The Agent, the Phoenix and the Beta Blockers. (originally published July 2016)

So here’s the thing about being a single mother, actor, writer, extrovert sufferer of depression and anxiety,  a 30 year old woman and a life long wearer of my heart on my sleeve. It is at times impossible. I mean seriously, take one maybe two of the above and it’s tough, hard even but combine them all together and it can feel like you are trapped in a very small box, that’s locked with the only source of oxygen being monkey farts and who wants that?

*DISCLAIMER – If that’s what you are into you go right ahead – this is  a judgement free zone – unless, of course you’re a war mongering, fame hungry pig weasel, masturbating over a divided world with a desperate need for a tan but a hatred of any non white or non penis-bearing human. Then fuck you. I’m judging you.

So back on track. Being all those things is challenging and it can be difficult to stay positive but I try. I try really hard, I have rituals and structures in place to prevent backslides but naturally I’m human and bad days and occasional backslides are inevitable. I’m telling you this because recently I have had a string of bad health, it felt constant and I ended up in hospital on several occasions. It triggered an old enemy of mine, the ‘helpless victim’. The girl that just wants to be looked after and rescued. Now I’m not trivialising or belittling my genuine health concerns but here’s the thing – being in victim mode is destructive in all areas, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. My son didn’t get the mummy he knows and I found myself being more irritable than is acceptable, my friends got put upon, my work practices suffered, my depression bared its ugly teeth as did my anxiety (just before my first audition in a very long time – priceless) and I lost the will be to be independent and strong.

About backslides or falling into old traps; it’s consuming and you often don’t recognise it’s happening until you’ve been living there for a while.

The audition situation was the catalyst for me. I was devastated and filled with shame, so much so that it took me over a day to call my agent and confess my sins. When we spoke I rambled for about a minute telling him what had happened and eventually began to cry. I think I spoke so long because I was scared he would be furious that I’d fucked up. He wasn’t, in fact he was his usual gorgeous self and talked me down off the ledge I had built for myself one brick at a time, we spoke for a minute or so and he suggested I speak to my doctor about beta blockers.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling I had after we hung up. It was like a weight and fog had been lifted. I saw myself and my situation and understood what had happened. I began to think rationally about what had led to this. Who wouldn’t feel so beat up after being ill for three months while successfully keeping a five year old alive? Who wouldn’t be induced to an anxiety attack after not being on top of their game due to previously mentioned illness when attending their first audition in a long time – even though they had spent two days prepping for it?

I think it’s so easy to forget you are not the exception that proves the rule when life can feel overwhelming especially when you suffer with mental health issues.

So, I sat on my sofa after the beautiful words from JBR had been poured into my ear like a magical healing elixir and looked at my situation from a stranger’s perspective and I realised a few things. Firstly I had not failed at life, I had been doing everything in my power at that time to be ready, prepared and sane. I had been very poorly and no one is on top of their game when this happens and lastly, I had to be kind to myself and take steps to continue to do so.

I visited my doctor and was prescribed beta-blockers to take before anxiety inducing ‘events’. They worked. This was a week and a half ago and since then I have had a workshop, an audition and a private screening of a project I worked on all without incident. They didn’t just help with my anxiety but they were able – through stopping the anxiety – to give me a larger understanding of where I am. I realised that for so long I believed so strongly that one day I would believe that I was going to be successful in the different areas of my life, then I realised that day had arrived. I have an incredibly close bond with my son, I’m working on cultivating new and existing relationships, I’m being seen more regularly, I’m working so hard on building all of this so when I grow up I can be the best version of myself. It suddenly felt tangible and this morning when I woke up with a slightly fuzzy head -for slightly fuzzy head, read full blown hangover from the previous night of drinking in which I had to tactically vomit so I could sleep (I don’t get out much) from the previous nights screening, I felt free of it all, I felt confident, it all felt tangible. I believed. I could see it, the path before me the footsteps behind me.  I went back to the feeling of being a phoenix (a metaphor I hold onto for strength) but the best part was I felt like me again.

It’s funny because there’s a saying about raising a child, ‘It takes a village’ but I think it also applies to being human – it takes a god damn village and I am so privileged to have in my village, a child to keep me playful, a family to keep me grounded, friends to keep me sane, an agent to keep me inspired and a phoenix to light up the darkness.

x


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