I found the following piece of prose in a travel journal from 2001. These were dark days for me as I was suffering from bad depression and anxiety – I know that now. At the time I was overseas on my first European trip and loving it. I finally felt free – I was tasting independence and happiness, and I was dreading coming home.

I’ve had a go at tweaking it slightly, so that it now flows better. I thought I would share with you, as an insight into the mind of someone struggling with anxiety.

The thoughts circle each other…

Round…and round…and around.

I want them to stop but my mind is trapped.

There is no escape route or ‘off’ switch,

Just the constant whirring of the cogs in my brain.

At times the effort seems too great,

But as I breathe, life goes on.

Janine Ripper 2001, Revised 2011


I have a problem

It’s a serious problem.

Listening to people eat really stresses me out!

Okay, not ALL people. I would like to believe that most people are very quiet eaters. It’s the people who slurp, chew loudly, mouths open, gulp food and generate buckets of saliva when they eat.

  • It’s partly about etiquette – it is polite to eat with your mouth closed. Thats good manners. Unless you can’t breathe through your nose – then I understand it’s a big ask…eating or breathing…hmmm. I know my brother and sister and I had this drummed into us growing up.  No wants to ‘sea…food.’ hehehe – Yes that’s a bad joke.
  • Gum chewers.  People aren’t cows, and as far as I’m concerned gum is like food – and people should chew with their mouths closed. They really should! I work in an office where you can literally hear a pin drop. I used to sit next to a guy who did this.  Lovely guy, really bad gum-chewing habit. Thinking back, there does seem to be a pattern here. I took a film course once at University with a really good friend. We spent many nights squished together in an editing suite trying to create our masterpiece, surviving on vending machine hot chocolate, chocolate, and gum.  She chewed gum with such a ferocity, I’m surprised our friendship survived. I was so close to snapping! In hindsight, working part-time, studying full-time, filming and editing most nights, plus partying – whilst surviving on a diet of sugar, fast food and gum – it possibly wasn’t her fault!  That would be my over-tired, unhealthy, anxiety riddled self.  Apologies to the friend in question for being so grumpy!
  • Fruit-suckers. Back to the office that is as quiet as a funeral parlour – or even more so.  I used to sit next to a guy (different guy) who loved fruit. Bless him!  I love fruit to. He especially loved juicy fruit, and when he ate fruit, he sounded like he was eating soup. This used to get me so anxious – I had to launch for the headphones of my iPhone – usually in the bottomless pit I call my handbag, frantically trying to untangle the headphones from the contents of my bag, and shoving them in my ears to drown it out with some music.
  • Saliva generators. The person I refer to here will know I’m referring to them, and they know I have a problem.  They don’t eat like this all the time, and they do love their food (and they are the best cook!) but sometimes when I hear them eat, I get very agitated. That’s when the volume of the TV gets turned up, or I go into the other room…for…something. Unfortunately for them this always seems to align with ‘that time of the month’ – I really do believe that my senses of hearing go into overdrive then! We figure if I get enough sleep, and pass on the sugar…I won’t snap.

Good news is I am working on my problem, but I still admit that the best way for me to deal with it is to leave the room. Continue reading