I do not find myself particularly interesting, but I do receive a lot of questions through social media. I figured it would be fun to do one of these for the first time.
Ok, so here we go:
I would love to know more about your ME and anxiety. When it comes to explaining my ME/CFS further than I already have, I do not really know where to start. I have moderate ME, which is between mild and severe (or extremely severe) ME. This means I am more limited than I was some years back when I "just" had mild ME. I was able to do some work/school, but all my spare time was spent trying to get some sort of rest. Now, with moderate ME I am unable to work and I am somewhat housebound. I like to say that I am 70% affected by ME, and it being closer to 80% when I am feeling worse than "normal". My main symptoms are fatigue, muscle ache and brain fog (lack of cognitive functions like concentration.) I have most likely had ME/CFS since the age of 18-19. I am 26 now, and I was not diagnosed until September of last year. Although getting the diagnosis was hard, to finally have an explanation was very liberating in a way - and it helped with anxiety, as I felt anxious about not knowing what was wrong with me. As for my anxiety I have G.A.D which stands for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Meaning I can feel anxious about pretty much anything, and I am. Social situations, especially in groups are hard for me, and school situations are the worst. Crowds, economy, health and death are also anxiety issues of mine, but I see them as more "normal" concerns, although having anxiety makes them worse. I try to see having anxiety as a flawed superpower. It does prepare me for almost any scenario in life, and I am very good at observing and noticing even the smallest of details. But it limits me from a lot of situations, and the anxiety of having anxiety is perhaps the worst part. To have a panic attack among people you do not feel safe with can be traumatizing and it just makes the fear of experiencing it again fuel to more anxiety. I am still learning to live with my anxiety, and to not think I am improving it by simply just avoiding things. Which is hard, because with anxiety the safest option seems to be sticking your head in the sand.
How do you deal with anxiety? I must be honest and say that a lot of the time I deal very poorly with having anxiety, as I tend to avoid things I in reality should expose myself to in order to improve. But as I have ME/CFS there is a limit to what I can expose myself to, and how much I can push myself. I try to be aware of this, and I try to push myself though taking baby steps now and then. I belive that dealing with anxiety only works if you do it at your own pace. When I tried dealing with it professionally, I ended up feeling like I had to improve and pretended to be better in order to avoid disappointing my therapist (and myself). Now I am trying to expand my comfort zone little by little and challenge myself within reason. As for what I do when anxiety is so much of a presence that it does not release its grip around my stomach and heart, I try to self medicate through pampering myself with a warm long shower (I do not own a tub), cat snuggles, tea (without caffeine) and a comforting movie, like Disney or the Harry Potter series. I will also take time to restart my brain with a nap. I nap a lot.
What helps you to embrace and accept yourself just the way you are? Such a good question. I have come quite a long way from the resentment and hate I had for myself not that many years ago. I think stubbornness might be the most helpful thing for me, as I got to a point where I did not want to waste more time believing the lies I was told about how horrible and ugly I was. And with that stubbornness I have been able to eventually embrace my flaws and strengths, and even though I am not the most confident person when it comes to how I look: I am confident in who I am as a person, and with the stories I carry with me - both the good and the bad. Although using my stubbornness for good has been helpful, it has also helped to surround myself with people who genuinely care for my well being and who compliments my sense of style, brain and personality, with less focus on how I look. I also made sure to tell the ones that kept a big focus on how I looked to change that around me if they wanted to be in my life, and most of them did. It is far easier to accept yourself when you are not being criticized for your body type by strangers and grandparents alike. I guess that goes back to stubbornness, as I just was not having it anymore. So now I accept and embrace the fact that I am tiny, weird and flawed - and also kind, honest and emphatic.
What do you do to relieve stress/stay mindful? I guess I basically do the same as when dealing with anxiety. I will make sure to take time for myself and to do what I need or want to do in that moment. Martin (my boyfriend) knows this, and my main thing is to head outside in some calm, beautiful scenery like the botanical garden here in Trondheim (my favorite place). Listening to birds, trees rattling in the wind and to move my body a bit feels good and it takes my mind off things. I also force Martin to give me a massage by whining until I get one, which relieves a lot of stress - for me anyway.
