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Sunday, 21 January 2018

LIVING WITH ANXIETY


I was 15 when I had my first panic attack, I remember thinking it was a heart attack at the time. Nothing had triggered it, I’d never had one before, it just “happened”. I was in school when it happened and I felt so embarrassed by it, I made the conscious decision from then on to internalise it and try to handle it myself. I thought I was doing a good job at it, until about 6 months ago. 

Looking back, I see now how my anxiety catching up with me, effected my relationship, friendships, decisions - everything that made me function as a person was being influenced by this feeling. 2 months later my relationship ended in the most unforeseeable way, in a way that felt so soul destroying but I never realised it at the time. Over the course of the last 4 months I have really seen the impact this event had on my life and my anxiety. 

I remember waiting for my flight in New York and having to go into the bathroom, lock myself in a cubicle and just have a cry, because the anxiety was just too overwhelming for me. I couldn’t tell you why the fear came over me the way it did, part of me thinks it’s because being in New York was such an escapism from the breakup that I was so scared to return to England because it would then become my reality again. 

A week later I went away with my friend for my 21st, we’d got ready to go on a night out. Despite me really wanting to go, I just couldn’t face it, the reality of my night was sitting in the hotel room, watching movies until 2am crying. 

From then on incidents kept popping up that really tried to test my emotions. To the point where I was (and still am) getting anxious over really irregular things... 
  • Anxiety over going on nights out, 
  • Anxiety over certain people’s intentions in my life, 
  • Anxiety over doing my job,
  • Anxiety over text messages, 
  • Anxiety over eating certain foods,
  • Anxiety over certain people viewing my story on social media, 
  • Anxiety over people’s opinions.
The list is endless and has become something that’s made me feel so out of my depth with dealing with because all the things I did that made me “me” are now giving me this impending fear and I don’t know how to deal with that. It’s a feeling that’s so debilitating, it can take over your life without reason and to anyone who’s not experienced it before it’s impossible to relate to. It’s a feeling that leaves you operating irrationally and doing something you regret 10 minutes later. 

Now I’d love to be able to sit here and preach that I’ve got a solution to this on lock and that there’s light at the end of the tunnel etc. However, the reality of it is, I’m writing this blog post at 5am because I woke up from having a panic attack over a dream. So I haven’t got a solution on how to fix it, for myself, or for anyone else and truth be told, I feel like I’m a let down for not having one. But what I can say is, you’re not alone. That it doesn’t matter why or how you’re feeling it. It doesn’t matter if the problem behind it is big or small. We live during anxious times, we don’t know what’s going to happen in the world from one day to the next, that means there’s generally an anxious energy in the air anyways. Just know that it’s not something that needs to be internalised, it’s a lot more normal than you think and you don’t need to rationalise why you’re feeling the way you are. If someone doesn’t get it, they just don’t get it, but other people will. 

On that note, if anyone does have any solutions for their anxiety, please feel free to email me at aoifecooksey@gmail.com 


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Sunday, 14 January 2018

TAKE THE GOOD FROM THE BAD AND KNOW YOUR WORTH



"You're stronger than you think you are right now, you're a strong woman who doesn't take sh*t from anyone" 

My Dads advice couldn't of hit me harder if he tried, when I was coming out of my last long term relationship. I was hurt and felt empty inside, like the guy had taken everything I stood for as a woman away from me and I was left to fill that gap. I was angry at myself more than him, for allowing it to happen. Without wallowing too much in how he hurt me because this blog post is about me as a woman - not him. I thought about how girls respond to breakups and what is expected of us when we do go through them. 

"You're allowed to hurt right now, you're allowed to cry and eat ice cream and miss him" 

Advice from my female friends. Albeit that is true, you shouldn't fight your feelings and if you want to have your Bridget Jones moment then by god girl you probably deserve it! But why was I finding more empowerment from my Dad, the only real male influence in my life, yet I was being encouraged to be the victim from the majority of the female influences in my life? I'd been hurt yes, but that hurt made me learn a huge lesson, it made me come out the other side an even stronger woman and when I look back -
 I'M SO BLOODY GRATEFUL FOR IT HAPPENING! 


After dating a guy for a few weeks and it ending, I was bored of the stereotype we'd created for ourselves, the chocolates, ice cream, sad songs and movies. It was time to re-write the narrative of how women deal with breakups. It's time to be done with the notion of the bitter, jaded, angry woman, who wants to seek revenge and is left feeling hopeless after someone leaves and time to start shedding light on the positives of the situation. 


I found strength in realising that person wasn't offering something fulfilling but I could easily offer it to myself. 


I found  respect for myself for walking away from the situation in the first place and realising "I expect and deserve better and you aren't cutting that right now". 


I found excitement in the prospect of really getting to know myself, my needs, and getting back in touch with myself without having to sacrifice or compromise. 


I found peace in knowing that his ill actions towards the end were not a reflection of myself, my worth, my values or morals as a person - they were a reflection of his. 


There's something in the air for female empowerment at the moment, chatting amongst some of the strong women around me we're all motivated and driven to make this "our year". The Golden Globes led the way in creating a universal shift for women's movement. I preach for women's empowerment as much as I can, but find when we get ourselves tangled up in these situations with men we lose sight of all of that and become the victim to their actions. Translating those emotions, whether it be anger, hurt, distrust, hopelessness etc. into something productive can be hard but the results can be phenomenal. Before you know it you're looking back saying "Wow, the power of the women". 


