Home, Humour, Lifestyle, London, Mental Health, social media

Inspired by Britney Spears: what happens when it gets toxic.

Baby, give me it
You’re dangerous
I’m loving it

Too high
Can’t come down
Losin’ my head
Spinnin’ ’round and ’round
Do you feel me now?

Oh,
The taste of your lips
I’m on a ride
You’re toxic I’m slippin’ under
With a taste of a poison paradise

I’m addicted to you
Don’t you know that you’re toxic?
And I love what you do
Don’t you know that you’re toxic?

(Britney Spears, 2013)

Saying ‘social media is toxic’ out loud is about as revelatory as saying the green pasta twirls are the best; everyone knows it. If it wasn’t so faffy (and wasteful) buying a packet of Tricolore and picking out just the green ones, I’d absolutely be bingeing on them as much as I binge on Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, you name it. But I’m not. I’m sticking to good old fashioned fusili, because I don’t have the time for that shit and I’m waiting until they just do the right thing and invent entirely green packs of pasta, and also, I’m too busy bingeing on Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, you name it.

I work from home on Fridays. Last week was possibly the busiest week in recent memory (and my memory isn’t great because social media keeps killing off my brain cells). On top of my job which that week included organising a press night, I had improv rehearsals, an improv show, a photo shoot, rehearsals for another play and several meetings squished in around that like a tea cosie of added pressure. It was a great week – I like being busy and everything sort of worked and went okay and I look my age and not like a haggard old hypothermic witch in like 75% of the photographs – but it’s been 11 days since I’ve had a day to just ‘be’ and so last night I thought I’d not bother setting an alarm and wake up naturally.

At 7.45pm – because apparently when you turn 28 you become a morning person – for approximately 36 seconds I felt like a goddess. My body and brain was refreshed and my electric blanket was more comforting than a hug from Oprah. Then I picked up my phone and began the morning scroll. 47 minutes later I’m a different woman. I’m stewing over a cup of tea, feeling nauseous, distracted, unmotivated, and, ever so slightly wizened. Excuse my use of ‘wizened,’ it’s just so fun to say.

I spent a few minutes talking to my sister-in-law, who I live with, about how I need to start charging my phone downstairs and investing in an alarm clock, so I can’t tempt myself with all the glories of the online world before I can even properly see out of one eye. I then grabbed my phone and deleted all the apps. I mean, I say all the apps, I kept Whatsapp – because I’m not ready to lose my entire friendship group and I have a lot of long distance relationships to maintain – and I deleted Facebook ages ago because these days it’s about as interesting as a pot of houmous. But I did plonk Twitter and Instagram in the trash and now I’m sitting down to contemplate where to go.

When I think about what I’ve seen on social media this week it’s no wonder I’m ageing prematurely and constantly vomming a small bit in my mouth. On Twitter, before 8am, I’ve seen pigs being tortured, racist Halloween costumes, stories of sexual assault, men telling women they’re shit, women telling men they’re shit and petty, bitchy gossip which is reminiscent of being 14, except in year nine we had MSN so we just said it to people’s faces. On Instagram, I’m seeing people’s holiday snaps, perfect vegan breakfasts, nights out, cocktails, shopping hauls, pumpkin after pumpkin after sodding pumpkin, often shared by people I know – and I’m including myself in this – aren’t actually happy. Not really.

Why are we teasing each other with snapshots of our perfect moments when life isn’t perfect? What are we doing to each other? Why are we playing this game, which we all know isn’t real, to make ourselves feel better for a split-second until we see a picture of someone else in a bikini/drinking a frappuccino/getting a free holiday/getting engaged/having a baby/being more successful than us/buying a house/spending loads of money/being cool and suddenly feel shit again?

When I was on holiday I turned the data on my phone off and started writing a blogpost I never ended up publishing. It was called “vacation: unfiltered” because I got really cliché in Tuscany. Yet again, I’d reached a point where I spent more time looking at Twitter and Instagram than I did breathing, blinking and, judging by the state of my IBS, digesting food. Something had to change. So why not add to the challenges I had already set myself for holiday (get a tan, regular bowel movements, eat ice cream every day) and turn off that free 4G?

Here were some of my entries, about the detox but also compensations for the one photograph of the pool I gave in and uploaded to Instagram, in the form of some holiday truths.

It’s Tuesday as I write, and I haven’t been on Facebook since Friday. I checked Twitter once, because it’s Edinburgh Fringe and I get FOMO, and I gave into temptation and posted a photo of our swimming pool on Instagram, because, let’s face it, us millennials have been bred to brag, and what’s the point of having a swimming pool to yourselves set against a backdrop of Tuscan vineyards if you can’t ignore the view and instead spend 15 minutes showing off to people, most of whom aren’t your friends?

