How Classical Music has Helped With My Anxiety and Life in General

 

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I was never one to fist bump the air with elation every time I was subjected to classical music. In fact I would throw myself a pity party every time my parents would force it upon me. I can remember the uncomfortable car rides when we were living in New York. It was classical music 24/7. I would plead for them to play the country music station but alas, my calls would go unanswered. Yes, you read that right… I was obsessed with country music. I had a cassette tape of  The Judds which I used to play over and over again. My dad would get flustered and eventually snap at me because of my overuse. If it wasn’t classical or Greek music, he didn’t want to know.

When I was old enough to keep concentration for a while my parents enrolled me into a piano class. And when it was time to pick up music at school, the flute became my companion. In between these lessons they would take me to see the New York Philharmonic orchestra, and violin quartets and pianists and let’s not forget the hours worth of opera, ballet and musicals. Throughout my earlier years I saw piano and my classically trained background (I even took music theory and completed grade 5) as simply another shrug of ‘things that looked good on your college application’.

I guess I was so against it when I was younger because it was forced upon me without me having a say-so in the matter. But as I grew up I started to appreciate the fact that I was shown all these different kinds of artistic expressions. And before long I would use my time with the piano as a tool to alleviate stress. I could sit down for hours and play Mozart’s Sonata No.16 in C major over and over again. Because it soothed me. And  of course the most important reason, my brain would cease to spew out chaotic thoughts of the miseries I endured as a teenager. But then my piano playing became few and far between after I went to University. Once I moved to London I only got to play every time I visited my parents back home in Cyprus. Then they moved to another town and my piano went into hibernation. I haven’t played the piano in about 6 years now and throughout this time I have seen myself go through mental, physical and emotional issues without having an outlet to pacify these burdens. I started to get panic attacks, my anxiety was going through the roof. I ended up having a kidney infection and had to stay 2 days in the hospital. Antibiotics were my friend at that time because my kidney issues weren’t getting resolved.Money was (and is) always a struggle. I was exceptionally unhappy with my jobs. The men that I let into my life would seem to be unattainable and left me feeling insecure, vulnerable and unwanted. One, for example, said that they wouldn’t date me because of my weight. A sentence such as that sticks with you. It embeds deep within your psyche, attaching itself to even the most minute particles, where disposing of it seems remote. And I had quite a few of those sentences floating around in my noggin. Then I got IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) for which I’m still suffering 10 months later. The latter had deprived me of my simple unfulfilled life completely and my stress levels became fried. Almost as if the neurons short circuited after the amount of anxiety-volts coursed through me. I became depressed. I tried to reach out to people in my own way and they didn’t understand and in turn showed little support. I tried meditation, breathing techniques, therapy, and yoga. My music of Etta James, Little Willie John, Missy Elliot and FKA Twiggs (to name a few) wasn’t cutting it anymore in the relaxation department. And I’d like to add that the sheer thought of travel became unbearable. Which almost made me feel like I was starting to become agoraphobic, seeing as I couldn’t take the underground trains without experiencing panic attacks every single time I would descend the stairs to hell. I literally felt like I was imploding within myself. And then, amongst all this battered chaos, I thought of my piano…

I knew there was no way I could afford to buy one here in London, so I was stuck. Stuck in a place of knowing the cure that could tame the virus yet not having any syringe to dispense it. And then one day I thought, why not listen to my favourite Mozart piano piece and see how I go from there. I put my headphones in, turned the volume up and looked to hope that peace would come. Once the first notes daintily trickled out, I felt as if a gigantic orb of light engulfed me. My muscles relaxed and my brain ceased to churn out thoughts. For those 3 minutes a wave of tranquility washed over me and I knew that I had finally found my saving grace. Next I chose to play Chopin’s Nocturne No. 2 in E flat and that was when my stress melted away. I was smiling in a crammed sardine can without a care in the world. People didn’t bother me. My thoughts weren’t on my IBS. I just floated… on a cloud of calm.

