I am Anxiety

I come with you everywhere,

It’s almost like we are a pair.

I pretend to be your friend,

So you’ll always believe me till the end.

When I say, “I’m looking out for you”,

I just want it to always be us two.

I convince you that you are better off alone,

Because you don’t know how to be on your own.

The truth is I only act up when you have the courage to try,

Because I don’t want you to say goodbye.

I am without you nothing,

But you are without me something.

This is my first poem I’ve ever written, I don’t know if it’s any good but I thought I’d share it here. I’d appreciate any feedback.

I have a lot of anxiety and a lot of feelings about my anxiety.

Okay peace, have a good one!

You made your bed, now lie in it. No.

You made your bed, now lie in it

I hate this statement so much. This idea has had so much control over my choices in life, it’s unbelievably pathetic.

I have been living with depression for almost 1 year and 3 months.

I have been agonising over the fact that I’ve chosen this path and there is no way out. I’ve done all the steps, gone to university and now doing my masters to be a qualified professional. Somewhere though, this path that I set out even if I didn’t realise it then or it’s more true that I ignored it. It became something that I didn’t want to do anymore. I continued though because I thought if I am following this path, I have to finish it. Anyone would say that’s a logical, rational and reasonable way to live life. You start something, you finish it. But the thought of working in this profession fills me with dread.

So what if you change your mind, what if you have new dreams and they don’t match your path that you’ve set out. Huh? Now you’re trapped by expectations placed on you by others or more so yourself on this path you’ve laid out. You can’t see anything but this path, you didn’t account for the fact you might just change your mind about what you want in life.

So for months, I have been torturing myself when I finally recognised I didn’t want to do this. Telling myself I have to apply for jobs in this field because I have to finish what I started. There have been moments, where I’ve let myself think about quitting and all of these thoughts follow…you are a failure, you are worthless, you cannot finish anything, you aren’t contributing to the world, what was the point of doing all of these steps to get here only for you to give up on it. PATHETIC. You see this relentless cycle of negative self-talk that traps you.

After months of staring at the ceiling and just thinking that my life is doomed. I had this thought, what if just in a hypothetical situation, forget about all the consequences, how it would affect your image, how you would see yourself? I gave myself permission to think of a situation, where I would finish this course but I would not go into the profession. Just what if? And just like that, all of this dread just melted away. Then I realised ‘I don’t have to do what I set out to be’.

YES. You made the path, you can change it. You do not have to be thing you set out to be. You can move the damn brick, you can create a whole new path, you can go backwards, you can go sideways…It’s your path, no one else’s. Doesn’t matter what the hell anybody else says, you are living your life the way you want to live your life. Just tell everyone to shut the hell up, then tell yourself to also shut the hell up and stop putting limitations, restrictions and fixed ideas around who you are meant to be. You don’t know who you are meant to be yet. You’ll find out when you get there but for now just be what you want to be.

My whole life I have been listening to other peoples expectations of me and if its not them it’s what I expect of myself. It’s my idea of success which is often so warped, so unrealistic because it has never considered my strengths. It’s always what I see society perceives as success that I impose those ideas on myself. I convince myself that this is what I want to do and then I get encouraged by what others say ‘wow, well done, you’re so smart’. Yeah a few moments of praise, then a life of misery. No thankyou. I do not give a shitt anymore. I’m done.

It feels so good to just be free from these chains I’ve put on myself for no damn reason other than to meet some imaginary idea of success. I feel so stupid holding onto an idea of myself, that doesn’t exist anymore.

So what do I say to…

“You made your bed, now lie in it”

No I think I’m just going to lie on the floor, because I can 🙂

I broke my own heart.

There’s a saying that I’ve heard, twice now;

Life will keep teaching you the same lesson until you listen.

I didn’t understand till now.

I consider myself a reflective person, I’m always analyzing my mistakes and thinking of ways not to make the same one. It does become hypercritical at times but nonetheless I’ve accepted that’s how my brain works. I am also future orientated, I always have at least several opportunities that I’ve dipped my toe in. And if they don’t work out, my backup plans have back up plans.

