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The best thing I ever did was get Therapy.

It was incredibly hard to reach the decision to get it though. In theory it should be as simple as picking up a phone and making an appointment, but the reality was very different for me, and for many other people I’ve spoken to about this.
There’s a stigma attached to any sort of mental health problems. If you break your leg, you go to the hospital, and they fix it. It’s so matter of fact that no one even comments on it, other than to say hope it mends soon, or how did you do that?
Tell someone you’re in therapy though, and you’ll get anything from a look of fear that you’re somehow not right to patronising comments as to how brave you are, and how difficult it must be.
You don’t get that sort of reaction for a broken leg.
Having counselling is often seem as a thing to be ashamed of, because of this stigma attached to it, as being something only really messed up people do.
I say this from a position of feeling that myself. It was one of the things that stopped me from going for years. I thought I could deal on my own, that it would be weird to talk to a stranger about such personal things, that I was somehow better than that, that it was beneath me because I wasn’t fucked up right?
I fully acknowledge that I was an asshole for thinking that, and I’m glad I had the self awareness to question my fear of getting to know myself. I’m glad because it changed everything.
This is what I know now, that helped make that change happen.

Anger can be a positive thing.
I never realised how angry I was before I had therapy. I was afraid to recognise that I was angry as well, angry at the unfair deal I got, angry at the world for making my life so much harder, angry at myself for not having the strength to do anything about it, angry at my own self pity.
Not recognising this, and instead just burying it, just made it even more poisonous and impossible to deal with.
Once I talked about it though, I found I could channel it, it became a righteous anger, a powerful, positive force, and I found I could use it to do things. It gave me strength.

That spiteful inner voice that puts me down can be challenged, and changed.
That voice is such an asshole. But it’s also all talk. Learning how to challenge it makes it quieten down enough to make other things possible.

The worst case scenario hardly ever happens.
Man do I love imagining the worst possible outcome. It’s an automatic response that kicks in if I’m confronted by any difficult situation.
Thing is, the worst case very rarely happens. Yes, things might be pretty shit sometimes, but worst case? Not so much.
At the end of the day you will survive, if you can let yourself survive. Counselling, Therapy, they’re like the key to unlocking how to survive. It won’t always stop the mess and the hurt, but, for me at least it did stop my brain running away with all this. It gave me back some control, when I didn’t have any.

(I’ve split this into a two part post, because as I started writing it became pretty clear there was a lot to say here, and definitely too much for one post, so more next time!)


If we were to go on the average lifespan of humankind, in the UK today, then hitting forty means that I’m halfway through this particular run. Of course, I’m going to aim for the big onehundred so I’ve got a bit of a way to go still, but here’s what I’ve learnt so far about becoming what some might call ‘older’…..

1.The mysterious case of the Grey Hair (Or white in my case.)
I always knew about these kids, and the way they just start appearing, but they’ve really upped their game recently.  What was a couple, is now quite a few, and I suspect that will evolve into lots.

At the moment, because I dye my hair, they’re only visible at the roots, but they’re there, and at some point, I’m going to have to make a decision to let them multiply and go strikingly white haired, or keep on dying them out of existence.

Also, as an aside, the grey hair is not limited to your head. Just putting that out there.

2. Everyone you know will be in a relationship.
I watched You,Me and Dupree the other day. It would be fair to say I related a little too much to Owen Wilson’s character.

3. You’ll become the coolest person ever.
You stop worrying about stuff you spent so much time over before, and it’ll show in how people see you. Not giving a shit about what other people think about the things you like is liberating and cool, and you’ll gather more respect for it.

Want to wear Black and Brown together? Fuck yeah! Looking good!

Want to sing along to Billie’s seminal pop classic “Honey to the Bee” and not feel judged? THERE IS NOTHING TO JUDGE HERE!

Basically not caring about what other people think about you and your choices rules.

4. You’ll become brutally honest.
Want an honest answer to a question? Ask someone in their forties. I am like the mouth of truth.

5. It becomes harder to stay hardcore.
By hardcore I mean doing stuff you did in your twenties. Older bodies do not appreciate the same levels of constant drink based lols that younger ones do.

6. You get better at life.
Not perfect, just better.

7. People look up to you.
This actually happens. You know when you were younger, and there was that cool Aunt you had? That’s going to be you. People will come to you for advice because they know you’ll be able to help, and be cool about it, no matter what the problem.

8. New Years Eve will never be the best night of the year.
I’ve done so many of these now, and although some of them have been alright, in reality the best nights of my life have been the unexpected ones, when there’s no expectations.

9. Sex becomes less with the ridiculous expectations and more about the fun.
There’s a lot of pressure and expectation around sex when you’re younger. It’s still there when you turn forty, but you learn to shrug it off more.
I’m the most comfortable with my naked body I’ve ever been. You’d be amazed what a difference this makes to everything.

