Bronte, Anxiety, London and Back Again

Bronte, Anxiety, London and Back Again

By Cassidy Krygger

The United Kingdom has always held a certain magic for me, a girl growing up in Australia looks afar. So far away, the magical land of England almost seemed untouchable. Especially given that I was a girl who lived with a debilitating anxiety disorder since the age of 12. But last November, the impossible became possible.  I stepped on English soil for the first time. All by myself.

My Social Anxiety Disorder was pretty intense. I was diagnosed right after I graduated from Primary School and was unable to attend mainstream High School.

Eccentric teenage years were spent soaking anything up to do with history and reading; I loved it!  I was obsessed with the royal family and was in love with the idea of London. All the books I read seemed to be set there, and of course, it was home to the British Royal Family. It was a dream that deep down I wanted so much to experience.  

But for a girl who couldn’t leave the house without her Mum at 16 years of age or even answer the phone, that dream seemed pretty impossible.

The road to recovery was long and hard and filled with many moments of amazing triumphs and frightening setbacks. But slowly I was beginning to live a life and being able to cope with my anxiety.

I’d been talking to my friend about going to London for over a year, but we could never get the dates right. In May 2017, I got fed up. I decided that I wanted to go on my terms and I booked a trip to the UK.

By.

My.

Self.

Of course, I was freaking out.

As the November date loomed closer, I thought of a million and one ways to get out of it. My most creative idea was the good old fashioned fall and leg break trick right before I left.  I wouldn’t be able to go, and I might get the money back from insurance, it was a win-win solution!

Panic attacks ensued and I was sure something horrific was going to happen to me overseas. I kept thinking ‘How silly am I to think I would be able to travel to a country I had never been to before all by myself?’ These thoughts kept playing over and over in my mind, but  I pushed through.

Finally, the big day arrived, dread-filled would be the way to describe it.

I am pretty stubborn, and I didn’t want to waste all that money I had already spent on the trip. Something inside me just knew I had to go. This was my motivator.

The flight was long but nowhere near as scary as I thought. People are kind, especially when you are a solo female traveler. But I was pleasantly surprised to see I wasn’t the only one. Young women taking on the world filled the flight. It was awesome.

As the flight descended into a gloomy and cold London evening, the pilot announced our arrival with ‘Welcome to London’ over the speaker. It was and will always be one of the most defining moments of my life.

I couldn’t believe it.

Everything I fought for, everything I went through, from the days thinking I wouldn’t survive the black beast that is anxiety, had finally paid off. I was actually in London… the magical city. A real-life Disneyland.  I couldn’t wait to explore.

London was everything I expected and more. I saw Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court Palace and The Tower of London (I told you I was a royal nut!). I went up to Yorkshire and saw the home of my favorite writer, Emily Bronte.

London culture filled and exciting. Every train station had a bookshop, and every building was bursting with history. I caught the tube everywhere and felt like a real Londoner.

I could totally be free. I felt like I was completely alone in the world and yet I was in one of the busiest cities. I found myself so quickly when there was no one else to talk with.

I got to know myself in a way I had never been able to before, and I realized that I am pretty impressive and strong. It was the best week of my life.

I believe that if you are lucky enough to be able to do it, that every young person should travel by themselves somewhere.

I totally had to rely on myself. There was literally no one else to lean on for support. And I had to grow up super quickly.

It could be the most terrifying thing you will ever push yourself to do. But it will also be the most liberating. I promise you’ll come back a more grounded, mature and all-round better person. You will find yourself in ways you have never encountered yourself before.

I came home a different person. Things that worried me don’t worry me anymore. I found new parts myself. Great parts. I think that is the most awesome thing you can do.  

Bio: Cassidy is a social media influencer, with her Instagram account one of Australia’s most popular! You will find Cass taking on the world one day at a time as authentically as possible. Her love of stories, in particular Bronte has her head in a book at some stage during the day and she has a love for the written world that shines through in her work. She is an advocate for Young people finding their inner strength and pushing through what can be a difficult world to be in. She has triumphed.

