Smear test & anxiety

Girls, this post is for you. Especially those of you, who like me live with anxiety and have a smear test coming up.

SMEAR TEST! Do the words fill you with fear? At the start of the year they certainly did for me. So many questions, so much unknown. So much anxiety. Anxiety is extremely present in my life especially this past year (it has hit itself up a few notches) so I knew it would be present throughout this experience too. If only there was an on and off switch, that would be lovely but it isn't that simple.

Questions and thoughts running through my mind...'What will it feel like?'...'Will it hurt?'...'How long will it take?'...'What if I physically can't do it?'...'What if I move during it?'...'What if I jump up in the middle of it?'...'What if I close my legs shut during it?'. Like I said anxiety was present as usual. A lot of what ifs going through my mind. But I simply let those thoughts enter my mind, let them just be and they just left. Not very quickly but they left eventually.

I'm writing this post a good couple of months down the line from my smear test itself. I've since had the results and I'm normal...well got to be normal somewhere right?

A few things for you to remember about having your smear test, with anxiety along for the ride...

1. If it takes you more than 1 attempt it is absolutely fine. We aren't robots. We aren't programmed to go in, have it done and come straight back out again. It took me 3 attempts to have a sample taken. Just keep trying, trying is better than avoiding all together and you will get there eventually.

2. If you don't feel comfortable with your nurse then you have the right to swap to another nurse or doctor who you feel more comfortable with. It doesn't matter how many times you swap.

3. Be honest with your nurse/doctor. If you are scared it is ok to say so, they will do whatever they can to make the experience easier for you. Remember they do this over and over again, they are the pros.

4. If you've never had sex before they have a smaller sized speculum that can be used to make it a little more comfortable (not going to lie, none of it is exactly comfortable).

5. If you are worried and scared about it talk to others about your worries or even your nurse/doctor beforehand. There is always someone there to talk to and make it feel less scary.

I knew having a smear test wouldn't be easy for me. I was heading into the unknown but my nurse was amazing! She was really understanding and told me to never see my attempts as failures. So each time I booked in with her and each time I was a little bit more calmer. Third time lucky, some discomfort and pain but we were done. My nurse was that pleased for me she actually high fived me and hugged me on my way out. Find yourself an amazing nurse and you'll be good to go.

Infact surround yourself with the right kind of people in all aspects of life and you'll be amazed at what you can achieve.

Life with Anxiety, amazing things can happen... Myton Hospice Bucket Collection

Well hello there you, it's been a while. Too long. I haven't been in the best of places lately, I haven't wanted to open up my laptop and write despite posts swimming around in my head. I've had very little energy. Let's hope I don't disappear for as long this time because I find writing so therapeutic.

Just a little over a week ago I was feeling all sorts of anxiety. A mixture of emotions, nervous but extremely excited too. Those feelings had been building up over the week as I was doing something I'd never done before, organizing a bucket collection. But you have anxiety, how did you possibly do that? It wasn't easy but it was totally worth it. It wasn't for me, it was for a family in need.

I try my best to go to football every home game to watch Doncaster Rovers (anxiety will get used to it at some point and realize it isn't a scary situation). One of the club's players, Matty Blair has a brother who last week sadly passed away. My thoughts and love goes out to all of his family and friends at this incredibly difficult time. Matty's brother Ross was terminally ill and had been staying in Myton Hospice, Warwick.

Ross's wife Holly decided to create a JustGiving page to give back to the hospice who were providing such wonderful care to both Ross and herself. As I write this now Holly's JustGiving page is at £10,531 which is absolutely incredible! Amazing work Holly. If you can donate and wish to donate please do, you never know when you or a loved one could be in a similar situation. You can find Holly's JustGiving page by clicking here.

I can remember the first time I met Matty at the beginning of this year, I was too scared to approach him which is silly really because he is just a person like you and me. Over the year Matty has played a huge part in my experience with the club. Matty no longer feels like a player of the club who I watch run around the pitch, he feels like a friend. I feel like a friendship has formed. Does that sound weird?...Yeah, it probably does sound a little weird.

After finding out about Holly's JustGiving page I just had to do something for them as a family. Something that would show them our love and support as a club. Something that we could do to help outside of the internet. So the bucket collection was my only thought. A lot of people don't seem to like donating online and some people will just throw in some pennies into a bucket as they go past which is effective as pennies make pounds.

