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  1. Recently I've started a huge venture for me online, doing Youtube videos or streams and cosplays etc. and I've just started earning a little money from doing it from my Patreon account. You'd think this would give me a huge confidence boost, right? Wrong. As soon as the first pledges came through and people actually wanted to pay a little to see some of the extras in the shoots and VLOGs etc I tried to quit. I messaged Ben that I was going to take the sites down. He was a bit confused but reminded me that I've done this before with my book and then alter with my streams. As soon as things start to get good, I throw it all away. So I sat down and tried to understand why I would get this huge PANIC to just close down every social media account I have and live forever in my house under my fluffy blanket, eating cheese and drinking Lara's Ribena cartons. Then it hit me: I feel like a fraud. I don't feel like I'm good enough at any of the things that I do to earn anything from them. I don't feel like people should have had to pay for my book that took a year to write, or to see any of the hours and hours of work I did on my clay modelling, photo restorations or my cosplays or my Twitch streams or my Youtube videos. I don't feel worthy enough. That's why I quit my Twitch really, it wasn't time. That was an excuse. Once I got Affliate status and people could pay I quit because I didn't feel it was worth anything. That's why I took my book off Amazon once it got to 3000 downloads and it's why I always sabotage everything that I do. In case I disappoint someone from it. I'm fine with other people's work, but when it comes to my own, I am my worst damn critic. With great hair. Can't even begin to recall just how many things I've stopped myself from doing because I don't feel like I deserve that kind of happiness. Even as a young girl I could never imagine having a life past my teen years, not in a suicidal way in the slightest but when I looked forward it was always black, I didn't feel like I deserved one. Ha. Like I would just cease to exist after that point! it's only recently that I've been able to decode my own brain like this. No bloody wonder I've got anxiety now. The hardest part of figuring this out was then realising that the only way to stop it would be to face it head on, keep everything I'm doing and push through. I've had a really long fortnight of anxiety as people begin to up their pledges or message me and tell me they love my cosplays, photos or videos and I've had to stop myself from legging it and becoming a hermit with one of those Gandalf hats and a long pipe with nothing in it because I don't smoke. I've never sweated so much in my life and I workout 4 times a week. My stomach is now a mess and I'm off to the doctors to deal with neck tension and tinnitus because given how high my anxiety has been, it's all come back with vengeance! I'm assuming this can be quite common amongst others with depression or anxiety and if you've dealt with this and carried on then fucking well done, it really isn't easy! I gave up creating things before I even started my adult life because of it. So I've got a few years of catch up to do now, ignoring that annoying little bastard in my head and just going for it. So if you see me around, be kind. I'm broken. Have a great week, guys. NX
  2. One step forward, one step back. After last week's thoughts, positive thinking and planning a course of action to recovery, I hit a stumbling block. Which is annoying because, even when I'm doing so well and forcing myself to move forwards, the smallest setback feels like being hit by a ton of bricks... I was in Liverpool for a stag do - a college friend and former work colleague was having his big blowout. Friday and Saturday morning went by without drama I'm pleased to report. Many drinks were had, much mini-golf was played and a slight hangover inevitably followed. But, with all the drinking, I mistakenly thought it would be a good idea to skip my meds. For those that don't know, I'm currently on some anti-depressants to help reduce anxiety, acting as a crutch to aid the cognitive behaviour therapy I'm currently undergoing. I think if I had been at home, or somewhere quiet, it would have gone without incident. But no, I was in a busy, bustling city and my anxiety was very keen to remind me of that! Dinnertime came about and we went for a meal over the road. Something didn't feel right and I could myself getting more and more worked up about nothing. A two minute walk away from where I was staying turned me from a calm, collected individual - ready for another night of boozed up debauchery - into a sweating, itching, fidgeting wreck. I tried to get a couple of beers down me to calm me down, but the off switch was nowhere to be found. I tried and I tried and I tried.... It's so unbelievably frustrating to sit there, slowly feeling yourself losing control and not be able to do a damn thing about it. I became the very stereotype of mental health problems - someone smiling on the outside, trying to have a good time, whilst on the inside the walls were closing in. After about 40 minutes, I cracked and had to excuse myself. Fresh air, and a welcome wave of relief rushing through my body but, from that point on, I couldn't stop berating myself. Why? Why are you like this? What is wrong with you? Nothing sums up anxiety like this. In the heat of the moment, I think I'd prefer to be in a vat in the garage... The night went on with the rest of the guys continuing on their crawl. I forced myself repeatedly to get back out and meet them somewhere, but each time felt completely and utterly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people