The Anxiety Goblin


Some nice flowers because I didn’t know what picture to use with this post

I think it’s about time I wrote this post. I’ve been thinking about it for while, every time I read any of the burgeoning discussion and dialogue that’s building at the moment to break down the taboo about mental health issues and so I hope by writing this post, here’s my contribution.

HERE’S THE THING. I’ve suffered from anxiety my whole life, have been treated for it on multiple occasions and last year for the first time I was also put on anti-depressants. Weird INNIT? I spend so much of my time online blogging about all the wonderful and whimsical things in the world whilst a vast majority of my days feel like BLUMMIN’ HARD WORK from inside my head.

I’ve always been a worrier but a few years ago my anxiety got too bad for me to manage on my own. I was sneaking out of my job as a teaching assistant to go and have panic attacks in the girls loos and realised when I found myself unable to breathe and rooted to the spot with crippling fear in the middle of Sainsburys that it was probably time to get some help. Worry is a good thing in moderation, it’s the fight or flight instinct which is really handy for like, keeping us alive but it’s not so useful when you’ve simply popped out for a pint of milk.

People always ask what it is that I worry about. MATE I DUNNO. The thing about anxiety is that it hits people in all shapes and forms and expresses itself in a different way for everyone and the only thing it always has in common is that it’s totally irrational. There are small, specific things that make me more anxious than I should be (speaking on the phone is one of mine for example I bloody hate it! And don’t even talk to me about how I feel when plans change at the last minute. SHUDDER.) but when it’s at its worst, it’s just this constant, impending sense of foreboding. I think of it like walking round with a horrible little goblin on your shoulder telling you over and over again that something bad is going to happen and whispering negative comments and criticism to everything you do, say and feel. Telling you you’re a failure, that you’re making bad decisions, everyone hate you and you’re the fugliest little thing to ever walk the planet. He’s an real babe like that <3.

And then once that’s happening, the physical stuff begins. Pounding, thundering heart, shallow breathing, numb hands- OOH IT’S AN ABBBBSOLUTE TREAT. I find that my anxiety is at it’s worst when my brain just simply isn’t busy enough. If I’m not focused 100% on what I’m doing, then my brain starts to find something else to do, and inevitably, that means it starts to worry.

My standard panic at the moment comes from the fear of WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE. So often it feels like I’m totally failing, like everyone else is at least on the path to being sorted and leaving me further and further lagging behind. A stuttering career, financial instability, the concept of spinsterhood becoming ever more real, 30 looming real quick and a body clock I wasn’t aware of suddenly beginning to tick ever louder. The panic of all that suddenly seemed to crash last year and instead of constantly worrying about it, I began to feel just so sad about it that I lost all motivation to even be arsed to worry about it. It seemed too big to even think about and try to untangle into manageable amounts, so I just gave up. I felt so sad and listless all the time and had no idea how to help myself out. And I was so scared because that feeling was so far from a person that I recognised.

Admitting that you’re worried and/or depressed isn’t the easiest thing to do. You want to prove that you’re coping and resilient and self sufficient and I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF THANK YOU VERY MUCH. But you know what? That’s not very brave. Real bravery comes from swallowing your stubborn mule pride and admitting that you could do with a bit of help.

So I did! BECAUSE I AM SUPER BRAVE LOL. I’ve had CBT and even went away on to a residential retreat to try and tackle why I was so panicky and worried all the time. And it really did help, I no longer freak out in front of the cucumbers in Sainsburys anymore which is WICKED! Obviously, when I asked for help with my anxiety, I worried that I wasn’t worried enough and when I went to the doctor to express how utterly blue I was I worried that I wasn’t depressed enough to ask for help. Which kind of proved the point in itself. HAHAHAHAHAHA FOOL OF A TOOK.

And now every morning I take a gentle tablet which, far from being a magic happy pill and leaving me absolutely spangled just takes a slight edge off which gives me enough of a mood lift to feel motivated enough to take on the day and feel like myself. And every day I apply my coping strategies to try and break down any irrational anxiety that pops into my head and to twat that goblin on my shoulder round the face.

I realise that I’m not saying anything wildly revolutionary or meaningful here and I’ll be honest- I wrote this post because today the worry is bad, the goblin on my shoulder is being a RIGHT PRICK and I thought it might help to scribble this down. And it has! Also, a lot  of the time I actually talk to my friends about the irrational stuff that’s swirling round my head, nine times out of ten they have similar stories to tell and experiences to share, which helps me not feel so spirally and mental. So bearing that in mind listen, huns, it’s fucking hard to cope with and to keep that goblin in check, so if yours is also being a bellend or you’re having to wash you hands a million times or you’re feeling a big sad that you can’t move out from under and no matter who says ‘just relax, don’t worry about it’ or ‘cheer up!’ (OH WOW THANKS DUNNO WHY I HAVEN’T TRIED THAT BEFORE- said every anxious/depressed person ever) you just can’t- listen. WE GOT THIS. You’re not mental, you’re normal as fuck mate.

