Aside from my utter delight at being back in Melbourne, I’m aware that the tone around here has been a bit subdued lately. I try to be as open and transparent with you all as possible, so I don’t mind telling you that my anxiety has been mounting. I always feel a bit anxious toward the end of the year – everybody does, I think – but it definitely feels as though this year has been particularly ass-walloping.
As much as I am desperate for a fresh start to 2015 and am actively working towards a whole new perspective, the truth is that when my anxiety becomes too much to cope with, it begins to manifest itself physically.
Struggling with a general sense of fear and dread isn’t something that everybody can understand. In fact, I’ve found that even those closest to me have a hard time trying to comprehend what it’s really like for me to deal with my anxiety.
I’m writing today from a desire to educate and a place of compassion, not for fellow sufferers of anxiety, but those who are closest to them. The family, friends or partners who struggle to cope with the paralysing physical attributes of this particular illness.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘anxiety attack’. The truth is, unless you’ve ever truly been through one, it can be very difficult to understand exactly what happens to the body and what it feels like. I can only tell you what it’s like for me, but it’s safe to say that anyone who has ever suffered an anxiety attack could probably relate:
Due to a constriction of the diaphragm, breathing becomes shallow. Sudden inability to draw deep breath is terrifying, and can feel as though you’re about to choke. Trying to ‘catch’ your breath can lead to hyperventilation (the whole ‘breathing into a paper bag’ thing)
The world starts to spin – kind of like being drunk. Noises are louder and colours are brighter. Everything starts to blur together (this happened to me once in the middle of a casino. It was completely surreal, like something from a movie)
A general sense of confusion. Unable to string a coherent sentence together
Prickling all over the skin, sort of like goosebumps, but cold. And then hot. And then cold.
Gripping the forehead, or each elbow. Personally, I think I do this as an innate response to try and ‘hold myself together’ – literally
Sobbing. And if you have never heard true sobbing, it’s like crying, but really, really hard, and gasping for breath at the same time
Exhaustion. Once it’s all over, I’m useless for the rest of the day, and often have very sore abdominal muscles the next day, like I’ve done a hardcore Pilates session
An anxiety attack can last for a minute, an hour, or even a few hours. They, quite simply, bite. Suck. Blow. They are horrible.
There are certain things that are completely a) ineffective b) inappropriate and c) insensitive that you should never, ever say to someone in the throws of one of these attacks. Think of these as the ‘top five’ – and take heed, because the chances are, someone you know and love either does or will eventually suffer from an anxiety attack in their lifetime. And who knows – it might even be you.
Don’t say: “Calm Down.” In short: Think about the time you were the angriest you’ve ever been in your entire life. Maybe you slapped a boyfriend. Lost your shit at a co-worker. Screamed at your mother. Now imagine me stepping in front of you and telling you to calm down. Did it work? No. I didn’t think so. Instead say: “I’m right here.” Why: Anxiety can be extremely isolating, and even more so when you’re in the grips of an attack like the typical model I listed above. Whether you’re on a cruise ship, in your bedroom, in class or at the movies, it suddenly seems as though everyone has evaporated and you’re left in a swirling vortex of panic. A calm, reassuring voice can be the difference between A (mess) and B (composure).
Don’t say: “Can’t you just get over it?” In short: No. We can’t. Anxiety is an illness, and like with any other illness, there are symptoms. You can’t tell someone with a cold to stop sniffling, or tell a cancer patient to grow their hair back. Yes, I went there. Because it’s the exact same principal. Telling us to simply ‘calm down’ in the middle of a true anxiety attack is not only pointless, it’s insulting, unhelpful, and next to impossible. Instead say: “I’d really like to help you through this.” Why: Firstly, acknowledging that anxiety is treatable and in a lot of cases, can be well managed to the point of being preventable, is extremely comforting. Just be clear that you understand there is light at the end of the tunnel. This kind of approach is far less isolating that the sufferer trying to assume all the responsibility for their condition.
Don’t say: “Just be positive.” In short: You know what? We’re not able to process that. Sure, we’d love to just flick the positive switch. We might even generally be fairly positive people most of the time. But it’s not an ‘always’ thing for us. When an anxiety attack hits, it’s terrifying. It swallows pretty much every other thought in our minds. It’s not that we don’t want to feel positive – we physically can’t. Instead say: “I understand things are really difficult right now.” Why: It’s called empathy. Having anxiety is not like just having a really bad day at work. It can be debilitating to the point of manic depression and the stigma associated with mental illness does nothing to foster understanding. You’d be very surprised at the effect that a simple acknowledgement like this can have.
