All cultured out….

So I had a weekend of ‘culture’ in London this weekend… i’ve decided (well i think i already knew, but i’ve confirmed) that i am really not great at museums. I would say my attention span has probably remained the same since the age of 2 and therefore whilst i am interested in stuff, i soon lose the will.

One time (off topic but it illustrates my point), i went to visit a friend who i used to live with at Uni…his girlfriend decided we would have a tour of London’s art gallerias including the Tate and the national portrait gallery. I’ve never understood paintings…i mean they are either so abstract that they don’t mean anything…or they are so realistic you may as well have taken a photo. Don’t get me wrong this attitude is entirely because I can’t paint and i don’t understand art so i’m jealous, but even so i’m not much into looking at paintings. Anyway…we spent an obscene amount of time looking at portraits and i was trying so hard to at least try and look amused but to no avail. The final straw was when i was standing looking at a picture of William Shakespeare and this girl came up to me and said ‘That’s Shakespeare you know, he’s a famous playwright’. A) It clearly said William Shakespeare under the painting and B) I know who bloody Shakespeare is!! Clearly i look even more stupid than i thought! After that i realised it was futile even trying to look interested,  i thought i may as well live up to the girls expectations…i bought myself a cosmo magazine and sat in the corner of the gallery and read it.

Anyway back to this weekend…we went on a tour of the Houses of Parliament. it was nothing like i expected…i’m not sure what i was expecting really but i kinda thought it’d all be more modern. I know this is ridiculous given the building but all you see on TV is the PM question time stuff.

Stuff i learnt about HoP:

  • The PM Question time room is teeny tiny compared to how big they make it look on the TV
  • The public can view PM Qs and there is a dedicated gallery for them
  • They had to put a glass screen in front of said gallery cos Tony Blair got a face full of flour one time
  • The Queen has a giant room especially for her to get dressed in that she only uses once a year (What a waste)
  • It is freakishly old and traditional and they do weird stuff like voting by running into little rooms when a siren goes off

After HoP the others wanted to go to Churchill’s War Rooms…i decided two museums was too much for one day so went off on my own to find coffee and read my book (yep…living on the edge). London on a Saturday is a bad time to try and find a nice quiet coffee shop. In my desperation to escape the crowds, i found myself in a cocktail bar on a boat. Obviously all ideas about coffee went out the window at that point…. It was lovely…admittedly I looked a bit like a loser by myself…even more so when the barman asked me who i was meeting and i was like….ermmmm.

The next day it rained. A lot. We went to Bletchley park…which is mostly outside. Highlights included:

  • Realising that flip flops are inappropriate footwear for walking around outside in the rain
  • Nearly falling over on several occasions due to above footwear
  • Having my first afternoon tea…with 3 boys
  • Realising that i don’t much care for afternoon tea… sandwiches without crusts just don’t do it for me, and whoever thought cucumber and bread were a good combination is a nutter
  • Seeing all the cool stuff from the Imitation Game film
  • Practising my coding skills
  • Finding a Costa when i thought all hope was lost

So there we have it, my cultural weekend in London. I think i have done my bit for the year.

Clarity, Creativity and Consideration

Apparently these are the three things you need to have to be assertive. as opposed to aggression, passivity and manipulation…

I went on an assertiveness course once and despite being very skeptical about the whole thing it was actually quite interesting. Apparently the first hurdle is learning to love and respect yourself (i feel this may be my first and last hurdle) and then make your feelings known in a clear and constructive way (helps if you can formulate verbal sentences quickly…)
i enjoyed the course…not only because i got to shout at someone and call them stupid but because it made me realise that there are people in the world who think vaguely – emphasis on the vaguely, in the same way as me.

I spend a lot of my time in meetings sitting in silence getting annoyed at stuff…until eventually i explode. usually internally, meaning i run off and cry somewhere..this is not only unproductive but it makes me feel shit (you think i’d learn). The alternative is that i go off on a rant at someone and throw my toys out of the pram…equally unproductive…and people think i’m a twat. Assertive lady tells me this is normal…i find that a bit hard to believe, but i humored her and enjoyed a bit of role play with my fellow nutters. The role play included attempting to push over one of my colleagues and carrying a tray of cups across a room whilst everyone shouted at me. I also had to pretend to be really aggressive and shout at the course leader and tell her she was stupid and talking rubbish (This proved to be extremely satisfying, and i worry i could get too into it). Having discussed this with the instructor afterwards, we concluded that i am probably quite an aggressive person (not sure i’m happy with this description) but that i aim my aggressive solely at myself and consequently feel generally shit all of the time.