In just over a week the bucket collection was happening.

I approached the hospice first to make sure that it would be something we could do despite the distance and it wasn't a problem. They were more than happy that we were willing to help them.

Next was to contact Doncaster Rovers and they were definitely behind the idea, even inviting me to be part of a video with Matty to let the supporters know all about the situation and bucket collection. Thankfully I could just stand there, say nothing but still be a part of it. If you know me personally you will know it is very rare I have nothing to say but this time I decided to let Matty do all the talking, sorry Matty!

Tweets for helpers, videos and articles (on both our club site and Sheffield Wednesdays site) all out, all that was left to do was stand/walk with buckets and collect some money for a well deserved charity.

In the bucket collection we raised £798.88!

I don't think I can actually say thank you enough to everyone who made this bucket collection possible and everyone who donated. Thank you to those who have donated to Holly's JustGiving page too.

I thought I'd end this post with a few lessons I've learnt from this experience...
1. Life can be taken away too soon, make the most of every day.
2. Tell those around you how much you love them and how much they mean to you.
3. Appreciate the little things because one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things.
4. You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it despite your situation, always believe in yourself.
5. The power and support on social media is incredible.
6. Surround yourself with good people. The world is full of them, you just have to find them.

the anxiety umbrella...same umbrella, different raindrops

Anxiety is one illness made up of different little elements, just like every other illness. No two peoples illness are exactly the same but it still feels like we are all put under one umbrella. Expected to deal with it all in one way and expected for it to work out and make us better. We aren't robots, we aren't programmed and I feel that is an important thing to remind ourselves of daily.

Being part of an online community is a huge part of my life. With that online community comes a lot of support, love, respect, positive vibes and friendship. However along with the online community comes a lot of comparison and self doubt.

I've been off sick for the past couple of months now and they've been tough. Those months have now led to me leaving my job, the job I thought I would be in forever (literally forever, I never planned on leaving until this past couple of months). The job I really did enjoy, the job that gave me purpose, the job that gave me motivation, the job that got me out of bed in a morning but also the same job that was making my physical symptoms go through the roof. The workplace that was making me physically ill. It was just no longer worth it.

I've felt lately that a lot of people have their judgement on my life and current situation but it's important to remember this is my life and nobody understands fully how I feel inside on a daily basis. I can share with people how I feel as much as I want but nobody will ever fully understand. Just like I won't fully understand another persons illness.

An important thing to remember is we are all at different stages of illness, under the same umbrella name but some of us just have a few more raindrops dropping on our umbrellas at the minute compared to others. I'm hoping if you're reading this that by the end you'll have received a little bit of hope and you'll see a little glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel because we all deserve to get better.

Over the past few months years especially I've been comparing myself to others, what they seem to be able to do with ease (or so it seems) and what I just can't seem to do. Remember, when people share posts online it's usually their main stage not their behind the scenes. Photos are often filtered and posed.

It's heading on 10 years now that I haven't been on holiday, or even a night away (does house sitting count?). I know that at the minute it would just be a waste of my time and money because I just wouldn't be able to enjoy myself. I guess you could say I just don't have my head in the game (did I really just add in a High School Musical reference)? But this varies from day to day.

I hear/see a lot about people who are travelling to places all over the world. But not only are they travelling to these beautiful places but they are doing it with a mental illness in tow. I just want to know their secrets! I often find myself wanting to scream 'how do you do it?' 'tell me how!' 'pleeassseeee, I'm begging you!'. But if I'm being completely honest I don't know what they have to do to get to that point or what they've been through to get to where they are now. The beautiful photos could quite literally be on someones doorstep, within 5 minutes down the road.

If you'd told me 3 years ago I'd eventually be able to work 4 days a week (I'm obviously unfortunately not doing this now but stick with me) I'd of thought you were bonkers, it just wouldn't be possible...would it? It would be possible, some days I drove so far to work and turned back, cried then made it to work a little later...I've no idea why this would happen but atleast I kept on trying.