Don’t say: “I get anxious all the time too.” In short: I’m sure you do. Everybody does. We all worry about money, our love lives, school, work. But let me tell you this. Until you are shaking, crying, hyperventilating, watching the world spin around in a sickening blur, unable to hear people speaking to you, feeling like you might vomit and/or having hot and cold flashes like you’re about to turn fifty, it’s just not quite the same thing. Instead say: “Share with me what this is like for you.” Why: Firstly, if you are close to somebody who suffers from anxiety, learning as much as you can about the illness is really important. Show that you love and support them by removing the ignorance surrounding mental illness. Encouraging people to discuss their problems and seek help when they need it is a powerful form of therapy.
Have you ever seen someone suffer an anxiety attack? How did you cope? Can you relate to any of the issues I’ve addressed here?
I know, I know, I know. I completely fell off the face of the earth the past week. I’m really sorry. I have had a LOT going on, and I’ve been really sick with a revolting chest infection. But! I am still here, and I still love you! Promise!
Today’s little update is bought to you from Larder Section, a gorgeous cafe in some random lane way of no apparent name that I discovered off Bourke Street in Melbourne. That’s right – I’m back! And I can already feel the pulse of the city in my veins. This is such a ridiculously cool place.
Of course, it’s not all glitz and glamour – I got up at 4.30am to make my 6am flight, did my makeup in the loo at Melbourne airport and caught a bus into the city with all my luggage. Tres chic (I think not). However, after recharging with a delicious breakfast, I’m super excited to trot off and meet up with my babe Pearl for a long and boozy lunch!
I’m actually doing a lot of catching up with various blogger babes while I’m here – we have some seriously fun stuff planned and I can’t wait to share all the juicy details. Eee!!!
For now, though, I am going to finish this life-changing coffee and meander around this alley (I spy cupcakes with my little eye). #MelbourneLife
One of the most hurtful things that somebody has ever said about me was actually said to another person about me. (Well, duh. I did go to an all-girls highschool, after all.)
The interesting thing, though, is that it wasn’t a student who committed the crime. It was a teacher. I teacher who I idolised, adored, looked up to, even revered. This teacher shaped my early teenage years and played an enormous part in guiding me toward a life of creativity. In the middle of my final year of high school, I was told by another student that this teacher had said to her that I was ‘getting too big for my boots’.
It was after hearing this information that I went to a friends house and had my very first proper, full-blown anxiety attack. I had no idea what was happening, I thought I was dying. I was dizzy, I collapsed. I was gasping for breath and crying so hard I burst a blood vessel in my eye. I grappling with the pain that can only be associated with a heart that’s been smashed to smithereens, and also the physical reaction to a severe walloping of stress.
Looking back at this experience now, the most interesting part is the choice of phrase the teacher employed to describe my new-found confidence. I now find it kind of incredulous that the depressed, disablingly lacking-in-confidence loner I was could actually be described as being ‘too big for her boots’. The only thing I can think of that may have attributed to the teacher’s sudden disdain was that I had been accepted as a finalist into a nation-wide jazz vocals competition. That the teacher had personally coached me for.
It was strange to me that somebody who had invested so much of their own time teaching me and helping me develop my self-confidence was suddenly responsible for taking away all the things I felt good about in myself. I suffered a major identity crisis and was extremely depressed. As a result of my anxiety, I didn’t finish high school and completely abandoned my dreams of studying music at University. While I’m so glad that I didn’t end up going down that path because if I did, I’d never be where I am today, the fact remains the same: the whole situation was just achingly, cripplingly sad.
So, why the intense back story?
It’s taken me nearly ten years to work it out, and I was too afraid to admit it out loud until yesterday. Are you ready? I AM too big for my boots – I always have been. I DO have ideas above my station – way, way above. I AM a big fish in a small pond – and I’m proud of it. So there!
Growing too big for your boots is the best thing that could ever possibly happen to you. If someone has ever told you you’re getting too big for your boots, congratulations! I am patting you on the back and sending you a massive e-hug right now. You go, rockstar!
