Good friends

IMG_1321When I was growing up I was never in the popular group. I did have friends but they weren’t in my class or year at school. My friends were at the stables, at guides and in my street. At school I was often lonely. I was the child who was always picked last for teams and who never had a partner or group to work with. I used to dread the moment the teacher would say “Now get into groups” knowing that I would be an outsider and that no one ever actually wanted to work with me.

Depression also robs you of your friends, you desperately need and want them but end up pushing them away because you don’t believe that you are worth liking.

Its hard to pinpoint when things started to change in the friendship department. For years having a crippling social anxiety meant I hardly went out and although I desperately wanted to take up invitations I just couldn’t do it.

I think things started to change when I was around 30. A chance meeting through a mutual friend (interestingly who I am no longer in contact with!) meant that I met my best friend- my first best friend since I was 8. Someone who liked me for who I was and actually chose to spend time with me. She also stayed by my side when I was in some of my darkest paces and for that I will always be truly grateful. It still surprises me now when she says she looks forward to seeing me! But now I am lucky enough to not have just one best friend but to have lots, more than I can count on one hand unbelievably. And not only do I have best friends, I also have other close friends and lots of people who love me for who I am. It’s taken me a long time to realise that they are not going anywhere too.

One of those friends said to me the other day “you are so good at keeping in contact with people and that’s such a great quality”. Yes I suppose I am, because the one thing I will never, ever do is take my friends for granted. I know how it feels to not have friends. I love each and every one of my friends and if you know you are one of my friends please know that you mean the world to me. And just like the picture, many of my friends I don’t get to see anywhere near as often as I’d like but it’s ok as, finally, I can believe that they will always be there.

A strange feeling …

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Since my last blog post and everyone’s amazing positivity and support something strange has happened. I have felt an overwhelming lightness and happiness that I’ve never really felt before. I feel free and as if nothing in the world can bring me down. I literally feel like you could throw anything at me and I’d be like “oh right, ok”, which is so not how I usually am! Usually I am little miss stressy and everything bothers me but not the last couple of weeks!

I tried to put my feelings into words and although it’s not really a poem here are my thoughts :

Happiness is the arms of friendship wrapped around me

It’s a grin so wide your face hurts

Happiness is confidence and laughter

It is a carnival of noise and colour

Happiness walks taller with a spring in its step

It is a celebration of fireworks

Happiness wants to shout from the rooftops

It is sparkly, loud and comfortable

Happiness is a riot of vivid colours.

It is right up in the clouds and carefree

Long may Happiness last;

 

This is Me

As I’m not quite sure how to start this post I’m just going to go for it. I’m gay. There I said it. It’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable with who I am and I’m sure this has contributed to my years of anxiety and depression.

I first knew I was ‘different’ when I was about 14. Everyone was talking about fancying boys and I just didn’t. The only idols I had were girls. Mainly from Neighbours and Home and Away! I didn’t even know there were options not to like boys then.

By the time I got to university (unbelievably twenty years ago now!) I knew the word for how I felt and I told a few people how I felt – we are no longer in contact which pretty much says it all. So I learned to keep quiet and just to go along with it when people talked about boys and later men they fancied.

Then in my twenties I tried again I told someone I thought I might be gay… and it wasn’t a disaster. But by then I was so caught up in the throws of my anxiety that I was terrified of being judged and being unable to cope.

Fast forward to now. I have a circle of amazing friends who just accept me for who I am. I went to pride with a friend from work and loved it. I can chat about girls in the staff room and am (almost) comfortable with it.

So here I am, every rainbow coloured, pink and sparkly, girl loving bit of me! Take me or leave me, your  choice but I think I am finally happy with who I am and I’m proud. IMG_1103

Happy?

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I don’t often talk publicly about my anxiety and depression. For one it’s often too painful but also because it irritates me when I feel like that so I’m damn sure that other people must be irritated too. (Apparently they are not, so my friends tell me, but there we go) . However, if there’s one thing it has taught me on my journey it’s that I shall never, ever take happiness for granted. I never really know how I am going to feel until I wake up in the morning and however excited I am about something, sometimes my anxiety takes over and ruins it for me. So I’ve learnt to really enjoy and treasure truly happy times. I’ve been really lucky this week, I’ve had three truly happy days in a row. Days where I can see the colours around me and enjoy the company of others. Days where I can taste what I eat and smile with my eyes as well as my mouth. Days where I appreciate the beauty of the nature as I’ve driven (clocked up 250 miles so far this week!) Days where I walk with a spring in my step and my shoulders back. Days where I feel an unburdened lightness about myself. I will never take them for granted. But equally I try not to beat myself up about a bad day. They are part of my journey, obstacles to overcome perhaps or take a diversion around. But because of those dark days I think I feel my happy days more intensely and for this, surprisingly, I am glad. Yes in a way I am glad I have experienced depression, strange as that may seem. Although yes in some ways it truly sucks, in others it’s taught me valuable lessons. It’s taught me what happiness really feels like. And for that I am glad.

Zumba – Let it move you!

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Happiness landmarks are those turning points in your life where something happens that gives you a long lasting boost of happiness. A bit like drinking a double espresso, or downing a shot of Berocca, or driving in to a turbo boost on Super Mario Kart….anyway, finding Zumba has definitely been a happiness landmark for me. I can’t even remember how I first heard about Zumba, but my friend and I decided to go along to a class one evening and we instantly loved it – the music was full of energy and while the moves definitely gave us a work out, we really enjoyed dancing along to the music and had a great time together. From that first class we ended up visiting more classes with different instructors and as time went on, we came up with our own ideals for a perfect Zumba class. I couldn’t believe it when my friend then decided to turn our ideas in to a reality and trained to be an instructor herself! I loved her classes so much – the music was perfect, the moves were perfect and we built up our own Zumba family of members. Then last year another crazy thing happened…my friend had to close the class temporarily while she was on maternity leave and in a moment of madness I decided to train as an instructor myself so that I could cover for her! I had no idea then that it would snowball the way that it has – I absolutely love being an instructor, I now have my own Zumba Kids Jr. class and I’m adding a Zumba Toning class to my timetable after my training in February. Zumba makes me feel so happy, the music, the moves and the people that I get to see every week really give me a boost and put a big smile on my face. I look forward to every class and I have so much fun every time – seeing other people enjoying the class too certainly gives me an extra boost of happiness and confidence, knowing that they have chosen to come back each week is definitely a compliment! I can’t wait for my friend to come back and teach her class because we have so much fun together, but I am also grateful for the opportunity to experience the other side of Zumba because it’s opened up a huge source of happiness that will last a long time!

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My Zumba Kids + Kids Jr. training was one of the best days ever – this photo definitely shows how fun it was!

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This was taken after my first class as an instructor – that’s happiness and relief on my face right there!

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I’m a bit addicted to Zumba clothes….