My 'Normal' life Experiencing anxiety Blog

Charlotte Landrum is a filmmaker from Wirral, Merseyside whose short film 'Cat Sitter Wanted' is premiering on Am I Normal. Commissioned as a result of a partnership between the Arts Council England and Channel 4, which works with and develops 16-24 year old filmmakers through a national initiative known as First Acts, 'Cat Sitter Wanted' explores Charlotte's personal anxiety at having to get her first part time job. Find out more about First Acts here.

Here, Charlotte blogs about her experiences with anxiety, and suggests some methods that have helped her cope with it in the past...

Sitting at the computer at 2am, trying to assemble my up-coming adult life, when I realise: I am terrified. Although, I have always been terrified. Cold sweats when I’m made to do group projects in school, gaining a stutter when trying to meet new people in college, having to take a breather from a party at university because a group of girls asked why I’m wearing a top that says ‘Halloween’ in July. It has made me feel like the most pathetic human in the room. Anxiety can take the main seat in my brain and control my every move, if I let it.

One of the biggest personal anxieties in my life was getting my first part time job. All my friends seemed to be employed. If I got a job, I could have money to spend on things, but most importantly I would prove to everyone who knew me that I am about much more than playing video games in my room and eating crisps. It all sounded good, except I’d have to face my worst fears: human interaction and responsibility. This often gets mistaken for laziness, but I am hidden under my duvet all weekend because I just don’t feel comfortable hanging out with you, I promise.

In an attempt to get my first job, I browsed positions going in my area. I wasn’t qualified enough for most, couldn’t drive, couldn’t build up the courage to participate in retail (what if a 13-year-old starts shouting at me because we don’t have that crop top in size 8?), couldn’t serve food (I'm a clumsy vegetarian that will spill hot soup on the nice customers) and I won’t even begin talking about all the potential issues of handing out leaflets on the high street. The only job I was mentally prepared for was animal babysitting - get paid to sit in an empty house with someone’s beloved dog, cat, guinea pig… it sounded like a dream. Although, what if? What if it accidently died? What if I went to make some toast and the toaster blew up?! The reality was that no matter what I did, there would be a surge of doubt and fear. It felt for me as if no amount of medication or self-help could resolve it.

My short film 'Cat Sitter Wanted' portrays the worst nightmarish scenario that I imagine could play out in someone’s mind the night before starting a new job. The slight out-of-touch visuals, the obvious warning signs that we miss – the feeling that we are walking into our own horrific death and we don’t even know it! This film is a way of expressing the absurdity and dark humour of the situation.

My advice to anyone experiencing anxiety would be to use the anxieties as creative inspiration to turn it into something positive and useful.

- Charlotte Landrum

Charlotte on what 'normal' means to her...

Is it normal to think these things? Is it normal to flinch alone in your room because you had an intrusive thought of falling down the stairs? Anxiety is natural. Nothing is right and nothing is wrong. I think normality is a nice myth we like to compare ourselves to. Everyday holds so much obscene weirdness that it’s comical when we try to ignore it. Trying to stay in the lane of normal is an unachievable goal. I wouldn’t want to reach it anyway.

Further support

If you'd like more support on dealing with anxiety, check out the Channel 4 support site

Channel 4 support site (This link opens in a new window)

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