Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Time to Talk Day

Today is Time to Talk Day.

I've written and deleted this post so many times over the past month.

There are things I want to say, and things I'm not ready to.

So today I'm just going to talk about the need to talk.

When you suffer with any kind of mental health problem, one side effect can be that you become secretive.

When my anxiety first began, I was embarrassed and didn't know what was going on.

Once it had been diagnosed, I remained embarrassed and confused.

Nobody had explained to me how I would feel day to day.

That some days are bad, and some days are brilliant.

That sometimes you can cry for hours because you just need to get out that frustration that's an invasive ball of emotion in your stomach.

That sometimes you'll feel nauseous for days on end, and nothing will shake it.

That logic doesn't come into it and your thoughts are in a constant battle.

That talking helps.

Sometimes, I want to be quiet and alone. But sometimes, being alone is the last thing I want and need.

When I was open with my family, they joined in the fight with me.

When my mum and I went to the doctors, my GP gave me confidence that anxiety would not define me, or continue to ruin days and experiences forever.

When I was open with my friends, I learned who was really there for me. Some were more patient and more helpful than I could ever have imagined.

I make it a policy now to be open about my anxiety.

About the days when it ruled everything, and about the fact some days it creeps up on me.

About the fact that I'm doing a lot better.

I'm learning techniques that help.

When I meet new people, I like them to know it's a part of who I am.

But it is not WHO I am.

That I have some weird little quirks and coping mechanisms, and sometimes I need them to just laugh along with me.

Talking helped me and continues to help me.

When I am open about my past and my present, I find it easier to be myself, and to cope on days when I struggle.

The people around me know how to deal with those times, and I don't have to try and explain myself when I'm in no state to do so.

The worst thing you can do is suffer alone. Please talk. Whoever you need to talk to, talk, and know you're not alone.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Reading List #35

It’s reading list time again, and there are a few here which I’ve recommended multiple times already.

Mini-reviews lie ahead…

Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Set in 1960s Nigeria, against a backdrop of civil war, this tells the story of Richard, an English university lecturer, Olanna, who has left a life of privilege to be with him, and Ugluu, Richard’s houseboy. The horrors of war touch each of these individuals and those around them, and loyalties are tested. I knew very little about Nigerian history, including this particular period, and it was a fascinating, if brief, insight which made me want to research a little further. The characters and writing were stunning, and this is a novel I will recommend again and again.

Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey

Maud keeps forgetting things, but the one thing she is sure of is that Elizabeth is missing. Her scraps of paper and fragmented memories lead to an investigation into a 70 year-old mystery. This book had an interesting premise, and I loved the first half to two-thirds of it. It was heart-breaking being inside that forgetful mind, and you can see how it is affecting those around Maud, too. However, towards the end I thought the convincing nature of the voice was lost in order to neatly round up all the loose ends of the mystery. I think I would almost have preferred an ambiguous ending, as that would have kept the whole novel and voice much more believable.

The Rubbish Picker’s Wife, Elizabeth Gowing

*Copy sent for review*
Travel-writing is not normally a genre I lean towards, but I was pleasantly surprised with this one. Whilst Gowing is in Kosovo, among the Ashkali people, she finds a community, a purpose, and a home from home. Although this was billed as a story of the blossoming friendship between two women, to me that was not the focus of the book at all. Gowing’s relationship with Hatemja certainly opens her eyes, but for me the bit of the book to shout about was the power of education and community, and a woman finding her purpose. It was easy to read and fairly fast-paced, and would certainly fuel wanderlust for those with a desire to travel and discover something different.

Wool, Shift & Dust, a trilogy by Hugh Howey

The landscape has turned hostile, and those who survived now exist as a community in an underground silo. There are strict rules and a defined hierarchy, but some dare to dream of a different world. I was impressed by this trilogy - it was a well-constructed world with some good characters, although I thought parts could have been taken further. There were some characters, ideas and confrontations I would have loved to explore further. I’ve not really read anything else quite like this, and definitely enjoyed it.

Let me know what I should move onto next!

Monday, 1 February 2016


Happy birthday, little blog of mine.

I couldn't believe it when I realised that my blog started three years ago today.

I've certainly not been consistent, and I've fallen in and out of love with it, but it's been mine for three years.

This year, that consistency is going to improve.

I find writing so relaxing and am determined to do more of it and document my year.

In January, I posted on this blog 28 days out of 31. I'm not saying I will continue to post almost daily, but I wanted to really commit to making the content on here more regular.

So that's what I'm doing.

I have so many posts planned for the next month and beyond and can't wait to continue this routine of writing and sharing more often.

A lot has happened over the last three years, and I want to make sure that the years ahead are ones where I collect even more memories.