Have you ever noticed, when you’re scurrying around trying to somehow not be associated with the metaphorical ant analogy, people’s faces and sound effects? Every day I would hear the huffing and puffing of wolves trying to blow down a path through the glazed commuter’s programmed route. And every day it would chip away at me. The facial expressions of hatred, annoyance and exasperation filled my view and I couldn’t shake it. Having to deal with that and all my other issues was a nightmare. Because their negativity would rub off on me. Until that is, that  one fateful day Classical music intervened.

I now listen to it everywhere I go, if you can believe that! From the girl whose threshold level for classical music was exceptionally low, this was a major achievement. It has also made me think that I am an old blob but hey, if it works then I will happily embrace becoming an old blob if it means I get to keep my sanity.

Classical music has somehow become my knight in shining armour. It has not only accompanied me on my journeys to and from work but has even caressed my ears while at work. Instead of watching countless hours of TV or waste my brain cells surfing the web, I put on a classical playlist and read a book or write in my journal. 

Before, I used to have a panic attack stepping out of my front door in fear that I would inevitably shit my pants in public due to this whole IBS thing. Because my mind was constantly thinking about all the horrid scenarios that could befall me. Before, my concentration was that of someone who was suffering from ADHD. That’s not a joke by the way. It’s how I was acting. While at work, I would flutter around from task to task, which in turn took longer than it actually should have. Because my brain would be in overdrive. While at home, simple chores became impossible to finish. While grocery shopping, I would hop around missing the essentials. But somehow all this has changed. Before, my brain would be on the go all the time; constantly inventing scenarios, conversation, over-analysing and over thinking. But now I listen to Chopin and Mozart and know that all will be ok. That I can calm myself without having to resort to medication or therapy. That I can concentrate without compromising my time. That I can live a life that’s less stressful. All I can say is….. It feels good! It feels really good.

❤ ❤ ❤

 

 

P.S.- I wanted to share this with all the pandas out there who feel like their anxiety, panic attacks and stress are getting the better of them. You are NOT alone. All I can say is to explore every possibility out there. Meditation might not have worked for me, but it might work for you. Or maybe you will find that walking more often might help. Or painting, or using one of those popular colouring books that are out there nowadays. Whatever it may be just do it often to de-stress. Because nothing is more important than the stability of your well-being! If you are unwell then you won’t be able to take care of anything else. So whatever it is, just do it!

❤ Love, Happiness and Laughter always ❤

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When Monday Motivational Quotes Don’t Do The Trick… (battling with depression, anxiety and panic attacks)

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So my little pandas, I’m going to try and talk about depression, panic/anxiety attacks in the lightest way possible. Key word being… try, because quite frankly I don’t want to get myself worked up again to the point where funny gifs won’t be able to do their job anymore.

Lately I have been suffering from a load of shit. Some of it literal and others being more metaphorical. Long story short I was having major tummy issues (see my previous post). It has been reoccurring since end of May. Right after my stomach went all Mt. Vesuvius I was also about to start a new job. Let me tell you, having to juggle the mental acrobatics of trying to coax yourself out of distress in fear of shitting your pants in public and learning the ropes of a new job really took a toll. I started to crumble. There were days where I would only eat like 2 bananas and some strawberries in fear that I would loose the battle with my bowel. I figured the less I had to eat the less times I would have to be in the bathroom. Throughout this time I lost my appetite completely. Now, I would like to inform you all that I’m a gal that loves food. So for that simple pleasure to be ripped away from me didn’t help me mentally. On top of all this I was also worried about money, the quality of my life here in London, being a hermit, not having any friends around, not having someone to come home to, not starting a family and my parents.  You see, because I was at such a low point I brought all these other things into my head. I started collecting all my failures one by one and lined them up solemnly.

I swear the brain is a blessing and a curse. Sometimes circuits get re-wired, re-programming takes effect and for a short while you turn into a person that is just not you. You are floating in the distance looking down at this destructive blob that has taken over your body and you can’t do anything about it. You just watch, saying ‘Hey, that’s not me! I don’t think things are so bad!’ But it can’t hear you, for the Pandora’s box of negativity has opened and it’s nothing but a downward spiral from here on out.  There are bouts of sanity however, that may filter through. Where thoughts pop into your head like “I know this is nothing. People are going through much worse things. What you’re going through will pass. Stop being so negative.” But then, your brain switches and you are back into the deepest abyss. It’s a sense that you will never get through this. A sense of despair. As if you were drowning. Or sinking into quicksand.

