All that fear and all that pressure…

I’m thinking we probably have some newcomers to the world of overwhelming anxiety. Panic is a no win kind of game, but there a few cheat codes. Since I’m an old pro and a real darling, I’m going to clue you in.

Full disclosure, none of these are a cure. Anxiety is a fucker and you should definitely seek professional advice if you are worried about your mental health. However, none of these calming hacks will do you any harm & so you can totally give them a bash. They might buy you a little temporary peace or even just knock the steam off your panic attack.

Gratitude Lists

I know that sounds wanky, but bear with me. Sometimes when I’m dealing with that grinding, slow burn type of anxiety this can be helpful. I go through things I’m grateful for in my head. It can be anything. Often I’ll do the simple I have a warm house, comfy bed, not being pursued by the mob type of thanks giving. Other times I’ll get specific about factors that mitigate whatever I’m worrying about. Either way it switches my head away from catastrophising for a minute & lets me catch a breath.

Slow Sips

If you’re wholesale panicking, slowly taking small sips from a bottle can help. It forces you to regulate your breathing, which can ease the physical symptoms of a panic attack. Thus giving you an opportunity to stave off a really bad episode.

Waves of Sound

Get yourself a sound machine app. Lying awake all night feeling scared is awful. Waves, thunder storms, pouring rain are all rather soothing. This can also be helpful via earphones if you’re feeling freaked out in a public space.

Waves on Scottish beach

Play it Out

On a similar note I like to prepare playlists of songs that I know will be good for certain situations. For instance I have calming bedtime tunes, waiting somewhere stressful songs, help me do these things that need to be done lists and so on.

Child’s Pose

I know yoga isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it does work for me. Child’s pose in particular is very helpful for chilling my body out and making my brain stop for a minute. You can access loads of good yoga vids on YouTube. It’s worth a try to see if anything helps you feel more ok.

Repeat Yourself

This probably sounds a little dumb, but it can be surprisingly effective. In moments of panic/fear simply repeating a reassuring phrase can help. I usually go for ‘you’re ok’. The repetition and saying the words out loud has an impact.

Text ‘you’re ok’ repeated on pink & green swirly background

Hide

This probably sounds even more daft. Again, it can work. Taking yourself to a small, safe space can reduce your body’s desire to flip out. I’ve taken myself into my tiny home office & given myself a minute many a time. Being somewhere that I know no one can see me or even know I am there is great for combatting rising panic.

Dark & Loud

When the world is really too much, blocking it out us the way to go. Find yourself a dark room, get comfortable and turn some beloved music up really loud. Assaulting the senses like this aids a positive disconnect from whatever is distressing you.

Write

This one obviously works for me. Getting the terror out of your head and onto the paper/screen is a lifesaver. Something about making those words concrete rather ever growing worries is hugely cathartic. Give it a try.

Ain’t no place like home…

We’re not going anywhere & lots of are finding much of our work has vanished. If like me your anxiety is spiralling distraction is just the ticket. So, here’s a bunch of things I have been enjoying. Hopefully they’ll help you pass some time.

I’ll kick off with excellent things you can stream. I’m new to Amazon Prime & not sure I’ll keep it, but I do recommend that you take advantage of the free trial to watch Hunters. It is all kinds of awesome. Set in the 70’s it follows a group of Nazi hunting crusaders. It has a slight Tarantino seasoning & lots of nods to the current political climate. Well worth a watch.

Hunters poster

Netflix is sheltering a few hidden gems at the moment. Wasteland is a revenge heist set in a distinctly unglamorous council estate. It’s clever & engaging. Hangman is a mostly unnoticed serial killer thriller. It features a decent turn from Al Pacino & enough sentiment to balance the gore. Finally there is Thanks for Sharing, a romantic drama/buddy movie about sex addicts. It’s much more uplifting than it sounds. Give it a bash.

I used another free trial to have a gander at Shudder. I used to find horror films too scary, but for some reason I have come around to them. As streaming apps go, shudder is disappointing, but I did find one cracker. Revenge sees an underestimated young women seek retribution against three gross men. It’s very full on, but has a satisfying ark (TW – Sexual Assault).

Revenge poster

The i player has both series of Shrill, which are definitely binge worthy. Based on the book of the same name by Lindy West it follows a women’s body liberation journey. Amazing watch for those on the Bopo path and brilliant primer for slim folks wanting to understand some of the fat experience. Oh & it is funny, sexy & smart.