However, one thing that’s taken me 23 years to realize, is I never process the present. So years have gone by, where trauma on top of trauma has happened but my approach is ‘okay, that happened, let’s move on’. I don’t talk about it, partly because I come from a family who don’t talk about trauma. Their default reaction is ‘Pray to God, everything will be okay’. Another issue is I’m introverted and extremely private which makes it even more difficult to open up to anyone. Even writing this piece is freaking me out.

So, trauma keeps happening and I keep moving on. For some reason, I felt fine, I was okay. The very least I thought I was okay because I believed that one day when I finally got out of the shitt hole, that I’ll be able to live and be who I want to be. I’m grateful for this because it did carry me through the darkest of times.

This year, I got my independence and finally started to take the opportunities to do the things that I’ve always wanted to do.  A few months in, I realized something, I feel worse if not the same after every successful thing that happens. For me happiness,  only lasted 10 seconds after I got good news, but then it was always followed by my good old friends depression and anxiety. When I perceived things as failures,  just made the feelings unbearable. I guess I did always feel this way but because of the craziness around me, I didn’t have the opportunity to realize it.  Anyway, I was still in denial for a while, hoping that the next thing that I achieved will magically give me that sense of worth that I was looking for. Something to hold onto. So I continued, until I couldn’t ignore the realization. I couldn’t unsee the pattern, no matter how hard I tried. Super grateful for my pattern recognition skills at this point. :/ I finally learnt the lesson, that no matter what I did or how well I did it. Something was always going to hold me back from fully enjoying any moment. That my worth was never going to come from anything external and fix that broken part of me. That hole where I’ve been shoving all the shitt that I don’t want to deal with. Yeah, time to start digging it back up.

Then, my heart broke. I felt this heaviness descend on my heart, where it felt like my heart broke into 1 million pieces and at the same time being squeezed. Like someone was trying to put it back together in all the wrong places. This feeling won’t go away, it’s been here for a few weeks now.

I’m angry at myself for making me believe in all the lies I made up. I’m angry that I have to do extra work on myself, for things that I couldn’t control. I’m sad. I’ve never felt this type of sadness before. It’s like I’m grieving. But I’m also numb to everything and everyone, so I can’t even cry or feel something or just let it out which then just frustrates me even more. I feel myself isolating, it’s too much effort to interact with anyone or do anything. I want the pain to end, but I’m also afraid of letting the darkness out and being drowned in it. I’ve learnt that I can’t trust myself to form plans that actually work so there’s only one way, that’s right. Right through the shitt pit of darkness.

So I’m off to get some real help. I have nothing more to loose.



When someone else tells you there might be something wrong with you.

It’s funny how when we hear what we’ve been telling ourselves for years from someone else – it hurts.  It becomes real. The thing that you feared or were uncomfortable about yourself, that you were hoping wasn’t true, is now true, because they’ve said it to you.

It could be something that you need to do to help you grow, or just something you were insecure about. It feels like they’ve just ripped off the band aid without any warning and left you, standing there, butt naked. It makes you feel vulnerable.

What’s made me feel so vulnerable this week is that someone suggested that I might have autism or a learning difficulty. Some of my behaviors reminded them of people they’ve worked with that had autism and learning difficulties. BTW I know they are completely two different things. The person who pointed this out to me argued that I might have both. I was like great, thank you so much. Wonderful. Anything else that I might have, that you feel you might have missed. ( The last part – all of that was beautifully said in my head)

Anyway, I don’t know if I believe them but it’s not the fact that I might have those things, it’s the fact that they saw that in me. They saw past me trying so hard to cover up how hard I try to do certain things.

I’ve always done pretty well when it comes to research and essay writing, but I’ve never been the type of person that could absorb information straight away. I wouldn’t learn anything off a presentation or lecture, but I would go home learn everything myself from the beginning. I’ve managed to get away with that for 23 years, because for all of education up until now required me to go away and prepare for exams, essays or presentations. Never on the spot thinking. Now that I’m working somewhere, where it’s easier for people to spot my learning struggles.

I think what I’m struggling with is the fact that after this person said this to me – I went down the dark hole called the internet and searched on everything and anything about autism and learning difficulties. I related to almost all the symptoms of autism and signs of visual dyslexia. I completed every internet test I could find, official and non official and I scored high in most. This of course doesn’t mean that I am. I’m no way self-diagnosing.  It just means that I need to get tested and at this point I have no choice because I’m still going to struggle with these things until I do something about it.