No more taboo. Let’s chat about this shit.




  1. Rosie ladkin

    July 21, 2015 at 9:37 am

    You incredible woman. What a brave post to write. I tip my hat to you – your blog manages to make me pee my pants laughing so much of the time and to come out and write this post is so brave and so genuine of you. Love reading all of your posts – the ones that make me laugh until a bit of wee comes out, and posts like this. You are such a genuine, fantastic person. Very proud to know you.
    R xxxx
    Ps. We should definitely do a collab at some point – which pretty much means; gin with maybe some writing? Xxx

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 21, 2015 at 10:35 am

      you had me at gin. I’d be WELL into that! Thanks gorgeous that means a lot. Loving your blog too, little ray of Internet sunshine! Xxx

  2. Dave Hibbs

    July 21, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Hi Katie,
    Very brave of you to write this and hopefully it will be cathartic and also be of help to others. We need to talk about shit that is bothering us but as a society we don’t because the pressure is not to as it is seen as being weak.

    Keep strong kid.

    Uncle Dave

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 21, 2015 at 10:34 am

      Thanks lad! Have already had a staggering amount of messages from people saying HEY YEAH ME TOO! so hopefully it’s a good thing! Lots of love to you all xxx

  3. Phil B

    July 21, 2015 at 10:37 am

    It seems such a cliche, the whole ‘we need to talk about this stuff’ but it is SO true!!

    I started suffering from anxiety about 18 months ago, usually when driving but it seems to be when in a situation I can’t walk away from. Driving, queuing in a supermarket (what is it about supermarkets!?), sitting in meetings, at gigs – you get the idea.

    It has got a lot better, I have an app on my phone called Panic Attack Aid which is pretty nifty – a blob that shrinks and expands that you match your breathing to. It is so weird though, I’m not particularly worried about anything, love driving and know it is irrational but that little goblin fucker just keeps coming back from time to time!

    Big respect for having the woman balls to write the blog post Katie.

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 21, 2015 at 11:46 am


      I love that and am totally stealing it!

      That app is something I’m definitely going to investigate, sounds useful as hell! Totally understand those situations, must be a control thing? Sounds so silly when we say it out loud (like at one point, I wouldn’t do the washing up at night because I was worried I’d see a face at the window which was next to the sink- NUTS RIGHT) but at the time those fears are so so real!

      Thanks for taking the time to give some feedback, hope you have a lovely day xx

  4. Becky

    July 21, 2015 at 11:28 am

    I can relate so much to this post completely. I was recently put on medication for it myself after suffering for a long time and completely agree with your point that its so hard to explain what you worry about because sometimes you don’t have a clue why you’re worried yourself!
    I’m glad the CBT and the residential retreat worked for you and gave you those skills to make life manageable again!

    Becky // http://www.rebeccamarie.co.uk xxx

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 21, 2015 at 11:47 am

      Thanks Becky! Hope you’re finding things easier now too! Xxx

  5. Richard Beenham

    July 21, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Bang on the money. There are a few things you mention that hit right home, absolutely on target. Thank you for sharing all that. I’m totally nicking the Anxiety Goblin name too!

    My own Anxiety Goblin interferes with me (oo-er) in many of the ways you describe so succinctly. What a relief to read someone else’s perspective on their own anxieties that reassures me that of course I’m not the only one, of course I’m not being daft, because look, there’s someone I’ve never even met who’s summed it up far better than I ever could.

    I’m far better at managing it these days – my own little mantra when I feel it buzzing away in the background over whatever little thing has set it off is “It’s never as bad as you think” (because, of course, it never is), and sometimes it even actually works! In the past I’ve managed to cause a couple of unnecessarily difficult situations for myself (I cringe at the memory of it), and at its worst it was rather like watching a film about my life without my glasses on. With the Director’s Commentary option selected.

    So I salute you for having the courage to make good use of a bad day, and in doing so totally win it.

    Much love and respect to you.