My stomach caused me to have more anxiety. I would be anxious to leave the house. I was in constant fear that I would have an accident in public. Anxiety turned into panic attacks where I would self-destruct. I hated everything that I was. Everything that I achieved was meaningless because I was convinced I was a failure at life. I called up my mom, who is from an era that never really talked about mental health, even though her sister was a social worker. The compassion, understanding gene of mental health must have skipped my mom. However, I don’t blame her really. She just never was around it. Therefore, everything that she was saying made me revert into an even worse place. So I was screwed with no outlet to vent. I thought of going to see a psychologist but then became even more depressed when I realised I couldn’t afford it.

It’s a very hard thing to explain to someone who doesn’t get panic/anxiety attacks or depression. You eventually end up sugar-coating it. You don’t want to say to people that you don’t see the point in living anymore. That maybe you should just throw in the towel and call it a day. Because sometimes dark thoughts manifest so much so that you can’t control it. Fortunately for me, mine are just thoughts. Because I know that with each battle won, I’m strong enough to face another episode if/when it happens. But at the time it’s all I would think of. That I am a failure and everything in my life has been a consistent pile of shit that magically increases in the amount of shit with every year that goes by.

Yet, somehow the storm passes and I continue to chug along. I continue to stay afloat. Sometimes in that moment you feel like you are the only one in that black hole and once you escape you can’t help but rejoice fighting off your arch-nemesis.

This wasn’t a post about me complaining about what I’m going through. The message of this post was to simply say… you are not alone. And besides, it’s better to get it out than to hold it in.

Here are somethings that can help: (I am no expert, but these are some things that have helped me) 

  1. Make sure to surround yourself with people who understand. In this instance, people who are prone to dishing out tough love are not the kind of people you should be around at the moment.
  2. Look at old photos (or any photos) that show some happier times. For me, my brain starts recalling those memories in detail and for a time it forgets what sadness you might be going through. It lessen the load.
  3. Write down everything you’re feeling in a journal. Here is where you can be the most candid. So let it all out.
  4. Go for walks and take in as much fresh air as possible.
  5. Get a lot of sleep. For me, when I stress my brain doesn’t turn off, even when I sleep. I even have extremely vivid dreams of me constantly battling something, getting killed, you know the usual! So it’s important to try and get as much sleep as possible. That way when your sleep becomes interrupted you can add in a couple more hours in there.
  6. Soak in a bath. Unfortunately my tiny studio doesn’t permit a normal bath (it’s just a shower) so the next best thing is for me to sit on my couch and soak my feet. Improvisation is key people!!
  7. Eat as healthy as possible. I know booooooo to this! But sugars don’t help panic/anxiety. I know they say it’s part of comfort food but it does more damage in the long run.
  8. Ok this one is something that I do…. I put on some music and dance and sing until I get tired. I feel sorry for my neighbours.
  9. When things get really bad, it’s ok to curl up in bed and do nothing. You are allowed!
  10. Watch youtube videos of fluffy baby pandas. This one never does me wrong! It always makes me smile!

❤ ❤ ❤

Wishing you all the happiness, health love and laughter in the world…

PS- I know, this wasn’t such a light post… Sorry! ❤ D

A Casualty of The War On Fat…

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On the 31st of August my pal (who I call Squishy) and I decided to combine forces of encouragement in the hopes of tackling the frustratingly difficult journey of losing weight. We figured the best way would be to motivate each other and share what foods we were eating throughout the day. You know like a keep-each-other-in-check kind of thing. She would be my Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and I would be her Jason Momoa. We would be motivators, terminators, hulkinators and whatever else kind of -ators we could think of.  After laying out the foundation of our ingenious plan, we decided that the best time to start this magical invigorating quest was on the first of September. Which of course was the next day.