What you have learned from Instagram? The main thing is to not try to be someone else because of likes and attention. When I reached a certain number of followers people seemed to expect me to be a certain way, and to post certain pictures, and I was actually criticized the times I tried to show my true self. It caused a lot of anxiety, and I stopped being active for a while. (this is some years back, during the pastel era.) Now I have less followers, less likes - but I am myself. And it does not cause me anxiety anymore, and I do not feel like I need to crop my head out in order to be good enough.
Having such a huge following can be stressful and pressuring. But you do such a great job of staying true to yourself. How do you manage that and stay motivated? First of all: thank you! That is such a compliment. I especially appreciate receiving such a question as it has been a struggle through anxiety and self doubt to get where I am today when it comes to how I deal with my online presence, and with the following I have gained. I used to think loosing followers meant I had failed, and that a picture with less likes than the previous one meant that I had to delete it as it was not good enough. I was scared of showing my true self and my face as I felt like I disappointed those in search of perfectness online. I eventually (and finally) figured out that shallow followers come and go - for all instagram accounts out there - but some stay even though the times you do not post for weeks or even months because of anxiety. I realized these people followed me for me, and for the personality I showed them through my images and captions. Having people like that commenting on my updates made me feel so much more comfortable when it came to tossing away a part I felt I had to play, and instead being myself fully. To be open and honest about the difficulties in life has also been a thing I felt I had to share, as I did not want to seem "perfect", and it helps to stay true to my feelings when I know so many people will relate to them and find comfort in them. I am a shy person, and the number of followers I have scares me a bit if I am being honest, but I tend to just focus on the active followers. Those who interact, those who likes - those who I recognize by their usernames and pictures, people I sometimes stalk a bit to see if they are doing alright. Although I do not follow many users (too many stresses me out), I do interact and notice people. That way it seems less scary in a way, as I know who they are, what their cat looks like and what age they are. I guess the positive community of Instagram is what keeps me motivated - even through the anxious moments and the more personal posts. I really love how I have been able to make friends all around the world.
Where do you get your clothes from? I tend to stick to my favorite stores and online shopping for the most part. Most chain stores and even vintage shops here in Trondheim usually only have clothes that are too big for me, so I tend to seek online retailers outside of Norway. ASOS is one of my favorite stores, as they offer smaller sizes beside the petite option. (I am too tall to fit into most petite clothing.) Monki is my favorite Scandinavian store, and they offer very comfortable knits with an oversized fit. I also use Zalando a lot as they offer free shipping and returns, and I have 100 days to make up my mind. (I am one of those people who changes their minds about something far too easily - especially clothing.) Zara is also frequently used as their sizing seems to be somewhat smaller than most other chain stores, although that seems to have changed a bit recently. It is still one of my go to shops though.
Where do you buy all your beautiful mugs and vintage bits from? Most of my fox mugs are either from Ebay or Notonthehighstreet. I notoriously search for fox related items at a regular basis. Other mugs I have are usually Moomin mugs from Arabia Finland, Sass & Belle (they are great for vintage-isa vibes) and Indiska. I like to think my style is retro industrial with a dash of fox obsession, plants and IKEA.
Where do you get style inspiration from, and what are your tips (on personal style)? I always feel so awkward about answering questions like this, as I feel like I might be perceived as conceded. I rarely get inspired by other people as I visualize something in my head, and then I obsess about it until I can find it or something close to what I have envisioned in my head. With the few exceptions of people I am inspired by, I am mostly inspired by feelings, seasons and colors I find warm and inviting. I build my personal style around this. I have tried and failed to attempt to be more glamorous, sexy, mysterious, cute and even a bit rock 'n roll though the years, but I always fall back to the same things: knitted jumpers and cardigans, dresses, big scarfs, earthy colors and androgynous inspired shoes and hats. I guess my true personal style is about being comfortable, and that is why I own a lot of similar items, and items in matching and similar colors (I love to color balance my outfits). I think people will tell if you feel awkward in something you wear, so it is better to just figure out what your comfort zone is, and not venture too far from it. (This is not meant as a advice to those who find joy in experimenting - to you I say: experiment, be creative, have fun!) You kind of need to experiment to find your style, but once you do - do not doubt it because other people wear something else.
