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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 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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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