Skies. Memories. Feelings.

I look at the bright white sky. I feel more comfortable. It gives me some space to think. It reminds me of the first time I moved to the UK. I had not seen white skies very often back then. But I still like them now. I feel that they want change as I do. They have a desire for it but they can’t quite yet. They also need to take their time. They don’t stay forever. They will change. It’s their nature. I thought I knew myself but I was wrong. I have a gray sky in me sometimes. It’s filled with empitness. It smells of dust and forgotten dreams.

Some days I like the rain. It reminds me of milk, biscuits and childhood. Back then I would stand by the window to watch the rain for hours.

Other days I can imagine a tranquil blue sky in me and the gray sky is less powerful. I start to see life with its true colours. I can smell hope and homemade cake again.

Colours

A short story inspired by colours and some other things.

‘Colours. Your head is full of colours. Why can’t you just pick one? I’m tired of having to wash them seperately. We used to agree all the time… Red. Red was the only colour in our lives. Why did you decide to change it to blue then green, yellow… It’s just chaos! I cannot stand your silence, please say something! Why are you laughing now? This isn’t funny. I need to leave for a bit. I need some air. You don’t let me breath! And please think about what I said.’

Storming out the house, her head was bright red. She didn’t look back. She had no idea where she was going but couldn’t stop her legs. She could see a light in the distance but was way too bright for her. No, that wasn’t the right path. The thick dark forest looked more inviting. She wanted to be swallowed. She couldn’t contain it anymore. She had to let it go once and for all. She ran as fast as she could until her legs couldn’t have it any longer. She couldn’t breath. She stopped at the oak tree. He seemed happy to see her. Her face was no longer red. She turned gray. Her mouth was white. She needed to sit down and rest. Her back on the tree, she was now starting to breath slower…

They say her face turned colourless as her eyes started to become brighter and brighter…


Sometimes a feeling inspires a story, other times a story can bring a feeling to life. Or I can think of a story but I don’t really have a predominant feeling that inspires it. For this short story, I followed the feeling before I could see the story. Creative writing is something that I discovered very recently and helps me to put into words what I would be unable to express otherwise. When I started to write this story I was inspired by the picture of an old couple dressed in funny colourful clothes. The woman looked stern while the man seemed pleased with himself. At first, I thought I was writing about this couple when I realised that I was actually writing about a personal inner conflict. For me this story represents the inability to choose or change. Or the difficulty to accept something that has suddenly changed and the impossibility to go back. The need to find roots and a safe place to rest. The need to let go and think. A new brighter beginning that can only be achieved by facing the dark forest.

She had to let it go once and for all…

Stillness of the body vs racing of the mind.

In acting there are different kinds of stillness. Stillness can be powerful. It can be the moment before everything changes. The turning point of a story. Stillness can also mean a calm mind. Stillness can mean anger. Stillness can mean tiredness and so many other things.

My experience with stillness has been a bit complicated lately. I realised that my anxiety doesn’t like stillness. So that’s why I am trying to practise it a little bit more every day. Sometimes I delude myself in believing that keeping busy will prevent my anxiety from showing up. But the truth is that it can delay it or actually make me feel even more stressed out sometimes. On the other side, if I am not busy enough my overthinking prevails. It’s a very difficult balance.

Stillness.

From time to time I work as a portrait model for drawing classes. It means that I have to sit still in front of a few people for about an hour before I can have a little break. I didn’t have problems in the past when my anxiety was at a reasonable level but recently this kind of stillness triggers many unwanted symptoms. The other day I was sitting for about a minute and almost automatically I started to pay attention to the usual thought “there’s something wrong with you”. Followed by “I’m losing control”, “what if I have a panic attack and they have to stop the session for me”, “what if I can’t control my panic attack”… Very soon I can feel the rush of adrenaline, my heart beating fast but yet, I stay still. I don’t want to give in to my anxiety. I need to show my subconscious that there’s nothing to be afraid of. I don’t need to run. It’s extremely uncomfortable but I don’t move. It’s another trick. Yet again it feels very real to me and very scary. I feel dizzy. I try deep breathing but it’s already too late. I need to let the storm pass. I don’t move. I try to count to 100 in French to distract myself. Maybe this will take my mind occupied for a bit. My mind keeps taking me back to the feeling of panic but the time eventually goes by. I know that it will pass eventually. I will survive this time like all the other times it happened. My mind replies “what if this time is different?”. You don’t have proof! There’s no evidence to back you up, I think. I am not believing in this well crafted trick, Mind. I have almost won and then boom! The worst possible scenario is shown to me. I can see myself standing up from the chair with sweaty hands and shaky legs. I tell everyone that I am sorry but I need to leave. I can feel their eyes on me. They are confused. I keep running down the corridor. The teacher is also very confused and asks me what is happening to me. I am so sorry, I am just having a panic attack, I just need to run… Mmmh wait a minute. Just wait a minute, Mind. I know what you’re doing. You do want to protect me, I know. But we are safe here. If we leave now, it’s only a temporary relief. We can do it. Thanks for the film about the worst possible scenario ever. Amazing acting, very vivid images as usual. Light was on point, good direction of the extras… But no, we are not going anywhere… I’ve won. I start to be able to breath normally again. My heart rate is returning to normal. An hour passes by and I tell myself “congratulations, you didn’t let your anxiety win for the 10000000 time again.”

Little anecdote. One of the people at the drawing class approached me after the session complimenting me for my stillness. I said ‘thank you’ but instead I wished to say “well, you have no idea how hard I had to fight to stay still eh eh”. I wanted to laugh.

Humor is what helps me in these circumstances. It’s not always easy but it’s one of the ways that makes my life easier. I can have an anxiety crisis and still allow myself to laugh about it. There are still things that I find hard to laugh about but I hope I will be able to one day.

