Goodbye Berlin

Another night. Another beer. Another hipster bar complete with urban greenery and string lights. My chest is tight and my heart, a little heavy. I don’t know if it’s sleep deprivation, the beer or the fact that I spent the majority of my day soaking my brain in weird art in various galleries across Augustsraße. In any case, I sit at the table, get a smile of acknowledgement from the curly haired waiter who now considers me a regular and bask in the knowledge that my flight home is in 12 hours. It seems to be having a significantly more melancholy effect on me than I’d ever really anticipated.

On the lead up to this trip, I can’t say I had any overwhelming expectations. It had been a while since I had been anywhere alone so apart from the occasional ‘what the fuck am I doing?’ moment I wasn’t applying too much unnecessary pressure on myself. Frankly, since stepping off the flight, roaming the streets solo in this city has felt like the most normal thing on the planet. To the point where I can’t imagine it any other way.

I’ve had open conversations with strangers. I’ve drank alone, dined alone and even gone to a club alone. I’ve shared a 6am smoke with a drug dealer who offered me coke, weed and then himself (wouldn’t recommend), I’ve been told by my Airbnb host to ‘suck it up and wear more glitter’ (sound advice I subsequently followed), I’ve crashed a date and spent the rest of the night with the guy ON said date (platonic, unfortunately for him as I am still disgustingly in love with Rath) and attempted to watch a sunrise over the river though we wound up on totally the wrong side of it (caught a glimpse of her over a morning bagel shortly after though, so all was not lost).

It’s been weird, interesting and cool.

But I would be lying if I said there was absolutely no underlying reason whatsoever for deciding to spend four days on holiday alone. Berlin was special. I planned Berlin because this trip marks a kind of personal celebration.

Two years ago, I moved back home with my parents, a broken woman. I booked Berlin as a gift to myself, to say congratulations. For working relentlessly with my demons to the point where I recognise them for exactly what they are. For holding it all together, not by putting on a brave face but by crying, screaming and taking time out to heal when I’ve needed it. In two weeks’ time… only two weeks’ time I move to Birmingham with Rath. I start a new job. I live in a new home.

I take in a huge gulp of air beneath the string lights and I know that this is kind of it. After this trip is done… I’ve got just two weeks until my whole life shifts radically all over again. It terrifies and excites me at the same time. Yet the fear of facing it makes me want to majorly stall. Can’t I just stay in Berlin forever?! I don’t know that I can slot back into my old life anymore since I’m an entirely different person to whom I was the last time I lived there. I don’t know that my friends won’t fall away because I can’t relate to them anymore. I don’t know what will happen to the people I’ve become so close with now. All I know is it’s me and Rath and then the world. I guess it’ll be ok.

So tonight, once I text my new pals Jerry and Cecelia to let them know I won’t be out tonight, I’ll be slinking back to Sam’s, reading my book and calling it a day on Berlin and symbolically on my old life. The party has ended. The bar is shut and this door is closing, and from the crack between its hinge and the wall I see the next door ahead of me open. Just gonna have to walk right through it.

G

X

Hello from Berlin

I wake up in my airbnb room and I’m desperate to pee. I’ve already snoozed my alarm twice. The whole point of not going out last night was to wake up fresh AF today and I already screwed it. Then the beautiful fact hits me once more. I’m travelling alone. I have absolutely no fucking commitments. I can eat cake for breakfast. Empowered by all of the above, I saunter out of my bedroom only to hear the unmistakable, rhythmic creaking and accompanied grunting of good sex. My host and his… Boyfriend? Tinder date? Friend with rough sex thrown in fortnightly? Momentarily i panic. I should not be here right now. I run back into my room. 

Gowri. What the fuck are you doing? You still need to pee. Use the goddamn bathroom like a normal person. It’s just sex. And if it’s anal, the cum doesn’t just seep out involuntarily either; because God bless sphincters (hey, anal isn’t just reserved for gay people). I roll in. Heave a sigh of sheer relief as that good pee escapes my overstretched bladder. Strip off and take a shower. As the warm water gushes over my content, naked body which today, I choose not to criticise for a lump here or roll there… I notice I’m just happy. For absolutely no reason. So I get dressed, play some Khalid, try not to eavesdrop on Sam (pseudonym) and his i-think-boyfriend-because-they-are-now-having-a-classic-post-sex -conversation-whilst-showering (Rath and I do this all the time. Sorry mum if you’re reading). I walk out and Sam is fully in his boxers. He covers his crotch, grinning at me and says ‘oops! I’ll go back to the bathroom!’ 

‘I’m coming back later to get my phone Sam…’

‘”We’ll be dressed! ” he giggles. I laugh. “Sam,you can walk around naked for all I care. It’s your apartment” . Also low-key hoping to catch a glimpse of bae because if it’s who I think it is, judging by Sam’s photos… He’s hot.

I walk to the coffee shop next door to the apartment, grateful for its legitimate coolness and the fact that two Berliners have now told me it’s got one of the best ‘blends’. I sit down outside as my phone charges upstairs and sip my oat milk latte. I order cake for breakfast.