Part of me is welcoming a diagnosis, then maybe I can get some support and maybe I won’t have to try so hard to be something I’m not or do things that I’m just not made to do.  The other part of me is thinking I don’t want to feel different than I already feel I am. I’ll have a label now. I’m finally starting to accept myself – unconditionally (trying) and being okay with people having opinions of me.  Now people won’t just go yeah she’s weird, no they’ll go yeah she’s got this learning difficulty or autism, that’s why she acts like that. Will it also restrict me, will i start saying to myself, I can’t do this or that because I have this condition?

There are all these questions that I have but the truth is I just don’t want to find out. Because either way, I’ll have to come terms with knowing and then the task of figuring what the outcome means, and then what do I do from here.

Yeah, I’m just going to have to get tested.

I don’t know what I’m hoping for, I just hope that whatever the outcome, it’s helps in the long run.


VO x

If you believe your ugly, then it’s true.

I’ve always believed that what you say out loud about yourself, sends out vibrations into the universe which then makes it true. Like saying ‘I will always be alone’, you will end up doing things both consciously and subconsciously that when put together encourages an isolated life. Therefore, I have been really trying to say positive things and accept positivity from other people towards me. Even if I don’t believe these things that I’m saying 100%, most of the time it’s only 50%, I still try and say them often because eventually I will end up doing things both consciously and subconsciously that will make it true.

I’m getting better at talking about myself in a positive way, for example if I didn’t do as well in something, I would say ‘Well done for giving it 100%, remember that my worth is in who I am, not what I do. Now, let’s look at what did I do well and let’s see what I can improve on for the next time’.

However, I notice that my inside voice is still quite negative. For an introvert, looking inward is what we do to figure out the outside world. That’s all good when it comes to external matters, but I’m beginning to realize that when it comes to thoughts about myself, I cannot trust them. My mouth will be saying something positive, but my mind will be disagreeing the whole way through as I’m speaking. That’s because I haven’t put the same effort in training my inner thoughts. No wonder I only believe what I’m saying ‘50%’ of the time. I have to take the negativity that comes from within seriously. I’ve been testing this idea these past few weeks and I think I’m getting somewhere. For example, I know I’m really nervous for my upcoming move to a new city, so my mind sort of runs in circles at night which brings anxiety and not much sleep. I know that once I move, I won’t have a problem sleeping, it’s just the nerves. However when I get up in the morning after a sleepless night, my attitude, my thoughts specifically are ‘great, today is going to be a rubbish day because I’m going to be too tired to do anything’. Guess what? I end up having the most depressing and least productive day.

This has been happening for weeks, so one day I decided to intentionally change my attitude to ‘even if I don’t have a great sleep tonight, I’m going to have a great day tomorrow!’. The next day I woke up tired of course, but I didn’t have that feeling of dread, I was looking forward to the day. It was like as if a barrier had been removed. Things didn’t have to be one way because something didn’t work out as planned. I worked with my situation instead of running away from it or bashing myself for it. I still did the things that made me happy to get into the mood but altered them to accommodate the fact that I was a little low on energy. Like exercise, I went for an extended walk instead of my usual run. I decided to start taking iron tablets to help boost my energy levels up. I had a really productive day and all it took was changing my perspective on the situation. There were so many solutions to my problems, it’s just I didn’t give myself the opportunity to see the solutions because I always believed in the negativity that acted as the excuses.

What you think and say about yourself matters equally. If you believe certain things about yourself on the inside they will show on the outside even if you are saying something else completely different. For example, if you don’t believe you’re attractive, there’s not enough makeup, plastic surgery or beauty treatments in the world to make you feel truly beautiful from the inside out.  I’ve met people who truly believe they are ugly without makeup (trust me they aren’t). However, they’re still constantly calling themselves ugly and it doesn’t matter how many complements I give or how beautiful I think they are, they do not believe it. Even though they’re makeup makes them attractive, it doesn’t make them feel beautiful. Beauty has to be felt from the inside out to be truly attractive. People pick up on that, because even if you don’t mean it to it comes off as being inauthentic to yourself.

