Tuesday, 13 September 2016

How to be there for someone with anxiety

(*photo credit to Blondinrikard Froberg*)

Research, research, research:
before you open your mouth. Before you offer advice. Before you say the thing, the wrong thing, because unfortunately, that would be the easiest thing in the world for you to do. Listen to them. Ask them questions, if they're comfortable talking about it.

If you're not willing to try, to educate yourself, to accept: to understand, somehow, then walk away. Let them be. They will wear your ignorance as a scar on the heart.

Please, please, please do not ever tell them to 'calm down', or 'chill out'; do not ever tell them that they're being silly or have nothing to be anxious about. Let's acknowledge the obvious: if they could simply switch it off, they would. They would choose, in a heartbeat, to live without the bastard if they could.
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Sunday, 4 September 2016

The breaking


I threw up in the minutes after he left. And then I sat, clutching my hair in my hands on the bathroom floor, crying. Deep, primal sobs that shook my ribcage: the kind I'd never cried before. The kind that only ever come when you love with your entire being, only to discover that it is not enough. Sometimes, in spite of it all, we are just human. Vulnerable, and flawed, and hurt. We cannot always fix the broken parts. We cannot always put them back together.

We build homes in humans, I think. And so, when they leave: when the foundations aren't strong enough to weather the fourth storm of the year, we find ourselves homeless. Lost. Wondering who we were before we were theirs. Wondering if there will ever come a day when we don't feel them, somehow. When we don't fall asleep remembering how it felt to do so against the warmth of their skin.
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Monday, 15 August 2016

Ubuntu

(*Photo credit to the girl who makes my every day brighter, my wonderful Ash*)

There was a doctor, at the hospice I worked at, who retired in the days after I left. She had thick, wiry hair that seemed to move after the rest of her, and she wore decorated skirts that looked like seventies curtains. I always felt that how she looked on the outside was exactly how she was on the inside. A little chaotic. Effervescent. Beautiful, and full of colour.

She'd worked at the hospice for years and years: an embodiment of knowledge and wisdom and hope and this wild, kooky sense of humour that always forced a crack of dazzling light through the black. She became everything to so many of her patients because of it. I watched her heart break a little as she stood, amidst a sea of adoring faces, to say goodbye.  

'So many of you have come up to me to share kind words,' she began, 'to tell me that I am all of these wonderful things. But I want to remind you of a South African philosophy by which I live my life. Ubuntu. It means, essentially, that I am me because you are you. I am what I am because you are what you are.' 

Ubuntu.

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Sunday, 7 August 2016

8 things we should all do more often


Send handwritten letters/cards. In our busy, technology centric, social-media-scrollin' lives, nothing says 'I actually really bloody care' quite like taking a few sedate moments to scrawl some messy, heartfelt words. It's special. It's intimate. And you know what? It's pretty damn therapeutic too.

Take a digital detox. Ultimately, as fascinating and convenient and lovely as it may be to have the entire world and all of these wonderful humans at our fingertips, the most fervent charms of our existence stem from seeing and feeling and doing. I think it's important, now and again, to completely switch off: to surrender ourselves to the perpetual beauty of the world around us and the people we hold close. To drive into the wild, orange sunset that bleeds spectacularly across the horizon. To listen, closely, to the details of her day: how her bra bunched up and the sweat dripped from her brow and how she laughed, how she laughed, as she missed her third bus of the day. To simply be present in a world that is in no way filtered or saturated. To be present.
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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The evolution of grief


When somebody dies, people so often say that they had a 'heart of gold', and I think that maybe, sometimes, we remember people as being more than they were once they're gone, because it would feel wrong, dishonourable, at such a time, to do anything but. We said those words about my friend, Zac, too. Except, this time, those words simply weren't enough. You could not attribute any amount of letters to the warmth and vibrancy of his soul. I remember, that morning, how the world was stripped of the August sun and how it just rained and rained and rained, and I remember thinking what a perfect metaphor that was for the loss.
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