I think about Berlin. The city. The art. The way the beat of techno seeps into your thigh muscles and moves through you almost involuntarily. I think of Sobr, the street artist and the dancing people he illegally pastes across thousands of walls in the city as even the mortar behind it screams liberation. I think of how nobody can take away our human right to dance. I think of the way Germany’s cold beer swims across my taste buds and falls down my throat like golden goodness. I think of the Australian girl I met on a bar crawl the other night who exuded warmth and remember how capable my own intuition is at connecting with the right kind of energy. She said she thought it was so brave that I approached a group of people I didn’t know and asked to hang out with them. I thought of how much I’ve grown as a person and how comfortable I’ve become in my own skin since the last time I travelled alone. I think of the East Side Gallery and how I low-key hated myself for getting a young dad to snap my photo next to the kissing presidents because I didn’t really need that photo to prove I came here. I think of the musicians whose souls escape through the vibrations of their guitar strings only to find the souls of others in the city. I think of the way the Berlin’s heart beats in such a palpable way each time I step off another U-bahn and onto another street, its blood transfusing itself through my arteries, pushing my own heart to pump to the city’s rhythm. I think of how my lovely host, Sam is also a doctor whose SSRIs I saw on the kitchen table and thought ‘hey, what a kindred goddamn spirit’. I think of when he said ‘the first time I went to a fetish club, my mind was blown when I saw a girl being fisted in the basement. But then I remember that assisting a C-section is actually so much worse’. I laugh at my ridiculous framework of socially constructed perspectives that dissolve into Berlin’s infrastructure each time my lungs consume this city’s air. I don’t want to go back to who I was before all this. I think of the young Irish girl who I met on a walking tour yesterday who was so gutted she wasn’t in a party hostel. I remember seeing a version of myself in her whom I’ve since shedded to reveal this young woman who loves so much more than to mindlessly drink.

I’ve ordered another latte and almost finished my vegan cake. God, I really really should go vegan. Berlin, stop pushing me like this (don’t stop). A gorgeous dog canters from underneath the bench to the patch of pavement in front of me. The owner (also gorgeous) is sitting next to me. He wears black Capri pants with long socks, a loose, cream coloured T-shirt with a long silver necklace. He has sweeping caramel coloured hair, brown stubble and warm eyes. He lets me make a fool of myself over his beautiful dog, Danny, whom he picked up as a stray in Ibiza. This story alone prises my heart open. She knows good when she sees it. Before long, Roland, his friend Ben and I are neck deep in the abyss of conversational nirvana.

Roland is a DJ, a yogi, an artist and a soul immersed in a human experience. We speak about how ‘likes’ are a currency by which the generation before us define their self worth. We talk of how social media creates another Maya within the Maya. We speak of humanity’s collective consciousness and its destruction through ego, separation, war and oppression and how the conversation we are having now is an attempt to heal a minute aspect of that from which we suffer. My heart breaks and his eyes swell. His tears paste my scattered thoughts back together and I realise for the first time in a long time… perhaps what I have to say is of value. I’ve been in a state of osmosis lately. Consuming consciously but giving very little back. I see it’s time to change that.

Roland. Here is the list of books I promised you.

A New Earth & Oprah + Eckharte’s podcast series on it- Eckharte Tolle

Rise Sister Rise- for a deeper understanding of the divine feminine, though a touch repetitive- by Rebecca Campbell

The Four Agreements- practical Toltec wisdom about escaping Maya, by Don Miguel Ruiz

My Gita- Devdutt Panikatt- helped me personally dive deeper into the religion I was raised in by providing me with tidbits of conceptual information about the Bhagavat Gita. Confession: I’ve not finished it yet.

The Power of Now- read it. Re read it. Listen to it. Remember that the present moment is the only thing that exists and all beings experience this at the exact same time which means we are experiencing the same thing which makes us eternally connected to one another.

Why We Sleep- Matthew Walker. Remember how we spoke about cyclical living and how 9-5 is such a construct by which we are incarcerated? This will prove it more.

The Art Of Happiness- a series of conversations where a western psychiatrist speaks with the Dalai Lama. Slow to read. Good for bedtime.

I am currently reading Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a long and happy life, as a recommended by a friend. I haven’t yet got very far, but I hear good things.

It was a pleasure to meet you. I feel such love in my heart for you and I genuinely hope you continue to spread your quietly confident and beautiful energy across the world with your music, your art and most importantly, your soul.

As for you, Berlin. Well… two more oat milk lattes later, I still haven’t left this coffee shop and I had a great itinerary planned. I’ve never been so grateful for my plan being so thrown off course. I’m going to roam your museums and galleries now and finish off with a solo trip to a club tonight. Hey, maybe Sobr will get a shot of me and I’ll be up on one of your walls one day. Give me even more to write about.

With love & Prost!

Gowri x

Honoring the divine feminine

Today I write about something that has been bursting through my intuition for some time. As of the recent few weeks, a small bubble of awakening has been rising through my consciousness and it seems to be manifesting in ways that my higher self is totally aware of whilst I keep lagging behind, trying to play catch up.

I was the sort of child with her head in the clouds who would sit on the toilet seat after a satisfying poo, contemplating the meaning of life, aged seven. Society conditioned me to believe this wasn’t ‘normal’ so I moved away from my childlike self until I rediscovered her epic nature in my early twenties and re-embarked on personal spiritual conquests. These journeys led me to various places on the internet, to libraries, bookstores, to meditation, to trees and most recently… to my womb.

Yes, you read it correctly and even as I write, that little doubt creeps into my brain and goes ‘Gowri, isn’t this kind of weird? Maybe you shouldn’t go there…’ but NO I WILL GO THERE BRAIN because humanity’s collective consciousness is evolving and I have to play my part in this before humans fucking wipe out our beautiful Mother Earth. And also because I’ve had a major realisation lately which is that women are bending over backwards to try and make it in an evolving-but-still-patriarchal society. I am lucky to live in a part of the world where I feel that I have equal opportunities to my male counterparts. I don’t feel like I live in a man’s world every day of my life and I’m grateful for it. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that the patriarchy is something that as women, we’ve internalised, leaving us fighting something that has become part of our collective condition over several millenia. I’ll expand on this a bit more, later.

First of all, I want to talk about the divine feminine and my intuitive understanding of her. I believe that every human being, regardless of the sexual organs they possess has within their essence both masculine and feminine energies; this is the divine masculine and the divine feminine. When balanced, these energies co-exist in perfect harmony which leads to complete alignment with the universe.