I’ve learn that I have to do the hard work first and that is working on positivity from within. This includes practicing self-compassion by accepting that I’m going to try things that may not work out. And sometimes they won’t, it doesn’t make me any less of a person, it just makes me human.  Once I master positivity from within, I know that my inner thoughts will consciously and subconsciously manifest into positive actions that will benefit both myself and others.




Ending a friendship.

This week, I decided to end a friendship, a 6 year friendship.

It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I am glad I did it.

This friendship was toxic in so many ways. I shall explain. I’ll refer to this person as ‘M’.

  • Let me just say that this person did have a very traumatic childhood and rightly deserved to be called a victim. However, in every. single. aspect. in M’s life M was a victim. No matter how positive of a spin I tried to put on thing, no matter how positive something actually was, M saw it M’s way, and only M’s way. I know many victims of the same circumstance and yes everyone is different, but the constant negativity, one breath of positivity does not hurt. So I would be there trying to convince M not to be negative, not to see things negatively but just when you think M’s got it, M goes right back to M’s way of thinking. In the end, I learnt that the best thing was to just agree with M, so I stopped having my own opinions and just absorbed all this negativity. That in itself was draining for 6 long years.
  • Everyone was to blame but M. Everything and anyone who threatened M’s way of living, you have to let M be or M’s response would be ‘don’t judge me’. For instance if M would never meet someone half way, no everything would have to be M’s way or the highway, even in someone else’s house.
  • Every time M texted or called, anxiety would hit me out of nowhere. But I’d still pick up.  There were periods M would call very late at night, I would always pick up because I knew that M needed someone in that moment. I was always there for M. All M needed to do is say ‘jump’, and I would say ‘how high, your highness’? I was going through a lot too and I did have a traumatic childhood, but I never could let M know because when I reached out in my most depressing of times, she was never there. Never.
  • At the end of our relationship, M started to call and cut the phone on me. Just abruptly whilst I was speakin- beep. That deeply hurt me because now M was purposefully ignoring me. M came to stay and ignored me and my entire family in real life too. M ignored me in my own house which made me feel extremely insignificant. M couldn’t see how deeply disrespectful it was and that it crossed a line.
  • M would never apologize. M always said, ‘I will apologize when I feel I’ve done something wrong’. M always said quite insensitive things, but I always let it go, I would tell myself ‘ M is going through a lot, give M a break’. I’ve been giving M second chances since 2012. So I’d only pipe up when M crossed the line, and that was once in 6 years. For 6 years that was my excuse to just allow M to keep hurting me. I had hope that M’s suffering would end and M would finally see the light of day. But M never did so I piped up for the second time in 6 years. M’s first response to my feelings, ‘this is just how I am’. M apologized in the end when I explained the extent of my feelings, because the fact that M could physically see that I was hurt was not enough to warrant a sincere apology.
  • Every time a conflict presented itself M would shut down, walk out, ignore you or whoever it was before it became an actual conflict. It was their fault, never M’s. So to live in harmony with M, everyone was suppose to walk on eggshells to preserve peace. Uncomfortably miserable peace, but nonetheless it was peace.

I thought to myself, am I going to be 50 years old, still feeling like shitt, still walking on eggshells, afraid to say the wrong thing that can set M off or make M walk, afraid to be frank, afraid to have normal communication, always understanding M’s point of view, never sharing my honest opinions, absorbing all of these negative emotions whilst trying to sort out my own?

There was a time I needed this friendship because I didn’t have any self-worth. I was ready to be psychologically tortured because the good moments with M were worth it. I was helping someone too and I hoped one day our friendship would improve. I believed I didn’t deserve to be treated any better, because I wasn’t worth it. In my warped mind, the psychological torture whilst helping someone made up for my lack of self worth. No. It was categorically imbalanced. Now I’ve worked on myself, I realized

Hell to the No. I’m not suffering any longer, 6 years of painfully waiting for someone to change how they treat you is enough patience, loyalty, whatever you want to call it for a lifetime.  No, thank you.

So I ended it in the most non conflict way, a text. I told M that it would best for both of us if we parted ways, I wished M the best. A few days after I was quite depressed, couldn’t get up to do anything, doubting myself of my decision to end a friendship, calling myself a failure. So whilst wallowing in misery, M hadn’t responded yet. The fact that M didn’t respond immediately or even within 24 hours clearly showed that the friendship never mattered in the first place. M responded a few days later, and really M tried to be nice but they were empty words because M needed to come pick up some stuff M left at my house. I wrote M a letter, told M exactly how M made me feel and left it in M’s stuff. That was the end of it.

