168 // Let's keep talking | tori's tales: 168 // Let's keep talking

9 February 2014

168 // Let's keep talking

--- Woods Ferry
Image // Kenneth Edwards
Edit: This post is dedicated to opening the minds of any and everyone who crosses the paths of others. It's dedicated to the decision to putting ourselves into other peoples shoes. It's dedicated to instilling in us a feeling of kindness. To the creation of a mouth full of warm words and a pair of arms that hug with the strength of an ox. It is dedicated to understanding. And to hope. 

This past Monday I had a panic attack. It's not something I've ever experienced before, though it happened because of something I very much have done - worrying. I had begun to put together a post about how I was feeling that day (which I'll come to soon) as I'd always found it to be a largely therapeutic experience (and many others I've spoken to before about such posts have agreed - the jotting down of words and thoughts have always allowed for a de-clutter of my mind) yet this time it had the opposite effect; the piling up of words on the page caused my heart to quicken - I could feel it; that tight, heavy fluttering in my chest that occurs with my anxiety - my breathing to become shallower and my vision to blur. I turned to my dear friend Megan for advice and, after reading through her words, I searched for some calming music and moved myself to the sofa to lay down and focus on it's beat (and thus distract myself from my own). After about half an hour my breathing returned to normal and my heart had stopped it's frenzied battle to force itself out of my chest.

Image // Hannah Davis
It's nearly a week on now and it almost feels as though it never happened. It would be all too easy for me to ignore that it did, to just forget how I felt in that moment, and to not discuss my feelings now I am a little less worried and a little more settled. However, I believe it's important to share my story, especially during a time when the topic of mental health is in the spotlight. This past Thursday 6th February, Time To Change - a programme aimed at challenging mental health stigma and discrimination - held an it's 'Time to Talk' Day dedicated to igniting one million conversations about mental health. I have since read multiple stories of every day struggles with mental health problems of all varieties - Megan, Lyzi and Toni all showed great strength in discussing their own struggles and experiences - and today I am adding another story, in the hope that the chain continues and the conversation keeps on growing.

I am a worrier. This won't come as news to some, and though others may feel a little 'so what?' about my admittance, it's something that has a negative impact on my life. No matter what I do to try and curb those feelings, anxieties and ever-present niggles of self-doubt (they like to settle, more often than not, beside my ear, ready to pounce) they are darn-good at persisting, making themselves known, and burrowing themselves deep in my psyche (out of reach). Last Monday I started to worry about university - this isn't a new worry, it's something I battle with on a daily basis - and my thoughts quickly spiralled out of control. As usual, I worried about how little I connect with my course. I then began to think about recent conversations I'd had with multiple friends - and the boy - all of whom are applying for internships and work experience; many of them, when I asked what they were applying for, replied with the same question, to which my answer was (and is) always the same - 'I don't know' (and that's because I honestly don't; no inklings, no ideas, no 'lightbulb' moments for me as of yet - just a blank page on which a future should be forming yet not even a dot yet adorns it's white mass). On top of this I began to stress about seminar reading I'd been set for one of my modules; one 6 page piece that took me half a day to get through and one 26 page piece whose words swam about the page, as unidentifiable as a foreign language. And that's when the panic set in.

Image // Hunt Fanelli
I am my own biggest enemy - I pick and pull myself apart at the seams, unravelling any positive thoughts I may have until they fall in a heap of jumbled-up mutterings, allowing the negative ones to pick themselves up, dust themselves off (as if that's at all necessary - more often than not they aren't tucked away long enough for dust to form) and assert their (great and powerful) authority. I fight when I can; I plaster a smile on my face, place a song in my heart and I sit and write a post, or I scroll through pretty things and read peoples words and dream about lands visited and times forgotten. But still they persist. It's a constant power-struggle; a fight to gain it and keep hold of it. Sometimes I win, more often I lose, but I certainly won't give up that fight (in case they're listening - they should know who they are up against!). My biggest concern is always where my future will take me; if I'll ever build a sturdy foundation to grow from. I hope, as others have suggested, that one day all will click into place, or that I'll find myself in a situation whereby I'll think 'hang on, that sounds interesting..' and I'll read about it and feel the embers of passion stoke in my belly. And it's that hope that keeps me going - wading through the hard times, fighting with those negative thoughts, battling with my fears.

Image // Millie Clinton
I am aware that (and must mention) we all suffer in different ways - the problems I struggle with are small in comparison to those dealt with by others, though I am sure to let myself know that this doesn't mean they are irrelevant or unnecessary (and I implore you to do the same). We all have our own problems, fears and worries and they are all worth listening to. If you are struggling to hear yourself, your own voice, among the crowded thoughts that settle in your mind, then I suggest asking someone to help you do so. It is hard - there's no doubt about it - to reach out to others when we are struggling (my instinctive reaction is to brush my worries to one side in the hope they'll eventually just sort themselves out) but the saying is true; a problem shared is a problem halved. If you don't want to talk to someone IRL - if it's all too much to seek out a friend one evening, or a relative over the weekend - then pick up the phone, use twitter, send emails - you'd be surprised at how many people are ready and willing (and want) to help in any way that they can. And if that someone you approach doesn't understand, or can't sympathise or empathise with your situation, that does not mean the conversation has to stop there - that your thoughts aren't valid or your worries are nonsensical - it just means they're not the right person to reach out to. Find someone else and begin a new conversation.

