Block. Delete. Forget.

Block. Delete. Forget.

Two of my worst panic attacks have taken place in the air, on a plane. The first was following a major panic attack I had whilst on a weekend away in Madrid.

My panic attack in Madrid was triggered by a bad experience I had whilst I was there. I’ve never written about this before, and have only told those closest to me about it, but one year on I feel I need to put it out there. It’s long, but please stick around.

I was in Madrid with two people I believed to be my friends, however whilst drinking in a bar, they questioned me on being a lesbian. It’s hard to describe what they said without using the actual words, but it was along the lines of me going through a “phase”, that it was a choice, and how hard they found it to accept me as gay. They told me they believed that I would “go back to men”, and that they wouldn’t want their daughters to stay with me for any length of time in case “they came back as lesbians”.

Now, this was not the first time I had felt singled out like this in their company. There had been many occasions where I wasn’t invited to nights out or in, because it was them and their husbands. Many times, their partners wouldn’t come out if it were me and my partner because it was “too girly”.

My so-called best friend treated me as a bit of a joke, and I am sure she still thinks of me that way. My mental illness was growing for years as I found it hard to come out initially, and incredibly hard to deal with the pressures of telling family and friends that I was gay. It was crippling, and I found it hard to be at peace and love myself again. I am only just getting there now after my near breakdown in December of last year. There was little to no support from these friends. Although lip-service was made, they were not supportive and I could not talk to them without being subjected to another lesbian joke.

Following what was said to me in that bar in Madrid, I fought my corner as best I could, given that I was in a strange environment and it was two against one. I’d never done this before. I asked them why they were adding another layer of guilt and pressure to me for coming out as gay five years earlier. I genuinely believed of all the people in my life, my friends would understand and realise that it didn’t matter who I was in a relationship with – I was still Ellie. Apparently it did matter. They said it did alter things, and that it wasn’t the same now I was in relationships with women. This broke my heart, as I could not imagine how or why this would change anything at all.

Still, I questioned myself. I asked myself if I was being unreasonable. I asked myself if I was being harsh on my friends to expect them to accept me as gay. I left the bar and went back to the hotel room.

Waking the next morning, my friends acted as if nothing had happened. One of them said that we should laugh off what happened the night before, and I shouldn’t be so sensitive about things. I sent a text message to my girlfriend, and one to my friend in Edinburgh telling them what had happened. Both were horrified. Both said they couldn’t believe what had happened the night before and I shouldn’t have friends like that. What a relief to know that I wasn’t over reacting and that what I believed about myself was right. What a relief to know that I had such amazing people in my life who loved me back home.

I spent the rest of that final day in Madrid quietly, only interacting when I had to. I was miserable and trapped and I couldn’t wait to get home.  My flight was at 8am the following morning, so I was counting down the minutes.

At 2am, the panic attack started. I text my girlfriend and she talked me through it. I have a fear of vomit, but I had to be sick in the toilet; there was no choice. I couldn’t avoid it. I lay on the bathroom floor convulsing until I had to force myself up to get dressed and get into a taxi. Still, my girlfriend was texting me through it, encouraging me to just take it minute by minute, not to think about the future just to concentrate on what was happening around me. What did the floor feel like? What could I see around me? How many colours? I made it to the airport in the taxi, but had no WiFi connection so couldn’t stay in contact with anyone until I landed back in Scotland. I checked in to my flight using a machine, and everywhere I went I stopped in the toilet for respite. I always knew where the nearest bin was in case I needed to be sick. I waited in a toilet until I had to board the plane, listening to music on my headphones which reminded me of home.

I boarded the plane, and sat at the back by a window. I was breathing fast but had to concentrate on that to keep calm. A couple were sitting next to me. I turned away from them, held a sick bag and concentrated on my breath. We took off. I was OK, just. It was about 30 minutes into the flight when panic set in again and I had to ask the couple next to me to grab a flight attendant. I was definitely going to pass out. The couple moved to other seats and I lay down over three seats. I passed out, and woke again to the attendants offering me sugar water. It was so welcome! I had zero energy left and one sip brought me back a little bit. I lay back down and slept the rest of the trip.

We landed. The relief was so immense that I cried. A text message came through from my girlfriend saying she was waiting for me, along with my friend who had driven her there to pick me up. I managed to get off the plane and over to Arrivals, where I burst into tears at seeing her, and couldn’t stop. She carried me to the car, and my friend was there – I cried. They had brought me a blanket, hot water bottle and water to make me feel better in the car. They took me home, and I vowed never to leave ever again.

It took me three days to get over the panic attack. I couldn’t eat, was too anxious to talk to anyone and couldn’t go to work. I was also too scared to sleep in my bed as it took me right back to the bed in Madrid. I had to sleep on the sofa with the television on all night, and my girlfriend set up a bed on the floor so she could be with me. We woke up in the night, watched random films and fell back to sleep. Finally, I was able to eat a rich tea biscuit and things returned to relative normality.

What of my terrible friends? I have never spoken to or seen them again. I cut them out of my life completely, because poisonous people do not deserve anyone’s time. It took me a while to come round to this way of thinking. My girlfriend, Mum, sister, aunties and friends convinced me that people who make you feel inadequate are not friends. I haven’t missed them once in the year since it happened. In fact, I feel better about myself and my life since they’ve been away.