Thank God.

Moral of the story: If your gut is telling you this is bullshit, listen to it.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Everything I’ve ever done has always been overshadowed by self-doubt. Here are some examples,

  • I pass an exam. Thoughts: Did you really? The examiner must’ve have been having a pretty good day to give you that Mark. Wait let me calculate it myself, just to prepare in case they miscalculated.
  • I get into a uni/ program. Thoughts: Watch they are about to call and revoke the offer because someone else deserves it more than you. Come on, you didn’t work as hard as everyone else. Do you really deserve it?.
  • Someone complements me. Thoughts: What is it that they want from me. Clearly they can see I’m ugly, and by complementing an ugly person they think they’ll get something. I might as well give them whatever they want since it’s the closest I’ll get to someone remotely liking me.

These are just some of the thoughts that run through my brain literally every second of the day.

If I was to psychoanalyse myself, I would say that this doubt probably stems from my acquired low self-esteem. A low self esteem built from years of emotional neglect and emotionally absent parents.

Yes, my parents messed me up but shouldn’t I be over this by now. I’m 23 for God sake, surely there must be a time limit to how long I can blame my parents. Still no matter what, I always wait for the other shoe to drop. It’s exhausting to always remind myself I’m like this because of this *insert traumatic past experience here*. Therefore I deserve to remain unhappy because I am fundamentally broken.  Why can’t I just be? Why do I carry this shitt with me?

It’s like somehow subconsciously I know that without it I won’t feel complete. Even though this baggage is clearly heavy, I know without it I won’t be me. Maybe letting go and finding out who I am is what’s truly scaring me. Will I be me if I let go? Who is me? And once I find out will I like me? All these unknowns. I’d rather stay in the know, you know. So I just keep carrying it around and adding more and more baggage. Then I wonder why I feel so miserable?

I am the person who has low self esteem, low self confidence, low self worth, high self doubt. I am this way because of my emotionally damaging past experiences. I know where I stand amongst humans at the bottom of the pile. I know I’m insignificant. I know this.

Yet, there’s always some voice saying you know there’s more to life than this comfortable yet painful misery your living. You know things can be better. You know things can change if you truly want it too and put the effort in. You know this.

There is always hope somewhere deep down my tortured soul that I can in fact change. This is annoying, but I’m glad it’s there because it shows I still have a little fight in me. No matter how depressed, or emotional numb I’m feeling I know there’s a part of me that still sees some self-worth. If it wasnt there I would have checked out a long time ago and that’s something to hold on to.

Then hopefully one day I won’t need to fight anymore and finally belive I am actually worth my existence.

Being your own friend?

I’ve heard the term ‘be your own friend’ so many times and I never really grasped what it meant. I understood somewhat that it’s a suggestion to treat yourself how you treat others. For me, the concept still felt so detached/confusing partly because I thought of it literally. How can one be one’s own best friend?  made no sense.

I’ve been reading, listening and watching things about loneliness. This YouTuber he said something like…you can’t expect to meet someone and they turn out to be your best friend, your special friend, the one that gets you. It’s unfair to put those types of expectations on them. Then you’re so quick to dismiss them because you believe they aren’t the one. I realized I do this, then I justify it with well no one really understands me, I’m just different (Blaghh) then I’m miserable.

Sometime after being immersed in this loneliness research, it hit me that no one really will or truly can understand you. I’ve always believed that if I had this “special” imaginary person that could know me inside out then I will finally be happy. All my problems will suddenly vanish. But yes even if you meet someone who empathizes and feels more than most, maybe they’re even sensitive to peoples emotions and just being around people drains them mentally. This person can never truly understand what you’re going through. The best that you can do is explain to them the situation and hope they can visualize how it feels. Regardless, no matter how kind and emotionally intelligent this person is, they will have never experienced what you have experienced. They will never truly understand. They have to have experienced it too.