As the first day of our amazing diet was upon us, we… wait, I suppose I should only refer to myself since I really have no clue what she was thinking about on that morning. However, I am pretty confident that on the first day, she would have felt similar to me. Either way, that morning I woke up feeling like I could conquer the world. I felt alive, with no doubts polluting the crevices of my brain. My buddy would totally agree. Plus give me a slight eye roll for over exaggerating my enthusiasm. I was pumped but let’s be honest, I was moderately pumped.

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The first day went great and so did the second. We were literally killing it! Throughout this time we would snap a picture of each meal and send it over. That way we could secretly see the portion sizes and analyse if we were doing a good job. To be honest, I could sit here and tell you about every day. But I won’t, because that’s not why I’m writing this post and furthermore it would be a snooze-fest. So don’t you worry my cute little pandas, I wouldn’t put you through that agony. However I will state that today would have been the 16th day of our amazing detox, cleaning from the inside out, dieting extravaganza. Now, do you want to know how long we actually lasted for? We started on a Monday and the cards came crashing down on that Friday. You see what both of us failed to realise is that a) the weekends would be a huge challenge and b) it would seem that we were quietly lying to ourselves. I don’t mean we were lying about what we were doing. I mean our subconscious, was literally lying to us and making us think that us two idiots would ever come close in mimicking the awesome motivational powers of Johnson and Momoa. We were no match. Our brains were wired differently. And something inside them made us cheat, rebel and break all the rules. Why?! And where in Sweatsville did my motivation run off to?!!

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Somewhere along the lines I became a casualty on the war of fat on my body. I stopped trying. I stopped motivating myself. And for the life of me, I can’t seem to get out of this funk. After work I would come home and attempt to put on my gym clothes so I could go for a run. But something drags me. It’s as if my legs were dredging through a vat of cement. Every evening I would go through this. And one tiny phrase would ricochet off my brain cells with a glimmer of hope attached to it…. “I will start tomorrow. I will conquer and be awesome tomorrow.” And with that tiny little itty-bitty bullshit I spewed to myself, I then would sit my fat ass down and watch TV like a big ol’ pumpkin until I’d get tired and fall asleep.

I truly don’t know what went wrong. I never used to be like this. But how do I just start something? I know that’s the most stupidest question alive but I think I ask it because secretly I know the long and hard road I would eventually be on once I start the journey. I know what I have to do but I don’t want to do it for months, years, or a lifetime. And therein lies my problem. What I have to get through my thick skull is that being healthy is a lifestyle choice. You can’t just go on diets and then eat like a fatty after it. You will eventually gain it all back. I need to realise that if I want a better me, then I need to make health and fitness my life. It’s really that simple.

My friend and I failed to realise that we were the worst motivators for one another. It’s laughable at how unmotivational we were. A few “good jobs” and a couple “well done’s” did not make for a healthy weight loss regime. We failed to understand that we should have been all Bruce Lee about this situation. Instead we acted like fluffy Care Bears. Our motto would have been ‘Loosing weight, one hug at a time…” We went from yapping everyday (for 2 days straight mind you) to not getting in contact with each other for over a week now. That says a lot doesn’t it…We were just too similar in this department.

I think I need to get a defibrillator on my chest ASAP so as I can jump start my flatlining motivation. I don’t see any other way. I know it’s all in my head. But to be perfectly honest, what do you do when you literally have no will power? You are screwed. Something has got to give though. Because when I really think about it, I don’t want to be another casualty statistic on some fit trainer’s board of ‘Don’ts’. I want to be a ‘Do’ gosh dang it! I want to be a DO!

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A Girl’s Guide: To Surviving Alcohol

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I’ve been meaning to write this post since last Thursday, when I came to work hungover, but since I was feeling like one of The Walking Dead Zombies, I didn’t have much brain power. And if I’m being completely honest, I’ve been drinking since last Wednesday, which is why I haven’t written anything new lately…oops! Anyway, today is a brand new day; plus I’m ready, sober and willing.

