I was able to take it all in a reasonable amount of stride. I know myself and I know that my anxiety stuff is A. temporary and B. infinitely better than it used to be. Still, it can put a dampener on things. I am perhaps too closely in tune with the seasons, and wet grey weather affects my mood. I’m not into astrology or anything but my soul is so much happier in the sunshine.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) is a real thing, for some it is slightly irritating, others find it has a serious impact on their daily lives. During two nights in France, travelling via Eurostar with my mum, uncle and auntie, it rained lightly.
Fortunately if there is a place for the soul to find peace it’s Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France with the famous lake and water lillys from the paintings. I was feeling serene and wrapped in beauty one minute and then soon I’d be riding out a small touch of anxiety, but it wasn’t constant, just surfacing now and then.
Necessity being the mother of invention I’ve learned how to deal with anxiety. A pivotal point in my recovery a few years ago was when I learned that lots of folk have an internal conflict that they are dealing with, whether it’s family or relationship issues, career issues, or long abandoned panic attack issues being remembered by a way of thinking left behind years ago.
So sometimes I just have to hack it, knowing that it will pass. Some people say that to notice the light one has to know the dark first. My rare and mild flare ups usually feel like first world problems today.
It was cool travelling to London St. Pancras international station from my home in Hampshire, no problems there and the underground trains were smooth but shrieked with a penetrating roar in those tunnels! Have you heard them? The Eurostar was smooth too, fast at ‘trois cent’ km/h (185 mph – I asked the conductor) and comfortable. Then we got to St. Lazare station in Paris and ended up being stuck there for four hours. The announcements in French that we didn’t understand were of “trees on the line from the bad weather” and it was a mission!
We did however arrive in Giverny safe and sound and our accommodation was a cottage two minutes’ walk from Monet’s place. We were happy! The next day we joined about one hundred other tourists to have a look around. It was a big house, big gardens and the enchanting lake was amazing. It was wet and windy but that just gave us a unique view.
The lake had water lilies, rowing boats tied up and the famous bridge and we stood on it and sat on benches with umbrellas up just watching people and taking photos. Because of the rain it was all slightly grey, but the greens, pinks, and blues of the pond were still superb. Monet’s house was impressive too, though laden with tourists. Bloody tourists – who needs ‘em.
To see and photograph Monet’s house and gardens is something that can only be done in one place in the entire world. Claude Monet is a big name in the art world and it was a real privilege to see the sights that inspired him to paint so many works. He actually created his gardens and lake/pond for the purpose of painting them. He diverted a nearby river to make the pond.
I do love France and the French. I wish I could speak French, but after some ouis, ca vas, bonjours and mercis I’m just an ignorant Englishman with no idea of this language. Usually my broad smile was enough to get me through the social interactions. I’m funny in how I deal with anxiety sometimes. Wandering around the gardens were some French hens and in a quieter corner I had a little chat with a few to see if they could help with an anxious moment – “Hey little hens, why am I feeling anxious? What should I do?” Comfort can be found in the most unlikely of places and just vocalising things is helpful to me.
So I took some photos, enjoyed the bits that were nice and we said au revoir to Monet’s house and gardens. We had seven hours to kill in Paris before getting the Eurostar home again. As far as mental health is concerned I consider myself about 90 % recovered, but I had a minor flare up while in Paris too, unexpected but I was naturally strong through it having been through so much of it before in 2003 – 2010.
I began feeling an old panicky thing surfacing at about midday. So naturally the group decided we should have lunch at the busiest restaurant in Paris. We ate at the restaurant at the top of Printemps department store. Big, busy and waiters that clearly didn’t care about being on the ball. I asked our server for some tap water and she had the gall to stand at the table right next to us and chat aimlessly for ten minutes after my request before getting it. I was riding out my anxiety at the time and it really pissed me off. The food was admittedly very good though.
We shopped at Galeries LaFayette too, which is massive and beautiful and smells like heaven…whenever I get the chance to check out expensive fragrances I take it – Armani Prive and Tom Ford are my favourites.
Then we headed home and it didn’t take long.
Tips – Know that anxiety is temporary. It’s okay not to be okay. Realise that you are not alone. People are more often helpful and supportive and they don’t mind if you are panicky.