I thought i’d learnt some stuff when i came out, about how not to take shit from people… but the following convo probs suggests otherwise:

Annoying Man: I’ve just bought a new car
Me: oh really, what kind?
Annoying Man: oh you won’t understand, but its big, noisy and red
Me: ooo red, i like red

‘oo red, i like red’ – REALLY??!!

Don’t let anyone EVER dull your sparkle!

Who decides what is professional? Who decides what is deemed as acceptable dress in a given environment? Why do people just aimlessly follow the pre-defined ‘norms’ all the time and not question them?

When i go into a business meeting and everyone is wearing suits, i don’t look at them and think ‘oh you lot look very smart and professional’, i look at them and think ‘why are you all wearing the same clothes?’ The fact that they are all wearing the same dull grey/black colours makes them all blend together – maybe that is the point. Don’t get me wrong some people look fab in smart ‘officey’ type clothes, but some just look plain uncomfortable. I would much rather people were allowed to express themselves and show of a bit of their personality. Usually the people i find easiest to talk to in meetings are those that dare to be different – probably because turning up wearing bright orange leggings (not literally…altho that would be ace!) is a bit of an icebreaker in these situations…ha!… but you see my point. I tried the whole suit thing for a bit when i first started working, but aside from feeling freakishly uncomfortable, they are bloody expensive and i struggle with conformation for the sake of it.

Take the shoe issue for example. i don’t wear shoes much and some people think this is weird. I accept that from a health and safety point of view there are some dangers to this and sometimes shoes are a necessity…but flip-flops are accepted in most cases and dropping an object on your foot when you are wearing flip-flops is definitely not advisable. I can assure you i have sustained considerably more injuries as a result of wearing shoes than i ever have in barefeet, i think most people would admit to this too if they’re honest. Health and safety aside tho…. i have been told that i don’t look professional without shoes on… didn’t you know showing your feet makes you stupid?

I got on a commuter train to London once and i immediately felt out of place among all the men in suits with their laptops and financial times. i stressed myself out for a few minutes thinking about how i would never fit in in the business world. My white blouse and black blazer hinted at professionalism, but the shiny tube pants, bright orange watch and ridiculous nails sorta ruined it. After a while tho i realised that actually however hard society might push you to try, it is impossible to hide your personalityimagescompletely…Yeh so there was the stereotypical ‘Business Man’ in an immaculate suit reading the financial times and periodically jabbing at his blackberry, but there was also the slightly older guy who’d obviously done this journey a million times before and was struggling just to stay awake, the young guy who’d obviously had one too many the night before and got dressed in a hurry, and the casual hippy type who was wearing a loose fitting linen suit and fabulously bright stripy socks. I often think that if people were able to be completely themselves all the time the world would be far more interesting.

My point is, as long as people are not harming others, they should be able to express their personality all the time. The most attractive, confident and professional people are the ones that are comfortable and happy in their own skin.

Everyone is unique, everyone has their own sparkle. This is what makes the world fabulous.

Do something that scares you

So i’ve always thought its good to do things that scare you… push you out of your confront zone every now and again. The problem is, when you suffer from anxiety, most things are scary and you get a bit bored of it. Todays activity included singing in front of billions (well it felt like billions) of people at a community day in a park.

I have been having singing lessons since january – N bought me some for my birthday cos i was too much of a wimp to actually book them myself. I used to sing a lot when i was little… i was in all the school productions and i loved it. When i was 15 i moved to a school which was much bigger… you couldn’t join in with school productions unless you auditioned and it was only the loud kids that got noticed generally. Consequently I’ve never sang since. My biggest fear is that people will tell me i can sing when i can’t, and i’ll just make a massive twat of myself, so it took be a while to get up the courage to go for my first lesson. I now have lessons every wednesday and although i’m still not overly convinced i can actually sing, i really enjoy it. There is a lot more to it than i’ve ever imagined… most of my half an hour lessons are taken up with breathing exercises and warm ups. Warms which include having to make a fool of myself on a regular basis… yawns, sirens, and an assortment of other weird noises. Despite feeling like an idiot you can really feel the difference tho and i think i have got better.

Anyway today i agreed (or was forced) to sing at an open mic event a park in Derby. It was like a community day and there were loads of stalls and stands etc. I sang “Skinny Love’ by Birdy and given that it was the first time i’ve sang in front of people in 15 years and the first time ever singing into a microphone… i think it went ok. Obvs learning the words was a step to far tho and i had to have them up on a music stand in front of me – but you can’t have everything! For the first few lines i wanted to die…but as i got into it it was SOO much fun! i kinda wanted to do it all again afterwards….i think that feeling might wear off a bit tho.