I’ve checked Instagram once and Whatsapp about twice a day – because I’m very attached to my friends, and also there are other ways of bragging.

We have been truly ravaged by mosquitoes. I look like a pepperoni pizza.

Yesterday I got stung between the eyes by a wasp and it’s only thanks to the fact I’m already double-dosing on antihistamines due to my worldwide hay fever together with the fact my body is already covered in red bumps that you can’t tell. 

In fact, I also have spots thanks to sun cream that are worse, far worse, so that’s nice.

I have IBS. The biggest triggers for bloating that can rival a woman who is six months pregnant are dairy and white flour. My diet on holiday has mostly comprised of pizza, pasta, bruschetta, ice cream, yoghurt and extra bread alongside every meal. My attempt at eating vegan regularly has flown so far out the window I THINK it has landed somewhere in the Yorkshire dales. If it’s any consolation I did find vegan Calippos and, if I hadn’t already posted on Facebook that Ed and I are getting married, I would be at the registry office right now, trying to make a Vegan Calippo my life partner.

I think I have three ingrown hairs on my bikini line.

It took us three days to find good food out. It might look picturesque but Tuscany’s main delicacies are wild boar and steak – not ideal for vegetarians.

Our shower only releases one line of water, like when a hose (or penis) dribbles a bit. Washing over half a metre of thick hair is one hell of an adventure.

And, finally, the image I project on social media versus the reality:

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The irony about writing this blog post is I’m entirely reliant on social media to get anyone to read it. So, already, within about an hour of deleting the apps I’m travelling the old-fashioned browser route to satisfy my approval cravings. And I’m reliant on it in other ways too. I’d never have raised over £1000 for my half marathon without Facebook. No one would come and see my shows. I wouldn’t be able to stalk cute babies dressed as characters from Killing Eve. I’d be ignorant of many world events – and equally at risk of staying in my tiny bubble.

But something has to change. Today a particularly vicious, gleeful cycle of bitching on Twitter pushed me over the edge. Me taking a break isn’t going to change anything – but I might actually be able to get some work done today if I stop letting it overwhelm me. It’s not always industry-related. Sometimes it’s an animal cruelty video. Or an Instagram story by someone whose life is cooler than mine. So I guess this is my way of making a promise to myself – to detach from it all – and also, as much as I find it hard to imagine that anyone has read my blog and thought ‘I’m so jealous of that cystitis-fuelled, anxiety-ridden queen of IBS,’ to just compensate for any part I’m playing in that social media game by dismantling it, acknowledging the bullshit, and taking off the filter.

It’s Friday morning. It’s 10am. I’ve done no actual work yet except write this blog. I’m sat in my Harry Potter pyjama bottoms with no bra on. I think I’m allergic to my laundry detergent so I’m regularly itching various parts of my body. I just ate Cornflakes with oat milk – part of my vegan agenda that begins at 8am and ends as soon as I eat chocolate and cheese later in the day. My hands are numb because the house is cold. I’m me.

 

 

birthday, Home, Humour, Lifestyle

A decade of adulthood.

Ten years ago today I turned 18. I threw my first ever house party but, because I was a nerd, not a rebel, I didn’t plan it on a weekend where my family were away, so my parents, two brothers and my dog were unofficially held hostage in my mum and dad’s bedroom, banned from making a public appearance, except to clear away some leftover chicken drumsticks and to help fix my bed frame, which had mysteriously broken.

It was cocktail themed. Everyone had to come dressed as a cocktail and bring a lot of spirits. The craziest things that happened were we crowd-surfed in my lounge, the aforementioned broken bed was propped up with bricks for the next three years, and apparently two people had sex in my dog’s basket, but the dog never confirmed that. My entrance into adulthood was official.

Today I am 28 and last night I left a work party before 10pm because, ten years on, I’ve discovered I don’t really like parties. At least not when they’re on weekdays and I’ve had to organise them and they don’t include fancy dress.

I’m at this conflicting time in my life, where I still look like a teenager and feel like an imposter in adult places, like conference centres and the M1, but in many ways I have definitely, absolutely aged. Matured, like a cheese, but not an old cheese, not stilton or the ones that come wrapped in paper, like they might fall apart from old age if you don’t hold them together, and not a young cheese, a Babybel, a cheese string, that would be even more ridiculous than this analogy. Somewhere in between. But where exactly is that?

Brie? Double Gloucester? … Laughing Cow?

At 28 years old there is still so much I don’t know; when to use ‘who’ and ‘whom,’ why you have to rinse rice, what the collective noun is for a group of rhinos (just joking, it’s obviously a ‘crash’.) But just because school stopped a decade ago – along with my legwarmers obsession and ability to keep down peach schnapps – doesn’t mean I’ve stopped learning.

I’ve learned loads, actually.