Any tips on photography and blogging? Um, this is a hard one, as it is all about how you want to create something or the feeling you want something to have. When it comes to my photography and the images I make Martin take with my instructions, it is all about balance, calmness and to show a bit of personality though the image. I do not know if I always succeed at that, but I am very persistent on how I want things to be and the feelings I want a picture or a blog post to give me and to those who potentially see and read it. I guess it all bottoms down to staying true to your own visions and what you like to share. When it comes to the technical stuff I think good (and natural) lighting is the best option, and that a good text where you write in a way that makes people see your personality between the lines is more important than it being perfect by usual blogging standards. I do not have a very active blog, and I do not have a laud audience - I mostly blog to satisfy my need to write and to document moments to remember later.*
Do you have any tips on how to keep an indoor cat happy? As some of you might know, Milo is an indoor cat - mostly by his own choice. He is scared of the outside world, the only exception being at my parents cabin (or home I should say, as they spend far more time there) as he is far too eager to follow my parents cat outside. In our apartment on the other hand, he is far too content to ever want to walk outside, which I guess is the safest option when living in a bigger city - although there are plenty of cats being outside while living in apartments here. As for keeping him happy, I think it helps that I am home to the extent that I am, so he does not feel lonely. We need to stimulate him and entertain him a lot, or he will go nuts and run around like crazy meowing and looking/sounding like a cat shaped ambulance. We play fetch with him, play fight and play hide and seek with him. In order to have a happy indoor cat I think they should have some sort of company, as their surroundings are limited. That is either a human working from home or someone who does not have a full time job, or it is a second cat. I think it is easier for elderly cats to handle being alone for most of the day, than it is for a 1,5 year old rascal like Milo though.
Do you ever see yourself moving from Norway to another country some day? I used to think about this a lot, especially when I was being bullied I planned to move to my family in the US (and become famous and say "HAH, your mistake!" to all my bullies). As I have gotten older I have understood how privileged I am to live in Norway, and that I would not likely ever move somewhere else. It helped to move from the capital to Trondheim, the third largest city in Norway. This town suits me better so I do not longer feel the need to escape and live somewhere else - not even for the curiosity of it. If I one day change my mind, it would either be the west coast of USA (San Francisco) or the UK. I would prefer to live somewhere I could speak english, and the UK is tempting because of all its history and lovely stone buildings. I think I would have loved to live in a small village somewhere. Maybe I can get the best of both worlds and have a holiday home some place like that in the future.
What is your favorite thing to eat and drink during these cold months? Ah, how I love a question about food. Can I say pizza, every day , all year? Not really. I do love pizza, and it is for sure my favorite thing to eat, but there is other things as well. I am quite fond of soups, so when the temperatures gets low, I love to have some kind of vegetable soup. I am also very fond of Norwegian pancakes (non-sweet pancakes that are meant for dinner. Often served with blueberry jam and bacon. I settle for blueberry jam - and lots of it.) As for drinks I am a sucker for tea and "aqua con gas" as they say in Spain. Fizzy water. And every now and then I will have a cheeky and delicious non-dairy hot chocolate. Or at least as close to non-dairy as I can get. (Not a coffee lover, sorry.)
That's all folks!
It was really interesting to see what sort of questions people would choose to ask me. To answer these questions proves that I am not really a simple answer kind of person, as I can basically write a novel when people expect me to just write a sentence. But I loved answering them, and I am very glad there was some deeper issues questioned too, although I would not mind answering more questions about food. Food is one of my favorite things after all. Since that last question made me crave pizza, I think I will leave the post here and go hunting for some delicious pizza.