Yet even then, the experience of the event will be subjective.  Let’s say you both were in car accident, one person when asked how they felt as the car was toppling over might answer I thought I was about to die and the other might answer I was ready to die. Or something less gory. See the first one has a glimmer of hope and the second chose to accept there was no hope (likely me) So how you experience something is up to you, your instincts that have been developed from all your past experiences and of course the psychological/genetic traits that you inherited.

I think it’s in accepting that no one can be your savior or, that you’ll meet someone that truly gets you or be your “best friend” will finally help you realize or accept that the only person that can truly be your best friend is you.

I’m sort of feel relieved that I don’t have to find this “one” person that I’m meant to be with or be my best friend. That really I’m in control of my own happiness. The reason that I feel hopeless, depressed or whatever soul/mind numbing emotion that I’m experiencing right now is my choice. Ofcourse I didn’t choose for things to happen to me, but I did choose how I would react to them. And I chose to be the most shittiest friend I could be to myself. That’s the hardest pill to swallow, because now I know that my happiness has always depended on me, no one else.

Now I have to go figure out how to be my own best friend.

Thoughts on the MBTI personality testing as an INFJ.

For those of you who don’t know what MBTI is, it’s the Myers-Brigs Type Indicator, a personality testing tool. There are 16 personality types and I was classified as an INFJ. Read here for more info: www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test 

I have contrasting views on this because I see both the benefits and downfalls.

Foremost I agree with my personality diagnosis, well at least most of of it. It has helped me better understand why I do the things I do. Although, from a young age I was always very self-aware and conscious of myself and others. I really didn’t need to know the why of things, because I was quite an observant child, I knew even when I didn’t know how I knew. The real reason and the most important one is that I finally felt understood. When you feel like an outsider, it’s nice to hear that there is not something fundamentally wrong with you. That it’s just how you are and not to feel ashamed of being so.

However I also feel personality is not a fixed thing. Yes there are key elements of a personality that cannot change, for example whether you are introverted or extroverted – you will always go back to your default setting or natural tendency. My problem is when people choose to restrict themselves to their type, meaning using their type as an excuse to not grow or work on their issues. I truly believe that if you work hard enough at something you can do it. So I’m always aware or try to be of my thought processes by asking myself am I really trying or simply choosing to take the easy way out here by saying, “this is me, can’t do anything about my personality”.

Also there’s this thought that keeps eating away at me about any and all personality tests. Can humans really be categorized into 16 personalities or whatever classification? If you just think about it biologically/genetically. Each human is made up of approximately 3.2 billion letters of genetic code. 50% of this code comes from the mother and the other half comes from the father. Basically, there is not one person in the planet who has your genetic code, you are genetically unique. Even your siblings have inherited a different 50% from your mother and father than you. You only share certain DNA markers to indicate relation. Even with the case of identical twins when the same exact 50% are inherited to each child, they still have unique characteristics like fingerprints.

Bare with me and my ramblings….Genes are the foundation of your psychology, of course it depends on the environment too. But the interaction of your genes to the environment compared to mine will be different. So even if we objectively had the same experience, subjectively our perception of the experience will innately be different due to our differing genes. As experiences mold our psychology and overall personality, how can they be defined by 16 types. Surely when we consider all the possible genetic combinations we cannot define the psychological and personality manifestations into only 16 types.

Maybe I’m over thinking this too much… Conversely, maybe I’m overestimating the complexity of the human experience. For example, everyone has certain experiences but it’s nothing unknown such as death, birth, major life events, stress, unspeakable events, etc. The only difference is the varying intensity and the subjective perception of the experience. Still at the core, these events no matter how different can be distilled to these known basic life experiences. So in a way the psychological or personality manifestations will be simple, because there’s only a specific number of ways to perceive things.

Tell me what you think, because I think I’m overthinking this too much.

How social anxiety took over my graduation ceremony.

Being an introvert does not necessarily mean you have social anxiety. However, you can be introverted and suffer from social anxiety. With introversion the social anxiety is amplified. Wooh isn’t that fun.

From the moment I knew the date of my graduation ceremony, I did not want to go. I also knew I had no say in the matter, that I had to go because of family obligation, being the first of my siblings to complete higher education and to celebrate my achievements (according to my mother). So from the get go I had to mentally prepare for this event and fight every instinct to find a way to stay home. It was okay, because I had months to mentally prepare or so I thought.