Dreams

If I don’t grow them, they weaken. If they weaken, it might seem like they don’t belong to me anymore. But it doesn’t mean they are not my dreams anymore. Dreams are very delicate. An intention is not enough for them to fully grow. They need to be shown love and purpose. They need to feel worthy. Otherwise, they fade. They stop being as vivid as the moment they were born. Actions are more powerful than a wish to make them stronger. They need respect. I need to give them a reason to stay.

I must take some time to really look at them… And check if I am trying to live someone else’s dreams…

Are these really my dreams? What would my inner child say about them?

Deep down I know the truth. I just tell myself other stories. I think about other dreams because I am too scared to live my life fully. But now I am aware of it and maybe I can train myself to dream again. Dream in the right way. I need to let them stay this time. I have to learn how to love them.

Can you see your dreams?

Notes to my anxious self.

A thought is just a thought. I can choose how to interpret it.

Taking action is more effective than sitting on the couch and complaining about how low and anxious I feel. Although sometimes I just enjoy having a couch-potato day and watching Netflix. Two days in a row…Mmh not good for me.

Recovery from severe anxiety is a gradual process. Sometimes, I just wished I could wake up and feel my ‘usual’ self again. Nope. Well, Rome was not built in a day… Was it? Who knows. Well, I wasn’t there but I am pretty sure it wasn’t. So I can’t expect changes to happen overnight. I need to keep challenging my fears until they don’t make me feel so anxious anymore.

Sometimes the best I can do to feel a bit better is just going out for a walk. As simple as it might sounds, it actually works quite well for me. I couldn’t see so much of a difference when I was at the peak of my anxiety but still I could notice a little improvement. So, I just kept going for a walk even if it was just a 10 minute walk.

Trying new things helps to take my mind off racing thoughts. Some of the things that help me are: acting, dancing, creative writing, reading and singing. They aren’t a quick fix but they are definitely improving my confidence and reducing my anxiety little by little.

It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to laugh. It’s ok to smile…

Exercising! The first time I exercised again, I didn’t really have a lot of fun. I wanted to see improvements fast in physical performance but especially in my mental health. Again, my expectations were way too high. But although there were days when I didn’t feel like exercising at all, I kept trying again and again. I finally exercise more regularly and can see more improvements both mentally and physically.

Spending too much time by myself can increase my anxiety. Asking a friend to meet up is a better option.

Try to make the best of each day, even when you’re feeling low or it’s raining outside. Use the couch-potato day card only when you really don’t see other options, see second point above.

Do the things you used to enjoy, you will start enjoying them again at some point. If not, that’s ok. Just try new things! 😀

You’re not alone even if you feel this way sometimes.

I am allowed to follow my dreams and can define my own idea of success.

It’s normal to have bad and good days. Focus on the good days as much as possible.

I’m not losing control even though my anxious mind is telling me otherwise. Depersonalisation is just a feeling. Yes, it can be very uncomfortable but I’m going out and living my life anyway.

What are the things that help you when you’re feeling anxious?

Step by step… Working on a braver self.

Some of the things I am grateful for.

I am grateful for being able to make someone laugh. I thought I had lost this ability.

I am grateful when a stranger smiles back at me. It’s not always easy to smile, especially if you’re having a bad day. So whoever you are, thanks for gifting me with a smile. (Hope it wasn’t a creepy one..ha ha ha)

I am grateful for the people that look at me in the eyes when I talk to them. (I don’t mean in an aggressive way… eh eh). You’re brave and kind. Thanks for really listening to me.

I am grateful for a sunny day in England after a windy cold day. You really help lift my mood a lot.

I am grateful for being alive. Sometimes, I take if for granted. I don’t know where my living energy is coming from but WOW, thank you. I don’t know the right words to describe this feeling and maybe they still need to be invented?

I am grateful for all the colours I can see. You’re beautiful. You brighten up my day. I used to dress in pink all the time when I was a child. I still love pink but I do enjoy dressing in other colours too now.

I am grateful for all the languages in the world and the sounds that we can make. I like experimenting with strange accents and sounds when creating new characters for a play. It’s fun and freeing!

I am grateful for having loved very much and being loved. I am still struggling to have loving feelings due to my PTSD but I appreciate when I can feel a little something here and there. It will take time, I know. For now I just want to be grateful for having the ability to love in me even though it’s hidden under many layers of other feelings.

I am grateful for being able to enjoy reading. When I was feeling very anxious my short term memory didn’t allow me to enjoy reading but I kept reading a bit every day and recently I have just finished “The Night Circus”. It’s the most beautiful magical creative book I have ever read so far.

I am grateful for all the plays and films that have been made. It’s not easy to put on a play or make a movie. Thanks for taking a risk and for your imagination.

I am grateful for my sense of humour. You helped me to get through some difficult moments.

I am grateful for being me even though sometimes I forget to be grateful for it, it feels good to write it down.

What are the things you’re grateful for?

I am grateful for being born in the countryside and for all the sweet-sad memories attached to it…

If I were like the clouds.

When I don’t know what to draw I like to go out and look at the sky. I like to draw clouds and without thinking too much about what I’m seeing, I give my interpretation of them. I just really try to go with the feeling. It’s a little exercise that helps me to take my mind off racing thoughts. The clouds change constantly. It made me think that this is true for every single moment in our lives. Every moment is unique. We as people are too, but sometimes I personally forget. I don’t feel I’m good enough. I don’t see myself as a work-in-progress anymore but as a finished product that cannot be improved. Maybe I should aim to become more like the clouds. Always evolving, always perfect in their changing nature. Always striving to just be.