Day 30

Hangnails. Holy annoying fuck.

Probably should print multiple copies of this and stick them around the house as a reminder to myself

They have always been my weakness and I can never let go of one until my nail bed turns into a bloody ruin. But it’s never really been about the hangnail itself though.

When I get into a mental vortex, I start to feel my skin catching on things. Suddenly my skin gets that much drier, catching on fabric, scraping against the clothes that I wear. Suddenly my nails that weren’t brittle before, now are. I can feel every single hangnail when I run my fingertips against each nail. And lord, don’t even get me started about how they feel when I knit or when I write.

And they are so very grating.

I start peeling. I start grinding. I start scraping.

I get at a good one and continue as I let my thoughts swirl around me. It helps me go deeper, it helps me chase the thoughts further.

Further? Where, you ask?

Deep.

Ah shit, and now I am bleeding.

Like I said, it’s not really about the hangnail.

Image: nail_sunny/Instagram

Day 15

Time and time again I catch myself coming to this earth-shattering revelation: creativity comes in spurts.

I am taking a currently taking a break from something that I just got back into yesterday after an eight-month long hiatus from knitting. It has been about two years since I started knitting and I technically only have one finished project to show for it (but in three different colours), but I love the process. It keeps my hands busy and in the end I have something beautiful and useful to show for it!

Being creative and/or finding the energy to rediscover it is one of the most nourishing things one can do to keep the anxiety at bay. It is also one of the hardest things to do when we are at the eye of the storm.

One of the best books out there to get started is Knit How published by the well-known Pom Pom Magazine.

Such a great resource. Also their images are super beautiful.

Their drawings are intuitive and easy to understand. They also have loads of interesting starter projects to inspire you and to get you motivated. My thing right now is to start from the very beginning of the book and move my way through the book until I “graduate”, wherein I’ll knit myself a sash and then I’ll get started on my long-awaited funnel neck jumper. Currently I am working on my baby project: fingerless mitts.

Wish me luck and see you tomorrow!

Checklist for the day:

  • heather grey
  • charcoal grey
  • bordeaux red
  • chartreuse green
  • mustard yellow
  • antique lace white
  • oatmeal white

Image: © Zeina Abirached/Flickr

Day 6

Holy Batman anxiety. A trip to the pharmacy this morning where I made a mistake in cutting the queue after having thought that there were two, instead of the one, has left me with a shaky hands, heart palpitations and stars and butterflies.

How did I even get here? When did I first begin to realise that this is a condition not everyone has?

Was it when I realised that I would get dizzier and dizzier when my parents pressured me to make calls to the charity hotlines when I was a kid?

No, because I don’t like peer pressure, that’s all.

Was it when I got shaky before I got on stage for concerts?

No, because I read The Berenstain Bears Get Stage Fright. If they made a book about it, then I shouldn’t make a mountain out of a molehill with my nervousness.

Was it when I caught myself going through the play-by-play of my mistakes over and over again in my head, as if I could go back in time and make it all stop before it had started?

No, because mommy said it’s important to review the mistakes we make every day so that we don’t make them ever again.

Was it when I got my first panic attack because of all the people and noise? Was it when I felt my stomach knotting up before going to a party?Was it when I would hide in the toilets before presentations? Was it when I would feel the world spin after turning red whenever I heard my voice crack from nervousness?

When was it? And does it matter?

When I was little there were some weekends where there would be a charity event on television. My father would always use it as an opportunity to try to toughen me up. There’s always the song and dance with him asking me if I would like to do a nice thing for the poor people out there, my responding that if we wanted to do nice things for people then we should just show it with our actions instead of donating money that would trickle down several middlemen and lose its meaning. It all usually ends with him throwing down an ultimatum before The Rehearsal.

The Rehearsal was where my parents would pretend to be the people on the receiving end and we would practice our lines before I actually make the call. A bizarre ritual in and of itself without all the rest of it. For reasons unbeknownst to me, they didn’t seem to realise that The Rehearsal just made it worse. Most times I can finish barely dialling the number and would start to be short of breath. Then I’d wheeze and then I’d start to cry. The rare times where I’d made it past the dial tone, my throat would close up and I wouldn’t be able to speak.

Then came the yelling.

There would always be the yelling afterwards: “Otter, it was just a tiny phone call to a stranger about something inconsequential. Why can’t you even do that? Are you going to avoid strangers your entire life? Is that it? You can’t hide behind us forever, you know!”

To be quite frank, I don’t really remember his exact words because it always happened in such a blur, his voice drowned out by my own crying and wheezing. They would try to backtrack when I would start to get the shakes, and then they would explain how they didn’t mean to hurt me and try to explain that they understood what I was going through. That was the worst bit, because they would always get it wrong.

The more they explained the more I shook. Then they’d babble and explain some more and it would get worse.

Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat.

My mother likes to say that I get panic attacks because I have a “weak heart”. She said that again a week ago when I was on the phone with her. I am just too fucking tired to argue anymore.

Now, there are good days and there are the bad. But sometimes I really wonder if my anxiety would have been this bad if I had been able to stand my ground and had said no to them, at least once.

Checklist for the day

  • 1 empty water bottle on the coffee table
  • 1 bag of clean unfolded laundry by Big’s door
  • 1 unplugged night light sitting in the corridor
  • 1/2 load of clean laundry lying on the bed in the master bedroom
  • 3 pairs of shoes in the entry way
  • 6 dirty glasses, 2 dirty coffee cups, 2 dirty dishes, 1 dirty pot
  • 12 glass bottles to take down for recycling

Image: © Mykyta Dolmatov/Getty Images