Vera

“I bet you thought you’d gotten rid of me.”

Vera smirks, she perches onto her dusty, tattered thrown. It’s almost as old as I am, because Vera is the name of my anxiety and she’s been with me for as long as I can remember now.

Vera is an elf like creature. She’s tiny and I should be able to fight her, but I can’t and it kills me that she’s so powerful.

Vera is in my brain and in my heart. She’s in my chest and my stomach, my hands, my legs, my eyes. She is wherever she wants to be, and she knows she can take over me.

Vera’s hair is black and matted and her skin is greying. Her clothing is torn and she looks battered after all these years, and all my failed attempts to drown her out. I never succeed.

Vera’s voice is the part that fills me with dread the most. It’s louder than ever now, she demands to be heard. She screams and screams and screams over anything left of the rational thought process I’d tried so hard to build up. She will be heard. She knows how to get to me.

Her voice goes in waves and whirls until it fills my head and I feel it all the way down to my throat, and it’s choking me.

Vera gets angry with me, she’s screaming now. Was I incapable of looking out for myself? How had I let this happen? Why would I put myself in a vulnerable position? She says that now she’s back to protect me, to stop harm from coming my way.

Vera clicks her wicked fingers, her long black fingernails are touching my own and now suddenly, there’s pins and needles. I can’t feel my hands, and then it’s my feet and I’m trapped.

I’m stuck and I can’t get out and I just sit and I listen to Vera punishing me.

I let myself get like this.

This is my fault.

Why hadn’t I been afraid?

Vera asks me what’s wrong. When I won’t tell her, she yells at me. She yells at the top of her lungs and although she’s so small, her roar makes my whole body shake and I can’t stop.

I tell her what’s upset me, begrudgingly. She shakes her head and glares at me with bloodshot eyes, her pupils a sea of blackness into her dark soul. “Your fault,” she shrieks.

Her shrieking brings a tear to my eye, and another one, and another one, and another one, and they won’t stop and it could be hours before they do and that’s the scary part.

Vera wants more answers and she knows she’s got control of me now. She knows I can’t give in and give her the rational answer, even if I want to.

“There’s no point.”

“You can never fix this.”

“It can only go wrong.”

“She hates you. Why shouldn’t she?”

Now she’s clip-clop, clip-clopping on my heart with her spikey leather boots. She’s kicking and she’s thrashing and now she’s down on all fours and I swear this is the time she’s going to give me a heart attack and I’m going to die.

Vera screams that everyone is out to hurt me and that everyone secretly hates me, and I wonder if she knows how much I hate her now.

Vera flutters down towards my lungs and my stomach churns and she smirks at me. She knows that she has me under her spell now, and she’s cackling. She tells me I’m worthless and she asks me a question,

“Why would anyone want to be around you?”

She screams and screams and screams, and she won’t stop and I can’t think and she’s tricked me once again.

She knows she’s the winner; she’s always the winner.

She squeezes my lungs and a heavy black cloud weighs down my chest and my throat closes up and I can’t breathe anymore. I’m hyperventilating now and I can’t make it stop and all I can hear is this screeching inside of my head,

“This is your fault.”

“You’re so stupid.”

“You’re pathetic.”

My ears are ringing and it drowns everything out. The sound of my friend trying to calm me down and the rational thoughts are all washed away with every breath that I struggle to take. I know she’s won, again.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

Then sometimes there’s a thud, and my exhausted body collapses onto the cold, hard floor. Often it feels like the easier route because for a moment my eyes black out, and I can’t hear, and I have peace for just a few moments. Its peace, all the same.

And eventually the short staggered breaths even out, but the tears keep flowing and my body is full of this emptiness.

Now Vera is staring, beady eyed at my hunched over limp, lifeless body and she shakes her head and asks,

“Who wants to deal with an anxious mess like you?”

She turns away and I think that’s the end but somehow, somehow in between my sobs she finds the space to hurt me one last time.

Vera squeezes me tightly, her claws digging into my skin so hard that her words are left like tiny scars on my arm. She says,

“Don’t let this happen again.”

Now I’m alone with my thoughts, and Vera’s words keep swirling through my mind; I know she’s wrong but she always manages to take over me. Vera knows I’m afraid of putting myself into a position where she’ll come back again. She knows I’ll avoid facing my fears.

She knows she’s the winner; she’s always the winner.

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I’ll Be Okay

September has finally hit us, and it’s back to college for everyone. Excited? Of course you are, sure we all are. Most of us have spent the whole summer working, half way across the country from the people we can now call our second family. The thought of getting back to the craziness of college life is something that puts a smile on all of our faces. But for me, college life brings other things with it. It should feel like it’s all fun and games, but it doesn’t.

The last few nights, I’ve ended up crying myself to sleep. Why? The “A” word of course. Back with a bang is my anxiety, riled up and ready to try and ruin college for me again. What am I worried about? Pretty much everything, if I’m honest. But I’ve decided that I’m not going to let one little thing ruin college for me again. Last semester, I let myself get so bad that I was barely leaving my room. But this time, I’ll be okay.

I was going to write a blog post about why anxiety is ruining my life, and whine and complain and cry and whatever else. But I’ve decided to make this into a more positive post, on why things are going to be so much better this year. I’m putting pen to paper here about why my worries are irrational, which will be a big help in just getting it all out of my head. It’s a new semester, a different semester, and I have the power to make the most of it.

Last semester, I felt really, mh1really alone. I spent a lot of time in my room by myself, and it was hard to find the energy to go out and see my friends. This year, I’m living with my friends, and with the constant laughter and music blaring, there’s no possible way I could feel alone. When I feel like shit, all I have to do is take a couple of steps and I’m in one of their rooms, and things will immediately feel a little better. And my other friends? Conveniently we’re all in the same neighbourhood, so nobody’s more than a five minute walk away.

My major worry for this semester is that I’ll gain back all the weight that I’ve lost. It took absolutely ages and it’s only now that I’m starting to feel okay again, and I don’t want to mess it all up. But now that I live in a house where the kitchen isn’t covered in mould, I can actually cook. That means no more takeaways, and with the gym less than a ten minute walk away, I’d be an idiot to give up my exercising routine. Also the fact that college is a trek of a walk from my house probably won’t allow for much weight gain either. The Chinese across from our house could be a bit of a problem though.

Because I’ve made some really good friends, I don’t have to worry about having panic attacks when I go out. They’re not the kind of people that would leave me outside, alone, in the rain.. And although I feel like such an inconvenience when I have to go home, I know they won’t end up hating me for it. They know it’s not something I can control, and just knowing that makes me a little less anxious when I go out, because I know that they understand.

Failing was a big fear for me last semester. It was hard to motivate myself to do anything, and I felt like there was nothing that I enjoyed anymore. Making myself go to lectures was tough, but if I passed last semester with flying colours, I’m pretty sure I can do anything. My interest in writing is back, and the fact that three out of four of my housemates are in the same course as me means we can drag each other along to lectures. Or convince each other not to go, depends on the day I guess.

I’m not letting my mental health prevent me from enjoying college this year, and acknowledging my fears and realising that they’re irrational was the first step in doing that. This year is different in so many ways, and now is my chance to change things. I’m going to focus on the positives rather than the negatives, and make the best out of my time in UL. I’ll be okay.

If you liked this blog post, make sure you vote for me as “Best Youth Blog” in the Irish Blog Awards here