on the streets and the noise. Every time I felt on the edge of an attack, I'd have to leave the group and try again later. In the end, I decided to just call it a day. On one hand, I was happy that I'd forced myself to keep on trying, but at the same time disappointed that I hadn't been able to see the night through, and that I'd actually let my closest friends see that part of me. But it's not all bad. I survived the weekend. I spent time walking with my worst triggers and lived to tell the tale. It's encouraged me to go back and continue my research into mindfulness and meditation. No matter how bad things feel, they will always get better. It's hard to remember that ,mid-attack, but that's where mindfulness helps. It creates space between yourself and your anxiety, being able to take a step back and calm yourself - instead of getting caught up in the whirlwind. I know those guys read this, one even going so far to tell me that he could completely relate to everything I had written previously, so - thanks for understanding. And thanks for the great weekend, it was a blast. To those that have experienced similar moments, it gets better. I promise. My door is always open for a confidential chat. Don't suffer in silence. Don't worry if you don't know what to do, I've spent a little time in worried shoes, I wore them out through walking, It wasn't any use, Don't worry if you don't know what to do. Frank Turner - Don't Worry
  3. Today I had an epiphany. "Nothing in this world can torment you as much as your own thoughts.” I tend to spend so much time in day to day life, trying to control the things around me. Trying to reduce their impact on my psychological well being and ultimately, trying to reduce the possibility of things going wrong. It never really works. Sure, some days are better than others, but they always come at a cost. An opportunity missed out on, so I can feel safe and secure in my bubble of self-contentment. Like many people say, "you are your own worst enemy." Every time you give a little ground to avoid anxiety, you take a step further down the slope. The more you avoid, the steeper the slope becomes, and the further you find yourself from the top. Today I decided enough was enough. It's time to let go of that control, because we are never truly in control. It's a goal we chase but never really achieve. So why add additional stress? And you know what? I feel better already. I don't expect the feeling to last all that long. My anxiety is so deeply rooted, ingrained, that it's become second nature and involuntary. “Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.” I'm going to start doing things I want to do, rather than the cop out things that make me feel comfortable and safe. Being given the role of Ember Community Manager has opened so many doors for me, and I really want to create something magnificent with it. It will no doubt push me to being a nervous wreck, but perhaps if I can make the small steps now, the bigger ones won't Not one for baby steps, I'm diving straight into the deep end by signing up to volunteer at this summer's TwitchLDN event. I'll be on the SpecialEffect stand, spreading the word about the amazing work that they do. So if you see me there, please do say hi. It will have taken me a lot effort to get to that moment and I guarantee I'll appreciate it! You might even learn something! I'm going to try and travel more this summer with my partner, another key trigger for my anxiety. It might only start with a few 20 minute drives from home, but it's a starting point. I want to reach 45 minute drives by Christmas. Either way. I got this.
  4. Holidays. Downtime that everyone looks forward to, right? Wrong. Travelling and sharing spaces are two of the major triggers for my anxiety, so holidays have now become something I dread. I haven't been abroad in years, due to the sheer terror brought on by the thought of spending at least two hours cooped up in a tin can, 35000ft in the air. This week is no exception. On Thursday, I will be travelling up to the Peak District with my (long-suffering) girlfriend for some peace and quiet, up in the wonderful heights of central England. We booked it earlier in the year, in a fleeting moment of a excitement about finally getting a few days away together. It's much like the christening example I gave in Part III. The 'normal' side of me, the side I share with virtually every other person on the planet, was excited. The prospect of some much needed time away in the Great Outdoors, with the one person that does actually make me happy, was something I just couldn't say no to. But then, as soon as I had hit the 'Pay Now' button, I was struck by this sensation of ominous doom. That, is what anxiety feels like. The weight of what I had just committed to came crashing down on me like a ton of bricks. A 4 hour drive each way, going somewhere I'd never been before, total lack of control - a living nightmare. Pre-trip... The week has been a short and arduous one. Despite only being in work for two days, and taking part in an amazing talkshow - there has been only one thought on my mind. That ever so brief trip at the end of the week. It's been eating away at the back of my mind for a while now, like a pitch black hole moving gradually closer to swallowing me up. Of course, the logical mind knows nothing bad will happen on this mundane drive - but try telling the black hole that. It grows slowly as the date of travel gets nearer, devouring every single thought of possible enjoyment I might get out of the trip. At this point, it's almost as if I'm resigned to the fact that it's going to be a terrible trip, rife with anxiety and the lack of desire