Qualities I would classically attribute to the divine feminine are compassion, sensitivity, deep connection with nature, healing, being a mother, inner strength, intuition, passion, creativity and ownership over one’s sexuality. Historically, the divine feminine was held sacred and worshipped in the form of the Goddess in a multitude of cultures. However; in modern day religion, God became a man and two-thirds of the holy trinity wound up as the ‘Father’ and the ‘Son’. Curious, eh? And so begins the uprising of female oppression using religion and the fear of God to control people ways that have deeply harmed our collective consciousness (and really, we’re not getting much better than this). Women’s role in society was reduced to being exploited for them being enslaved into child bearing and prostitution for centuries on end and being labelled witches and burnt at the stake for being anything other than what the patriarchy wanted them to be.

Thankfully, I can walk outside of my own house to go pick up some Oatmilk from Booth’s without being called a witch or a whore and without being terrified of getting raped, killed or burnt alive these days. Nothing makes me sadder than knowing how many women there are in the world who still can’t do this… but that’s a story for another day.

Earlier on, I mentioned that women are still bending over backwards trying to make it in an evolving but patriarchal society. What I mean by this is that society doesn’t really get the whole ‘divine feminine’ thing because it’s a bit hippie or out there and as a result, women have to strive in order to do things without really respecting the feminine within. For example, I have to go to work and do my 13 hour shifts, even when I’m bleeding like a madwoman out of my vagina, when I’m tired and every part of my body hurts and my back aches like a bitch… and do it all over again the next day. Most women will just do this but if you’re a man and you’re reading this… have you ever thought about how much harder it is for your wife when she’s menstruating?

In a corporate environment the values that are held in highest esteem are those of working endlessly, striving to achieve and pushing ourselves to the limit. These more masculine qualities subsequently become dominant in males and females alike but in women, it often means our natural empathy, intuition, passion and creativity is quashed to make room for all the striving we have to do to keep up with everyone else. This is why so many career driven women face a mid life crisis after decades of hard work and brimming bank accounts and struggle to form relationships after this massive hiatus where they’ve had to forget everything about their inner feminine power in order to ‘make it’.

Men face an equally challenging problem. Just google ‘toxic masculinity’ and that’s what you get when men stop respecting the divine feminine within themselves. Masculine traits, which are by nature, essential, such as courage, protection, strength, respect and commitment become overpowering and can turn into anger, violence, abuse and greed.

Here’s the part where I turn into a right hippie and start detailing my own realisation and its many consequences.

I went for my cervical smear test recently (ladies, if you’re reading this, remember cervical screening saves lives and BOOK YOUR SMEAR TEST). Anyway, the nurse wasn’t able to find my contraceptive coil strings, so she referred me for a scan. I was also asked to take a pregnancy test and start another form of regular contraception until the scan. I peed on the stick and sat nervously waiting for all that good pee to soak in, thinking ‘God I’ve not done this in so long’. Two minutes later, the nurse looked at me and said ‘Okay, relief, you’re not pregnant!’

I suppose I should have been happy. I wasn’t. I was actually very sad. Now get this: I do not want to have children right now. I believe in bringing life into the world when I am in a position to be able to give said life the best chance possible and my current circumstances financially, in my relationship and in my career don’t allow me to be able to do that yet. But on that day, I came to terms with something. That something is a deep desire within me to grow a child inside me and give birth and become a mother. If this doesn’t scream divine feminine, then I don’t know what does.

Two weeks later, I’m on the pill and everything in my body feels wrong. The moon gets more and more full each time a drive home after a long-ass shift and as I look up at it, my insides feel the same. Engorged. Full. Inflamed and in dire need of a purge. I know the sensible thing to do would be to continue taking the contraceptive pill until my scan but every part of my body is begging for release. I knew I had to listen to this call so I discontinued the pill. My body let go of everything in the way it was designed to and I felt such immense relief, bleeding away, making space for more balance.

Trees. I’ve talked about trees a lot lately but frankly, I talk to trees more than I talk about them. Humanity’s connection to nature is indisputable but I have felt it in such a visceral way lately. Sitting in the presence of trees fulfils me in a way nothing else ever really has before. I believe this to be another manifestation of the divine feminine.

And finally… my soul. I believe my soul has chosen to embody this 25 year old woman for so many reasons. And the more I look, the more reasons I find. I come from a family full of strong and beautiful women. I am born to a religion which revers the female Goddess. My own grandmothers pray to the Goddess of the Earth each day in their incredible wisdom. The place I grew up, this little town called Lancaster is steeped in history, within which is contained one of the most famous Witch trials ever documented. I am born to two parents who are both doctors and though I was never pushed into their field, I was called to it because I believe myself to be, by my very nature, a healer. It all comes together. It all makes perfect sense.

Today, I choose to listen to my own internal wisdom and try to live life attuned to the call of the Goddess within me and I’m glad I wrote this piece. If it triggers a spark of awakening or familiarity in even just one person, then my work here is done.

Love, G x

lol I don’t even have a title

Hi everyone. I say everyone as if i have a real crew of people agonising over the next time i write something lol

It’s been a real minute. Lately I’ve really been refraining from writing anything on here, lowkey subconsciously because I’ve been more present, less in permanent freaking pain and trying to actively consume more conscious media rather than purging all my weird shitty thoughts all over the internet. The other day my friend sent me an ‘inspirational’ podcast from Robin Sharma, whom I am sure is a very successful person or whatever but I had just come back from a grim set of nights and woken up from a nap and in the total pits of social isolation without having commenced my reintegration into daytime + society and I couldn’t help just lie there on my sister’s bed in the middle of the day thinking ‘ugh fuck off with your advice, who are you to tell me to live my life, maybe i don’t want to be successful, maybe i just want to be happy and reincarnate as a tree in my next life SANS night shifts’. aNYone else?

I think somewhere in the middle of that I forget that I am an okay person and I am permitted to write some stuff on this web domain that i totally went and fucking created in the first place? i don’t know, maybe this is my quarter life crisis manifesting and I just feel have absolutely nothing left of value to give and/or share so i pressed pause. for six months. Anyway, since my writing has been dryer than my pre-teenage vagina lately i’ve hopped back on here to say some things about what is occurring in my life and then leaving for another hiatus of looking at trees, being alone and throwing my middle finger up at ‘successful’ people.

