As I grew up, I was always one of those kids that had to have the TV on or music on at any given time. Probably something to do with raging undiagnosed ADHD and a coping mechanism I thought was just an interest in music. Or maybe it was because in my early years I would fall asleep at my grandparents house listening to sad steps songs and crying because I found it comforting. Perhaps because me and my mummy lived in a one bedroom apartment (in which I now live alone) and I could always hear her moving around or doing something in the next room. The TV on or her studying, sewing, tidying. I always felt comforted by the fact I knew that there was someone there. However over the years that lean towards noise or comfort sounds actually turned into a fear of silence. A fear of the dark, the unknown. I couldn’t be anywhere on my own in silence, I would always have the TV or music on in the background or I just felt a huge sense of unease. In my university days of course I lived in shared houses where it was pretty much never quiet, with the sound of slamming doors or people talking or others cooking. When I ventured into living on my own, it was very different. I was all alone there and that was it, I just had myself and my thoughts to sit with.

This was a harder time in my life emotionally and I have always been a person who felt emotions so deeply. Maybe that was why I liked noise so much, it drowned out the noise in my head that I just couldn’t handle. I eventually moved in my best friend at the time and we had great fun living together in a small 2 bedroom house, her noise never annoyed me. I would steal her pot noodles and she would hate me for it. I would come home from work or parties and have someone to tell the stories to. She would invite me to see her at work or bring me chicken soup and toilet roll when I was poorly. She even came home from work one night and saved me in a way no one has been close enough to save me before. We had an incredible time together, drinking wine, dancing around, going to get groceries and sliding around the shop in hysterics. She bought me a beautiful black cat for my 20th birthday and as I write this he is curled up at my feet on the bed, my best friend and my familiar. But all things eventually come to an end, and after that I was once again on my own.

I moved back into the one bedroom apartment my mummy owns and where we had lived for many years when I was little. I took on this project, updated everything and made it into my cosy little oasis, my solitude and my home. But still I never sat with silence. There was something about ‘nothing’ that almost scared me. The absence of literally anything. The mind was the only thing that played. So I still of course filled every second with TV and music, having either one on all the time and so much so that I left it on until I was falling asleep so that I didn’t have to lay with my thoughts. But somewhere along the road that all changed. Maybe it was the diagnosis of Agoraphobia in my early twenties. Maybe it was the panic disorder that gave me so much overstimulation I couldn’t go into shops. Maybe it was the General Anxiety Disorder that made everything around me feel chaotic. Maybe it was the undiagnosed ADHD that finally said “I’ve had enough”.

Those years were tough. I would text my friends from trains or buses or shops or restaurants and events in a complete panic because there was too much noise, too much light, too much going on and not enough space for me to breathe. I was a mess. I took Diazepam to be able to function sometimes and then decided that wasn’t the answer. I couldn't constantly rely on friends and family to reassure me every time I left that house, it must have been just as hard for them during that time as it was me. The years that followed were filled with ‘talky’ therapy, hypnotherapy, shamanic rituals and crystals from my mummy. I was met with synchronicities in life and people that seemed to come to me when I needed them. I started listening to signs and using the ‘yellow car theory’ to try and spot good things. I started getting to understand nature, I liked trees for some reason, they felt grounded. I learned the meaning of the word grounded and how it can actually help. I started a psychology degree, bought so many books I don’t even have time to read. I spoke to people about their journeys and families, hopes and dreams. Life continued to move with relationships and friendships and everything in between. Slowly but surely I came out of that dark dark place. I would still get anxious and overstimulated but suddenly it didn’t feel so bad.

Somewhere in all of that, through all of those years, silence became my friend. A new comfort, a new solace. I took pride in the fact I could sit in a dark room in complete silence and not feel fear. No need to turn anything on or have a sound obstructing my thoughts or influencing my mood. I could just sit. Sit with my thoughts, the absence of any other stimulation. Look out the window at trees and birds and clouds. Suddenly everything else that wasn’t silent sometimes became grating and I yearned for that complete nothingness. I can’t tell you how this happened or why, or even what caused this shift but what I do know is that my thoughts no longer scare me either. They are fleeting, passing comments flying through my body and out again. They bear no weight or sound or light, they just are. They can be here one second and gone the next but they can’t harm me. Almost like ghosts that just fly though and give you a little shiver before disappearing again.

Silence is now my friend. We sit together in the mornings while I listen to the birdsong that comes in and out. I stare at the trees, watching them breathe. I like the darkness, watching the moon from a window or standing outside and just appreciating the stars, the sky, everything so vast and infinite. Silence can’t hurt me, only my thoughts can. Silence is my companion.