Monday 4th January, 9.45am train to Birmingham Moor Street. The first day back at university since before the Christmas break; I had to get back into the swing of final year uni stresses. A ‘good luck, Chick’ from my Mum and off I was ready to embrace the big push of final year’s final term.
For one of my modules, I am project manager; meaning I manage 47 other people (students…) for a ‘Two Week Takeover’ of our university’s student radio station. The stress is real. However, I enjoyed the stress before Christmas, I like being in control of certain elements of how things run, and I like giving out a positive mental attitude and motivating everyone to do well in this project.
But that Monday morning… by 7 am, I was let down by a member of my management team, again. By 7.30am, I had the social media team complaining and whining about a team member, asking me to do something about it. By 8 am I already had 10 other people messaging me with problems about this and that. By 8.30am, my assistant reminded me that she was not going to be with me this week because she had to train for her new BBC job. By 9 am, I remembered that I had forgotten (the irony) something extremely important to bring in for my Head of School. By 9.30am, I was worried I was going to miss the train because I did not sleep the previous night due to nerves about this morning. By 9.45am, I was on the train and needed to sit and breathe, I could feel the panic swelling in my gut, I could feel my brain swirling with so many names and numbers, and to do lists.
I usually read books on the train, but a few days prior to this incident, I gave Amazon’s Audible a try (free trial, of course, I am a student). I never usually read autobiographies, my mini library (shelf) at home consists of; Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, A Song of Ice and Fire series, Into the Wild, On the Road, and many more. No autobiography sat on my shelf, though.
I purchased Yes Please! by Amy Poehler with my free credit, (thank you student perks) and began the book on January 2nd. Amy Poehler’s voice has made me laugh when she discussed her time on SNL, and her early career. Her parents voices have made me gush when they spoke about her as a child, Kathleen Turner’s voice made me shiver as she read an excerpted passage about the good ol’ days of the 80s, and Seth Meyer’s voice made me smile like the Cheshire Cat when he read his own written passage about his best friend Amy.
On the train, I began to feel sick, I had 10 people calling me. 23 emails came through. 12 Facebook notifications. All regarding this uni project. I began to crumble. I could feel my breaths get quicker and shallower. My eyes started to water up. It was coming. I looked up towards the dim lights on my London Midland train and shuffled about saying excuse me to the business type, smartly suited gentleman as he gruntled. My cheeks were flushed, and I could feel the burst of tears about to happen trying to get out of my eyes.
And then Amy spoke to me.
‘Apology letter from the brain.’
I turned the volume up, and tried to centralise and focus.
‘Hey there, I’m sorry, ok, can I something, I admit I am not perfect. No one is perfect. That is a fact. Speaking of facts, don’t you think we all need to take a minute to decide who is right and who is wrong, every side is different, but it seems my side is more right. I’m not just saying that because it’s my side, I think a lot of people would agree with me if given the chance. If i upset you in some way, please know that wasn’t my intention, I didn’t know how sensitive you were, it’s obvious I can set you off very easily. That’s not an insult, it’s just an observation. I think it would help if we could talk about this more, and argued about this more of who is telling the truth. I would like to see you in person and tell you how the situation has affected me, I may use this opportunity to bring up other times you have hurt me in the past; if possible, I would like to hurt you back. Either way; I want to be in control. Until then, take care, and please remember I reached out first.
I focused on Amy’s voice, pretty much telling me that it was my brain thinking this way. My brain is in control of my almost – panic attack/burst of tears/breakdown. I stopped overthinking what was happening on my phone, wiped my eyes, took a sip from my water bottle and continued to listen.
‘Apology letter from the Heart’
I was ready for this one. I needed Amy to tell me it was going to be ok.
I’m sorry, I found it hard to tell you this, and I realised my apology maybe too little or come too late. It is important for me to let you know that I’m sorry for what I did or said, or what I didn’t do or say. I was wrong. I make mistakes, I hate that I made one with you. I’m reaching out because life goes by so fast, and I just don’t want my one life to go by without expressing this to you. I want to do and be better.
This apology is yours, feel free to do whatever you want with it. My hope is that it gives you comfort but my goal is that it doesn’t cause you any pain.
Again, I am truly sorry.
Thank you again for taking the time to read this.
P.S. I’m Sorry.’
Within that brief moment, Amy Poehler was my saviour. Her voice and words told me that it was ok to feel like sh*t when you’re out of control. When you’re not in control, that’s when anxiety kicks in.
I am also a person like Amy, who apologises way to often, even when things are not my fault. I stopped scratching at my arms, (a habit I have when things are not going so well) and said sorry to myself for causing horrid, raw lines all over my forearm, and gently rubbed them.
I finished chapter 11; 2 minutes, 23 seconds, I blew out a sigh of relief and looked towards the window, and realised things would not be so bad. It is true that as long as you have control, you control what can happen to you.
And for the first time, I had control over a panic attack/breakdown.
Audiobooks I have found, is a nice easy way to deal with tough times, especially when you feel completely overwhelmed with the amount on your plate. Having someone who is successful and someone you admire tells you about how they were in your position once, and how they overcame it, is actually pretty soothing and encouraging. I heavily advise those that suffer mental health problems to try audiobooks, whether you want to listen to Harry Potter (most likely my next audiobook), but I do advise an autobiography by someone who is successful and someone you admire. Tina Fey; Bossypants, you are next.
(An open letter to Amy Poehler.)
Thank you. Thank you for your honesty, and your words. Thank you for being real, and teaching me to love myself, and to remember that I am in control of what happens to me and my future. Thank you for making me laugh and cry both at the same time. Thank you for empowering me as a young woman, and sticking up for women and being a true inspiration to me.
Please continue being who you are.
Love, (because I love you and you are awesome.)