Ok so here are some thoughts and updates now

  1. I am in a good place in my life and this is good. by society’s standards i’m a spoilt middle class brat living at home with my mom and papa but i’m stable on an antidepressant so quite frankly, who is complaining? not ya girl. I’ve not self harmed in almost a year and i’m genuinely really fucking happy and I see my therapist whenever i want and it’s sunny out
  2. I decided when i quit instagram to just let the fuck go of society’s version of success. I think you might have caught that vibe. If you’d told me a couple of years ago where i currently am in my life i would have cringed hard because i had all this pride and these unrealistic notions of what success looked like in my eyes. aka not living with your parents at the age of 25. first world problems eh? ugh I hate that phrase. But i got so sick of my own expectations of my life and eventually realised I could not go on if I was going to feel this way so i just hermitted out in my own hole for a while and let myself be. I feel better for it.
  3. Recently I have been obsessed with trees. They are so deeply rooted in just being. And their beauty is a product of so much time and wear. They’re an exemplary form of stillness. I sometimes take the time to sit with trees and absorb their wisdom. maybe this is why i’ve stopped writing; guys- i have nothing socially acceptable to say anymore
  4. I bought a house. Yeah, with Rath. In Birmingham. For a while i was scared to leave my comfort bubble of home and work and things and i still think that after 2.5 years moving in with someone is a fucking colossal step and I’m intent on giving myself spades of time and space to just emotionally adjust to this. another aspect of letting go of all the expectations is just treating myself like a child and allowing life to happen and surrendering control, somewhat.
  5. Our new neighbours are sooooo cool. They have three little girls who i am obsessed with and we’re having a Maoana movie night soon and people, I am buzzed. They also invited Rath and I round for a drink at 1am when the girls were in bed and i was a complete buzzkill, threw a wobbly fit because I didn’t want to go (we were already hungover) and I didn’t want him to go alone because it triggered some old stuff about me not being worthy and fear of him leaving me and Rath just held me all night and stayed even though he totally didn’t have to. I find it so hard to come to terms with some of my own shit and then there’s Rath. the solid fucking guy who holds me when I’m sad. this is why i’m going to propose to him in May 2020 (you heard it here first, he doesn’t read my blog teehee)
  6. I got into GP training which i’m really proud of myself for because it might not seem like a big dream to the rest of the world but I see it as my personal calling so i don’t care. I used to get worried about my own lack of identity and feared that i went into medicine because my parents are doctors. now I believe my soul was incarnated into this current body as the daughter of two doctors so that i may be inspired towards my own calling, which is to chuck my love for humanity around a small community by being their doc.
  7. I’m taking a gap year next year to settle into life with Rath and go away for a bit. Also to deck out our beautiful house with loads of plants and shelving units. We have no solid plans as of yet but I definitely want to look after elephants for six weeks minimum so I might have to kiss him goodbye for a bit whilst I go live out my quarter life crisis cleaning up elephant poo and hope he can fit some more shelves in the meantime or something
  8. I’m going to Berlin soon to get drunk on my own (/ with my airbnb host who apparently is a sick guy) and look at art and museums. Any recommendations, holler this way please
  9. Oh also going to Ibiza with my doctor friends. These days, whilst I still LOVE a night out, I put my water bottle, nasal spray and paracetamol by my bedside for when I get back which means that my liver and I are ageing. But i thought, you know what, let’s have one final crack at pretending to be 18 before I go become a wife and a mother of various houseplants
  10. I thought I’d be like a youtuber and do a pre ibiza glow-up but I’m supposed to have gone for a run and i’m sat here in my pyjamas spewing this nonsense onto the world wide web so, poor effort so far. Also, I’ve put on weight for the first time in my adult life and i spent several months feeling shit about it but i’m kind of coming to terms with the fluctuations of metabolism and bodies changing etc and how this is a thing that happens and i don’t need to suddenly ‘FIX MYSELF’ by hardcore going to the gym every single day if i can’t hack that.

Think that’s most things covered for now. i have to go into hospital in a bit to get some stuff signed off and go for a meeting. How shit is that, when i’ve just come off nights? I’m definitely feeling sorry for myself. I’m also working the weekend and should really box up some healthy meals so I don’t succumb to overpriced chips and beans like I did on my last long day (although I got the last batch of chips so she only charged me half price, winner winner farty dinner) and ugh I actually have loads of work to do. I think i need a lie down. I also need to see and speak to people if anyone wants to volunteer

Right kids, I’m off, hope you enjoyed all of the above crap. If you did subscribe! Then maybe i can make my blog better or you can just take over this page for me, whatever suits

love, xoxox

Raw 

Written July 2018 and published April 2019 on pure whim because pain is a real thing

You know. One day I’m gonna be too much and you might leave me. I think that every time I tell you about these breakdowns. Before- I was so paralysed with fear that I couldn’t even tell you about them because I was so convinced that’d be it. You’d leave. I was told all my life that I would never find a person who could handle my emotions so that fear will always be there. That you’ll go. Because of who I am inherently and how bad that is. How much hard work I am. And that’s why it makes me so hard to accept myself. I want to close off and be alone so you can’t see it or be around it because this side of me is so shitty and unbearable. Gowri, the stupid emotional girl. Then I think… that’s fine, because I know that if you do leave me, I’ll survive because I’ve done that before, had my heart crushed plenty of times and I can do it again. I’m almost used to break ups. This relationship is so challenging because I can’t hide myself from you until you break up with me because you’re the first person to give me signs that you might not do that.

So after one year, I have no choice but to open up to you after loads of awkward times trying and failing and word vomiting before you’re about to go somewhere with your friends or completely inappropriately. And then you’re like why do you say this now?! And I’m like… because I’ve had to work up so much courage to do this
Thing is I’m actually ok with external factors causing me pain and distress. I can handle that.

