Today has been a day.  I’ve just got back home from being out for a few hours.  By going out, I mean sitting on a bus for 15 minutes and walking to the Starbucks on Princes Street to do work that I could have done at home BUT…it’s how I get stuff done and it was my mission to make it outside today.

You see…yesterday was the first time in 4 days that I managed to leave the house and it was because I had to. I had my last therapy appointment with my psychologist.  I had a reason to go.  I guess I should go easy on myself since I caught the lurgy on Sunday night and have been cooped up either in bed or in the living room until yesterday (Thursday). My colds tend to be short-lived but intense.  I’m surprised considering my white count is considerably lower than the average, but bodies, eh?
So today…it was 13 degrees, warm and sunny.  Most Scots will tell you that that’ll be our lot until a week in mid-July, but honestly, the weather in Edinburgh is pretty decent.  It’s dry and rainy days are relatively short, unlike the permanent rainclouds over Glasgow.  I opened the living room windows to let the clean air detoxify my flat and to entertain Kaya’s senses (Kaya is my flatmate.  She’s a cat.).  I knew I had to go out today.  I thought about where I could go and what I could do so I took time to think.  I could go down to a hidden beach a friend has told me about that is pretty nearby or walk to the shops purely as a way to get out the house; but as I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror watching myself brush my teeth and getting annoyed at the water that kept dripping down my forearm, I felt a dichotomy between my body and my mind.  Suddenly this heaviness came over me when I thought about walking to the beach.  My mind felt over-exerted at the mere thought of it and then the voice started to emerge from its cave:

“You used to be so fit and now look at you.  Lying in bed all day and barely moving has weakened you to the point that even basic exercise is too much for you.  Pathetic.”

Luckily today was one of those days where I couldn’t be fucked with the voice and put it to the side.  So…I got my little tearaway notepad (they are in the shape of monsters) and wrote a to-do list for the day:

  1. Do the dishes.
  2. Take recycling out (it’s been building for over 3 weeks).
  3. E-mail Lauren back.
  4. E-mail Kiwi man (I couldn’t remember his name.  It’s Simon).
  5. Choose SMHAF events and write 3 proposals.
  6. E-mail Patricia blurb sent from Peer Collaborative.
  7. Pack for Grace’s.

I did the dishes with some Cuban music in the background:

With my toes tapping and my hips swaying I got through 2 loads of dishes and wiped down the kitchen surfaces.  It’s extremely satisfying to walk past a kitchen with no dirty dishes piled up and a hob with no burnt noodles and soup splatters glaring at you while you microwave yet another plate of leftovers from this week’s takeaway.
Spread the recycling over 2 bags-for-life and shuffled out the door to The Bins.  Good god…the back area looks like a scene from a film about the end of the world.  One bin was stacked so high with binbags that it was double the height of the actual bin itself.  One bin had been tipped on its side (and these are those giant black community bins) and there was a spread of nappies around another one, interspersed with the individual parts of a shelving unit.  Luckily the recycling bins were empty.

I hurriedly emptied my recycling into my chosen bin (there are 4 to choose from) to ease my anxiety that someone from one of the flats is watching me out of their window, judging my boxes of fish fingers and takeaway boxes.  However, there are also boxes of high quality cat meat and a few cartons of fruit juice to balance out my dysfunctional adulting and show that I not only provide the best for my cat, but I get some nutrients in me via the occasional glass of apple juice.

With the stress of the bins over, I decided it was time to get ready to leave.  I had planned to go to this freakshow (that’s the name of the event) in town and was going to head to Starbucks (for the late opening times and free wifi) to get some work done.  Today was one of those days where I wanted to change my outfit from the usual jeans, shirt and oversized jumper look.  It’s rare that I fret over my outfit as I usually don’t give a shit and settle for comfort, but today was different…today is a Friday and there will be weekend people out there and for some reason, I felt I had to be like these weekend people and look a bit more presentable so I changed my outfit at least 3 times.  In one, the vest under a jumper contoured my boob line to make them look like I had been breastfeeding everyday for the past 9 years.  2 of my not-everyday shirts were crumpled and just didn’t look right with the trousers I had on.  I love those trousers.  They are comfy as fuck and I feel like they alert men that I am not into them.  My second hand baggy grey khakis are a natural repellent. Perfect.  Unfortunately, the tops that usually match well with them were all in the washing bag so a bottom-half browse was in order.  I settled on a long striped skirt with a grey t-shirt and toned-down multicoloured shirt for arm cover (I have a ‘thing’ about my upper arms.  I’ll leave that for another day.).  I felt good.  I put some make-up on which, again, is a rarity, but hey…I had spent this much time fussing over my clothes, I might as well do my face to match.