What annoys me is that people always say ‘the more you do it, the easier it gets’. For me that is definitely a load of rubbish..i m sure next time i will be just as scared, if not more so as i will place even more expectation on myself. I will always force myself to do stuff that scares me and most of the time i’m really glad. The way i see it, yeh you may risk making a fool of yourself doing something you are not comfortable with (even if you do, people will get over it in like 10 minutes) or you could absolutely love it and feel great. i know this is easy to say and believe me, i’ve got so angry with people who’ve said this to me before, but seriously if the depressed girl with anxiety disorder can do it…anyone can 🙂

But what would you do if you were attacked by a dinosaur?

So if you haven’t worked it out by now…i am slightly mental…. By that i mean i have to take medication to be ‘normal’…well my version of ‘normal’ anyway. I have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and depression. This basically means, if something completely undramatic happens like i get lost while i’m driving the car…i freak out and think the world is guna end and i’m going to die (not literally, but you see my point). It all started when i was 14 and there was an incident with a basketball, a wall and my head (long story leading to temporary agoraphobia and a fear of basketballs) but I only decided to do something about it a few months ago…

The docs gave me tablets for depression, but they told me to have cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for the anxiety part…that was hilarious. I was expecting to have to wait ages for an appt but apparently when you write ‘i don’t want to kill myself but sometimes i’d like to be dead’ on your form…they get all stressy about it… so i got seen straight away. On my first appt i was terrified…mostly because it was in Swad which is not somewhere i go often and consequently i had no idea where i was going. The place reminded me of some kind of secret society (not that i am cool enough to belong to any secret societies…) because it was an unmarked building and i had to knock on the door until someone came to let me in…i half expected him to ask me for a password… The inside of the building was equally as uninspiring… i assumed it had to be neutrally decorated so it didn’t offend anyone…but when i asked my therapist he just said it was like that cos he just hadn’t decided to decorate it.. i told him, it was depressing and that this was probably counter productive…maybe that’s the point?

In the first session the CBT man asked me loads of stuff about my family and my life and whether anything bad had ever happened to me etc…it hasn’t and consequently he made me feel much worse for being so chuffing sad all the time. Then he said he was going to show me a panic attack and proceeded to hyperventilate in front of me… i didn’t know whether to laugh or run away screaming. He said it was important to know how to recover quickly from a panic attack. I said i knew exactly how to recover but that i’d rather not have them in the first place. He seemed to ignore that detail and decided I wouldn’t be cured until i’d made a twat of myself in front of him. Consequently i was forced to make myself hyperventilate until i went dizzy. He seemed to think this would be scary but as i pointed out to him, panic attacks are scary because they are uncontrollable…faking a panic attack is completely in my control…so i question his logic slightly. He also drew me lots of weird diagrams to explain how my brain worked… apparently my brain is sensitive to emotion or something..i forget…but the good news is, he assures me i am not a Psychopath – i’m pretty sure i knew that already.
One of my issues is self confidence and the fact that i don’t like myself very much. CBT man asked me to put myself on a line between Hilter and Nelson Mandela. I put myself in the middle. He then asked me to put my boyfriend on the same line…i put him in the middle again but a bit closer to Mandela. CBT man asked me why i’d chosen these places. I said it was cos Hilter and Mandela were at the extremes of society and i consider me and N to be average. CBT man was quite shocked by this and said….’but Hilter killed millions of Jews….do you not like your boyfriend?’ I didn’t really know what to say to that…. i guess he was trying to say that Hilter was more ‘bad’ than Mandela was ‘good’?
Anyway this went on for 8 weeks…during which time we covered topics such as; my inability to mind read, how to get over my fear of driving different cars (solution – steal N’s more often), how not to hide in toilets instead of speaking to strangers, what to do if you get attacked by a dinosaur, how CBT man is bad at Karaoke and how not to have a meltdown when you don’t get a promotion. Despite my initial skepticism and the sarcastic ramblings above, i actually think the CBT worked. I have recently developed the ‘fuck it’ approach to life. I am less anxious in most situations – although networking is still a waste of time, largely due to the fact that i really don’t need anymore friends and i don’t see the point of small talk (I think this is just my personality tho…and i’m not sure i can change that….).

Soo I would recommend CBT to everyone, apart from anything else its nice to be able to cry and rant at someone for an hour a week without them looking really scared and awkward the whole time. CBT man even said to me once ‘i like it when you cry, it means we are getting somewhere’.
I didn’t think the therapy was helping at first…not sure i did at all until i’d finished all 8 sessions, but then i found myself doing things i couldn’t do before, and was like ‘ooo i did that!’ So yeh thanks CBT man, for an entertaining and productive 8 weeks.

I would rather break my fingers than play netball…

So my latest rant is all about sport, exercise and other healthy stuff. I’ll be honest i would be lying if i said i was even the slightest bit ‘sporty’ but i don’t want to end up a fat old women with heart problems so i force myself to exercise when i can.

