I didn’t think Poland was too bad until I got cream in my juice and anchovies instead of artichoke

As you might guess, I’m in Poland.

Right now I’m not ecstatic to be here.

Upon arrival everything seemed fine. Flight, train and taxi stuff was fine, hotel is nice, I met up with some people. Then I lost my cardigan somewhere and we went to a dinner with host lab members that I was expecting to be tomorrow, but nevermind. I thought it would be fine as I’d breezed through the whole traveling bit without any panic or even strong anxiety, I was a-ok.

At the restarant (feeling a bit chilly from my absentee cardigan) I decided to tell people that I don’t drink alcohol so I wouldn’t get pressured to drink, and picked a ‘fruit cocktail’ which from the name,I understood would be fruit blended together….but what arrived was about 50% cream. I can’t digest lactose, so after a couple of tastes I decided I’d have to get another drink but as I wasn’t paying I felt guilty, so just had water….

Time to order food then, so i picked a pizza and listed off my four chosen toppings: spinach, black olives, pines nuts and artichoke.

Fab.

Then the food arrives but this wasn’t any kind of artichoke ive ever seen…I mean, it looked fishy…so I enquired and yes it was anchovies…..so I politely said that I has asked for artichoke not anchovy (I’d even pointed to the word on the menu) ane the waitress just looked at me and and said ‘is that a problem?’ so I had to say, yes dear, yes it is…I am vegetarian, I don’t eat fish!

So grumpy faced off she went to fetch me a replacement…it turned up quite quickly and I had a quick scan and no, they hadn’t just taken off the fish and added artichoke because this one didn’t have pine nuts…OK close enough. It tasted fine even though it probably had someone’s spit in it. The problem was then that I’d got hungry waiting and was shivering, and making terrible conversation through my pained expressions of embarrassment and anxiety.

The afternoon started off so peacefully and degenerated into something monsterous thats going to give me a belly ache.

Wish me luck. I have to navigate breakfast without any surprise lactose or meat products and then give a presentation to an unknown sized crowd tomorrow (n>10) without meltdown. Maybe forgoing valium was a bad idea.

Sigh. Challenging anxieties isn’t always triumphant is it? :S

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What I didn’t tell people about my weekend

This weekend was most definitely a good one. I got away with zero housework, travelled across the country for a lovely afternoon with a dear friend, and then spent Saturday morning horse riding, bathing the horses and cleaning tack. The afternoon involved attempted napping.

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(one very soggy Buster)

All good stuff.

Now. What most people I’ve told about my weekend don’t know is that Saturday didn’t start out quite as planned. I was a bit nervous about all the travelling (~6 hrs on the train in total, 6 hours of germs confined goodness) but got myself up, washed and fed, and just as time to leave approached, I realised I needed some sunscreen. Now. As I mentioned, I was a bit on the anxious side, so with every drawer ransacked and every box furiously emptied onto the floor, panic started to seep in, like a vengeful possession wherein all I wanted to do was smash up everything around me. So, still having a modicum of self-restraint I did the only other thing possible and just broke down in tears, freaking the fuck out about acne from other sunscreens, sunburn and skin cancer, and missing the train, and disappointing my friend and catching the plague from the London underground and then, something both amazing and utterly horrific happened. My body reacted to this most acute anguish by seemingly stabbing itself in the abdomen repeatedly. I don’t know if it was meant to be a distraction or what, but it didn’t fucking help, I can tell you that much. So with tears streaming down my face and clutching my belly in agony I thought long and hard about if I could really do this. If I was even capable of taking the reins of control away from anxiety and riding the day out in peace.
After much wincing, ouching and short breaths, I continued rummaging the instigating sunblock was located, and was liberally applied. I was theoretically ready to leave but by now I really wondered if this pain wasn’t something serious. I mean, it really fucking hurt. Like gastritis and ibs x a billion, so it was almost certainly Appendicitis, and what if it burst in the train?! My significant other coaxed me like a timid animal to the car and calmly drove me to the station, he let me out to walk a bit to see if the pain was in retreat, and to my amazement it was. I kissed him goodbye, and headed for the station, took a deep breath and didnt have a single twinge of anxiety for the whole rest of the day. (except maybe that bit where I was running through a storm brandishing a lightening-attracting umbrella…that wasnt exactly chilled,I’ll let myself off for that one though)

This may not read like a good story, but it reads to me like the novel experience of being able to look back with satisfaction, knowing that no matter what anxiety does to my body, I can make it through, and sometimes when anxiety is dead set on ruining your day, sometimes you have to just give it the finger.