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 21, 2015 at 11:48 am

      And back to you pal! Sunnier days ahead xxxx

  6. Helen Budge

    July 21, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Katie, I’m sat here in a puddle of my own wee and head-nodding-ness in response to so much of what you’ve written. Just to clarify,I found it funny (I’m not incontinent). After reading so many of your blogs I genuinely feel, as I’m sure so many will have said to you, that you and I are in a very similar,if not exactly, the same place in life at the moment (career going nowhere rather speedily (I’m writing this from my temping reception desk), money’s somewhat sparse HAR HAR UNDERSTATEMENT, and that dark haired Disney prince, who’s not an absolute bellend, is yet to appear. Quite frankly I’m having more ups and downs, although the latter is quite a bit more prevalent, than a very up and down thing. In short, thank you for making me feel not totally alone in a quite lonely-feeling City such as this one. I’m sure you have lots of friends and offers but if you ever fancy a glass of wine,or a creative session, drop me a line – I PROMISE I’M NOT COMPLETELY…oh no,wait…Helen x

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 21, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      What a WONDERFUL comment to receive! Really enjoy hearing from people who love the word ‘bellend’ as much as I do! Thank you so so much for reading and taking the time to say HIYA, really does mean a lot! Would love to slug a gin with you sometime, consider it a date in the near future xxxx

  7. Julia Pugh

    July 21, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Hi Katie,

    I think you are amazing, this is something i suffer with too and also have been getting help. It is so important to talk about and its funny how many people like you say have similar stories to share which is helpful. I also will add that you’re blogs are an inspiration to me and have made me so many times start one on my what was a rather hilarious dating life after my narsistic ex. I didn’t as i made me anxious! Lolzzz but basically you inspired me so wanted you to know that xxx you are one of the most loved people i’ve ever come across in my life. xxx Jules xxx

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 22, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      Ah JULES! That’s such a beautiful thing to say thank you! Honestly you should definitely start to blog, it helps so much with keeping occupied and meeting other people! I for one would read it! Hope you are well darling girl xxxxx

  8. Becky

    July 21, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Hey love, what a wonderful and reassuring post. I too felt the same about a couple of months ago, I think mainly because of an impending 30th birthday. Had no motivation and all the things I loved doing, I didn’t really enjoy any more and spent a lot of time in my room just feeling ‘meh’ and downright blue.

    I spoke to a few friends about it and they were great, especially a friend who had a really difficult time a few years ago and he told me some coping methods. I still have down days but feeling better.

    Thank you so much for sharing. Much love xx

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 22, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      Friends are so amazing aren’t they? Mine are such a constant source of joy and love and help keep me anchored when I feel all lost at sea! Xxx

  9. Andrew

    July 21, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Thanks for being so honest about this difficult subject – there have been times in my life when I thought I had lost control of everything – I felt any social situation really stressful, especially going out to social events at evenings.. Wierd but hey. I found solice in music – I came back to what I knew made me happy. I had counselling for a year and realises that I expected too much of myself. I was as good as who I was not what others thought of me. This gives me strength and helps me achieve what I want to. I think you are doing brilliant and trust me, it will get better.

    I wrote a song called This Black Dog and I would like you to have a listen to it.. I wrote it at the height of my anxiety but I think it’s quite uplifting


    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 22, 2015 at 12:11 pm

      Will definitely have a listen! Finding outlets to keep busy and distracted are so important for keeping the goblins at bay! Xxx

  10. Selma Dahhouki

    July 21, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    I have re-wrote this comment uncountable times. I’m anxious about writing about anxiety. Typical.

    Just want to say thank you! It’s lovely to hear someone verbalise this stuff that fills my brain. I just got out of a big ol’ funk and am beginning to see the proverbial light. Reading this has given me renewed strength to keep blocking the absolute drivel that my goblin spews and to keep on keeping on.

    There is no quick fix goddamnit, just hard graft, but every day, little by little, I uncover more of myself, the one that does exist and isn’t a failure and embarrassment. I’m writing this on a glass half full day, so I guess we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

    Good on ya – X

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 22, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      Thank you lovely! Day by day, step by step, moment by moment- only way to tackle it! Keep going and thank you so much for reading and taking the time to say hi! Xxx

  11. Kira

    July 21, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    You just made me cry, but in a GOOD WAY. I’m having so many feels right now and that is awesome because, like you, my brain just gave up and stopped feeling stuff. This shit is important, and snaps to you for writing about it and not being all ‘omg woe is me let’s all be strong and sing around the campfire wanky shit’. Self pity is not fun, but this stuff happens and it’s awful and I thank you for showing it’s possible to not sound like a twat while talking about it.

    Well. Fucking. Done.