to get out and make the most of it... Post-trip... The day of the trip came, and it was a difficult one. No matter how I tried to distract myself, I kept on coming back and worrying about the trip. I don't even know why I was worrying - it wasn't even a long drive really! I did all I could to keep myself preoccupied; went to the gym, cleaned the house from top to bottom, went to spend some time with Archie - but I still found myself clock watching. As ridiculous as it sounds, it almost felt as if counting down to a jail sentence, the last moments of freedom. Anxiety can be a self-feeding spiral of despair. The more you worry, the worse it becomes. The worse it becomes, the more you worry. Friends and family will remind you again and again that there's nothing to worry about, but once that anxious thought has taken root, it's very hard to rip out. We spent a couple of days hiking and I loved it. Being outdoors, away from all the stresses of day to day life, was a welcome relief. Whilst I did cave in to my anxiety on more than one occasion, I did manage to battle my way through a fear of heights, wandering across some gorge cliffs to enjoy some truly beautiful views. I was a shaking mess, but it was worth it. I even managed to pop the question to my better half and, strangely enough, that was the least anxiety-inducing moment of the entire trip! Jerry's Regal's Final Thoughts One of the most crucial things to remember as an anxiety sufferer is that anxiety will always peak. If you sit and endure it for long enough, your body's 'alarm system' will eventually deactivate, you will feel better and return to being relatively calm. It's something that got me through the highs of hiking, and the lows of travel. The fight or flight adrenaline rush will only ever last a few minutes at max - so if you can wait it out, find your happy place and brave the coming storm, the anxiety will reduce on the other side. Your body simply cannot maintain that state of heightened tension. I managed the trip and back, conquered some fells and managed to find myself coming home with a fiancée. Anxiety or not, it was a pretty good trip. Always find the positives.
  5. Another week, another roller coaster ride... Let's start with the positive. Last week - my life changed indefinitely for the better. I became an uncle for the first time, to 'an absolute pounder' (his dad's words) of a nephew. I've never been one to get excited about newborns or young children - I've always felt a bit awkward and 'umm - now what' around them, but this time was certainly different. Archie, named long before the Royal Archie came along, was a bouncing bundle of joy and happiness, so it was hard not to get caught up in the moment. It was also weird seeing my parents, newly crowned as grandparents, interacting with him. My mum's reaction was that of being utterly smitten, as you might expect, but it was my dad's reaction, someone who has always kept his emotions close, that caught me off guard. So many smiles, photos and joy. It was weird to see, but enjoyable nonetheless. "One of the most frustrating things about having an anxiety disorder; knowing as you're freaking out that there's no reason to be freaked out, but lacking the ability to shut the emotion down." From the peak of happiness, came the conversation about christening young Archie, and the crushing realisation that I would likely be involved in some way, shape or form. I'm already a godfather to my cousin. An experience that many would accept with pleasure. Don't get me wrong, I'm honoured to have that role, but standing up in front of 50-60 of my close family and relatives was nothing short of a nightmare. Being centre of attention as I recited my lines, was an experience that continues to haunt me - even when I know there's no reason whatsoever to be feeling that way. So much so that the last christening I went to, even though I wasn't involved, I couldn't physically sit in the ceremony. It's the irrational fear of needing to get up and leave during the ceremony, having all eyes on me, just thinking about it starts my heart racing. It sounds so self-centred when I write it down. Me, me, me. But that's the difference between the rational and irrational, the 'being there for someone' and 'the fervent need to avoid a situation.' On one hand, I would love to become a godfather again, but on the other I just don't know if I can go through that situation again without utterly embarrassing myself. “You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” This week also brought another first - I've started a round of talking therapy with my new, friendly, neighbourhood Spiderman therapist, Jim. Starting anew has its ups and downs, but I like to think of it as a new opportunity to make some ground, and get that little bit closer to 'levelling out.' After a lengthy discussion sharing my history, triggers, worries and previous diagnoses, Jim was very quick to relate. It really is a breath of fresh air hearing someone on the other side say that they know exactly what you have been through. He pointed out that I , like himself, may have generalised anxiety disorder. We went through the symptoms for it. Panic attacks. Check. Phobias. Check. Social anxiety. Check. Huh - hello there! I had what I can only describe as a wave of relief at that point. It felt as if we had finally pinpointed my problem, and from there, there was hope that we could begin to try a few different techniques that had worked for Jim in the past. The next session should be fun, as we start to try rewind therapy. Who knows. Maybe we'll make some progress. The sun is shining, it's a beautiful day, and I'm finally feeling optimistic about regaining some element of control...
