In My Very Own Private Hell

The worst part of having anxiety is the fact that it’s just inside of me. Most of the time you can’t tell I’m suffering unless I’m having a really bad day. 
It’s hard to describe or even rationalise what happens. I get edgy and fidgety whilst my legs feel like lead. It’s a total paradox. I know being around people is helpful but when I’m like this I can barely even stand my own company, never mind anyone else’s. 

I’ve felt it rising the past few days. I’ve tried ignoring it and trying to deal with our. Today it feels like it’s kicking seven shades of shit out of me. I sat on the bus heading to work trying to deal with my physical symptoms of it – the constant clenching of my jaw, the grinding of my teeth, my hand and fingers flexing and rubbing my face as if I was really tired. 

By the time I got in I was looking for any escape route out of my brain. I’d given my boss a warning on how I was so I knew I was covered if I needed to disappear and take a break if things got overwhelming. 

I noticed some holiday availability come up which meant I could bail early. I could make my exit at twelve. That was okay, I could manage to put on a face for that amount of time. 

One hundred and fifty minutes of work seemed doable, and it was. Every minute down was another minute of victory for me. I was sprinting down my golden mile. 

Midday hit and I was out of there. The mask would slip every now and again but I’d manage to catch it and fix it back into place. I think I coped well, no breakdowns, no mess to clear up. 

My plan was to spend some time focusing on me for a bit, even just a couple of hours. 

I got into Durham and headed to my barber’s. James is a good friend and knows what I’m going through. I’ve also been going there for the past few years so he knows how to handle me. He greeted me with a warm hug, sat me down in the barber’s chair and shaved down the sides and back of my hair. Clippers with no guard. Makes me feel like I’ve got a mohawk again. I find it therapeutic, almost like a tattoo (and I really need some new work).

Latte at Velvet Elvis

Fifteen minutes later and I’m out of there, heading along the road to my favourite cafe, Velvet Elvis. I grab my usual seat and order a latte and a grilled halumi and watermelon salad. When I’m feeling like this it’s good to make sure I’m eating good food which I do. The large bowl of salad tastes great. 

I sit and read for a while. They always play cool music there which is part of the reason I like it. Two songs come in from Faith No More’s Album of the Year. I’m feeling more chilled. 

Two guys come in and start rubbing me up the wrong way. They’re both talking about poetry they’ve written and read it out to each other, trying to play a game of one upmanship with each other. They take it in turns and progressively get worse. Normally, I could cope with this but today it’s not what I’m in the mood for. When one of them announces that his next poem is called “The Cut” I decide that my patience has worn thin and it’s time to beat my retreat back home. 

In the house I try to focus. I wash the cups from last night, have a brief tidy and put some washing in. I try to watch some TV but I find I’m just not ready to focus on it. 

I need to focus my mind so I run a ten minute guided meditation from the Headspace app. It draws me in and after the ten minutes I feel a bit more better. 

I spend the evening trying to shut down the anxiety at every opportunity. I cook some food for Sarah and I which I find relaxing. We decide it’s the perfect time to book our holiday to Berlin. This unfortunately clashes with a tattoo appointment I had booked with my friend Paula Castle who would be visiting the Cock-A-Snook tattoo studio in Newcastle the same week so I have to cancel my booking with her (just a quick side note, Paula is a most excellent tattooist who is based outside of Broadside Tattoo Parlour in Swansea but she does a good few conventions and guest spots. She’s also currently a featured writer in Skin Deep ay the moment with her Diary Of A Tall Girl articles. Check out here schedule and work over at Paula Castle Tattoos). Obviously this knocks my anxiety back up a little. Deciding to relax my playing The Evil Within and watching Mr Robot probably doesn’t help me either. 

Night time and sleep is a good chance to rest, relax and reset the day’s state. I wake up feeling tired but better. The anxiety hasn’t fully dissipated but it’s at a much more manageable level. Let’s see what today and the weekend bring…..

The title of this volume of my blog comes, of course, from Alice In Chains’ ‘Private Hell’ from their album ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’. You can find a link to a YouTube video of it at Alice In Chains – ‘Private Hell’.

If you want to chat to me, please drop me an email at and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’ve set up a closed Facebook group, also called The Order Of The Dog for sufferers of mental illnesses and people who want to help support them. Please click on the link if you’d like to join. It’s a closed group so only other members can see and comment on posts there. Also, finally, please feel free to share this blog with anyone or anywhere you think it might help.


The Order Of The Dog.


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