    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 22, 2015 at 12:14 pm

      THANKS LOVELY! Glad I made you cry in a good way. Honestly whenever I hear someone else feels the same as me it feels like a warm fuzzy hug, even over the Internet. Snaps back at you for dealing with all the shit. WE GOT THIS XXX

  12. Georgie Burdett

    July 22, 2015 at 12:05 am

    This post has made me feel so normal.

    Thanks for sharing, I’m in the exact same boat and finding it a real struggle some days to cope, a lot of the time you can chat to friends and family about it but they don’t truly understand and want to be supportive but can’t really stand in your shoes. This has made me realise there are more people out there struggling like me and maybe together with sharing our experiences more we can battle this together.


    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 22, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Totally. I think being close to someone who suffers with this shit can be as hard sometimes as being the sufferer yourself! I find sometimes there’s literally nothing anyone can say or do to help which makes my loved ones feel a bit useless and helpless. But yes, standing together and being honest about when it gets bad is definitely a step in the right direction. Love and sunshine to you! Xxx

  13. soph16142@btinternet.com

    July 22, 2015 at 6:54 am

    thankyou for sharing this post, I can go into the day feeling less alone now. x

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 22, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Never feel alone, there’s thousands of us out there! Xx

  14. Amelia Donkor

    July 22, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Shed a little tear reading this! Took so many words out of my mouth & it’s so comforting to know that there are other people out there…
    I shall go forth and smile xxx

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 22, 2015 at 12:16 pm

      Do! It’s the quickest way to feel better (well that and a massive gin & tonic.) hope you have a good day today lovely xxxx

  15. Nic Spiby

    July 22, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Loved this!!!! Really understanding of what real people go though with a hint of humor thrown in! 🙂

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 22, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Thanks Nic! The feedback has been so wonderful, so lovely to hear from people in the same boat xx

  16. Claire

    July 22, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    I stumbled across your blog through a friend on Facebook, and it totally sums up how have felt, and sometimes still do feel. That invisible Goblin made me not want to get out of bed, for overwhelming and debilitating fear of “who knows what?” It made me not able to care about my babies, and made me ambivalent about living in general.

    I’m 40 and things in my life are happy, but that black cloud can come from nowhere, and piss all over my day. For. No. Reason.
    The little pills do help to keep me on an even-keel, most of the time, but not always. Time on my hands most definitely makes things worse. Too much brain space and too many negative thoughts. Busy me copes much better it seems.

    The more I speak to people close to me, the more I realise how common this is. Some of my best friends are depressed or anxious

    All the best to you. Don’t let that Goblin beat you Hun. He’ll try, and at times you might think he’s winning. Just keep doing what you’re doing. You got this. Xx

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 26, 2015 at 8:30 pm

      Thank you lovely. Business is the key I firmly believe. And being busy is not the same as having a busy brain! So common, and the response to this post has been overwhelming. Talking about it is so important and I’m so glad I finally had the courage to publicly join the conversation! Xx

  17. Sarah

    July 23, 2015 at 9:54 am

    This is a really great post! I find it so weird that we can’t talk about these things openly…I totally tell everyone when I have to take antibiotics for a urine infection but go all James Bond secret agent if there’s even a slight chance someone might find out I was on antidepressants for a while…it’s not right!! Well done for being so honest and funny about the whole thing! Great read!
    Sarah x

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 26, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Thank you! Really glad you enjoyed reading and thank you for taking the time to say HI! I know, so weird isn’t it? I’m so open about such a lot of stuff (p.s sorry to the colleagues I once told when I had thrush that one time) but the mental health stuff seems for some reason a bigger hurdle to jump over. LET’S CHANGE IT! xxx

  18. Charlie

    July 23, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Really appreciated this blog post – thanks so much for sharing it.

    Thank you for being so open and sharing your experiences – helps everyone to know that they’re not alone experiencing anxiety and to show that it’s good & healthy to ask for help.

    You go girl x

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 26, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks lovely! We should all feel more safe in talking about this stuff. IMPORTANT! xxx

  19. Frankie The Mayfairy

    July 24, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Right babes. I am panic attack central and I have this all under control. By which I mean my life is a mess. I have this theory that you have to deal with more of this kind of stuff the more creative you are. Because if you’re creative it’s because you’ve got this talent to tap into the zeitgest of living and THE MEANING OF LIFE and then other people see the things you create and go OOOHHH I KNOW THOSE FEELS and then the experiences are shared and everyone feels good. But to do that you have to keenly watch the world around you, soak it all up and FEEL EVERY EMOTION. Worry about this, worry about that, be keenly aware of yourself fucking up AS YOU’RE DOING IT, feeling the guilt and being unable to stop. It’s all part of it.

