They say that exposure to the things that cause you fear will toughen you, but this doesn’t seem to apply to me. When I go out, I’m in an almost continuous state of panic, unless I self-medicate, which I’ve been doing a lot lately. Even going to the supermarket drains every bit of energy out of me now, so in that sense I’ve got worse since I left the US in November.

Yesterday, I went into Nottingham to meet the organizer of an anxiety meetup group there and one of the regular attendees. I had to drink a bit before I left and for good reason. Even though I caught a fairly early train, there were kids and families on the train and at the station. I talked with them for 2 hours and I was on edge for most of the entire time, babbling on about myself because I can’t seem to talk about much else. I think it went very badly, although they were perfectly nice. I tried walking around Nottingham city centre for a while after meeting them to take photographs, but I could only manage an hour or so before I got the urge to retreat. I can’t even enjoy photography anymore because I’m too self-conscious and afraid of people. This has got worse since I left Rochester and I attribute much of that to the fact that children, teenagers and families are much more difficult to avoid in this country. I took quite a few pictures, but most of them came out horribly as I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing because of my anxiety. So like the pictures I took in Scotland, I’m not going to share them here because they’re awful.

I had to see my GP this morning to find out if I can be referred to get my spinal stenosis treated, but it was a different doctor and worse still, a male doctor who I didn’t feel comfortable talking to. I drank vodka before I left because I knew there would be kids around and I was right, but I was still a nervous wreck and came straight home after the appointment. He told me to make an appointment with the physiotherapist at the surgery and prescribed painkillers. When I got back, I drank some more and crashed. I’ve just been in my flat all day again, depressed and tired of hearing the almost constant noise of kids outside, making me feel imprisoned in here. It’s been abnormally warm and sunny and if it weren’t for the fact that it’s half term, I wouldn’t even be indoors.

I spent Tuesday night at my mum’s, taking care off the cats while her and her husband went to Norfolk to spend time with his kids and grandchildren. I got to spend time with the cats and I managed to avoid seeing my mum, as I really can’t face her at the moment.

I’ve been sleeping erratically and my sleep has been plagued by awful nightmares. I had a particularly disturbing one last night that was so bad that is has made my depression worse. There are so many secrets on both sides of my so-called family and I suspect that there are dark secrets too, especially involving my dad. I’ve got no one to talk to about any of this, not even a neutral therapist who might at least be able to help me cope better with the trauma without having to depend on alcohol.

On Monday, I got laughed at by 3 teenage girls that were loitering at the petrol station near my flat as I cycled past them. This is the umpteenth time this has happened and rather than get used to it, it’s just causing me more self-hatred, anxiety and a desire to self-harm. I don’t like it here in Grantham at all and while it’s statistically much safer than Rochester, I felt like I could just ‘be’ there without getting so many horrible looks and getting targeted by teenagers, which is something I’m terrified of. Being close to my mum isn’t helping at all, as I can’t talk to her about anything that I’m struggling with. I can’t even face seeing her again because the ghosts from the past are affecting me too much.

I stumbled on this article the other day, which was written by a gay male living in Grantham. Needless to say, it doesn’t give me much hope and has left me feeling even more worried:

Going nowhere and homophobia: what small town life is like when you’re gay

While I’m not a gay male, it’s fair to say that anyone who engages in homophobia will almost certainly engage in transphobia too. I don’t go out much, so I guess I’ve been lucky so far, but that luck is bound to run out at some point. I’m nowhere near as tough or resilient as the person who wrote the article either.

I don’t know what to do anymore. I thought I would be much stronger than this when I came back to the UK, but that hasn’t been the case. I spend day in, day out in my flat because I have no friends here and nowhere to go where I feel at least somewhat safe and comfortable. I could go to that anxiety group in Nottingham on Monday, but I’m not familiar enough with Nottingham and it took an awful lot out off me yesterday. It’s a very bustling, edgy city and a very youthful city and I felt very out of place, although less so than in a small town like Grantham. I try to avoid eye contact and I have my music on all the time, but I know people are staring a hole in me.

I’m stuck again.

And I’m drowning in my own shit.

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