Shrill poster

All 4 has a gorgeous new comedy by Mae Martin. It takes a bittersweet look at love & addiction. It’s funny & sweet with some proper touching moments. If you liked This Way Up (still on there if haven’t seen it yet) this is the one for you.

Two women dancing in neon lit room

You’ll have to pay a couple of quid, but The Kitchen on Sky Movies is worth it. It’s a gangster flick with a twist. Strong female leads all turning in tip top performances plus thrills & spills without a depressing end.

If you are all tv’d out it might be time to switch mediums. My new favourite relaxation method is getting in bed & firing up a podcast. I am currently obsessed with three. All Killa No Filla is fueled by the genius of stand ups Kiri Pritchard McClean and Rachel Fairburn, Both are hilarious & their woke take on the true crime genre is even better. If you’re interested in serial killers, but sick of the sensational & often misogynist approach these are your girls. Episodes consist of well researched information and random (unbelievably funny) sidebars. I eagerly await each new offering.

All killa no Filla logo

Myths & Legends does exactly what you would imagine. Each episode takes you through a different myth, folklore or legend filling in all the details you might have previously missed. If you’re interested in the origins of the stories you half know, give this a listen.

My newest discovery is Behind the Bastards. Journalist Robert Evans invites a guest to delve into the lives of histories biggest bastards. Intensely researched & surprisingly entertaining there’s even a some nonsense with machetes. What more could you want?

Instagram stay home logo on black background

We’d all love to see the plan…

Watching the seriousness of the corona virus sink into the general conscious has been a very strange experience. For the first time I am seeing healthy people get an insight into my life; en masse. It’s not pretty for anyone.

I want to preface this by saying this absolutely not an ‘I told you so’ (unless you’re a Tory, in which case, we did tell you so. Please do better). I really don’t want to see anyone suffering. I take no pleasure in the fact that a whole lot of people are about to share in the injustice & indignities that disabled people have grown accustomed to. It saddens me, but I suspect an awful lot of people are going to discover what we meant when we said this could happen to anyone. No matter how fit or successful, most of us are much closer to needing a safety net than we ever imagined before the fall.

Grlclb tories kill t shirt

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Anyone who’s ever had long term health issues already knows that most employers do not give a shit about their well being. The chronically ill are fully aware that our government couldn’t care less if we die. I know it is hard for able bodied, healthy people to grasp, but the powers that be are not concerned with making sure you can survive. It matters not that statutory sick pay isn’t enough to live on or that some won’t even qualify for it. Big business will prioritise their profit before your health. They’ll fire as many as needs be to plug a cash leaking hole. There will be backlogs because so many desperate people require help. The DWP & all the other faceless government machines will treat you like a subspecies. Boris & his buffoons don’t care if you can’t pay rent or feed your family. The underfunded NHS will buckle under the increased strain. They’re already telling us to prepare for our loved ones to die. Let’s be honest, most of the cabinet would be quietly delighted if the vulnerable are wiped out.

As always, those with the least will suffer the most. The rich will access tests & treatment that most of us cannot. They can afford to hole up in safety & comfort. They will profit from this global crisis. Private hospitals renting beds to the NHS, politicians insider trading, corporate bail outs for tax evading entities. It has to stop.

Reina sultan tweet

It’s already evident that the every day working people are relying on each other. The community spirit is admirable. I am so glad that people are looking after each other. However, it’s time we gathered that solidarity for change. Huge, impactful societal change. We must organise. In times of crisis it becomes clear that it’s the bottom of power tree that actually make the foliage bloom. Please let this radicalise you. Find the grassroots social movements in your area and get involved. Write to your representatives. Join rent strikes, sign petitions, vote when the times comes. Remember who stood with you during this pandemic. Let’s start elevating and rewarding the people we can trust to strengthen our safety nets.

Protest sign with capitalism kills more than corona virus

* you can buy this amazing t shirt here. (Not an ad)

My week (ish) in pictures…

It looks like we’re all going to be spending a lot of time at home over the next few weeks, so I’m glad I managed to do some interesting things whilst I could. I’m less pleased that I also did some really silly things.