PE at school was always a sore point for me. I generally hated it with a passion and would go as far as saying in some cases it was verging on child abuse. Take Netball for example…girls are expected to play netball because apparently they are too delicate to play rugby (I am far from a feminist but this is bollocks). Anyway Netball is quite possibly the most irritating game i have ever played in my life! My PE teacher spent the majority of each lesson screaming at me for being in the wrong place, not pivoting with the ball properly and generally just being shit. Time she could have spent with those people who actually enjoyed playing and wanted to learn – I will always feel guilty for that. As i pointed out to her on several occasions i disliked Netball and no amount of her shouting at me would make me understand the point of Netball. There was also the problem of catching…invariably when a ball comes towards me, my first reaction is not to catch it but to protect myself from it…consequently i just splayed out my fingers to protect my face….ball hit fingers….and very often ball broke fingers. Subconsciously i think i probably did this deliberately….yes that is how much i hated Netball! I WOULD RATHER BREAK MY FINGERS THAN PLAY NETBALL!!

Then there was gymnastics…where to start with gymnastics… When i was 5 or 6 my friend started a gym club…me being me, i wanted in on this, so off i went. My gym career started and ended in my first class. The instructor told us all to lie on the floor in a line. He then came over to me and decided it would be a good idea to pick me up by my legs. On balance i think he realised this was in fact a terrible idea when i started screaming hysterically and kicked him in the face. As a result of this, my mum was told it would probably be better if i didn’t attend gym club anymore. I was clearly not at all distraught by this, in fact the whole experience had instilled panic in me every time the word gymnastics was mentioned. This did not deter my teachers however. I was still forced to participate in gymnastics in school PE lessons. I remember one lesson vividly. There were various types of apparatus set up around the room…one of which was a narrow boxy thing – i think the technical term is horse. We were forced to line up in front of the horse and when it was our turn climb up and do a forward roll on it…bearing in mind it was only about 30cm wide. Not only did this seem incredibly pointless, dangerous and quite frankly stupid, it terrified me…It clearly terrified others too – at least 3 kids cried that lesson! I told the teacher i didn’t want to do it…she just laughed at me and marched me to the front of the queue so i had to do it in front of everyone. I will always hate her for that. Anyway i did it. It taught me nothing, i hated it and I became more determined than ever to never be forced to do anything i didn’t want to do ever again. So much so, that the next time we had gymnastics, i hid in the store cupboard on a crash mat…she came and found me obviously…whereupon i informed her i would not be participating in gymnastics ever again and she couldn’t make me. She just laughed and said she could. I said “I’m pretty sure you are not allowed to physically force me do anything i don’t want to do”. She got the point and never mentioned it again. Anna 1 Gymnastics 0!

Soo i have probably made myself sound like every teacher’s worst nightmare but i’d like to think now i’ve grown up a bit and moved on from ‘PE’ lessons i have a bit more of an appreciation for sport and exercise. Sadly i don’t think this is the case at all. The difference is, that now i get to chose what i do and when… and there is no way in this world I will ever play netball, basketball or any other irritating team game where there is a chance i will be continually shouted at for being crap.

Now i have entered the world of ‘exercise classes’. created largely i suppose for the working populations who feel pressured into doing some kind of exercise but have neither the time or inclination to think up their own. Having tried many of these, i am frustrated to find that most, if not all, require some kind of coordination or dance ability. I posses neither of these. i am especially bad when forced to parade around in front of a mirror… quite why i need to see myself looking like a complete twat whilst attempting some unnecessary aerobic style dance i will never know. The problem is…cos i’m a weirdo, the more i try and fail to remain coordinated the angrier i get…and then i give myself a panic attack…which frankly is quite counter-productive. The worst time was when i went to a STEP class… the instructor was a fat old man…which no offence, didn’t exactly fill me with much confidence from the outset. his instructions were so hard to follow and the moves so unnecessary i got so annoyed i wanted to walk out. The only reason i didn’t was because i didn’t want to leave my friend…she found the whole thing hilarious tho and said she was worried i was going to kill him at one point. Yeh so anyway i’ve never been back to step. Spin is my favorite. Lovely simple, painful spin. I am totally fine with intense cycling to the point where you feel like you are going to be sick (i like pain…told you i was weird)… but also you don’t have to dance, there is little to no coordination required and afterwards you feel like you’ve actually achieved something.

so you are probably getting the idea from this that i don’t like dancing much…actually that’s not true…I have in fact performed in a dance show in front of hundreds of people..yep really. Apparently i am ok with dancing after wine, and when it involves a lot of draping myself over chairs in my underwear looking provocative.. Just to clarify it was Burlesque, i am not a stripper.