Getting too big for your boots means, clearly, that the boots no longer fit. The boots are no longer serving the purpose that they did when you pulled them on for the first time. They’re probably rubbing your ankles and giving you blisters on your toes. They’ve become uncomfortably tight. You’ve kicked them off and breathed a sigh of relief – and someone else didn’t like it. Well, fuck them. Who wants to willingly stay in a pair of boots that don’t fit properly!?
If you’re too big for your boots, it’s time for a change. It means you have outgrown the ideas surrounding you. It might mean that you have outgrown some of your own ideas, and you may be busy formulating and investigating and learning so you can develop some new ones. It means you’re growing into a different pair of better boots. It means you get to choose the boots you want to wear and not keep the old ones on just because so-and-so thinks that you should.
Getting too big for your boots might mean that you’re a lot more confident than you thought you were. It means that other people have noticed this in you and are afraid because the status quo has changed. It’s a mark of their inability to recognise personal growth as a good thing, not a bad thing, and that is 100% not your problem.
I have a feeling that there are a lot of stories just like mine, and I want in. When have you gotten too big for your boots? Did you get a positive reaction, or a negative one? Tweet me or flick me a Facebook comment with the tag #NeedsNewBoots and tell me all about it!
Let’s congratulate each other for getting too big for our boots. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just time to go shoe shopping.
So, here is the truth: lately, I have been feeling very anxious. Without going into my whole sordid history of anxiety, suffice to say, it’s been bad enough to create a permanently tight little knot in my stomach, keep me up late into the night, and cloud my thoughts, which makes it very difficult to be productive throughout the day.
I’m not sure if I’m just in desperate need of a change of scenery, a good talking-to or a complete life overhaul, but I’m reading a lot in the blogosphere about the quarter-life-crisis phenomenon. And it’s kind of freaking me out. I’m going to write more about this tomorrow, but in the mean time – what’s been your experience through your mid-twenties? Do you have any pearls of wisdom you’d care to share? If so,leave them in the comments below, or drop me a line.
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Of course being Tuesday, it’s time for another edition of Netfix – and there’s some meaty stuff in this bad boy, so make yourself comfy and get clicking:
Are you guilty of being a Cool Girl? I know I am (most often, to my detriment)
I Shared this on my personal Facebook page and my Twitter a couple of weeks ago, but damn, it still makes me so mad. Street harrasment is real, and it’s a major problem
I’m so excited for the gorgeous Ashley and all the girls over at #fireworkpeople – the website is finally here and the message is loud and clear!
Have you ever seen Benedict Cumberbatch walk like Beyonce? I bet you haven’t.
I was sickened/shocked/utterly mystified by what is to be found on the #byefelipe - an account for other women to share screenshots of the abuse they receive from online daters. Here is just one horrifying example:
This matter is very near and dear to my heart, so please let me say to all my babes out there using Tinder/Ok Cupid/eHarmony/whatever (and I know a few are) – be careful babes. Just look out for yourselves and for each other! And, from me to you, Stan, here is a very special message: kindly, go fuck yourself.
Rock a dressing room like a seductress. I LOVE this!
“Does this serve as an appropriate frame for my beauty? Does it honor the magnificent work of art that I am?”
A couple of months ago, I got an email from an old friend of mine. Lucy lives in Roxby Downs, which is about a six hour drive from Adelaide. It’s a weeny little mining town, with not a whole lot going on – and Lucy had a very special request for her next foray down to the big (well – small) smoke!
Hey lovely lady, how are you?! Long time no see, looks like you have been thriving! I’m hoping you might be willing and able to assist me.
I’m next to useless at makeup application and the like was hoping to hire you for a day/few hours for you to teach me a few tricks of the trade and also help me buy some basics.
I won’t be back in Adelaide for about a month but let me know if you might be able to make some time!
WELL. I wrote back immediately to say yes, of course, I was both willing AND able to help out! What an amazing idea! Curiously, after I got Lucy’s email, I received two other requests from completely different women asking exactly the same thing. I know that counter visits are a terrifying notion for a lot of ladies, which is why I wrote this post about how to visit makeup stores. But I got to thinking after all these gorgeous babes got in touch with me – there has to be a better way for me to help.
Before I started planning Lucy’s counter tour, I asked her a few questions about what products she was interested in buying, which brands she had already tried and liked/disliked, and her budget. I squealed with glee when she told me that I was to think of her as a ‘blank canvas’ – we got to build her an entire makeup kit from scratch!
