July the 16th, the Monday before

July the 16th, a date that filled me with joy and anticipation, the day I were to move out of a shared flat into my own little heaven once again, a day I’ve been eagerly waiting for months… a day that caused me sleepless nights and severe anxiety, though it was all worth it in the end.

Monday, 9th of July, the week before the big date…

Morning. Another sleepless night. I drag myself out of bed, get ready as fast as I possibly can and head to work. The weather has been glorious, sun shining, birds chirping, but my stress has transformed everything into a melancholic Van Gogh painting.

I find a wrapped bottle of something on my desk… What is it? Who is it from?

Denise brought me rose water from Cyprus!!! I can’t believe she remembered.

I open it there and then and wash my hands with it. I almost cried. Sweet childhood memories of hot summer days back home, washing my giagia Stella’s face with it, spraying it in my face ’cause I loved the smell so much.

For a moment I forget all my troubles. I wish Denise knew what that meant to me. I needed that brief time of calmness and joy in the sea of worries that’s been drowning me for the last couple of weeks. I’m so lucky to have such wonderful friends.

12:45pm. I just came back to work after the fourth viewing in the last two weeks. I think I liked this flat the most out of the rest. It’s small, but not a studio, it’s just opposite work, is a bit over budget but it will do. I can make it work.

I saw a recipe in Greek on the fridge, hah he is Greek…

It will finally put an end to this endless anxiety and constant worry whether I’d have somewhere to move to next Monday.  But not just somewhere, somewhere I at least like.

The flats I’ve already seen were either too small, or too old, or no washing machine, or no oven (I have no idea how the person who lived there survived without an oven). I guess I can always compromise.

If I could make a decision… 

The excruciating pain of my paralysing inability to make a decision… Should I go for a studio flat and try and save more money or should I pay a bit more and live somewhere nice for the first time ever after I broke up with Costas, rather than a tiny studio or an old building or living with a flatmate again? What’s most important? Location or space? What should I do? Compromise and try to save or go for comfort for once? Treat myself instead? But Chris is right, it may be better to wait and find a place I really like, a place that feels like home.  What if I don’t find a place by next Monday, what if I end up on the street? What if am making the wrong decision? What is the meaning of life anyway? Aaaah

I haven’t slept well in weeks, I don’t have much of an appetite and I feel I may throw up any minute now.

I’m waiting for the agency to give me a call back and let me know whether the current tenant can move out of the flat by Monday, they reassured me that would probably be OK, but they have to check with him…

-We’ll let you know as soon as possible, in a couple of hours, he (the tenant) usually gets back to us quick.

2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm. I haven’t heard back from them.

I could barely concentrate at work, but thankfully managed to keep on top.

I went home, had something small to eat and went to bed. I couldn’t do anything else.

What if the tenant can’t move out on the 16th? Should I go for one of the flats I’ve already seen? Maybe the larger studio I liked but in an ugly, dirty building? Should I stay with Jamie for a while instead until I find somewhere I really like? But what will I do with my stuff? Maybe just go for the small, tiny one that is available now?

Pleasee stop, everything will be OK, I’m sure the agent will call first thing in the morning and tell you everything will be fine, go to sleepBut what if?

I barely slept.





How anxiety feels like…

June 2014

I woke up soaking wet in sweat, it happens a lot lately…

I’m flying home today, after 4 years, is that true? It can’t be true. I’m excited but paralysed of fear. Nervous, shaking, I feel I’ll throw up any minute now. ‘What if the plane crashes?’, ‘What if my head explodes?’, ‘What if I have an infection and my appendix blows up on the plane?’ The beast has awaken once more…

I used to love flying. Absolutely adored it. And now, now I’m dreading it so much I may faint at any point on my way to the airport.

I was to fly home with my ex-boyfriend. We were together for 5 years and he hasn’t visited my home country yet. I’ve booked a hotel in Paphos and planned daytrips  to show him around. But his passport got washed by accident, he needed a new one, the Greek Embassy in London is ridiculously horrible blah blah blah. I don’t think he ever had any desire to come with me anyway…

I still really wanted to go despite my severe anxiety attacks and my extremely, hit rock bottom confidence. I’ve put on weight, I was unhappy, I hated my body, my daily routine, I hated myself.  Costas and I argued a lot, I rarely felt appreciated and although I told him about my troubles he couldn’t help me. He was dealing with depression himself.