I have to be around for your dad to get better and I have to be around because my sibling needs and deserves to have a big sister to get her through life. And you know when they call things ‘protective factors’ which is just a posh way of saying reasons why don’t people just end their pointless lives- these are currently my protective factors. And every time I think of ingesting loads of paracetamol I think of all the personality disorder girls who sit in the medical outlier wards exchanging their self harm methods and I don’t want to be one of them and it just wouldn’t work anyway and I’d regret it and call someone and end up in the hospital where I work and everyone would know my mental health suffers sometimes, so it really is a bad idea. I think of all the places my mind has wandered to… this is the most miserable. At least severely depressed people who have lost their protective factors can do something about the pointlessness.The rest of us, people like you and me… when we experience this emotion, the protective factors weigh us down and keep us here and make us get up and do another day. We can’t just give up, that’s why we don’t. See today, I’ll cry for a while and then I’ll go to work, won’t I? Where no one will know about these attacks. I felt this coming on today, from the moment I woke up. I told you I felt anxious and really, I should’ve just sat and worked through that before it led to this. But it happened didn’t it

This happens. This just happens sometimes Gowri and it’s okay sweetheart. It’s okay that it happens sometimes. It’s great that you get back up from it how you do. Really I’m writing this to —- because I want him to tell me it’s okay for this to happen sometimes, but look. I can do that on my own, see. No one is getting hurt today. You’re seeing Claire tomorrow and you need to trust how much she’s gonna be able to help you. Think of how stable you feel when you leave her house. Think of how non judgemental she is and how much she wants to help you. Remember? See that’s why it’s gonna be ok because in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing.

And think how much you’ll be able to chill out next weekend for three whole days. It’ll be amazing. Why don’t you get another cup of tea because that’ll make you feel better. And don’t put pressure on yourself now because nothing will happen if you don’t live up to your own expectations. Just take it slow, remember these things take time. Loads and loads of time.

Lol so sometimes when you ask me how I am and I go “yeah I’m ok, I was a bit upset today but now I’m ok” what I actually mean to say is everything I just wrote.

On Pain.

Written April 2016 and published 3 years on

48 hours.

Phase 2.

The vulnerability is tearing me apart. This depth of feeling is not something I have experienced with this level of intensity in years. I forgot how this felt. I forgot the feeling of falling, with all its fear and helplessness, where you look around you for something to hold onto and turn towards everything externally for guidance because internally you’re lost.

I haven’t felt lost in so long. 48 hours and I’ve gleaned this much. I’m torn between running and diving. The timing could not be worse. I’m desperate for perspective, but perspective requires time and time is what I feel I don’t have because there are things that I need to do right now. Things that require the calm, not the storm.

What is this torrent I am in? Why do I feel so confined? How can I overcome this fear of being hurt? Do I continue to talk to you? Do I stop altogether? Will I see you again? Will my frontal lobe trump my limbic system or will it be the other way?

This is a fire that is both consuming and addictive. I played with it. It has burnt me already. But it hasn’t burnt you. It won’t burn you.

Stop, Gowri. Just stop before you get hurt.

I deleted instagram permanently and it’s so awesome

I can’t believe I forgot to write about this in my 2018 wrap. I’m amazed at myself. There was a time, a few years ago where I couldn’t have even contemplated doing something like this. Yet, here I am in 2019 having officially broken up with the biggest social media platform in the world. After six years and many hours of mindless addiction, I said my final goodbye. Sort of. I’ll get to that part later.

How?

Whilst deleting the app on your phone for a short hiatus is pretty easy, permanently deleting your account is more complex and takes some looking into. The most important thing for me when I made the call to delete it is that I wanted to keep my photos. For about three weeks, this was the last thing holding me back. I had six odd years of important material and memories stored in there that I wanted to save, specifically photographs of my travels for which I used Instagram to document religiously. So I started where every sensible individual starts…. Google. After a little bit of research, I found out that it was possible to download all my edited photos into a zip file. I believe there are a number of different internet websites that can be used as an interface in order to do this. Once I had my photos in a zip, I uploaded them to dropbox, safe in the knowledge that they’re in a cloud somewhere and can’t be lost in the godforsaken event that my laptop dies and cannot be resuscitated.

Now I don’t half-ass this shit. When I decided to delete my instagram, I made a freaking ceremony of it. I picked a day that I had off work and marked out my plan to screw the gram. I cleaned my room. Played some high vibrational positive energy frequency music. Lit some candles. Took loads of deep breaths. I went through the entire process of saving my photos safely. And when I clicked the ‘delete’ button, I felt so damn fine and like the queen of my life.

Why?

The whole thing is a bit long and a bit whiney and there’s no real, solid, satisfying answer to this question. Let’s just say it’s been brewing for a long time. In any case, I’ve detailed some of the reasons down here.

  1. I’m highly prone to comparison

I mean… we all are. I’ve had significant issues with my self esteem that affected my mental health in quite drastic ways. There was a time, not long ago, where I believed with every fibre of my being that I wasn’t good enough. Instagram was a place where I was effortlessly and even unconsciously comparing my life’s bloopers with other people’s highlight reels. And that just made me feel like shit. We live in a weird age where double taps and likes are a kind of currency we use to measure our self worth (y’all only need to watch Nosedive). Our egos get high off the dopamine hits that accompany every ‘like’. That’s where the role of a balanced mindset comes in. If you’re going to look after yourself and engage with social media at the same time, I firmly believe you just have to be able to remind yourself that it is not real life. You’ve got to resist the urges to compare yourself to the people on there. Unfortunately, I’m just not there. It was actually easier for me to ditch Instagram altogether than to adopt a healthy approach to it. So that’s exactly what I did.