At the minute the furthest I can travel is about 30 minutes to watch football so any form of holiday is a little out of reach at the minute if I'm being realistic. Plus then I don't travel there like any 'normal' person would, what even is this normal people talk about? I go with my mum and a few friends who we sit with but they've started taking my mum and I drive myself, so I guess I technically don't go with them but you know what I mean. They like to get there early but I just hate waiting around, walking the distance and getting in a state of panic. I haven't always been like this when it comes to football. I used to park in a car park about a 10 minute walk but now it just doesn't seem possible so I park in the car park as close to the stadium as I can get. Some would call this safety behavior, I call this living life a little in a tricky situation. I will eventually get back to being able to park in the further car park but in the meantime I'm going to continue doing what I know makes life a little easier and things a little more doable without being so hard on myself about it.

Some of you with anxiety could be at the extreme end with anxiety and could currently be housebound (I've been there) but trust me when I say this, things will get better. You will eventually be able to do 'normal' things (there is that word again), you just have to take the teeny tiny baby steps. Yes, chances are you'll think they are pointless/stupid/ridiculous (I've been there) but eventually you will accept that if you want to get better it's baby steps or no progress. The baby steps will eventually pay off once you've accepted that you've been struck by an illness that isn't 'just all in your head' even though I guess technically it is inside our heads.

Honestly keep going, do little things and you'll slowly regain your life back. Do this when you feel ready but please, start at some point and never give up. If you try one day and you fail, get back up and try again, whether it be the same day, the next day or the next week please just don't give up.

Take care of yourself.

A single second of 24 hours

It's taken me a few weeks now to sit and actually write this post. I'm still currently off work sick, due to higher levels of anxiety and panic attacks than usual. It's almost been 2 months and during this time I've been trying my best to still maintain a life. I've been going into town on a regular basis, driving to the next town, going out for little walks and one of my favourite things to do...going to the football. If someone could tell my mind and body that it isn't a situation to be feared that would be great because they don't seem to be listening to me. None of the situations are easy, sometimes it takes me a few attempts but trying is the main thing.

To the outside world, people looking in on my world (mainly photos shared on Instagram and Twitter) people will think I've not got a problem, everything is a breeze for me, a walk in the park. Not quite. For example I'm often going to the football but doesn't mean I do it with ease, far from it. 

If and when I finally make it to the football I don't walk in calm, collected, physical symptom free, without a worry running through my mind. I walk in pretty fast, on edge, feeling sick, panicked, I spend the best part of the game eating either mints or ginger biscuits trying to enjoy the game and the atmosphere. If I never went when I felt ill I would never go, so onwards and upwards, I'll push through a little. I go with my mum and our two friends but one of them actually picks my mum up just incase I don't make it to the game, atleast then she doesn't miss out on the match.

This year on Mother's Day we went to the football (because where else would we be on Mother's day?) and this happened after the game...

Life moments that I won't be forgetting in a hurry. Doncaster Rovers is such a wonderful club, everyone makes you feel like part of the family. It's a warm, happy, friendly atmosphere and I love being a part of it.

The point of this post is to prove that a photo literally captures a second, we can all put on a brave face and smile, pretending everything is ok when in reality that isn't always the case. These photos don't capture me in the stadium an hour before shoveling a mixture of ginger biscuits, mints and Bach Rescue Lozenges as if they were going out of fashion. They don't capture me rushing to the car after the game because anxiety feelings were coming in fast. They don't capture me driving around in circles up and down the streets around the stadium calling my mum and telling her 'we need to go NOW'.  They don't capture me not being able to stay in the drive thru at KFC after meeting some of the players and arguing with my dad who called me selfish and told me that it wasn't exactly climbing a mountain. I just wanted to get home as soon as possible.

On the flip side it also doesn't capture how the players and manager are actually feeling either or what they've experienced in the changing room before the game/at half time/after the game, their time on the pitch or walking down the corridor to go home. It doesn't capture their life out of their football careers.

A photo captures a single second of a persons day. Easier said than done but try not to compare your entire day or life to one persons photo.  If someone has had a pretty crappy day they won't exactly be wanting to take photos and share that part of their day with the world, remember that.

'Life is like a camera, focus on what's important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don't work out, take another shot'.

more bad days than good...

Over the past couple of months or so now I've been struggling, more bad days than good.

I don't think a day goes by when I'm not worrying about my life (lack of it some days) or when I'm not scanning my body for signs of danger, possible serious illness or even a teeny tiny illness, a normal bodily function is triggering a panic attack.