You've taken the good from the bad and realised your worth because of it. 
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Sunday, 7 January 2018

TO THE GUYS I LOVED BEFORE...

 


I remember being surrounded by 5 boys in primary school, stood in the middle whilst one volunteer told me they all fancied me and I had to choose one to go out with - so I did. We went out from year 3 to year 5 and were simply separated because I moved away. I remember us going on day outs together, because the reality of a "relationship" when you're a kid, is simply being best friends. I also remember telling him that we could be together forever and we'd be married by 21. I'm now sat here as a 21 year old and Bridget Jones is probably a more accurate representation of my dating life, than the one my 7 year old self had envisaged for me. 

Just like most girls, I turn to my Mum whenever I'm going through boy troubles. The last time I was truly hurt she said "Aoife most people go through this like 10 times before they meet the one" - SHIT. DEFINITELY not what my 7 year old self envisaged. But as I reflect, were all the heartbreaks really that bad?! One thing I know is when I fall, I fall hard, which hurts more when it has to end, but surely every person has taught me something? 

1. My first love was when I was 14. We sat next to each other in science, I'd wait up for him to message me on MSN when I got home from school, he'd make me laugh but could also be equally as cruel to me. After months, I decided to tell him on MSN that I liked him, two seconds later I told him it was my friend Hannah that said it not me and he responded telling me he fancied my best friend. It was a shock to the system and the first time I'd experienced love/unrequited love, it hurt, and it definitely wasn't how it was supposed to go like in the Disney movies. 

(6 years later, living at the other end of the country, my first love sent me a Facebook message. After weeks of talking, I met up with him when I visited where I grew up. He admitted he'd always liked me and wished it had been different. Whilst it meant nothing to me now, my 14 year old ego was proud!) 

My first love taught me that playground names really do mean you fancy me. 

2. My second love is another case of unrequited love, seriously guys, I'm not that bad?!  Only this time, we actually ended up together. Months in I realised that I just loved him as a friend, which is what we had been before. I was 15 and ultimately far too young for a relationship, so I ended it and ended up breaking his heart. Part of me always regretted it because I knew he would never of hurt me and I also felt very guilty. 

My second love taught me that just because you love them as a friend doesn't mean you love them romantically.

3. My third love was when I was 16 and we dated for a just under a year, there isn't much to say about this relationship. He was the first person that made me feel like I could achieve anything in the world by myself and was my biggest supporter. But between me auditioning for acting schools in London and him wanting to stay in the North, it became clear that the relationship wouldn't go much further than that. I wanted more in life and he just wanted to stay settled. 

My third love taught me that just because it's the safe option, doesn't always mean it's the right option.

4. There's a bit of a gap between my third and fourth love, but I met my fourth when I was 18. I fell and I fell hard, within a matter of weeks I was besotted. I wanted to do everything for him and with him, unfortunately he knew this and used it to his advantage. The relationship was destructive, until he ended it with me on Christmas Eve whilst on a night out in front of his friends. 

My fourth love taught me the power of manipulation in a relationship. 

5. My fifth love happened just a few months later, and was on and off for around 2 years, it usually ending due to his lack of effort, then him wanting it back months later and over promising me until I caved and went back. 

My fifth love taught me that a leopard never changes its spots. 

6. The sixth person was a love that lasted a few weeks, with it ending in him not being able to decide whether it's what he wanted or not. I made the decision for him...

My sixth love taught me not to wait around for anyone. 

7. My seventh love was the biggest turning point in my life. Like I said, I fall hard and there was no exception with this love. It was months of pain, toxicity and me being convinced I deserved no better. I look back on this time of my life and don't understand how I could of had such a lack of self-respect to allow myself to have been treated so poorly. I ignored my friends and family and was convinced he was the one for me and couldn't see his wrong doings. Eventually, I saw sense and walked away, despite his desperate attempts to get me back (even years later), I've stayed well away from this one. 

My seventh love taught me the difference between love and infatuation.

8. My eighth love was short lived. I knew it was time to walk away after I found out he was still texting other girls, despite me caring to his every need whilst he was in hospital. 

My eighth love taught me that no matter how much you do for someone, if they don't want to be with you - they don't want to be with you. 

9. My ninth love, was the hardest of them all. He was my best friend, my biggest supporter and I felt we'd built something so true together. I put us before me and unfortunately he didn't do the same, when he ended it I was left with a big void in my life because of this. His actions caused a lot of pain, but pushed me to really focus on myself and depend on myself for my happiness. 

My ninth love taught me to love me before you. 

10. My final love, was one that I never saw coming, one that I never expected. It was with the most unpredictable person and happened in the most unpredictable way. It was a love that allowed me to be myself and made me feel safe. 

My tenth love taught me that if you do find the right kind of love, you must protect it. 

Some loves are more short lived than others, some hurt, some consume you and in reflection some weren't really loves, despite what you thought at the time. They all have something to teach you, or offer you, whether it's about yourself, relationships or other people. One thing always to remember, is that nothing can break you forever and you can offer yourself more love, support and happiness than anyone else ever can. 

I know I haven't quite fulfilled my 7 year old self's wishes, but I think she'd be pretty damn proud of where I am. 





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