I did well to hide it from my family and my friends. I smiled, I joked as if everything was OK. But inside. Inside, the pain was real. I struggled almost every day, I was scared to do anything and my anxiety also developed to hypochondria. I often diagnosed myself with cancer. The pain was not just mental, it was physical. My breast hurt, my teeth hurt, my head hurt, everything hurt. My mind made my body hurt to convince me I was gravely ill.

That’s what anxiety does to you. It blurs your mind. It turns simple daily tasks into a nightmare, it makes you paranoid, it makes you scared to leave the room. It’s painful. Your head, your brain, your mind hurts. Everything hurts. It’s noisy, never quiet in there and that drains you. It sucks the life out of you.

But I made it. I made it home. And I ended up staying three weeks instead of two and had the best time ever. A friend’s wedding, my sister’s birthday, days at the beach, daytrips around the island, my sister and her friend taking part in a TV music show, severe sunburn. A three week ray of sunshine in my grey, miserable life.

That was the very first time I realised I was in a dead end relationship and I also needed help. But right now the only one who could really help me was myself. Or I thought that nobody else would because I did not want to ask for help from anyone. ‘Who can I ask? I don’t have any close friends in Southampton and I don’t want to worry my family or my friends.’

After I went back I was in tears daily, fighting with my worst enemy, myself to put these irrational thoughts aside and get out of this dark hole.

And I made it. I joined the workplace choir, I started exercising and improved my diet and I later joined SingNow choir which was a turning point for me. I met my best friend, my Sheba, I’ve made great friends and that’s what opened my eyes to the beauty and love I missed out of for years because I was told to ‘be careful what you tell others about us’, ‘lose weight’, ‘you can’t do this’, ‘that’s not good enough’.

I still had bad days.

Anxiety and depression never go away. They are always there at the back of your mind and they make their appearance again when you least expect it, when you are already down on your knees, crying your eyes out, because life got too much again…

After the breakup and my aunt’s death I was in denial and avoided even the tiniest opportunity to deal with the demons that tormented me for years. I was out all the time, drinking, travelling, avoiding any time with myself. I was not used to being on my own, let alone on my own with two of my least favourite friends residing in my brain.

It finally caught up with me about a year ago. It slowly started in November but it reached its worst point in January. I couldn’t eat, I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t want to see anyone. I quit SingNow and stopped going to the workplace choir, I  turned down any invitations from friends. I isolated myself from everyone. Although I was scared. Terrified. Daily things stressed the hell out of me, getting dressed, making dinner. I often skipped eating completely. I was not hungry anyway.

‘What if I die? Nobody will miss me. At least it will put an end to this pain.’

After I’ve written about it, I pushed, no, I forced myself to get out of it. I slowly crawled out of the hole, towards the light… I re-joined the workplace choir and I went home for a week in April which helped immensely. I didn’t have to worry about trivial things I worried when I was on my own, like ‘Have I left the iron on?’, ‘What if someone breaks in whilst I’m asleep alone at home?’ (I lived on the third floor, highly unlikely).

I decided to take part in the One Sound show, although I still suffered from anxiety attacks. It was different this time around. The year before I was excited and I couldn’t wait, the pros of the denial stage, you feel fearless… for a while.. but this time I was terrified. I cried when I went home after the big rehearsal. Seeing my SingNow friends after months, hugging me, asking me how I was, it was so overwhelmingly beautiful. I was worried even going to the rehearsal, thinking they may hate me.

The show was incredible although I struggled the whole time. I smiled but in my head the noise was louder than the noise of 300 choir singers backstage. Deafening.

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I now feel much better. With the help of my incredible, loving, caring colleagues, friends and family but mostly myself I made it to the other side.

There are still times or days I panic and worry about the most meaningless, little things or I feel down but I now know how to help myself get out of it. I know how to cope with it because I never want to hit rock bottom again.

Writing about it, music, yoga, mindfulness, finally loving and accepting myself, talking through it and lots of love from my nearest and dearest are my remedies.

Asking for help and sharing your irrational, crazy or unbelievably sad and depressing thoughts it’s not easy, it may well be the hardest thing of all to do, but it’s the most liberating feeling I’ve ever experienced.