I sometimes have a tendency to drink like a sailor on shore leave. In fact I have gotten myself into pretty stupid predicaments. I’m painting myself to be so great aren’t I? Well I’ll have you know that sometimes I won’t touch alcohol for weeks. And then one night, out of the blue I will go to town. Annihilation-style. For example, picking up some guy off the street and allowing him to assist me home was pretty bad. My room mate at the time was NOT, I repeat NOT impressed with me that evening. And of course there was the time that I exchanged numbers with my friend’s dad. Yes. I did that while I was intoxicated. But I sorted out that mess the next day. Listen, I am not ashamed. Sometimes shit happens, and sometimes all you need is a little survival guide in how to handle certain situations the day after the explosion hits. Or learn how to avoid them all together! So here we go…

That Time You Drank Wine, Tequila, Gin, Whiskey and Rum all in One Night…

Never, I repeat NEVER mix your drinks. Even the Russians and the Irish only stick to one type of spirit. So what makes you think that you will beat a Russian and an Irishman? You will not. By the way, I’ve been to Ireland and they drunk me under the table. It was a month of forgotten, foggy and foolish memories. Ahhh, good times. Anyway, If you are starting with wine, you better be drinking the same one throughout the evening. Don’t try to set a record. You will fail.

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That Time You Gave Someone Your Correct Phone Number When You Really Wanted To Give A Fake One…

We’ve all been there. You know when a guy really is trying and you feel bad saying no so you attempt to give him a fake phone number. Now, these aren’t the days of screening phone calls. For all you kiddies out there, before caller ID, we used to let phone calls go straight to voice mail so we could know who’s calling. It was the time when, gasp, people called your house phone. That was known as screening. I know, how archaic. Anyway, these are the days of fast, on the spot connecting and not just through your cell phone. So if you don’t like a guy yet feel the need to lead him on, chances are you will have to get rid of him on your social media accounts as well. And for the love of God don’t pretend to give him a fake number. He will ring it while he’s with you, and, he will want to see your phone screen light up as a confirmation. So just be honest. I promise it’s a lot easier and a lot less stressful.

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That Time You Went Swimming In A Fountain, losing your pants and Your Bag With your Friend’s Car Keys In It…

I kid you not, this happened to a friend of mine when I was living in Cyprus. At the time I was not impressed because I had to chauffeur everyone back home. Looking back on it now, it’s one of those stories that you just have to tell because it was so awesomely messy. People, if you know someone who has vodka instead of blood roaming around in their veins, do not give them your most prized possessions. You will be calling a friend to pick you up. Instead, avoid this person at all costs. You will have a carefree/drama free night.

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That Time You Made Out with Some Randomers…

Here’s the thing guys, I  am not opposed to a haughty intertwined meshing of the bodies. Sometimes one needs to be breathed upon. You know, to feel like you aren’t the ugly duckling who never really turned into the beautiful swan. It’s a nice feeling to be wanted. However, chances are you or your friends will be taking selfies of your shenanigans and you do not want to be the butt of any jokes. If you are seeing the world through jack Daniels’ glasses do not make out with anyone. In fact, don’t even look at the opposite sex, or whatever sex is your preference! Just dance for goodness sake.

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And just in case you are still unsure, remember to always come prepared for everything. Here are some things you need with you on a night out…

  1. Tissues – This is a must.
  2. Eye drops – Your eyeballs will not only be dry but they will be seeing double
  3. A blow-up pillow – It will be a wondrous gift when you are face down on some side walk somewhere
  4. A blanket- For those urges of wanting to sleep. Now you can!
  5. Flats – Because not even supermodels can endure heels for 7 hours straight!
  6. Band aids – Those heels will ruin your feet
  7. toothbrush- You never know okay
  8. hair bands- you will throw up
  9. Bobby Pins – I once saved one of my sandals after it snapped with 2 bobby pins. Yeah, I know, McGyver ain’t got shit on me.
  10. Mints – This is surely self explanatory.
  11. Water
  12. More water
  13. Even more water!
  14. I mean seriously, you can’t have enough WATER
  15. Oh and lastly always have a bottle of WATER

I’m not so bad nowadays. It’s only on rare occasions that I go completely overboard. However everything goes out the window when my favourite friend of all time, Tequila comes to town, because…

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And when that happens… all bets are off.

Peace, Love and Drink Responsibly
(Not all alcohol stories end well, so be safe)