So you’d think I would’ve recharged my introvert batteries enough to survive a whole day of stimulation and attention being solely on me. Nope as usual, the batteries run out when they want to run out. In fact, I lasted longer than I expected but that’s not very long to normal human standards as you’ll see.

I arrived at the venue at 9 AM and immediately my senses felt overwhelmed even though at this point not many had arrived. However, having my mother there was comfort I guess and so I wasn’t looking for an escape just yet. In fact, I was looking forward to getting my gown, taking some pics and for the first hour I can honestly say I enjoyed it. Just mother and daughter enjoying moments together.

As people increasingly began to arrive that is when I could feel my senses being overstimulated. The anxiety was starting to surface. I was feeling nauseous and impending doom because not only was I trying to control the sensory overload, I was also becoming increasingly anxious at the fact in a few minutes I have to collect my fake scroll on the ceremonial stage in front of about 1000 people which includes former classmates, their families and friends. I still had a handle on my emotions at this stage which is credited to my internal monologue saying, “look all you have to do is sit through this ceremony, collect your fake scroll and before you know it, it will be all over, you can do this”.

Throughout the ceremony I was feeling increasingly nauseous. There was a point that the students had to stand up for a few minutes whilst the orchestra played and welcomed in the important alumni. Here my anxiety was taking over because I felt my legs shaking like jelly. After sitting through tedious speeches about how proud we should be of our achievements in various forms, it was time for the ceremony.

You see I don’t remember collecting the fake scroll, I don’t even remember shaking the vice chancellor’s hand and I don’t remember my name being read. What I do remember is FEAR. The type where you don’t hear anything else but the sound and feel of your heart beat propelling you back and forth. From just those 30 seconds or however long it took me to walk across that stage, I was done. My batteries were drained. I just wanted to go home. I felt at that point I had done it. I did what I came for. But no it’s never easy when you have to wait for family to arrive and congratulate you.

As the ceremony concluded, I was trying to gather myself the best that I could because I knew that in a few minutes I’m going to have to be ready for pictures, have to smile, thank everyone for coming and most importantly not break down. However the attempt to recuperate was hindered by increasing excitement from graduates and their families. Then my family arrived. Oh boy, the pressure from it being my graduation day, the constant attention of family members around the world calling my mother to speak to me, the doting from family members here, the constant and endless congratulations, ‘thank yous for being here’ and class mates stopping me to take pictures all whilst I held back my tears. So I headed to the place where no one would attempt to follow me. Yes the toilet. And cried.

Now the negative self-talk was kicking in as well as the need to escape. ‘why are you being so pathetic? why can’t you be like everyone else? what is wrong with you that you’d rather be at home, when all your family have come to see you, ungrateful idiot’. With the “encouraging kindness” of this negative self-talk, I told myself I’ve had the cry and I need to get back out there. I need to show that I appreciate the support from those who traveled a long way to congratulate me. But I should’ve just stayed in the toilet.

As I returned back to an overstimulating environment I was embraced by new family members whom had just arrived. Great. Now time for more pictures. The fact I don’t like attention and taking pictures, I really should’ve predicted my reaction when I was asked to take more pictures after having taken them all day. Hindsight is 20-20.

What happened was the family members arrived and immediately wanted to take pictures with me. Not thinking because now my introverted brain had had enough. I said, “NO, I DON’T WANT TO TAKE ANY PICTURES!”. Of course, everyone was shocked and appalled at my rudeness. At that point I didn’t care but they then pleaded with me so I gave in. However because my emotions are my emotions, I can not smile genuinely when I’m not happy. All my pictures ended up looking like someone was pointing a gun at my head (in a way it was a mental gun). So I know they were disappointed with me at that point and so was I.

Eventually, the gown started to feel like a straight jacket and I couldn’t participate in the charade any more. So I informed my mother that I’m taking it off and I’ll wait outside for her.

I’m still feeling quite low about it, but I thought I’d share this because I know that I’m not the only one who suffers from this. I don’t why I felt compelled to stay, I don’t know why I succumbed to the pressure to go in the first place. I could’ve saved the money and had the most amazing day out with the people I wanted there. I know why, it’s what I always do which choosing other peoples needs over mine. I’m done with that.