It took me until 4pm to leave the house for town.  I think the majority of my faffing time was so that I didn’t have to spend too much time in town.  I was feeling pretty anxious about leaving my flat and being around so many people, especially on a sunny Friday where there would be lots of people out drinking and, just generally more people out and about than there would be on a weekday.  You’ve probably gathered by this point that I’m not comfortable around people, especially large groups.  I don’t particularly enjoy the weekend in cities.  People are everywhere, buses are rammed, museums are choc-a-block with families, and tourists cause pavement jams.  It’s a nightmare for any introvert.  No…I am a weekday woman.  I don’t know if it’s an observation or paranoia, but during the week, I feel more anonymous and less judged, whereas at the weekend, I feel like all eyes are on me.  Maybe it’s just today that I feel extra anxious.

Anyway…I finally made it to the bus stop.  The bus arrived within 3 minutes and, because I’m Scottish, I followed the unspoken rule of letting everyone on the bus who had arrived before me, first except there was this man who I kept trying to make eye contact with to gesture that he was to go on before me, but he wouldn’t catch me eye.  I tried 4 times until the gap between the last passenger that stepped onto the bus and myself had reached a distance where there was no other option…I had to get on the bus.

I got to Starbucks and ordered.  I got stressed about the sizes and asked for a ‘short’ to which she replied that the iced cappuccino I ordered didn’t come in that size. Internal screaming. She listed off the sizes and I panicked and just said ‘whatever the smallest size is’.  She was thoroughly unimpressed that I didn’t follow what she was saying and order a ‘tall’.  I didn’t care and didn’t take it personally.  It took forever to make the drink and was awkwardly loitering around the sugar packets and straws waiting for it.  Finally my name was called and the barista spelled it right first time.  She clearly has good ears and understanding that Nic is spelled without a K.  Usually, I think Starbucks baristas think I have just made a sound for my name and ask me how to spell it.  I get that single-syllable names are sometimes hard to hear, but come on…it’s not that hard to spell.  I wonder…is it because most human females with the name ‘Nicola’ go by Nikki (or a variation of it) and not Nic?  I’ve been told before “Nick is a guy’s name”.  My response is usually of indifference followed by “…and…?”.
I like that my name has a gender ambiguity about it.

So…I sat and got through my e-mails and took notes for writing my proposals for articles for SMHAF.  I felt the voice of perfectionism get louder as I was writing and thinking about what I wanted to write about for content.
I’ll interject with what SMHAF is and generally what I’m on about here.  SMHAF is the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.  It happens every year and has some pretty good events happening all over.  I applied to be a volunteer content writer as a way to challenge myself and to hopefully get some of my writing into the public sphere.  I’ve been told that I articulate well through writing (and through talking/storytelling which has come as huge surprise to me and still hasn’t really sunk in) and since I’m pretty fierce about getting my experiences recognised and validated, I thought it a good platform to use my lived experience and to reach more people.  A bonus too, is that the volunteer positions are for people with lived experience of mental distress.  That’s a massive tick in that box.  It was an opportunity that I would probably regret had I not gone for it.  I applied to be a content writer, but the content could also be videos and podcasts.  It’s pretty broad and it’s really a creative response to the theme “connected” and the events that take place through the festival.
My laptop was running out of juice and decided earlier against bringing my charger as I wouldn’t be out for that long.  It was also after 7pm…the show started at 7.  Oh well! It didn’t bother me that much that I would miss it.  There’s always next month and the main point of today was that I get out the flat.  The show was a reason for me to take a break from work.  Luckily my battery did it for me.  I was chuffed that I got through a lot.  My being around people was beginning to drain me to excess.  Strangers kept sitting physically near me waiting on their orders and my face was not maintaining social politeness.  It showed shock and horror at these people’s backs.  How dare they sit on a seating area that is for them to sit on!!  I was getting irritated by the floor moving every time someone walked on it.  It would bend and I could feel every heavy footstep through the wooden slats. I was also heavy judging the woman who was walking around in her lacy trainer socks (but seriously…this is a Starbucks with heavy traffic through the day.  It’s not normal to walk around in your socks, especially on that floor).  It wasn’t even as if she was wearing heals or uncomfortable looking shoes. She had a pair of trainers beside her.  ACTUALLY….WHO THE FUCK TAKES THEIR SHOES OFF IN A CAFE ANYWAY?! Sorry…judgemental rant over.  People are strange.  Her socks were pretty nice, though.

I got home not long after 9 and had soup for dinner.

I’m chuffed I got 5 things crossed off my to-do list and half-way through one of them.  Now to tick number 7 off my list and pack for the weekend.

Love and hugs x