I also asked Lucy exactly why she hadn’t just gone straight to a counter or two by herself. “Intimidation was the main reason for not going it alone,” she admitted. “The women usually aren’t that friendly, they really push you to buy things you don’t want or need and sometimes their appearance is even off -putting – they look way too overdone or too perfect.” Believe me, I understand the pressure that counter artists will put on your to buy everything in their shop – and it’s not cool, especially when you’re an unsuspecting, non-professional makeup artist who just wants a nice lipstick colour for a wedding!
On Friday the 31st, we kicked the tour off with a coffee at my favourite cafe in the city. I wanted to have a chat with Lucy about different a few high- and low- end brands and products. She was stoked to hear that a lot of higher-end products really aren’t worth the money we pay for them, especially in Australia – and that there are some amazing drugstore products that are well worth a look. We then discussed the quality and pigmentation of eyeshadows, and the staying power of lipsticks and various other things. “The most helpful part [of the tour] was probably when it came to product alternatives, and knowing not to spend X amount at one place because you can get a similar product cheaper elsewhere,” Lucy said afterwards. Score!
After our coffee, we went into Target to have a look at the drugstore or ‘non professional’ makeup brands. I showed Lucy a few products from NYX (which I love), Maybelline and Rimmel. Based on Lucy’s personal needs and budget, we picked up face primer, foundation, highlighting cream, mascara, a matte lip cream and a gorgeous lip gloss.
Next, we headed into Inglot. Lucy was really keen to experiment with different coloured eyeshadows, as she usually sticks to shimmery neutrals. I was able to explain how Inglot’s Freedom System works and talk her through the pricing, and then encouraged her to have a play with the different colours on the back of her hand. Together, we made a beautiful palette of ten very wearable and versatile eye shadows.
While still at Inglot, we looked at lipsticks (I LOVE Inglot lipsticks). We talked about her skin tone and the kinds of colours she’d always wanted to try before selecting a beautiful coral and a gorgeous hot pink. What happened next was probably my favourite part of the whole day. “When I saw myself for the first time in my new lipstick, I felt like a new person,” Lucy told me afterwards. “I was empowered and excited. I felt so pretty and that I could rock the shit out of it! … I had SO many compliments the next day at the wedding I went to about my makeup and I felt like I could take on the world.” Mission accomplished!
Lastly, we made our way to one of the major department stores. Luce was keen to get her brows in tip-top shape, so we went straight to Benefit for a tidy up and to have a look at their brow products. Being in a department store, we were surrounded by tonnes of different brands. I was able to give her a bit of a run down on who-owns-who, which products I love to use on my own clients and which products I use myself. Our last stop was theBalm – I wanted to make sure Luce got the most bang for her buck, and their cheek & lip palette is absolutely to die for. We didn’t even make it to MAC (not for any particular reason – we were just exhausted and Lucy was pretty thrilled with all her other purchases!)
Obviously, after all our walking and shopping, we desperately needed a glass of wine (or a gin and tonic, in Lucy’s case!). It was here that we excitedly went through all of Lucy’s purchases and she gave me some feedback especially for all you guys!
I would recommend this service to everyone, whether you know all about makeup or are a novice like me. You let me make all of my own decisions about purchases, products and colours so I didn’t feel pressured in the slightest, but at the same time I knew that I could trust you to gently push me towards a colour or product that I was scared by because it was new/different. All in all, I had an amazing time!
I am all glowy and mushy inside just thinking about. What an incredibly fun way to make someone feel truly amazing about themselves! Remember, it’s not about what you put on your face, but how it makes you feel inside. And if makeup makes you feel happy, creative, confident, open, adventurous, sexy, fun, whatever – then that’s all that matters!
Cheers to that!
Doesn’t it sound like a total blast?! It doesn’t matter if you only want to grab a couple of lipsticks, a new foundation or a whole new makeup kit – there’s a custom-built counter tour just for you! That’s right, ladies – I am adding counter tours to my extensive list of services over at Darling Artistry. A counter tour with me is the BEST way to make sure you grab everything you need, have a chance to play with some products you might never have touched before, and best of all – lump all the hassle of dealing with pushy sales assistants into my highly experienced lap!
For all the info you’ll need and to make a booking – click right here! (I am taking books for Melbourne babes between the 19th – 25th of November! Wheeeeee!)
Thanks so much to Lucy for letting me share our experience with all you gorgeous readers! Guess what – she did her own makeup with all her new products the next day. And she is totally friggin’ gorgeous.