  6. So I've been told that it is mental health awareness week over here in the UK and it's come at the right time for me. I'm currently sat here writing this during my second day on diazepam for a flare up of my 10 year long neck issue that my doctors swear is muscle spasms caused by the tension of my overwhelming anxiety. I literally can not play bowling with my daughter or bend down to go on a slide with her a lot of days because it will cause another agonising flare up and I'll be sofa ridden for days. Purely from being so consistently tense that my muscles don't relax, they spasm. Then there's the stomach acid and IBS issues I've had since my preteens - again caused by anxiety - that will leave me unable to eat, drink or move if I don't get on top of the treatment quickly. All this was happening while I was telling myself that I do not need treatment for anxiety any more, I am fine. Turns out I wasn't fine - the 13 unread messages on my Facebook or the 7 on my Insta that have been there for over a week should have told me that. So, once this week on diazepam has passed, I will be returning to the doctors to discuss a long-term solution to my general level of tension, which absolutely stems from my anxious little brain. So, a little cautionary tale: if you are feeling shitty in any way shape or form, GO TO THE DOCTOR. I know sometimes you can be so used to feeling this way that you seem to think you're doing well when you're not, but if your physical body is crying out like mine is, chances are you could use some extra support. I guess sometimes I forget that mental illnesses affect your body just as much as your mind. Take care of yourselves everyone. NX Photo by Akshar Dave from Pexels
  7. One of the hardest things I've found as an anxiety-sufferer is how best to explain it to non-sufferers. Those people that manage to get by in life without, seemingly, a care in the world. What do you say to someone, whose first response is often 'Oh it'll be fine,' or 'You've got nothing to worry about?' So how about this: "Anxiety is having a wonderful day ahead of you but not enjoying it because you’re thinking about that 2 minute phone call you’ll have to make in five days." Imagine one day, you wake up to find a fat, succulent, bacon sandwich waiting for you on the breakfast table. It's Spring, the sun is shining and that film you've been waiting a year to see is released. Except you can't enjoy it. You want to, but you can't. Why? Because there's a little demon called Anxiety, sat on your shoulder, reminding you of that innocent, little situation coming up that you've been dreading. You're sat there, with a plate of bacon in front of you, its aroma wafting through the air - and all you can think of is that thing you have at the end of the week. It's beyond nerves. Your mind becomes convinced something terrible is going to happen there, something completely and utterly out of your control. On one hand sits the rational part of your mind. Deep down, this side of you knows nothing is going to happen. It knows life will go on as normal. But on the other hand sits the irrational part of your subconscious - that ancient part of you that still cares only for one thing - your safekeeping. It's a pure, animalistic, flight-or-fight reaction, under inappropriate circumstances. A spiral kicks in - the more you think about this particular trigger, the worse you imagine the outcome to be, the more you worry about it and so on, and so on. Sound familiar...? "Anxiety is always knowing where the exits are." Different people have different triggers. For me, it's certain social situations and interactions where it might be awkward for me to get out of. These are typically one-on-one situations, such as a trip to the doctor, dentist or barber, where I would feel awkward or embarrassed to leave. Yep, my anxiety stems from being too damn polite. It's because I think I would be wasting those people's time if I needed to get up and get out. It's the same when driving in a car with others - and to this day I would rather incur a petrol cost and drive myself to an event, than to car pool with friends. I hate it. That said, I'm learning how better to deal with it. I'd spent years in conflict with my anxiety, often seeing it as something I wanted to expel permanently - but one of the biggest turning points was the realisation that, in order to move forward, I had to accept that my anxiety was driven by a subconscious desire to keep my body and being safe. My mind was simply looking out for me, and that I really should be thankful for it. I've gone from being in an internal struggle to a coalition of sorts. Now we're working together and I finally feel like I have some element of control back.
