For the love of hiking

It’s a weekend morning, probably a Sunday. I’m with my mother and my sister. I’m about seven years old, and we’re going for a walk up Lion’s Head. I complain incessantly, my exhaustion turning into grumpiness very quickly. I want my mother to carry me but I’m obviously too old for that. My sister and I whine. I plop down onto a rock, arms folded across my chest, glaring at the flora and fauna. Somehow my mother refrains from throwing us off the mountain. As I remember, we don’t make it to the top.

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We’re in Nature’s Valley, the place I love the most. It could be any year, from 2002 to 2013. We’ve camped there every December holiday since I was tiny. We leave the campsite and drive to the trail that leads to Salt River. The trail begins not far from the beach. We enter a dark forest, which quickly muffles the sound of the tourist-filled stress that we’ve left behind. The trees are gnarled; they curl and twist along the path, and the thick green leaves overhead protect us from the sun.

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[Image: sourced]

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Out of order

This morning, the washing machine overflowed.

Since moving out of campus residence and into a flat with my friend, I’ve encountered most of what I’d heard about from other students. I’ve dealt with raucous neighbours, wobbly internet connection, lousy half-arsed meals, water shortage, and units on the electricity metre fading so fast you’d think we owned a jumping castle. On the bright side, I told myself, we’ve never had a problem with the washing machine.

By the end of this week, our flat was a disaster. My roommate and I had pushed through a pile of deadlines, and our poor living quarters had suffered the consequences of this. When under pressure, we do not clean*. The monsters loved the mess; they gained courage, climbing in through the window, smashing a wine glass, stealing our food and spilling crumbs all over the floor.  Continue reading

An honest update.

Today marks the one-month anniversary of me failing to maintain a blog.

I’ve been beating myself up about this, and I figured an honest update is the only way to about it. I wish I could to attribute my absence to sheer laziness. If that were the case, maybe I’d snap out of it and dish out some decent posts.

I am not okay. In fact, I am very un-okay. That’s the premise of this blog: to discuss experiences with mental illness and show others that these experiences are normal, and shitty, and manageable.

I anticipated this blog to be cathartic, a way of sharing insight with others and in turn, viewing my troubles in a new light and tackling them. But in terms of mental health, 2017 has, as it were, shown me flames. It’s affected my academics, my physical health, and my social life. It has also affected my ability to work consistently on this blog on mental health (let us bask for a moment in the sweet, sweet irony of this).

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Strands of social awkwardness

Social awkwardness is a general experience that many students feel, whether they have actual social anxiety or not. Social awkwardness is prevalent on campus, but there is no one way in which students experience it. This is the first of a series on Anxious in which I will be speaking to students at UCKAR about how they navigate this space with their social awkwardness.

Nikita-lynn Ruiters (2nd-year, English and Psychology)

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This year has been a challenge for Nikita. Her social anxiety has heightened since last year’s student protests, as she was caught in a stun grenade attack, leading her to experience PTSD. Music and writing have helped make her world a little calmer. (Photo: Guinevere Shapiro)

“Social anxiety makes me more aware of certain things. If someone is having a panic attack, I will be able to help them through it. I see the world differently to someone who doesn’t have it. I’m weary of people, so I don’t get attached too easily. Continue reading

Booze and boundaries

I picture it: the sting of the liquid, clear as water, as it fills my glass. I top it with something sweet and fizzy, spinning my straw around to stifle its unforgiving burn. The crowd rumbles on, a slurry of mismatched.conversations, gestures, and hot air. My chest feels tight and I lean in closer towards my friends, clutching my drink, fingers icy. Within minutes my glass is empty and I sit back, awaiting the calm that follows the burn. It feels like nothing is happening; then suddenly the words are streaming from my mouth like glitter, and my smile becomes laughter. I shrug my anxiety off and turn my back as it slinks off to a corner.

I have used alcohol to rid myself of a prominent aspect of my identity. Be it one drink or three, I’d usually feel lousy in the morning after having returned to myself. Continue reading