I'm currently off work on sick after experiencing higher levels of anxiety and more panic attacks. The other day I hit a new record for me, 4 panic attacks in a day. I don't remember being this bad for a long time, I'd probably say as far back as the beginning of my diagnosis. I know 4 isn't many for some, a long time ago it wasn't for me but right now it's pretty big.

I write and share my life and experiences online to help others know they aren't alone, to help break the stigma and educate people. To prove that things can and do eventually get better, it might take some time and practice but it will be worth it. One day you can do something, the next you can't but don't beat yourself up over it (easier said than done I know). I'm hoping a few months down the line I'll be feeling a heck of a lot better. I'll possibly report back even though this is only my second post this year, I'm failing at blogging this year.

Mental illnesses are pretty much invisible. You can't see someones physical symptoms, the internal torment someone is experiencing, the daily battles they are having with their own mind. Some people don't understand mental illnesses for lack of knowledge (we'll educate them), others don't understand because they just don't frankly give a shit (we'll remove them from our lives).  

It's important to remember that it's okay to not be okay. It's okay to take time out, it's important to listen to your body and rest, recharge your batteries. If something doesn't feel right, chances are it isn't. Look after your body, give it all the love and care that you can possibly give.

If you're experiencing mental difficulties please seek help, it doesn't make you weak. It makes you strong for reaching out for help. There is always someone there for you.

If you don't know where to turn to, try either of the following two charities.



I've personally used both and cannot praise them enough. They are there for us, so please if you are feeling low use them.

4 years of blogging!

February 5th 2013, the day I decided to start writing online/in a book then typing it up to share online. The time I decided writing might help my thoughts rushing around in my head, it might quieten them or atleast slow their pace down. It might make me understand the way I was feeling. Little did I know 4 years down the line I'd still be doing it and loving it. I'm not blogging nowhere near as much as when I started but back then I was firmly in anxiety's grasp, I felt I had very little going for me. Things have changed a lot since 2013.

I was spending most of my days trying to figure out what the hell was happening to me. Back and forth to the doctors in search of answers, switching doctors too in hopes of one of them actually helping me. Thankfully I found that one doctor and I really hope he doesn't go anywhere anytime soon. It took a while for him to pinpoint exactly what was wrong and that was made very clear when I had a full blown panic attack in the waiting area that then continued into my appointment with him.

Now I sit here writing this I'm recapping over the past 4 years of blogging, how much I've achieved is amazing for me. I haven't saved any lives or climbed any mountains, well I guess I have climbed a few mountains just not the real life ones. You know the kind of mountains I've climbed, the ones like making it out of my front door.

When the 5th February comes around each year I get a mixture of feelings. The main feeling is a sense of pride, not only for my blog itself (it's had a few makeovers over the years but it's finally starting to feel like home) but pride in how far I've come, how much I've grown. I feel happy to have made it through the bumpy road and finally feel like I'm getting a grip of this mental health/illness business. It took a long time coming I'll tell you that much and I'm still learning things every day.

*HIGH FIVE* to you 21 year old Anna who had no clue what she was doing in life but you are slowly getting there, you've got this girl (well most days anyway)!

Taking part in RED January

I've been a little M.I.A recently on here. The reason for that? I've been living life, life has been busy, Christmas has happened and I haven't found the time to sit down and write. I've got 4 posts as drafts already so I'll hopefully get round to finishing them off at some point. But whilst I'm here let me tell you about RED January.

Today I discovered on Mind's twitter feed that they were launching an event called RED January, want to find out more and maybe even get involved? Click here and it'll take you to the information page. If you just want the basic details I'll fill you in now.

RED January stands for Run Every Day January. It's as simple as that, you can even walk if you don't want to run. The point is to just get moving throughout January to beat those winter/new year blues.

What happens whilst you are moving everyday throughout January? Well you are improving not only your physical but your mental health too but you'll be raising money for Mind. 

For me, this event was a no brainer. I'm always getting outdoors for a little bit of fresh air, to stretch my legs and have a break from whatever I may be doing. I work in an office 9 til 5 so without fresh air every now and then my mood is terrible.

If you want to be an absolute gem and sponsor me I'd really appreciate it! I plan to take photos every day to update my Instagram and JustGiving page. Psssttt, a little birdy just told me if you click on JustGiving page you'll be taken straight to my page. :)

Thank you for taking time to read my post and thank you in advance if you sponsor me. All money raised will go to Mind, the wonderful charity making sure nobody faces any mental health problems alone.