10. You’ll finally start to know yourself.
This is the greatest gift you can give yourself. It makes relationships, friendships, family, decisions, life, the universe and everything easier.

As the philosopher Laozi once said “He who knows others is wise; He who know himself is enlightened.”



Its not that I’m afraid of being single, more that I’m afraid of how long it goes on for. So far we’re talking a year and a bit, which seems like a short amount of time, and in the grand scheme of things, quite possibly is.

However, to me, it seems like a long time.

Thing is though, if I’m completely honest with myself, I’m not even sure if its being single that’s the problem. Maybe I should  break it down a little….

Things I fear that are a consequence of singleness….

  1. Loneliness – I’m not lonely, but I know that it is a possibility, and that possibility is a real fear. Knowing that I might never live with someone again, however unlikely that may be, is quite a thing to put right in your head.
  2. No Intimacy –  This is a big one. In the time I’ve been single I’ve realised that Intimacy is something I need. If too much time goes by between encounters then I start to feel pretty shit, which in turn leads to….
  3. Lowered Self Confidence – Most of the time I feel pretty good about myself. Sometimes it’s hard to do this though, and a particularly long dry spell really doesn’t help. The trouble is, the dark bit of my head can be pretty vocal during these times, and funnily enough it knows exactly which buttons to push.

So, it’s more the negative things that can come from being single that are the problem I guess, rather than the actual singleness as such.

If I was to confront these fears I guess that they’d be less of a thing, and I suppose by writing about them in a way I’m doing exactly that, I’m looking them in the eye and trying to see what’s behind their scary masks.

I think that once I do see what’s there, once the masks finally slip, that there’ll only be empty air behind them, and then maybe I won’t be so afraid after all.

One thing I’ve noticed with being single is that I have lots of free time. When i was in a relationship it seemed that all my free time was used up being with that person, free time become couple time, which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but it has made me less aware of actual free time. I think, because there’s someone else around to fill that time you become less aware of it.

But anyhow, I digress, whenever I’ve had free time, I’ve always tried new things out, to try and fill this new time I have. Sometimes these new things become things that I do all the time, and sometimes these things become things that don’t really fit, and I leave behind.

Things I’ve been into….

1. Dinosaurs (from  about 4 yrs old to about 12 yrs old ) – Dinosaurs are cool, they’re stupidly big, great to draw ( they look like how you’d draw them if you didn’t know what they looked like ) and they evolved into birds. What’s not too love?

2.Spirograph (for about 3 years in the 70’s ) – you make patterns with pens and shapes, the patterns mesmerise you, you make more, until every available surface is covered with  hypotrochoids and epitrochoids  of various colours and sizes. 

3.Playdoh (evolved form- Fimo) (from 4 to 14, on and off) – kind of went with dinosaurs, in that playdoh could be made into 3d dinosaurs, or at least vague representations of dinosaurs.

4.Guitar ( for 2 weeks when I was 16) – mostly hormones are to blame for this free time filler ( playing guitar=being in a band=being cool=sex ).  I was convinced as well that I’d have a natural talent for musical instruments and just be able to play them with minimal effort. Neither of these suppositions proved true. See also French Horn, Piano, Violin, Recorder.

5.Not doing things because people wanted me to do those things ( like forever ) – things that fall into this category include learning to swim, becoming a teacher, liking Pink Floyd,  sleeping at a reasonable/traditional time, being awake at a reasonable/traditional time, eating beetroot.

6.Body Combat ( now ) – you get to pretend to hit and kick whoever has pissed you off recently. To loud music.

7.Horses ( for 2 days in 1980 ) – I’d been toying with the idea of being into horses for a while, as it seemed pretty popular. Then I met actual horses and found them to be big, angry, bitey and unpredictable/sentient.

8.Soft Metal ( for most of 1989 ) – We’re talking Toto, Poison, Bad English, Mr Mister, Whitesnake, Europe, the list goes on and on. I can only apologise and move on.

9.The X-Files trading cards ( when i was 23 ) – I know. It seems a bit old to be into this to me as well.

I’m a fairly happy person. I potter about, in a perfectly happy mood, most of the time. Sometimes though that mood is broken. Sometimes something happens, normally something small and dumb, that flips the mood right round into bad mood.

Things that put me in a bad mood.

1. Not having enough sugar. ( actual sugar, not sexual innuendo sugar )

2. Being tired/Being woken up when still tired

3. Techno

4. Fancy dress

5. Being cold or wet

6. Banging my funny bone

7. Stubbing my toe

8. Queueing for stuff. Especially food.

9. Other people

10. Technology being a dick

11. Adults with baby voices

12. Adverts with made up words that sound vaguely scientific in them

13. Making lists of things that put me in a bad mood. Grrrrr.


Freiya Benson

Writer & Photographer.

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