An aside

For anyone who doesn’t know much about psychosoma, I would like you to know that the amount of pain someone feels does not depend on the source. Abdominal cramps from anxiety or food poisoning both have you crippled in pain, and just because one was triggered by an internal process rather than external, doesn’t make it less real. If you know someone who suffers from psychosomatic symptoms please remember that although the cause isn’t a deadly disease, the symptoms can be uncomfortable or even debilitating, and telling them that they are making it up or faking it just makes you an arsehole.

Posting and trotting

I’ve been having quite a run of creative and at least partially edited stuffage on the other side, but as I only ever intended to post there every two weeks or so I think I need to cool it, lest I start to post even poorer quality efforts due to the growing addiction to the satisfaction of being able to press ‘publish immediately’.

I like to think I am making some progress regarding attempts to add a sense of movement and progression into my short story-esque scenes, but there is always this overwhelming sense of stagnation and treading water, like my characters are trapped in a moment. It’s a terrible bind to have so many strong emotions and thoughts to set down, but no storytelling skill at all.

Just ask my colleagues. I can’t tell them about anything withour their eyes wandering and yawns setting in. My pub banter is atrocious. Even if I’ve done something awesome, my ridiculous on-the-spot loss of verbal command leaves me and everyone else wondering why I was trying so hard when I am clearly just not novelist material. 

Anyway, enough about that here’s an example for you. My four legged ride was determined to test me this weekend….having still not quite recovered from broken-nose-gate, whenever his royal highness is feeling a bit fresh it sets my anxiety off big time. Last weekend’s ride waw lovely and reassuraning with controlled, sedate canters down the bridleways and good communication. This week was quite another story. I bravely opted for a route that when last week took it, the horses took off at high speed (with me almost being taken out by a low branch that I hadn’t noticed coming up) and wracked my nerves but I figured I have to challenge that. Unfortunately It was not the right day. If you’ve ever ridden before you may he familiar with the turn for home causing a massive increase in speed and enthusiasm, so when we did just that and had a nice open stretch in front of us the horses were dead set on having a big old race. Now. I wasn’t up for that, so we tried to make them walk, but actually ended up more jogging along and having to turn them into the hedge and stand there a bit a few times to chill them out. Nevertheless the temptation was just too much for them at one point and sparked off each other they bombed into a fast canter that took quite some strides to pull them up from. Most of the rest of the journey I felt like I had a horse with no head, he was behind the bit and not in contact with me, so no communication there, and I kept having odd flushes of worry that he’d bolt and dump me on the floor. Of course being spring with the grass shooting up both horses were in fine spring-loaded form, but aside from that one burst of unwarranted cantering, they just about coped with just walking and trotting the rest of the way home, even though they were visibly frustrated about it. I was half tempted to just jump out of the saddle and run away at one point but I stayed put and rode it out (ha!). My point is that despite being a little suboptimal on the communication and control side of things, I could handle Buster well enough to prevent a bolting situation, and by the time we got home we had both calmed back down to normal levels and I handed over the requisite number of polo mints for a ride well survived. Obviously I was kind of scared for a chunk if the ride, but I’m clearly not as wretched as a rider as I think as we actually did just fine overall. Next time I just have to remember that I can cope, and that my steed is in fact a (slightly hyperactive) superstar and not a monsterous bucking/bolting machine.

Today I spent however many hours there are in the second half of season five of Haven, watching TV. It’s OK,  I got up regularly to make cups of tea so I didn’t get DVT so I call that a bank holiday Monday well spent.