    On a more practical level, don’t try and cheer up. That’s impossible. The only way out of a public panic attack is to booty dance your way out. Seriously. Call me. I’ll show up and booty dance down the macaroni aisle of the supermarket with you and that goblin will cower in the face of our dance off magic.

    What I’m trying to say is this happens because you’re awesome and creative and empathetic and wonderful and it’s ok to sit and scream and booty dance at times because bottling things up never helped anyone. Unless you work in a gin factory.

    Right, what I’m actually trying to say: ALWAYS WORK IN A GIN FACTORY.

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 26, 2015 at 8:36 pm

      SOUND SOLID ADVICE. Miss you see me soon xxxx

  20. Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi

    July 25, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    I do a great deal of the above – especially worrying about worrying & can find myself with weird dips & troughs of mood whilst my workmates are weirdly emotionless & zen. It’s great to know I’m not alone, thank you x

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      July 26, 2015 at 8:37 pm

      We can all be in the worry club together-from what I gather it’s full of the coolest cats in town anyway xxx

  21. Dottie

    July 26, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    “a horrible little goblin on your shoulder telling you over and over again that something bad is going to happen and whispering negative comments and criticism to everything you do, say and feel. Telling you you’re a failure, that you’re making bad decisions, everyone hate you and you’re the fugliest little thing to ever walk the planet. ”

    And here I thought the little bastard only lived in my head. It turns out, HE’S NOT EVEN MONOGAMOUS.


    PS – you are not alone, and I tend to call it a Headweasel, because it likes to hide and pop up whenever the fuck it wants. I also take pills and see a therapist weekly to help keep the anxiety and panic attacks at bay. It helps take the edge off, but the Headweasel is not so easily tamed. It is still there. Still part of me. Still full of shit. *sigh*

  22. Harriet

    September 11, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Ahh this is amazing! I wish I’d written it myself to be honest haha. I also take ‘happy pills’ and they seem to do a similar thing to me too, just take a slight edge off it. But some days are still rubbish and I’ve just read your ‘be cute to yourself’ post, which will definitely help, so thank you! Hope you slap that goblin good and proper xx
    harrietclifford.blogspot.co.uk – Tea Stains and Daisy Chains

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  24. Rachal Olivant

    February 2, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    This really did make me smile. I too suffer really badly from anxiety and depression, and have only recently admitted it to myself and family, after sooooooo many years. (This is my first public statement!) but do you know what? As soon as I almost ‘gave in’ and said “rachal you’re not coping”, I felt a huge sense of relief.
    Talking helps My boyfriend reminded me that people take pills for all sorts of things like blood pressure ect, it’s no different taking it for anxiety.

    I have no idea where I’m going from here, but it’s been so lovely to research and read that it is more normal than I thought.

    I wish you a great day Katie, thank you for a great read. Xxx

  25. Anna

    August 17, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Hi Katie,

    I went to see your show at the Fringe last night and I thought it was brilliant. I, unexpectedly, felt quite overwhelmed and emotional when you spoke about the anxiety goblin and the constant feeling of being stuck and unsure of your decisions. It was emotional to hear someone saying something so relateable and I felt comforted by your words. It reassured me that I’m not the only one, which deep down I know, but it’s hard to believe most of the time. I don’t usually tear up, especially at shows, but it was actually a very positive experience for me. So thank you!

  26. Anna Chowcat

    August 17, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    Hi Katie,

    I went to see your show at the Fringe last night and I thought it was brilliant. I, unexpectedly, felt quite overwhelmed and emotional when you spoke about the anxiety goblin and the constant feeling of being stuck and unsure of your decisions. It was emotional to hear someone saying something so relateable and I felt comforted by your words. It reassured me that I’m not the only one, which deep down I know, but it’s hard to believe most of the time. I don’t usually tear up, especially at shows, but it was actually a very positive experience for me. So thank you.

  27. Molly G

    February 28, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    This is brilliant. Thank you for writing it. My own goblin has led me to freak out in Sainsbury’s many’s a time (although the cereal isle is his preferred point of attack). He/it is a prick, although sometimes if I speak to him like a firm parent, he transforms into a wee pet squirrel who gets carried about, worries a lot and has to be pacified but is essentially pretty sound. Here’s to managing our squirrels and goblins. Love M xo

    1. bloodyhellbrennan

      May 16, 2018 at 10:42 am

      I love this! May your goblin always be a lovely squirrel!xx

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