I kicked off last week with a gas leak and the discovery that loads of my pipes needed to be replaced. That necessitated the gas bring turned off until the week was completed. The current weather is not ideal for cold showers, so it was shivery week. Tuesday adventures were exactly what I needed to perk me up. The addition of my bestie & niece made for even more rascalling. Two wee monkeys had a ball at soft play. The boy also obtained a new puzzle because auntie ly can’t help herself. Jigsaws are his new favourite thing and he is obsessed.

Toddlers on big blue slide

2yr old doing a jigsaw on the floor

Tuesday also saw me falling in love with the cutest jumpsuit that ever was. I originally spotted spotted this Asos beauty on a plus size legend’s insta. I loved it, but immediately thought, I can’t wear that. I couldn’t identify why I felt that way or what part of me I thought wasn’t good enough. Thus I decided to challenge the negative thought and order it anyway. I’m chuffed that I did. The minute I put it on I felt adorable. Once again proving that body positivity is an ongoing process. Every day is a body liberation school day.

Plus size woman in blue and white polka dot jumpsuit

Wednesday progressed with some cute nail art, a little project post it and a mid week movie. I was delighted to be seeing a grown up film; it’s been all cartoons of late. My sister and I had a giggle watching the largest bad boys offering. It gets a bit cheesy, but is still a lot of fun. If you loved the first two, you probably won’t regret giving this a watch.

Leopard print nail art

Cineworld Glasgow

Project post it

The tail end of the week was mostly taken up trying to secure a plumber to do my repairs & attempting to plough through my unread emails. In breaks from the tedium I made the mistake of giving Bronan some fishy cat soup. His fondness of this delicacy led to him weaving between my legs every time I entered kitchen. Ultimately, tripping me and really hurting my good knee.

Playful black and white cat

This is were I got foolish. I didn’t think a simple fall would cause any damage. So I kept on walking on the sore knee. I had cosy morning with the boy doing puzzles, reading stories & messing with insta filters. I also finally got all the work done on my pipes & enjoyed a steaming hot bath.

On Wednesday I was off to Edinburgh to be a guest on a podcast for the first time ever. I was both excited and scared to talk all things Bopo with the amazing Danni from The Chachi Power Project. We ended up having a really great natter, which will hopefully make an enjoyable episode. I stayed over as I was operating with two dodgy knees instead of my usual one. Of course I took advantage of the hotel stay to snap some pics of lounging ly.

By Thursday my knee had become an enormous puffy mess. I headed straight to the hospital when I got off the train. There I discovered how daft I had been to think I should just push through the pain. I had dislocated my knee in the fall. At some point it had worked itself halfway back into place. It had to be returned all the way to its correct position. I also did a little damage by walking on it, but it should heal if I rest & elevate. The X-Ray had another surprise for me, but I’ll fill you in on that later. For now, it’s feet up.

I hope you are all coping ok in the midst of the covid panic. I’m washing my hands 500 hundred times a day and doing my best to avoid unnecessary outings. Please take care of yourselves.

Maybe I’m amazed…

International Women’s Day is coming right up and that feels like a great excuse to celebrate women helping women. My March charities of the month are two awesome organisations doing amazing work for women in Glasgow.

SAY focus on providing semi supported accommodation for young survivors of sexual abuse who have no safe place to live. They also have a resource centre to provide practical & mental health support. Plus provide training for other orgs working with women who have experience sexual abuse and/or domestic violence. This is vital work. Escaping sexual abuse leads to homelessness for too many young women. Having a soft place to land can save and change lives. I am in awe of the work SAY is undertaking.

Glasgow Women’s library logo

I am equally impressed with the amazing Glasgow Women’s Library. This inspiring institution is the only accredited museum in the uk that is entirely dedicated to the lives of women. They maintain a wonderful lending library that is open to all. Whilst also running an exceptional education programme. Many of their courses and events are open to all. They also provide opportunities more tailored to specific groups. I can not shout loud enough about this inclusive, safe space. So often the achievements of women are ignored, it is refreshing to discover a place solely dedicated to recording our history.

SAY glasgow logo

These are two of many organisations working hard to support and uplift women. Women fighting to make the lives of our sisters better is a truly beautiful thing. Please give generously if you can.

Check my nails…

I’m finding all this stormy weather a bit of a style block. It’s hard to look put together in a gale. The desire to stay even somewhat warm & dry is cramping my sartorial creativity. I have therefore expressed my individuality on my finger nails.