  8. Danny Lowlife

    Odyssey

    It was a new day. Was it? Had a day actually passed? It could be a new day. Suddenly I find myself in the kitchen staring at the coffee pot slowly sweating as it got hotter. I stare further into one small droplet and I’m transported into a memory of the swimming pool I used to go to as a kid. I used to love swimming, most of the time I would go alone but not always; other times I would go with my sister or some of our friends. But I loved to go alone. I always believed that if I could breathe underwater I’d always be so much more at peace; an empty swimming pool is sometimes better than an empty book store, like staring at your ceiling in the dead of the night, it opened up the walls of my mind and let my imagination loose. I hovered in the chlorine water, miles from the surface, and suddenly it wasn’t chlorine at all but salt water. I was in the sea and amidst the dark shone the beautiful bright bioluminescence of the Jelly and Angler fish that swam as still as corpses. Then the darkness disappeared and my eyes were greeted with hues of violet, turquoise and saffron. I didn’t need to breathe. A pod of Orcas made their way calmly passed me, with the two smaller ones coming close to inspect this not-fish floating in the ocean before the clicks and higher pitched calls of their mother called them back to the pod ahead. I stare at them and felt a small amount of happiness before a very large feeling of dread. The sea became furious and red. The pod of Orcas fought with all their might to fight the battering rams of wave after wave. They’re separated and the male is flung up above the surface of the thrashing, frothing waves and tossed against each new hand that formed. It cries for help but the others are being pushed against the current. The last thing I hear of them are their shrill, mournful cries before being taken away by the current. I don’t need to breathe. The storm settles and the vehement reds become olive and chartreuse, algae surrounds me and clumsily tumbles over my skin and through my fingers and toes. It is gentle and kind. A thousand million hands gently guide me forward through the green haze and stillness of the ocean. As I do the sun shines its coruscating light and falls softly on the citron water and I can see all the way to the bottom. Small figures approach. Their backs are cylindrical and their fins barely visible, except for when the curtain parts from the small ripples made from the kicking of my feet. The turtles are two and they approach languidly, one, the larger, with a stick held in its mouth and the other, who was considerably smaller but wider, carried a doily on its back. Both become level with my eye line and blink slowly. I looked at their eyes and see a ghostly blue that is both calming and familiar. They look to be smiling in a both pleased and – once again – familiar way. The male, who was the larger, let go of the stick in his mouth and let it drop lazily into my right hand, I see now it is not a stick but a walking cane. The smaller female picks the doily on her back and watches as it tidily finds itself around my neck. They both blink in a slow nod, give a weak smile before flying through the green mist, upwards and towards the surface world. I don’t need to breathe. The world of colour disappears. Black tendrils envelope the surroundings like ink in water and I have returned to the world of the dark and I am worn out and weary. My heart pounds as strong and as infrequent as thunder. I am falling now and the water becomes cold, and in the cold I fall further and further and falling still, in an eternity seconds pass and I have found the bottom of the ocean. It isn’t the coarse sand I feel below my feet but hard and smooth material, like bone. I can feel the gentle brush of the sea weed and the small crustaceans rush away from the disturbance I have caused. I can’t breathe. Silence. And nothing but. The light had all gone and only the sensation of the gentle current of the Dead Sea remained. I could feel nothing else, and then nothing at all. Tired. So tired. I wasn’t breathing. Silence is followed by a sound, a resonating beat that thuds through the body and snares my attention. Light erupts and all the colours cascade into my mind with reds and greens and blues and yellows, each race through every corner of my mind. I need to… I feel the waves once again, but this time they are gentle; each like a soft hand waking a child. My back was laid on sand. It wasn’t coarse like the kind I knew but soft and inviting. I wanted to … I gasp, cough and splutter the sea water. My lungs burned with the remnants of the brine and I cough some more until they’re clear. I could breathe. The Kitchen remerges and I haven’t move a muscle. My face is damp but it is not from my voyage but from sweat. The coffee pot goes on standby. I hold myself for a second and regard my surroundings. I can see myself in the reflection of the glass cupboards. I can see our family photo when from when we all went on our last holiday to Greece. And I can see a photo of my Grandparents next to each other, smiling months before they passed away. Life’s an adventure Kid, my Grandad used to say. No, not an adventure. An Odyssey.
