Monday, 10 August 2015


Last night I took one of those stupid tests on Facebook that people randomly post. It showed just how stressed you are are. My % a mere 70. Meaning I guess that 2/3 of me is wildly stressed. At all times. This chimed with something a friend said to me the other week at dinner. He said that I love stress and will always find something to stress about. This both shocked and unnerved me for several reasons.

Firstly it is always hard to take a long cold look at yourself and see what everyone else appears to and you do not. Secondly, I am certain now that I suffer from anxiety and that the 'stress' I produce is my way of coping with my life. My need for control, my endless angst over the smallest things. Do you honestly think this is how I WANT to be? That someone wants to live in a state of constant anxiety and fretting?

Years ago I worked on some short films about teenage charities - who were all trying to win SKY's 'Make it Big' funding of one million pounds. While filming one day in Herefordshire, I was seated in a bar chatting with a psychologist. He went for a cigarette and when he returned I was speaking to my (then) boyfriend on the phone, asking that the flat be tidy when I returned home. As I chatted, I unwittingly ordered this guys notebooks etc into a neat pile. When I got off the phone he asked me, 'is order important to you?' He gestured to his tidy pile of belongings on the table, then noted my need for a tidy flat. Within minutes he deduced that my chaotic upbringing had made me an extremely anxious child - someone who needs order at all times, to maintain some control over a life that I had (at one point) felt I had no control over.

I grew up in permanent fear that like my Father, my mother would leave me. I shared a room with her until I was 10 and most nights would wake from nightmares and ask her the time. I have a distinct memory of asking my Mother the time over and over again - simply to check that she was still there.

As I aged, I constantly feared that I would be moved - my parents would re-marry and I would be expected to join a new family. Oddly when this happened, I was delighted. It was only when it broke down did the true anxiety begin. My separated families all refused to speak; they would fight over me and about me. I spent years quelling angry parents and trying to placate them all, just to get by. I had 3 sets of keys, and lived with my Mum's ex partner at weekends. I always carried a bag and moved from house to house from the age of 14.

To say it was stressful is an understatement.

Often I try and psychoanalysis myself - work out why I have stress in my life and what makes me anxious. Why am I always afraid? What of?

Have you ever sat around around a table with your oldest friends and wondered if they still like you? Have you ever expected every person you love to leave - so you almost goad them into doing so, just to prove your twisted hypothesis correct? Have you chosen careers in the most rejecting and competitive industries - when in reality you don't feel confident enough to succeed in them yet you are compelled to try?

Then don't judge me. I'm far from perfect. I wish to god I didn't feel as stressed as I do and that I could manage it better. Often I do. But for the majority of my life I've lived hand to mouth. I've picked incredibly unstable but deeply rewarding career paths. I always worry about how to pay my mortgage and bills - I don't have wealthy parents who will bail me out, there isn't an inheritance waiting to save me from all my financial stresses. Yet I won't compromise. I won't give up dreams just to get by. I believe life is for living - and that you should do what you love - that it isn't about the money. And yet, everything costs. Particularly having a family - so this anxiety is one about me wanting to provide and at the same time wanting to be true to myself.

Added to that, I'm not a secure person. I'm not someone who has oceans of confidence and the ability to believe in themselves at all costs. I know people like this; I have a cousin who I've always admired for his ability to sail through life, seemingly unhindered by negative thoughts or worry. Who gets on with things and they always work out. He is uncluttered by the angst that clouds my life, the fears that fog my brain. I don't have that faith in myself. Often I have felt there is a void in me, a blackness that cannot be filled. I once asked my Husband jokingly 'love me more,' and he replied, 'it would never be enough.'

If you think this is easy to write - it isn't. Often those who are the most gregarious, the loudest, the most fun are actually the shyest, the most introvert, the most scared. I'd say my personality masks all the fears that bubble below. The stomach churning angst that accompanies most of my steps. Of course, there are times when I do relax. Mainly with my children. With my oldest girlfriends, who make me feel secure and loved. With those who understand my insanity and who love me in spite of it. They are the truly brave because I'm not an easy package to take on.

I think, as I type at 5:25am, after a sleepless night, that I'm going to look into some cognitive therapies. A way out of this mire. A way to worry less: that I won't get another writing job, that I'll fail, that I was always doomed to fail, that I'm not talented, that I'm not as good a mother as everyone else, that I have somehow fucked up my life, that my Husband will leave.

One of these days I'm not going to worry at all. I'm going to just be.... Just like you.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

I love your ability to be so honest & your self awareness. I really struggle with being honest about my feelings & worries so we're not all 'just being'. We probably just don't share it.

Lots of luck in your journey to more peace x