The fourth year will be a good one.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Hello, February

Hello, February.

You've waited patiently; January seemed to last forever.

There's a quote on Instagram at the moment which says '2016 starts on 1st Feb. January was a free trial month'.

This made me laugh, and part of me agrees, but then I realised the miserable month of January was quite a positive one.

I've overhauled my eating habits and am getting more healthy. I've started exercising daily before work. I had the most wonderful weekend away. I went to two brilliant theatre productions.

It could have been a lot worse, let's put it that way.

February, I love the fact you start on a Monday.

There's something so neat about a new week and a new month coinciding, it's always a favourite day of mine.

I feel like this is the month to try and learn to like pancakes.

The month to continue eating better, and working on my fitness.

We're moving towards Spring, and the lighter hours are making a huge difference to my mood.

I've got a weekend away in Kent this month which I couldn't be more excited about.

February, you've taken your time, but I'm glad you're finally here.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

#xaxphotoaday Days 16-31

January felt like a seriously long month, and I've got to admit to feeling a bit down in the dumps on more than one occasion.

I think the Photo a Day challenge saved my Instagram from being bare and bleak this month, and enjoyed having to think about the prompts every day.

My round-up of the first half of the month is HERE, and here are days 16 to 31:

Day 16: New love

Day 17: Comfort food

Day 18: My mood

Day 19: Cosy clothes

Day 20: On my table

Day 21: New me

Day 22: Winter wonderland

Day 23: Where I slept

Day 24: Together

Day 25: A resolution

Day 26: To do

Day 27: Guilty pleasure

Day 28: Me today

Day 29: Looking up

Day 30: Reflection

Day 31: From where I stand

Let me know your Instagram name if you took part!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Lessons on commuting to Oxford Street

When I moved to London in August, it was for a new job.

My office is just off Oxford Street.

I like to think that was me throwing myself in at the deep end, ‘doing London properly’. To be right in the centre of the city, on one of the busiest shopping streets around, was me entering into the heart of this exciting, busy city.

Commuting to and from Oxford Street has taught me a few lessons over the last few months.

Here are my top five:
  • People can be really rude. And apparently have zero awareness that there are any other people anywhere near them. Either that or they just don’t care about anyone else, and believe themselves to be the most important people in the universe.
  • Oxford Street at around 7am can be pretty great. Especially if there’s a nice sunrise that day. It’s quiet, it’s open and the world is waking up.
  • Oxford Street at around 5pm is horrible. My walk from the office to the tube is downright unbearable, which is not what you want after a day in the office. Let me get home!
  • London is a bit busy. There’s a lot of people. All of the time. This is simultaneously exciting and downright annoying.
  • You will get angry at a 2 minute tube wait, even though you swore you’d never be that person. Because once I’ve battled my way down the road itself, through the barriers and down the escalators, I just want to step onto that tube carriage and get home.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

No spoilers, please

Today on Twitter I saw a major spoiler for the new episode of Pretty Little Liars.

My first reaction was extreme annoyance – it was released on UK Netflix today so those of us that work during the day can’t watch it until at least this evening.

And it was a big plot spoiler, too, complete with screenshots.

Ironically, it was from someone who always complains about other people tweeting spoilers but that’s another discussion…

And then what did I do?

I got over it.

Just because I haven’t had a chance to watch something yet doesn’t mean I can stop the rest of the world from talking about it.

Yes, people who go out of their way to spoil tv shows and films are NOT NICE PEOPLE, but if someone is tweeting an opinion on something they’ve seen, they have every right to do that.

When I see people ranting and raving on twitter about people ‘giving away’ results on things like X Factor or the Bake Off, it just makes me laugh.

You can’t expect the world to go silent and wait until you personally have caught up on something.

At the end of the day, if a show or event is on at a specific time, and you didn’t watch it then and there, that’s no one else’s problem.

Yes it’s annoying to stumble across a spoiler.

But surely people should realise if you’re trying to avoid a spoiler and wait until you’ve watched something, Twitter isn’t the ideal place to go.

I guess what I’m trying to say is there are bigger things to worry about.

If you can’t watch something live, just avoid places like Twitter for a bit, like you’d ignore the sports channels or newspaper sports pages if you were waiting until Match of the Day to find out the football scores (my dad does this).

The world doesn’t revolve around your tv viewing habits.

If you’re that passionate, plan your evening around it and watch the show live.

If you can’t, a spoiler might just happen.

As a little end-note, please don’t be that person who berates everyone else for tweeting a spoiler, then do it yourself (complete with screenshots) when you do watch things live…

And with that, I'm off to catch up on PLL!
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