Now I've shared my story, I hope you'll do the same. It's so important for us to keep talking. Stop silencing yourself - it's time to make that change.

Time to Change:
- Website
- twitter
- Facebook
- YouTube


  1. i hope you're feeling better now, tori. having a panic attack when you've never had one before can be pretty scary, and i'm so glad you had someone to help you through it. i once had a really bad one in a very public place, and it was ..just beyond words horrible. i still get them, but nowhere as much as i used to. the best thing to do is definitely just find something that calms and/or distracts you, i agree.

    on a side note, you're such a good writer!

  2. I related so much to this post, Tori.
    I struggled a lot with anxiety last year and the year before... it was a time in my life when everything seemed to be going wrong: someone very close to me was very ill, school work had become too much and I had absolutely zero confidence in myself. Even the thought of walking into a room where I knew there would be people who might possibly have an opinion of me (so pretty much everywhere I went!) filled me with this horrible nervousness and it was a really scary time. In the end it did culminate in several panic attacks, that I didn't really understand and felt I couldn't talk to others about.
    Now it just doesn't happen anymore - I still get nervous like any other human, but my confidence in myself is back. I'm hoping this confidence will grow more and more as I get older and slowly I'll be able to completely forget the part of me that just worries about everything.

    I was reading somewhere the other day that although it's not always the thing you might want to hear, it's actually so important to remember and remind others that feelings like this pass, and things get better.
    What I have tried to do is take my nervousness/tendencies to worry too much, and turn them into something positive. I realised they can have a positive side to them - they make me notice the little things, really consider my decisions and ultimately have helped me learn so much about myself. Basically, they can be strengths and not just weaknesses.

    I really hope you feel better soon, Tori, and like you say can find some peace in something that will help you be less anxious in the near future.

    In the meantime, remember that there are many people who read the words on your blog and can escape from their own little life worries! At the end of the day, we all struggle and it's great that you can even write this down somewhere and people can learn from it. Such a great post.

    1. Daisy,

      I've tweeted you this morning but am looking to respond 'properly' via email, as I feel it's important to recognise your words in the way they truly deserve.


  3. Oh Tori, I'm so sorry you had to experience your first panic attack. I hope it's a one off and not something that will become a regular occurrence for you. I very much relate to this post, and found myself nodding along with things you said because I feel those things too. I'm glad you've put this out there on your blog, you should be proud that you're speaking up and I think that's the first step to addressing all of those worries and self doubts that you hold in your head.
    I find it so hard to express just how much I worry to the people 'in my real life'. Since my dad was ill and then passed away, I find myself worrying even more about the rest of my family. I worry about each of my siblings, about how they might be feeling or how they're dealing with things. I worry about my mum (she tried to commit suicide a month or so after my dad passed away, and very nearly succeeded). She's quite a way down the road to recovery now, it's five years this July since my dad. But it means that because of how I perceive her mental health to be (fragile) I can't reach out to her. I would never write this on my own blog, for fear of upsetting her. We've never been the type of family to talk about these things, and we're not the touchy feely type either so giving random hugs to one another is awkward and out of the question. I think (hope) that these are worries that will weigh less on my mind as time goes on and as each of the people in my family lead successful lives and relationships. Lately I've been worrying myself with the things that I've been worrying about (does that make sense!) because they're not things I've ever consciously worried about before. It seems that with every positive there comes a negative. With the addition of Rufus in mine and Mark's lives, I've become more aware of cruelty to animals and animal testing and so on. I read an article the other week that made me cry and for a couple of days I couldn't think about it without crying. I couldn't find the words to voice my worry without it seeming stupid to me - of course I knew about all of these things before but now they seem closer to home. When we first got Rufus I had a big panic one evening because he woke up and one of his eyes wouldn't open (I later realised it was just sleep/bedding in his eye and happens sometimes).
    I think there must be a way of putting worry into perspective, but I'm not sure what that is yet. I know all of the cliches like it being important to remember what's important, and concentrate on the positives and make the most of life and enjoy the moment etc etc. But sometimes when you're in a worry it's hard to remember the positives! I'm sorry I've kind of commandeered what is supposed to be a supportive comment into my own issues! I would like to say though, that I know how scary panic attacks must be. My brother started to have them a little while after my dad passed away, and it was so scary for him (and us!). He had medication for it, to help him calm down and help it to pass. He's a lot better now, but if he's in certain situations he does still panic - but only very rarely now. So the panic attacks did get less frequent as time went on, and probably as he learned to manage his feelings and try to keep calm when they did come.
    Reading posts like yours always reminds us of something we can forget from time to time - each and every one of us bloggers is human, with our own trials and worries and feelings. It's posts like this that bring out the best in others, in wanting to support a lady as wonderful as you and be as supportive and kind to you as you are to so many others. I hope you'll find comfort in some of the replies you receive to this post, and I hope you'll know that you've inspired others to face up to some of their own worries. Sending big hugs and happy thoughts your way xxx

    1. Hannah,

      I do hope you see this reply - I tend, more often than not, to reply via other means as I don't want people to feel they have to return to my blog to read what I have to say in response - because I wanted to let you know how appreciative I am of your wonderfully thoughtful comment. I still can't believe it.

