How Zoella changed my life for the better.

Friday, October 28, 2016

I feel in a better position to write about things now, than I did do when I lived under the cloud of 'anxiety'. I know its become a bit of a buzzword in blogging circles, some people openly eye-rolling or disregarding the experiences of someone who suffers with such a thing. But I think unless you've suffered through something as complex and as cold as anxiety, you won't ever fully understand or empathise with those who suffer. I'm writing this post as a 'hurrah!' to myself - as well as a more journalistic entry on the blog, looking back on how far I've come really does spur me on.

Since Zoella opened up about her own experiences with anxiety, others who perhaps didn't think what they suffered with had a name - came forward. I'm one of those people. Through school, I preferred the company of online games where I didn't need to interact face to face with people. There were many times at family gatherings or parties, where everyone would be downstairs and I'd be upstairs simply turning to my coping mechanism. Of course, back in 2005/6, anxiety wasn't really a recognised thing - I was antisocial, rude, cold and a whole host of other boxes that people tried to fit me in. I was introverted, reclusive and very tied into my own little world - nobody understood how my mind worked so nobody really contested it. That meant my coping mechanisms were pretty much set in stone - my fight or flight was essentially, 'no fight just alienating myself'.

I can cope with me. I never disagreed with me, I never thought me was wrong and me never made me go out of my comfort zone so I was happier being in the comfort of me and in control.

This continued for a good few years. In that time I'd had and walked away from a relationship, I was literally - on my own. That was when a message had popped up online from a charming gentleman, and I knew if I wanted to move forward then I'd have to start making myself uncomfortable in order to get there. I'd have to put myself in situations and learn from them, watch other people and pick up their social signals and almost mimic them to get by - fake it till you make it, right?

Fast forward to having purchased tickets to meet this gentleman, and having taken the train from Leeds to Manchester - I was seconds away from meeting him. I did it, you know. He's currently sat on the other side of the room with his son. He's a medal of me going against my anxiety, and I'm very proud of that. But something I did make sure I did, was put all my cards on the table about how I felt around people, what made me tick, what I felt like when I spiralled out of control. I was genuine, transparent and completely honest - not just to Mike, but to everyone after that. It was April 2011.

In December 2011, Zoella published the Panic Attacks.. post and something changed. It had a name. I wasn't irrational. I wasn't rude. I wasn't a bad person. I was someone who was "Dealing with it". I was able to go to my GP and really get across how I felt - how I had done for years. I'd touched on it once or twice, but had never pursued it because it sounded ridiculous - how can someone simply not like other people? But now, I wanted to lose those negative tags people had stuck me with.

Being able to do that was a huge turning point for me. Zoella, even though she's four years my junior, helped me in ways I can't ever thank her for - and countless other people besides. Her speaking out about something like anxiety really was a turning point for me. It had a name. Thank you for that, Zoe.

Here in 2016, I have wobbles. But, I'm not on my own. I have friends who can talk me around the dreaded pit - a huge fall where panic attacks and loneliness are abound. Friends who know that seeing the 'received' tab on a text message with no message back doesn't mean I'm ignoring them - I'm waiting to formulate the response I want. I have family who tell me how proud they are that I got this far - that I'm no longer the one hunched over the PC until 5-6am. I have a job - when I'm at work, my anxiety doesn't bother me. It plays second fiddle to me wanting to work, and me enjoying my job so I'm incredibly lucky that my brain has compartmentalised that side of my life - not everyone is as lucky.

One of the best things I've learned to do however, is when I meet people. I'm strong enough now to say "Hello, I'm Tilly. I have social anxiety and I'm bad with people - I'm dealing with it though, please be patient."

Its okay to feel this way. I have more of a social circle, more friends than I ever have done and its because I have been incredibly honest about my anxiety. Its not something I'm ashamed of anymore.

The Wizard of Oz at St Helens Theatre Royal!

Monday, October 24, 2016

It's Pantomime season everyone!

Oh no it isn't!

Oh yes it is - and to get our festive fix we went along to see the wonderful Wizard and all his friends when it came to the Theatre Royal in St Helens.

It was time to go down that yellow brick road!
I've never been to a pantomime before. So at 29 years old it was time this was rectified, and as my MIL had wanted to indulge too we decided this would be the year we went along and ticked it off of our bucket lists. We took Megs along with us, as well as her cousin who is a little older and it's safe to say by the end we all came out having enjoyed the show - it was wonderfully glitzy and child friendly, with a sprinkle of innuendo and naughtiness in there for the adults too...

Personally I'm a huge fan of the cowardly lion!
I have to say, this take on the very well known tale of Oz and its Wizard wasn't what I expected. We were treated to renditions of 'Respect' from The Wicked Witch of the West (Cheryl Fergison, known for her time as Heather Trott in Eastenders) and I have to say, Cheryl was wonderful as the well known villain. She stalked across the stage, referring to the children in the audience as brats and the adults as 'plastic scousers' at one point - fitting, as we were crammed into the St Helens venue. Charlotte Gallagher entranced us all as Dorothy, belting out 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' to everyone's delight - the pooch who played Toto also deserving a mention too as he was wonderful throughout the whole two hour performance.