Little Shape Changer

Little Shape Changer

By Kirsten Macdonald  She was sure she heard someone call her name. The voice had a feminine lilt with gentle humor etched on the edges. She opened her eyes, dry from the flight and the voice bearer was not near. What did the sleep doctor call it? Hypnagogic state. A foggy place. The peripheral.  This reminded her of when she was tiny, sleeping in the bunk of the truck cabin. The scent of leather cleaner and dust was familiar and warm. She was left there to sleep in the locked metal hulk while he went in the roadhouse. She could not remember why or where she was there, six-year-olds are not concerned about locations. But the girl was snug in her travel space.  Leaderboard Ponderings 3 The veil between dreams and here lifted slowly, and a pale light drew her eyes over to the driver’s seat. Her ankles squeezed as did her little heart.  A striking tall illuminated shape, something like a person, transparent radiant blue, like a human firefly sat there.  She could not see a face but sensed a watchfulness. A sentry, a nutcracker soldier, guarding.   Fear was not there, but wonder filled the girl with a particular type of awe like the time she first saw a rollercoaster. Struck with an intense wonder she stayed very still.  The girl blinked, and blinked and then it was just gone. As she woke, the wonder disappeared like a popped bubble. Who was her visitor? Her human firefly was from that moment tucked under the file called ‘To Be Explained.’ She did not mention it to the busy and faded grown-ups.  Leaderboard Ponderings 2 During the day she was tucked into her world titled The Bunk. 180-degree views through the elevated truck cabin around her made her feel like she was floating above the world,  a princess being carried on her throne.  Occasionally she was fed small packets of potato chips and bananas, golden with brown splotches, ripe from the heat. Dried banana chips were the best, the squeak they made when you bit down was bliss.  She remembers her fear of bones, after reading Jack and The Beanstalk, the fierce roar of the Giant grinding Jack’s bones to make his bread. When they got Chinese food, she licked a Prawn Cracker, and it latched onto her tongue, she bit down and wondered if this was what Jack’s bones felt like. She retched. Sometimes she felt like Giants drove trucks too and she was the stolen harp.  Ponderings Leaderboard A tin of hard-boiled lollies warm to the touch was empty when he wasn’t watching she opened the lid. The small popping noise of the lid made her smile; she would lick her finger and dip into the little crystally shards of leftover pieces sitting in the powdery sugar. Like sweet little pieces of glass, they would sit on her tongue, and she would feel them dissolve and time how long it took them to disappear. She did this all with very quiet joy. She was already learning; she had to be careful not to upset him. Princesses were only princesses when they were quiet.  The crackle of the CB exploded with male conversations, gravelly like sandpaper and littered with swear words and laughter beyond her understanding.  They had a magic to them, messages floating through the air from truck to truck that the little people driving their cars did not know about. They knew where the coppers were, and did you see that Sheila in the blue Datsun? She had no idea who Sheila was, but apparently, the menfolk liked her a lot everywhere they went.  The hills rolled by, carpeted with green grass then within kilometers were replaced with paddocks, crisp dry clumps of grass and sheep that were skinny after their haircuts. She imagined the lives she had lived here once before where many little animals could speak and be friends. There were no grown-up people there, just grown up animals. Wise and strong Aslan types who laughed hearty laughs and gave hugs that did not hurt but made you feel all wrapped up.   In the here -now- life the little one knew that animals could bite. Like the spider at school. All black fur and spiky legs, she wanted to look closer but was scared of being eaten. Some creatures bit, not because they were nasty but to protect themselves. How she wished she could communicate that she was different. To the others.  She did not know why she just was. The mean just didn’t live in her. She wanted more than anything to brush the hair of a lion, to ride on the back of a bear, to be piggybacked through the jungle by a gorilla.  She once had a butterfly land on her finger. She believed with her whole body it was because she had asked nicely from a gentle heart.  It would take many decades for her to learn her same feeling for human friendships. Biting happened frequently.  She created the stories; she lived on that hill where flowers sang her name and tales of Briah Fox were true. Very tall trees were an escape to another world.  A tree striking up like an old man alone in the dusk challenged her to remember its shape. She held up her hands up like a camera and took a photo with her mind; then it went into a file cabinet in her head. It was a faded green color like the one in Pa’s office. So many files in her cabinet tucked away for later.  As a grown woman she cannot recall what she was saving them for. Perhaps it was for right now, right at this moment as she sat on an airplane high above the ground remembering the age of six. The plane is nearly empty, and she looks over the next aisle. He is watching her. He is her Aslan. Sometimes his wildness scares her, his distant self when he needs to walk alone can make her feel like she’s vulnerable. Her fierce woman fury rises from the depths of survival when this happens; her eyebrow raises in haughtiness challenging everything that might bring her undone. He has taught her that men can be good. She is safe and does not need to draw her sword.  She touched the gold cross that sits on her chest. The full, rounded aching now in sweet and sour waves that is 2018.  Author’s Note: certain things happen to us on the fringe of life, at the tips of our memory, the edge of awake and asleep that echo of a story. Like a haze above the hot road and the magic of a firefly, if you look directly, it peaks out of view. Peripheral wonder. To remember we were all children once, that wanted to shine, not from attention but for want of harmony and joy is timely.  The wildness of joy may scare people, but your tribe will arrive. You might even stumble across a human firefly together.  For John xxx

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