  9. " Anxiety is knowing however much you plan ahead, you still expect the worst to happen." What is the first thing that springs to mind when you hear the word 'anxiety?' Attacks? Stress? Sweaty palms? Nervousness? For me, its the meticulous planning that comes with living a life around social anxiety. Lets say I need to go to the supermarket for a weekly shop. Before even stepping out of the door, I would need to plan for how I get there, if the shop is going to be busy, queues at the checkouts etc. Planning helps provide a little peace of mind in the lead up to the event, but at the same time increases anxiety - because you are thinking of all the bad things that could happen and trying to account for them. Last weekend I went to a local beer festival. I'd been looking forward to it for AGES - as many of you will know, beer is my one true love. As excited as I was, I just could not shake this feeling of anxiousness. I spent most of the week before planning, looking at the itinerary trying to figure out the exits. The rational part of me constantly berating the irrational side with the same question - "why?" It was only a 20 minute drive from home, and yet I was anxious about driving with my (long-suffering) girlfriend in the car with me. Everything just seemed to pile up. We got there, parked up and went into the site but, try as I may, I just couldn't let go. There's two things I really struggle with: too many people, and queues. The festival was packed, and it was a 5-7 minute queue for a drink. Inside, I was screaming. The 'Wild Beer Co' Beer Festival "It feels like your brain got switched from 40 mph to 140 mph and your body can’t keep up. You can’t breathe or think or run away." It's hard to describe the physical and mental rush of symptoms when you trigger. Something seemingly insignificant can cause you to go from fine to a quivering wreck in a matter of seconds. When it hits, it's as if you are frozen to the spot, trapped in an invisible prison with your mind the only guard. You tell yourself over and over "I'm ok. It's fine," but the symptoms do not relent. For me, it's at this point I have to physically get up and move out of the situation - be it at a doctors appointment, out for a meal with friends, or at a beer festival. Luckily for me, my partner is super understanding. She knows when I'm fighting and will often make the decision to move, simply so that I don't have to feel guilty about making it myself. Needless to say, I'm a little disappointed I wasn't able to see this one through, especially after looking forward to it as much as I did. The thing with anxiety is that it has its highs and its lows. Your emotional state may peak for a while, and the symptoms will be rough, but eventually it will level out and the anxiety begin to decrease. Your body simply cannot keep it up for too long - it's exhausting. Exposure therapy revolves around this, each time you stay in the triggering situation that little bit longer, waiting for your body to tire and the anxiousness to decrease. This time around, I let it beat me. But I didn't go home and wallow in self-pity. I took myself straight back out into another triggering situation because I wanted to take something positive away from the day. Keep pushing yourself and you'll get there. One day at a time.
  10. I blinked and she disappeared, as did the room, and the surrounding area was nothing but inky darkness, that flowed slowly as if made of water or very thick mist. I blinked again and the door to the kitchen had reappeared. Inside the walls and the tiles of the floor were cracked and often, and the only light source was that of a street lamp that had surreptitiously placed itself in the space between the door and the kitchen table. It, like its environment, was in a state of disrepair and the egg shaped bulb that was tucked away behind the fractured glass waxed and waned. I’d be safe there, I told myself. Walking however was not as easy as it once was. Every step was as heavy as the next as if my shoes were filled with cement and my muscles had given in to atrophy. Each time i couldn’t be sure if the shadows for which my feet scraped against would be solid floor or, like the shows would have me perceive, be like water and with my heavy, useless limbs I would fall into the abyss that had surrounded me. It was the light, I told myself. The light would keep me safe. But with each arduous shift of my body the bulb of the derelict street lamp shrunk and the kitchen itself peeled more and more away. If I didn’t get there soon I would be lost. I cried and shouted to the room ahead of me, each time my voice was become more hoarse and monstrous. Fire burned through my veins and pressure filled my head causing blood to pour from my nose and ears. I was steps away one moment then was a league away the next, each time I would drag and drag my feet towards the ever fading light, often pulling my legs by the knees with my arms. I was closer now and my hand could just about touch the door frame. A small amount of hope filled my body enough to push myself harder and make that last step through the threshold. As my right foot was about to land, like the last step of an absurd marathon, the door frame spasmed and collapsed on itself leaving me on my knees in the black smoke of the place that was once her living room. Hot tears filled my eyes and poured from my face as I gave into a sob. My throat was too dry for me to cry out leaving me making sounds that were more akin to that of a croak. “I can’t do it”, I muttered through snot and the bullet-like tears, “I simply can’t”. A hand placed itself upon my shoulder, “Dee”, said a soft voice. I spun around, faster than I could have, and found my self on my knees in a brightly lit room with her in front of me. She smile a soft smile, the kind that never made you feel alone nor ever showed any indifference and, whilst crouching in front of me said quite simply, “You never have to do this alone”. The world returned. The tar that had enveloped me had evaporated and colour returned to the world. She helped me to my feet and kissed me softly. I didn’t let go.
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