Oh what a night!
We had a fantastic time - Megs was entranced by the whole thing, and while she didn't understand why 'We're Off to See the Wizard' was replaced rather fittingly by the song 'Ease on Down the Road' from the broadway musical The Wiz, she enjoyed the replacement immensely. The whole show was upbeat and bouncy, with slapstick humour and more current comedy coming into the show at points too - there are moments so well put together and modernised that you'll be left wondering how on Earth they managed to knit things together so well.

As the curtain came down to close, Scarecrow (Liam Mellor) closed proceedings with a wonderful little nod to the audience - golden tickets had been slotted into the shows programs which had been sold, the holders of which were brought up on stage to receive a prize and to take part in the finale.

The show is running from the 22nd of October until the 30th - so get yourselves to St Helens Theatre Royal. You won't be disappointed!

Get your tickets via - £12 for an adult, £10 for children and £11 for concessions. You can also book in person at the Theatre Royal Box Office, Corporation Street, St. Helens, Merseyside WA10 1LQ (Mon – Sat 10am – 5pm). Alternatively, call 01744 756 000.

A visit from my parents & a trip to Pennington Flash.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

My parents came to visit this weekend! We originally had a visit to the huge Willowbrook Hospice warehouse planned but when we arrived after a lunch out at 3.40pm it was closed. I felt disappointed, because I know its a place both my Mother and Father would be lost in - but it gave us the opportunity to show them the splendour of Pennington Flash (I vlogged about Pennington Flash here!) which wasn't lost on them.

The boys played with a rugby ball at the waters edge and me, Megs and my Mother had a catch up over a coffee (Megs had an ice cream, she hasn't developed a coffee addiction just yet..) at a picnic bench which was perfect for her in her wheelchair with a beautiful view of the flash itself. I really enjoyed the opportunity to chat with my parents and get to see them - they make my life so much brighter and while they're over an hour away we talk a lot on the phone and online, being so close knit we love nothing better than spending time together!

It was sad when they had to make their way back to the M62 to Bradford, but I was happy they'd explored our home and spent some time with us. It was Mike's 33rd birthday that day too, so it was a fantastic way of celebrating! All I want next time, is for my Grandmother to venture over and things will be complete.

I did a weekend 'Digital Detox' and survived...

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Scremerston Beach, Northumberland
What happened when I took a weekend off of the internet?
The internet is such a huge part of my life - with the blog, the vlogs and managing my social media I really do have a strong connection with the WIFI world..

This has caused issues before - when I had a huge bout of anxiety not so long ago, I quit everything. I left the internet behind and cast it aside. It wasn't long before the same itches came back however, as much as sometimes social media can trigger anxiety it soothes it too. I like being in touch with other people in a less demanding space. Online, I can pick and choose when I pick my phone up - face to face I can't exactly do that. Online, when sometimes someone triggers my anxiety without realising I unfollow/mute them. Offline, I can't do that. It isn't the best way to deal with this online either as I genuinely miss some people, and refollow a few days later - probably earning me a reputation as a unfollow-follower. Not ideal.

I realised these unhealthy patterns were starting, and instead of reclusing myself away and hiding I figured when I took the time to visit family in Northumberland I'd have a digital detox. One of my favourite vloggers, xameliax did a video about her own digital detox, and I felt perhaps I could put my own two cents down my blog about it.

While I did have my phone alongside me for photographs, I didn't check my social media or e-mails until I was (almost) home. Scheduled tweets went out, but that was all. It was probably easier for me as my weekend was jam packed with visits and family time - the only time I really struggled was when we were on the train home and Mike was sleeping. I think I broke the detox an hour into the four hour journey home which wasn't so bad as I'd kept clear all weekend.

What did I gain from my digital detox?

I gained a lot of time to simply 'be'. No worries about having to check my phone notifications, not bothering if the little light on my Samsung S6 was flashing.. It felt incredibly liberating. I didn't feel tethered. I was also able to leave my phone guilt free when we went to dinner, I actually forgot it the second night completely and usually I have a 'why didn't I take a photograph of my gorgeous dinner?!' moment but.. I didn't. I shrugged, enjoyed my meal and cocktails, then carried on.

My tweets had only been scheduled for two days. That meant by the time Sunday morning rolled around, I didn't have any tweets lined up ready to go - you know what happened?


Nobody unfollowed me. Nobody sent out a search party. Nobody berated me for being late with content or not posting. I didn't have hate messages, I didn't log in to find my account empty with a tumbleweed.. Life just carried on and when I did get on to check my social media nothing had changed. My irrational worry about leaving it unattended for the weekend was unfounded. I smiled as I scrolled through my timeline while on the East Coast train journey home, Mike snoring away quietly on my shoulder. I actually felt happy with myself. I'd had some secret, none-instagrammed experiences. I'd been on a beach and not tweeted about it while there. I'd had a wonderful steak dinner and not posted about it to Facebook.

It felt good.

While it might not be for everyone, I certainly gained a lot of confidence in my blog and social prescience. My followers didn't mind me having some time out. They cared about me having a lovely time, not about me updating every few minutes. I think for a weekend a month in the future, I'll be doing the same thing - spending it offline, and off my phone.

A family day out at the amazing Anderton Boat Lift in Northwich, Cheshire - A Vlog!

Monday, October 03, 2016

Our latest vlog featuring the Anderton Boat Lift, Tris and Megs! Please remember to like and subscribe if you enjoy our vlogs!
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