2. I realised that the people who matter will stick around

Instagram isn’t just a platform for sharing photos. You’ve got your sliding into the DMs and everyone’s stories and boomerangs and the bit where you keep up with the lives of people you kind of knew once and congratulate them when they get engaged etc. I knew that by deleting Instagram I would, at times, be depriving myself of the opportunity to connect or reconnect with others despite our separation in time and space. There will be stuff I miss out on. But I acknowledge that. I accept that. And in reality; if you and I need Instagram to keep talking to each other then maybe we’re just not that good friends and we might not catch up again. And that’s 100% okay.

3. I got big on self care and spirituality

…and my instagram just wasn’t feeding me the content I craved. If I paid attention to the sensations going on in my body after an hour of mindless scrolling, the most prominent one would always be ‘drained af’. Drained of my spirit. When I started seeing my time and energy as something really precious, I stopped wanting to spend it on things that don’t fulfil me.

In summary: Instagram was no longer serving me so I decided to let it go.

Where am I now?

Well I deleted it completely for about a month. Initially, I have to admit, it was bizarre. I’d deleted the app a ton of times when I got sick of it but never actually got rid of it completely. Moreover, during this time I’d been getting really into watching different content creators on YouTube and was keen to follow them elsewhere so I could be updated on their livestreams. I was also keen to edit more of my travel photos as I am working on a collection.

So a short while later… I re-downloaded Instagram again. However; this time I did it completely on my own terms. Under a pseudonym which you will never know and a profile picture that doesn’t show my face.

I haven’t let anyone follow me (even a low-key famous YouTuber requested to follow me! I was flattered but also like- no thanks) because honestly, I don’t want anyone to see my photos anymore. I’m keeping my life to myself from now on and I’m a lot happier that way. I use the account to follow inspirational content which is entirely of my choosing. Like YouTubers, spiritual movements, meditation, writers, poets, book authors I like, books related accounts, Emma Watson (obviously) healthy food accounts, National Geographic, night sky photography, travel pages and other stuff I’m interested in. If I follow something for a while and I stop aligning with the content it delivers, I unfollow it immediately. Cut throat attitude because it’s my life, it’s my feed, it contributes to my mood and it either adds value or it doesn’t, however the only person in control of that is me. This has created a really beautiful, happy medium for me alongside a completely pressure free environment.

So that’s that.

Just a note: this post wasn’t at all about promoting deleting social media or urging anyone else to do it. When it comes to social media and particularly Instagram, I have zero agenda whatsoever. It’s a cool app with pros and cons just like everything else on Earth. It’s just not for me. That is all.

I will, however, leave you with one thought. Are you thinking about it? Can you relate? Are you itching to do it like I was? If you are and you’re hesitating, maybe the fact you’ve read until the end is your sign to just go for it.

It might just be one of the most liberating things you’ve ever done.

Love G xo

2018 wrap

I have drafted so many posts in the last few months and never quite have managed to get round to actually finishing or publishing them. (On the contrary I have spent so much time journalling solo, working on myself, writing for my betterment etc). So I’m incorporating mad speed right now to just get something down on paper on the second day of this fine year. This blog has no real drive, force or intention behind it (yet). So before that passion process takes its toll on my typing, I’m going to provide you, me and the universe with a nice, succinct, handy list of things that happened in 2018 that have CHANGED.MA.LYF.

  • I let go of my ego in my relationship. I pretty much knew from the day I met Rath that he’s my companion soulmate. My raw intuition recognised that quality in him long before I even started to feel physically attracted to him. Once I let go of disappointments from my past, I felt ready to meet the person I wanted to spend my life with and then that person walked right in. And though my soul was ready for it; my ego definitely wasn’t. Rath and I had about three weeks of honeymoon and then an extremely rocky start which involved yours truly mad spiralling into depression, anxiety and pure self loathing. There were so many moments there, where anyone else could have left. I would put him on a pedestal, compare my sexual past to his, dote on our differences and refuse to open up or let him in for paralysing fear that he would ‘see me for what I was’ and then fuck right off. In 2018, via an arduous and baby-step process, I let him in and I let go of the parts of my ego that weren’t serving me and that’s when we just became extensions of each other. Never once have I expected Rath to complete me. I know it’s my own responsibility to complete myself and I take total ownership of that. But he has helped me, understood me and been there for me in my lowest moments. And I let him. Now, not only do I finally feel good enough for him… I’ve realised that when I let go of all the things that were holding me back, Rath and I have this insane symbiotic situation going on where we legitimately add value to one another’s lives. This relationship is just disgustingly healthy now. And so am I. So. Am. I.
  • I moved into my own flat and lived an extremely broke and solo lifestyle for eight months. It was just something I felt like I needed to do for my own growth. I went from living at university to moving back in with my parents and whilst the financial rewards were good… moving home was never the plan. So I needed to take a bite of the world on my own and I did it. It was good for me. I learnt that I liked being by myself but I didn’t love it the way I thought I would. Although I love being by myself, I do crave the company of others. Maybe in a parallel reality or a better mental state I would have enjoyed it more. But I’m exceedingly glad I did it. I don’t feel restless anymore. I’m at peace. And it has made me ready to move in with Rath which is something that used to give me palpitations (of dread) just thinking about it. Now, the thought of it feels like the natural progression of my life. Which is perfect.
  • I got a tattoo. For so long I said I would do this and I found an excuse every time, until one day, I walked into the studio and paid my deposit because life is just too short to not get a tattoo when you want one.
  • I accepted that I had anxiety and depression and started medication and continued to attend therapy. The. Best. Decision. Of. 2018. It’s not just the chemical effect of the medication that made this the best decision. It’s actually the fact that starting the meds was so key to my overall acceptance of the situation. It was me chucking ego out of the window and allowing my spirit in to pick up the pieces and make me better.
  • I got hugely back into the Law of Attraction and self development. The Law of Attraction both infuriated and fascinated me ever since I first heard about it. Actually, there’s one person I really have to thank this year and her name is Leeor. She is a YouTuber and I used to watch her videos and semi scoff at them, until she released one where she detailed her own experiences with anxiety and depression and I realised these two things can go hand in hand. Most of all, getting into this again, via her channel has cultivated my spiritual practice (complete with sage and crystals because why the fuck not). And even if it is all quackery, which I don’t really think it is anymore, it doesn’t matter because it’s helped me so much to focus on myself, focus on the good things in my life, be grateful and allowed me to actually get clear on my purpose.
  • I realised how much my partner’s family are my own when someone very close to us got sick really suddenly. In this moment I lost all logic and wished him better under my chinese cat. He is recovering.
  • I cherished every second of my job on the respiratory ward.
  • I hated every second of my job on the surgical ward and it drained my soul to the point where I realised that my ability to care for people makes up a significant enough chunk of my self esteem that I legitimately rely on it for my own personal happiness. You can read my medicine experiences here.
  • I am grateful every second of my life carrying the Orthopaedics bleep because I grew much thicker skin and learnt to stop taking shit from people at work.
  • I worked with a personal trainer for a short while and after four years, I took on the squat rack, surrounded by men in the weights section of the gym and I was very proud of myself.
  • I moved back home with my parents. When I moved into my flat, I promised myself that when I made the call to move back home, I would do it with a smile on my face. And I did. I was ready. I used to always compare myself to other people who were living out whilst doing their jobs and feel crap about myself, like I was less than them because I had regressed in some major way. Well, honey, if you read this, you’ll see that my life has bumbled along into many things but regression just isn’t one of them.
  • I accepted myself as I was, my life as it was and made ‘Me’ into my own personal project. I’ve worked so hard on myself this year.
  • In 2019 I’m continuing the Gowri Project until August and after that, I will begin the Gowri and Rath project whilst continually working on the Gowri project simultaneously. I’m not sure the Gowri project ever quite finishes.

