in between bouts feeling fine (occasionally even awesome) and feeling like flinging my laptop into the Thames and watching it sink. Then jumping in myself. I need to grab those “fine” moments and write in those, because when I am feeling awesome the last thing I want to do is pick up my laptop and write about the times I felt like crawling under my bed and staying there for ever, but when I am in my “fine” moments it’s hard to explain what having an anxiety episode feels like.
I’m often told I don’t look my age. I have to admit I rather enjoy the look of shock that usually appears on people’s faces when I tell them my actual age. It’s usually followed up with “what’s your secret?” Depending on how well I know them and their sense of humour the answer tends to be one or a combination of…
- Good genes, thanks Mum
- Stay out of the sun, don’t smoke
- You should see the state of the portrait in my attic
- It’s mostly because I act like a child
- Bathing in the blood of virgins
- My dress sense never grew up
- Ritual sacrifice
I’m still finding it hard to sit down every single Sunday and write. Last year it was really important to me to do so, because writing here was so tied up with giving up alcohol that I felt if I didn’t write every Sunday I may as well go back to drinking and the two – writing and not drinking – became inextricably linked. Now I know I can happily not drink just by, you know, not drinking.
My birthday this year made me feel profoudly grateful for my wonderful friends – new and old – who sent me cards and gifts, or drew awesome pictures, or sent me messages or sang songs to my voicemail. It all reminds me that I’m not alone, that people understand me, that people are thinking of me and care. As someone who suffers from anxiety and has struggled with depression in the past that is an incredibly powerful feeling.
I tend to see birthdays as basically an an excuse to take days off work to do absolutely nothing and act ridiculously. Well, ok, I often act ridiculously but birthdays allow you to act ridiculously without the added side-eye that you get when you’re nearly 40 and acting ridiculously on a day to day basis. Birthdays are a free pass for excessive cake eating, lie-ins, duvet fort huddling, staying-up-all-nighting and it’s a great way to get people to play silly games with you.
Of all the publications and site that covered my infamous tea & consent blog, the weirdest one was the Daily Mail. I didn’t actually end up with a huge amount of traffic coming directly from it; but then it came out several months after it had first gone viral (viralled?) and perhaps by that point everyone was thoroughly sick of it (because it’s a virus. Ho Ho Ho.) I was actually at work when someone emailed me the link, and as I scrolled I felt a weird sense of euphoria mixed with nausea. Voice in my head: don’t read the comments. I mean, it was amazing – something I wrote has been picked up by one of the most read papers in the country! But, on the other hand, it’s the Daily Mail. I really dislike the Daily Mail don’t read the comments. As a non-straight woman, product of a single mother, left wing, cycling feminist – I am not exactly the sort of person who enjoys, or is enjoyed by, the Daily Mail don’t read the comments. I am the sort of person the Daily Mail hates. I would have thought were I ever to end up in the Daily Mail it would not be for anything good.
You may have noticed that blogday has been missing for a couple of weeks. I have no excuse for this – I wasn’t moving house (thank goodness – I’ve already done that 5 times since starting this blog) or on holiday or ill or anything special at all. Well, I had a few exams and was prioritising revision, but if I am brutally honest with myself the revision was a blessed excuse not to write.
I didn’t write because…I had nothing to say.
It wasn’t my first protest; although I have an anxiety disorder and struggle with large crowds, and a medical issue that means it is painful to walk for long distances I feel some things are important enough to be present for. This was one of those occasions.