The Baba helped me select a new sparkly polish & I used it to full effect on this shatter design.

I can never get enough of that glossy black polish.

The non stop downpour inspired me to get a little nautical. There is certainly more romance on a wild sea than a drenched city street.

All those grey skies called for a little colour.

If a little colour feels good, one might as well go for a lot of colour too.

I’ll be your mirror…

I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately. I’m preoccupied by the dynamics of my own romantic history, but also the societal norms. The things we tell ourselves, the advice we give and believe.

There are tropes I find easy to dismiss. I know you don’t need to love yourself to have others love you. Lots of warm, kind, excellent folk don’t like themselves all the time. Self doubt doesn’t make good qualities any less appealing. Obviously loving yourself is beneficial in countless ways. Whilst you’re working on it, you aren’t exempt from third party estimation.

I’ve never bought into ‘you’ll find them when you’re not looking’ thing. I found a few lovely people by actively looking. They might not have been forever, but they were good experiences. A couple I’ve kept around on a platonic basis. It’s always struck me as daft advice. The exact opposite of the accepted wisdom on goal achievement. We tell each other to put the work in when seeking career advancement, not to buy the first thing we like when making big purchases, practise hard to develop new skills and so on. If every other life enhancement requires careful consideration & applying ourselves why should we leave finding a life partner to chance. Sure, a meet cute is romantic; it’s just not all that realistic for most people. Very few things of value fall into one’s lap. Putting yourself out there appears sensible.

There are many more obviously problematic cliches. I’d love to bin that ‘if you can’t handle me at my worst’ nonsense. It lends itself way too easily to toxic situations. Everything happens for a reason is similarly flawed. You’ll drive yourself crazy with that one. Sometimes life is random & people are fuckwits, you cannot base decisions on chaos. Trust your gut is 50/50, lots of us have less than stellar instincts. Plenty of fish in sea, tonnes of utter garbage too. Love at first sight is usually just desire. We each have more than one soulmate and karma rarely gets involved in romantic entanglements. I’m sure you get my point. I’ve had my share of passion & I’m not buying the prosaic instruction.

If you can’t handle me at my worst, you probably have healthy boundaries in neon lettering

Or am I? I do find myself stuck on some well worn pearls. I can’t completely rid myself of the notion that how we feel about ourselves inform the partners we choose and how they treat us. Nor can I discount, we get the love life we believe we deserve. Perhaps these speak to my own experiences & mental struggles. I can see how that would make sense. I often think of myself as difficult. I’m uncompromising on many points, strident, damaged. I recognise I also have more endearing characteristics. Still, you could summarise most of my amorous affairs as complicated. Kind souls with simpler offerings rarely hold my attention for long. Out & out baddies are likewise swiftly disguarded. I learned early not to let anyone smash my heart to pieces. However, I will absolutely keep coming back if you make a riddle of slowly dismantling the pieces.

I think loving me is laborious, so I choose relationships with challenging dynamics. Can it really be that simple? I know my penchant for the fickle isn’t unique & many other unhelpful patterns exist. Believe me, taking all the blame isn’t a huge leap for me. On the other hand, wouldn’t establishing that as fact encourage the beliefs that started this? Confirming that one’s perceived maladjustment is the cause of failed romance seems to solidify those negative beliefs. That strikes me as sticky little trap.

I feel there has been a shift in the focus of romantic guidance we consume. These seemingly deeper insights are definitely well intended. I think we offer this advice because we want to protect people we care for & we believe it for self preservation. Having control is comforting. Thus it’s tempting to internalise blame. If you’re at fault, you can fix it. I’m just wondering if it all becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. When think we pick the wrong people and we accept the wrong behaviour, don’t we just lower our opinion of ourselves? I worry that just leaves a person open to more manipulation & ill treatment.

We accept the love we think we deserve in black lettering on pink background

It especially gives me pause because I see it most often aimed at women & people with mental health issues. It’s perplexing. On one hand introspection totally makes sense. On the other it plays into really unhealthy existing thought patterns. Basically I’m wondering if in the guise of taking responsibility we’re actually setting ourselves up to fail.

I’m in danger of going full Carrie Bradshaw with all the relationship pondering, but what do you think? Are there any wise (or not so wise) words that have had an impact on you?Carrie Bradshaw from s&tc with text ‘when it comes to life & love, do we accept our worst reviews’