In 2017, I broke.
In 2018, I grew.
In 2019 I will heal and become the most magnificent version of myself so far.

Watch dis space xoxo G

Sertraline

I have written my fair share of blogs, dripping with the sadness, despair and suffering that anxiety and its subsequent depression left me with. Today’s post isn’t another one of those. Whilst those fragments of written thought have their own part to play as a release valve in those dreaded moments of angst, today’s piece comes from a place of greater peace and more importantly: acceptance.

Maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that another eighteen full moons have graced the sky since my first visit to the GP with absolutely no understanding of why my emotions spiralled into anxiety a month before my finals. Maybe it’s even more to do with that fact that with finals over, those obstacles surpassed and all those moons later; I’m still not “over it”.

The time elapsed between then and now have been ridden with moderate highs and exquisite lows. Throughout it, I’ve felt like a woman fighting hard for better mental health, the goal of getting ‘better’ at the top of her to-do list so that once it was all ticked off, she could move on. In previous posts, I have spoken about how I, quote-on-quote “do not wish to make my sadness clinical”. I now see the ways in which that mindset was pure ego screaming, “I can do this! Take that, anxiety! You’re not an illness, you’re just a manifestation of my ego and I will fight you (with even more ego)!”

I was desperate. Desperate for every problem to have a solution. As if happiness was a goal and if I really worked hard enough with my therapist, doing loads of CBT; I’d get there and then that would be it, I’d never ever look back.

As a matter of fact I did work hard enough with my therapist to get there. I reached my goal. For a while, I was elated and deluded enough to believe that was it. My ‘old self’ had returned and now I could walk out into the world, armed with skills that meant anxiety and depression would never come back again.

The universe had other plans. Plans involving another downward spiral. A return to therapy after being discharged, calling in sick twice at work because I couldn’t fight the anxiety, more self-loathing, more self-criticism and more self harm. But as I mentioned at the start, this post isn’t about the sadness. It is born out of a quiet desire to be pragmatic in the face of turbulent emotion.

Fighting ego with ego hadn’t worked. Thus; encouraged by my therapist and by my loved ones, I did the thing I was so afraid to do. I made my sadness clinical. Driving to the GP practice on a day I should have been on the ward, I parked up and walked in, heart racing, palms sweating and ego broken. I sat before the doctor, running her quickly through the circumstances leading to my current situation as she turned to face me, eyes widened in shock, uttering the words “I think we need to start you on some medication”.

I know this is not an approach that works for everyone. For over a year, I myself had fought it. I told myself I was better than medication and I turned it into some kind of philosophical debate about how much inner strength I possessed.

Driving back from the pharmacy, a paper bag of prescription drugs riding along on the passenger seat next to me, I realised I had returned to the familiar place of rock bottom, this time with eighteen full moons’ worth of experience and wisdom on my hands, which was at least enough to realise this wasn’t about inner strength or fighting a battle towards better mental health, about a checklist or getting discharged from therapy being a goalpost to wellness. This was about acceptance. This is it. This is simply where I am.

I was always afraid of calling anxiety an illness because I feared that it would make me lazy or I’d start using it as an excuse. ‘Oh I can’t do that today because of my anxiety’. I would judge people who talked like that, blogged like that or felt like that. I separated mental illness from physical illness because to my jaded mind, anxiety was a part of my personality whereas a broken leg isn’t. The ultimate fear however was that the minute I saw my anxiety as an illness, I would lose my desire to fight it.

So what happened?! Well, the long and short of it is that I have lost my desire to fight it. I was tired. Living with chronic anxiety makes each day so tough that those thoughts scuttle over into thinking that life isn’t worth living anymore. The more I introspect, the more I realise that I have had anxiety my whole life; ever since I was a small child. It was born of and exacerbated by poor self esteem, made worse by moving places, by childhood bullying, by medical school and by coping in the wrong ways and by not realising it was there or dealing with it until I hit my twenties. That is all okay.