Next time you see someone smile or laugh, do not assume they are OK. They may be fighting a demon inside… This is a snap of me from 2014, at my worst. Would anyone guess from this what was happening in my fucked up mind?

Smiling but dying inside

I hope one day mental illness is taken as seriously as any other illness and nobody is ashamed or scared to share their story.




4 months ago… the start of a (then) new life…

How life can change so much in such a short space of time???

That was in my mind for a long time and still is… (and little did I know how much more it could and did change).

The next day after we broke up, I decided to get organised. Get out, get a job and start thinking about my new life. My relationship pushed me away from the few friends I had and it was now time to get back to the social person I was before I let this relationship change me, make new friends and start building a life on my own.

I still had bad days, I felt I didn’t want to do anything else but stay home and cry… I lost my aunt (I’d never in a million years imagined I’d live what I lived that horrible week), I lost my partner… and I was dealing with unemployment (we all know how frustrating that can be) but I pushed myself as much as I could. LESSON 13. There is always worse. But that doesn’t mean your problems are not important for you and in my own little world dealing with everything that happened was and is not easy.

And I managed to get a temp job within 3 days!!!

Sheba was there for me throughout everything I went through. She was and is my guardian angel.

My choir family was there for me too. They all made me laugh and cheered me up. And unexpectedly, two choir friends supported me through this too.

Thank you guys for supporting me at a very difficult time in my life, not many would have done for someone they don’t really know that well.

After a couple of weeks, I managed to get a job back at the Uni, although I’d said I’d never go back. LESSON 14- NEVER SAY NEVER ( this lesson I learned over and over the following months). 

I felt I was back home as soon as I walked in when I went for my interview. I needed a job I could learn how to do quickly, I couldn’t face a brand new challenge at this point in my life. I needed stability and time to heal...  (also Sheba still works there, which is a bonus). So I went for it.

And I am glad I did. My managers and colleagues have been very supportive and understanding through all of this… and there have been times it was hard being at work but they supported me every single time… 

After a month I felt my life got back on track… my ex and I still lived together until the end of our contract 2 months later (which proved extremely difficult and painful, especially a month later, it will make sense after reading my next post), but I had a new job, at a workplace which felt and feels like home, working with lovely colleagues, chatting all day, having a laugh. I started making new friends, going out more… having fun…

And then something unexpected happened… again!!! ‘3 months ago’ coming next…


4 months ago… part 4… the end of my life as I knew it…

24th of October, 2015. Saturday…

I spent all day keeping busy, getting ready to come back home, get a job, fix my relationship…

I managed not to cry the whole day, but after saying goodbye to my sisters at the airport, I broke down. I cried a lot on my own that day at the airport. That’s when I realised that I can’t control my feelings any more. I still to the day can’t. I overreact when I’m in pain because there is still so much pain inside. And overreacting is never good, I’d come to regret that later on…

My ex came to pick me up from the airport. I knew the moment I saw him that something bothered him. It took us a long time to get back home from the airport (bloody roadworks!) and I had this horrific headache so we spent most of the time in silence.

As soon as I went home, I had a shower and tried to sleep. I wouldn’t have had a good night sleep for weeks after that…

25th of October, Sunday…

I woke up early, I couldn’t sleep much anyway… I unpacked everything, did some cleaning and then he woke up.

And we had a chat. He wanted us to break up. I just broke down into tears (I do that a lot since then). I knew the relationship was not going well, I knew we needed time apart… I knew I agreed with him.

Lesson 10. Being in a relationship is not easy… Being honest and openly discussing everything what worries you with your other half is vital… 

We needed time apart to find ourselves again, to become who we used to be before the relationship and the circumstances changed us and made us unhappy … Before I stopped being myself, open, chatty, confident…

LESSON 11. Your happiness does not depend solely on another person. Your happiness comes from you. Before you get into any relationship or if you are in a relationship, make sure you have separate lives and you are happy with your life regardless of that person. Being in a relationship should make you happier but it shouldn’t be your only source of happiness!

I felt I lost the ground under my feet… I was in grief, unemployed and single… My life as I knew it had ended in minutes. LESSON 12. Don’t take anything for granted. Your life can change in a second!

But I put my strong face on and the same night I went out with Shebz to a choir social and I tried to have as much fun as I could, because I thought life is too short, I needed to get out and not stay at home, cry and be miserable… Life goes on no matter what…

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