      I will be emailing you asap, as I feel as though your words deserve more than the brief response I can offer here.

      Thank you, thank you :)


  4. I'm so sorry that you experienced a panic attack. Thankfully I've never had to go through that, but it sounds horrible. I've read Megan's posts in the past, and I'm glad that her words helped you through.
    I do worry quite a lot about things, which I know can have effects on my health if I'm not careful. I was also diagnosed with BP several years ago, and whilst on the whole I have worked hard to get this under control, I can be guilty of the "brushing my worries to one side" approach, which you mention.

    I really hope that writing this post has helped you get shot of some of the feelings, and that this Time to Talk campaign helps you further, lovely girl. I don't reallly have any advice for you about future and jobs. I was the same as you in that I dind't know what I wanted to do when I was at uni or afterwards, and to be honest, whilst I love my job now, it was hardly a career I'd ever considered at the time; I just sort of fell into it.

    I wish I knew how to help you not to put so much pressure on yourself. It's something I've been trying to make myself get used to as well. I take on too many things, I guess, and then get stressed out and worrried about getting them all done.

  5. Panic attacks are scary. One minute we feel in control, then the next is totally opposite. I'm a huge worrier, always have been, but it's something I've been working on the past few years. To let go of control and let life lead where it may. Not all the time, but sometimes.... Glad you wrote this post, dear! xo

  6. I've suffered from panic attacks since I was little, I never realised how scary they can be until I was older and a bit wiser. I had 2 this weekend, which were mainly self induced through alcohol, but nonetheless as bad as all the others I've had.

    I wrote mine away as well, however as I was writing I set myself off again - same as you, I couldn't stop writing but the more I did the more like crap I felt. I think it is important to get it down just to read through and realise how ridiculous it is. One of my most valued techniques of coping with worry is to say it outloud and have Lee tell me how stupid I sound e.g. me saying "I'm going to get fired for not going to that meeting" or "no one will like me because I drank too much last night" and him talking it through always helps, especially when I'm feeling slightly more rational.

    I love this post m'dear :) x

  7. This is such a beautiful post Tor and I'm so glad that you wrote it!! I myself have a myriad of problems that I'd rather not talk about but it's not always best to push it back and act as if it's not happening/not really that important!!

  8. Oh Tor. That you have the guts to relieve yourself of this, by getting it out in the open, admitting this to yourself and sharing it with others… You are one brave bunny.

    I think by doing so you may have helped yourself on a deeper level, perhaps by acknowledging that it was an attack, by letting yourself admit a moment of weakness maybe this could prevent further attacks? And most certainly helped a lot of other people who will read this and understand finally, what that awful sensation is.

    I fully understand life as a professional worrier, I am pretty good at keeping myself awake at night and torturing myself with all of the what ifs. That this happened to you is a shame, and I truly hope you're ok sweetness. Please know that there are so many people that care for you, maybe if you feel things piling up, the scales tipping towards that scary moment, you could call one of us, a txt or some kind of contact, just so you know you aren't alone.

    Your post was honest, real and down right kick ass! Too many of us bottle things up for fear of being judged or even fear of admitting things to ourselves, but we all have these hard moments, we should be more open about it, like you!

    Big deep breaths petal… And maybe a piece of cake xx

  9. It saddens me to hear you had to go thought such a dark moment and suffer from a panic attack, reading your words I couldn't help but sympathise because I know fully well how terrifying and disheartening panic attacks and anxieties can be! I am a worrier as well and I undestand when you say that sometimes you feel like all your worries and doubts are just waiting to overwhelm you and eat up your mind, spiralling out of control at the earliest opportunity.
    I also understand when you express your uncertainties about the future, I am constantly worrying about it and feeling completely lost when it comes to choosing a path, it's like an enormous question mark is glittering in front of my eyes and urging me to decide, chose and take a step.

    I hope you're feeling better, I truly do !


  10. I take my hat off to you Tori, infact I'm not wearing a hat...*takes off imaginary hat* :) much better! I really do applaud you for being so open & writing this post..I can't wait for the next one :) so many people really do struggle & don't receive help because their problem isn't as big or as bad as somebody elses...no matter the size of the problem it is a problem non the less..the problem wont go away without finding a solution, but it might just grow over time....nip that problem in the butt & show it whos boss! :D keep smiling Tori & keep fighting! xxxx

  11. Seriously tori, when you write things like this it's crazy how alike our thoughts are. I'm still waiting for things to click into place, i still don't know what to do or what i even want to do.
    I panic at the thought of meeting new people because of the inevitable "what do you do" question.
    It's hard, i know, and i have no advice, but i totally get where you're coming from x


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