A month later, I was diagnosed with anxiety, panic disorder and PTSD as a result of the incident in Madrid. It affected me deeply, and I was ill for a while. I am now in a completely different place mentally. I am still on medication, but I love myself, and I am not ashamed of who I am or what I have been through to get here. I work on bettering myself daily, and will never be afraid to disconnect with people who dull my shine.

I’m now happily married to the woman who helped me through all of this, have real friends who love me for who I am, and a family that have my back whatever I choose to do with my life.

I’m still afraid of flying, though. More on that next time!


This blog post is dedicated to Sharon, Louise, Alice and Marilyn who told me to tell them to “Get tae f**k”.

The Wee Wedding Build Up

The Wee Wedding Build Up

On Tuesday 12th April, my wife and I got married!

Anxiety was one of the main reasons we made the choices we did for our wedding. We chose to marry at Crear, a gorgeous house in the middle of nowhere on the west coast of Scotland. They specialise in Wee Weddings, and this appealed to us as we deliberately wanted to keep it small to keep nerves on the day to a minimum. A large wedding would, for both of us, end up in panic attacks and no enjoyment – and what’s the point in that?

Here are the good, the bad, and the ugly experiences we had whilst planning our wee wedding:

The Good

  • The venue arranged everything for us; the photographer, the flowers, the food, the accommodation and even a piper for our ceremony. All we had to do was pick an outfit and turn up. It meant once we’d booked, everything was automatically ticked off. Me -1, Anxiety – 0.
  • The unbelievable support we received from many of our family and friends when we told them our plans was incredible. It was surprising how many people told us they wished they had made the same decisions as us for their own weddings.
  • We had a Humanist ceremony:

    We believe that marriage and civil partnerships are based on mutual love and respect.  We also know that every couple is different and that is why our ceremonies are unique and personal.

    It meant our ceremony was our story, in our words. It was funny and sentimental in all the right places, and our loved ones delivered readings which were personal to us.

  • We chose to use a symbolic hand fasting gesture while saying our vows, and also finished our ceremony with another ritual where we drink to each other from a traditional Scottish quaich. Because our wedding was so small, our guests could also drink whisky from the quaich to celebrate our marriage.
The Quaich, filled with whisky
  • We chose outfits which felt comfortable and reflected our own style and personalities. I wore a loose fitting dress with converse trainers, and my partner wore jeans, a shirt and a bow tie. I didn’t hide my tattoos, I showed them off. We felt amazing. We also encouraged our guests to be comfortable and not worry about expensive dressy outfits.

Wedding Dance

  • We got ready together, helped each other with hair and make up, and took a few deep breaths before heading downstairs to the hall. With my partner by my side for support, my anxiety was nowhere to be seen.
  • After our wedding, we had a buffet meal, a small toast and lots of champers. By 7pm, we and our guests were in our pyjamas, relaxing and chatting in front of the open fire. It was exactly how we wanted to end our day; fuss free.

The Bad

  • Choosing our guest list. If you have a wee wedding, expect it to be near impossible to choose who to invite. We originally thought we would elope on our own, but decided against complete unknowns as our witnesses. In the end, we chose two family members to witness our wedding, and this in turn completed our guest list. It’s tricky, but if a small wedding is what you want then stick to your guns and go for it.
  • Wedding body shaming. Yep, this happens to everyone, and I honestly don’t think people realise they are doing it. I decided not to diet for my wedding. I don’t ever diet, I hate the idea of going on a diet, and to be honest I am happy with my body. However, I often heard the words “I can’t believe you are eating that three weeks before your wedding!” If I want to eat seven custard creams, in one go, three weeks before my wedding, I don’t think that’s anyone’s business but mine.
  • A few people found it difficult to understand that we didn’t follow a traditional wedding pattern, and whilst we were always more than happy to tell people our plans, on the odd occasion we had to justify our decisions. As a gay couple, we were asked questions such as; “Who is the man?”, “Who is wearing the dress?”, “Who is giving you away?”. When we explained that neither of us are a man, or no one is giving us away but we will walk in together, it was sometimes met with a strange look of confusion. Straight or gay, I think you are allowed to deviate from tradition wherever you want to, and should never have to justify this to anyone.

The Ugly

  • Due to our anxiety and budget, we didn’t invite everyone. We genuinely believed that everyone would understand and be happy for us, but a few let us down. There is nothing you can do about how other people feel, or how other people interpret your decisions. Holding on to negative feelings like that does no one any good. We had to let it go and move forward with planning our wedding, focusing on the things which make us happy and the reasons we were getting married: because we love each other and want to start a family. You can never please everyone, but you have to remember that it is your day, and you should celebrate it the way that you want.
  • I put so much pressure on myself that the day should be perfect, that I ended up an anxious mess two nights before the wedding. I broke a nail, and you would honestly have thought that I’d just been told the world was going to end in fifteen minutes. Thankfully, I was marrying the most amazing woman on the planet, who helped me through my panic attack. She made me tea, and reminded me that whatever happened, we would go to bed on Tuesday a married couple and that is all that matters.

Nothing went wrong on the day of our wedding. I was shaking throughout the ceremony through excitement and nerves, but my anxiety stayed away. Our wedding was happening, and it was happening beautifully. Everyone laughed, most people cried, we got drunk and woke the next day as the happiest Mrs & Mrs that ever was. I wouldn’t change one thing about our day, and I know that if we had had a big wedding, I would be writing a very different blog post on wedding day anxiety.

Do whatever you and your partner want to do, because you are the only people that matter, and I cannot stress this enough. Enjoy it and make it YOURS. That is all.