It’s okay not to have a burning desire to fight it because it has been instead replaced by a much calmer, quieter and more powerful desire to live with it. Making my sadness clinical has made me see it as a lifelong companion. The desperation has settled. Anxiety has been there all along and it’s there to stay. So rather than fight it with an ill determination to get better and stay better and never be anxious again- I may as well accept that it’ll be there for a long time coming. Anxiety is my baseline and it always has been. Whilst I can work with it, it won’t just go away. Baselines take years, even decades to change- not months. And sometimes we can’t will things into action; they simply get woven into the fabric of life with the cumulative experience and wisdom that manifests with each passing full moon.

Love to all

G x

Was it worth it?

It’s coming up to the last few weeks of FY1 and after a long week of on-calls, the mountain of shit I have to do begins to crumble on top of me, one pellet at a time. So a massive bar of chocolate (no regrets) and two cups of tea later, I find myself muddling through a presentation about… bones. In the midst of my grand struggle, I recall that I have multiple sets of notes on orthopaedics that I wrote in medschool that I could copy and paste out of so, why, dear lord am I wasting my time on this utter nonsense?

So I hit up the old document region, venturing cautiously into the folder labelled ‘Fourth Year Medicine’, a dark and melancholy abyss that I had conveniently forgotten all about for a year. My mouse furrowed its way even deeper into ‘Musculoskeletal’, then even further still into ‘Lower limb orthopaedics’.

In that instant, my world just broke.

Before my eyes, I see reams and reams of typed notes that I had forgotten all about, complete with diagrams and jokes (yes, JOKES because I had to entertain myself through the extreme boredom and time commitment involved in writing them). Stepping back and inspecting the cave that is ‘Fourth year medicine’, laid out before my eyes are multitude of beautifully typed documents, exactly like the one I had open on my screen. Then I picture my attic floor. Therein, sit eight massive files full of colour coded, handwritten notes that literally have their own gravitational field. Want a summer body? Squat my medschool files. Suddenly, I’m absolutely seething.

‘Fuck you, medschool!” I think. When my gorgeous boyfriend describes all his hilarious nights out with his crazy friends during his university days, I’ve often found myself sitting there thinking ‘I swear I’m fun… why are my medschool memories so patchy?’ And here, in front of me, I see the answer, clear as the sky above the Love Island Villa. I spent five years pouring my sweat, blood, time, emotions, tears and life into ‘Lower Limb Orthopaedics’ and the equivalent. I worked until my brain could no longer function. And for what? For a grade that said I’d passed, issued in a heartless building that couldn’t give less of a flying fuck in those fleeting moments before finals where I thought I would never make it through the depression, the low self esteem, the shit, in essence that medschool bestowed upon me.

You know I passed my French A-Level with the highest grade in my year? If I’d tried, I could’ve studied Languages at Oxford or Cambridge and had something to show for my abilities. Something more than a thankless degree and not enough nights out propelled by strong gushes of tequila, not enough memories with my friends… not enough of the good stuff, the stuff that really matters.

I take a long, hard look at myself. Let’s accept the reality of life. I have never had the raw intelligence, nor the memory, nor the conceptual brain needed to satisfactorily wade through a medical degree and enjoy my life at the same time. I sacrificed a lot of it, in exchange for sheer hard work and seemingly little reward. I got my piece of paper and the black hat on my head for a day, a few photos on my mum’s phone and walked out, never looking back.

And for what? Was it actually even worth it?

As a junior doctor, and general dogsbody, I’ve come across two types of people. They are broadly classified into ‘Lazy’ and ‘Not lazy’. I fall into the latter category and I’ve often found that the fact I work hard and don’t cop out of shit jobs means that the nurses like me just that little bit more and make me cups of tea during a hellish on call where my bleep doesn’t shut up.

Then there was Chris on the surgical ward yesterday who’s just had his appendix taken out. He’s been feeling kind of rough so I do what all good doctors do- made fun of him and told him the reason I’m not coming back this weekend is because I don’t like him. He told me to stop making him laugh because it hurt his abdomen.

Two months ago, I bent over backwards to arrange a scan for Beth who was 95 and I just knew she was dying. I would’ve done anything for it not to have been on a hospital bed but it was. Days before, she squeezed my hand and said ‘Thankyou Dr Gowri for everything you’ve done for me’. The day she passed away, I hid in the toilet and cried, thinking… I wish I could’ve done more.

Alison left the ward last week. She’d been in before and I happened to find a lump in her breast and thankfully it was benign. This time, she came in for surgery and cried relentlessly for two days after it. When she cried, I went and sat with her, gave her tissues and told her it was normal to feel like the shit trickling out of her stoma bag. The day she left, she gave me a massive hug and I said ‘Alison, in the best way possible, I hope we don’t see each other again’. I don’t think I’ve ever made anyone smile that much.

Then there was Jen who invited me to Cyprus with her, Liz and Betty who let me unleash all my medical students on them so they could practise for their OSCEs, and Ruby, Dot and Paula who all got better from their mental health problems and walked out into their own homes after their long stays in the psychiatry unit.

Once, a colleague told me that he thinks it’s really amazing how I remember people’s names (for clarification; none of the names I’ve used here are real). It’s funny because memory was one of my biggest weaknesses in medschool. But I remember names because I find some way to connect with these incredible people and their amazing stories.

It’s weird how the things other doctors value: clinical competence, knowledge and skills are often different to what patients value: connection and a sense that you’re doing right by them. Interestingly, I never learnt any of this during my degree.

Yet, the fact of the matter is, guys… French at Oxford couldn’t have given me this.

I still feel mad when I look at my medschool notes. I even feel bitter that I could’ve had a better time in my early twenties and I gave some of it up for a piece of paper. Yet, the truth is… that piece of paper gives me the opportunity have these little moments a few times a week, throwing myself into a world outside of myself for people who need it; even if most of the things I do aren’t clever, newsworthy or validated by my senior doctors.

The more of these moments I have… the more I think ‘Yes, yes, yes. It was absolutely fucking worth it’.