I’ve learned it doesn’t become easier to grate things with age. Cheese will always be slippery and run out within five minutes. Both lemons and limes will become more elusive and you will end up grating your own skin into a citrus meringue pie for the work bake off. Carrots will fuck you over every time.

I’ve learned that if you forget to have dinner before you go out on your 21st birthday you will be sick on yourself, your shoes and someone else’s shoes, and the worst possible solution is to pour a pint of water over yourself to disguise it. I’ve also learned that your best friends are the ones who have the photo of you soaked in water and vomit as their desktop background for the next five years.

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I’ve learned I’m not yet responsible enough to own a herb garden, nor am I capable of not spilling hot drinks either down myself or on important documents. And by important documents I mean my favourite postcard of a highland cow that has my exact morning hair, and my ticket stub from Celine Dion; I’m not yet adult enough to hold onto anything that is actually important. I also don’t know whether I should say ‘an herb garden’ or ‘a herb garden.’ One makes the inside of my skin feel funny but I guess if grammar were easy we’d all be spending a lot less time learning about commas in school and a lot more time learning about mortgages, and tax returns, and why you should always eat dinner before going clubbing.

After a decade of driving I still can’t parallel park when people (or squirrels) are watching and filling up the petrol tank makes me more anxious than disease. I iron my clothes about once a year and when I do I use my hair straighteners.

My idea of rebellion has not improved. The most daring act I commit on a regular basis is that even though the back of my hair conditioner says keep in for five minutes I get bored after 30 seconds and wash it out anyway. And sometimes I still eat dry pasta.

Alongside all those particularly life-defining experiences, some other things have happened in my adult life. I got a degree (but I have no bloody clue where the certificate is). I’ve discovered a taste for red wine. I’ve changed what I want to do with my life over 5000 times. I’ve written lots, laughed lots, cried lots. I’ve lost approximately seven pairs of headphones. I’ve developed IBS. I’ve gone from being able to run a bath to being able to run 8 miles and I’m still going. I’ve fallen in love with the same person twice and in my tenth year of adulthood I’m going to marry him. One of the main reasons I’m spending the rest of my life with him is because he’s really good at inventing games and activities at parties – he started the crowd-surfing at my 18th whilst dressed as a pink lady.

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I have zero clue what my next ten years of adulthood are going to be like. I have so many dreams.

I’d like to get paid to write. For real.

I’d like to adopt a staffie and call it Lego. Or adopt two staffies and call them ‘Fizzy’ and ‘Laces.’

I like to think I will be able to pull off mom jeans.

I’d like to have a baby without completely destroying my vagina and call it Lyra whether or not it’s a boy or a girl.

I’d like to become more confident about using spices in cooking.

I’d like a cupboard where all the mugs are different. No matching sets. Lots of personalities.

Mostly though, I want to spend the next 10 years making more mistakes. Being unafraid of failure. Improvising. Laughing. Because the biggest thing I’ve learned is that life’s too short for anything else. Oh, that, and to never ever wear a waist belt out in public again.

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Books, Home, Humour, Lifestyle, London, Students

Books for a duvet day.

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The last time I wrote about my favourite books, it was that day in May when it was forty degrees, and I was temping, in a pencil skirt, trying not to melt onto the floor of the world’s most boring insurance company. I was daydreaming of sandy beaches, sun loungers and all the time in the world to recline, just me, a nice paperback and all the ice cream bloating. 

In reality I didn’t actually have time to read once my summer started because I was too busy trying not to get skin cancer and working out how to afford to eat. Now though, I’m in month six of real life (also known as full time work) and I have a lot of time on my hands because my trains are always delayed. So far this year I’ve had slippery leaves, a suicidal pigeon, and an unnaturally large passenger as excuses read over the tannoy, which, whilst making me furious to the point of an embolism, have also given me treasured close contact time with a good story. 

So, I got a Kindle for Christmas from Eduardo, which I am interpreting as a pretty blatant sign of how fed up he was of me complaining my shoulders hurt after lugging Vanity Fair round central London every day. Either way, having clung to paperbacks for years like an old romantic, I can’t believe what a party I’ve been missing out on. Kindle has revolutionised my reading experience. I read more than ever, I’ve stopped having to beg for neck and shoulder massages from the person sitting behind me on the bus, and get to save my book shelf for the ultimate favourites and charity shop gems. 

Every time I sense spring might be approaching, sunlight trying desperately hard to penetrate the gaps in the clouds, like someone hopefully peering through a crumpet, providing enough light for me to briefly consider shaving my legs, I walk outside and discover we’re still knee-deep in winter. And despite momentarily seeing both my breath and my disappointment in front of my eyes at the thought of perhaps never regaining proper circulation in my hands again, there’s a secret warmth in my heart that we still have a few more weeks left to spend quality time with ourselves. Not masturbating, guys, before you go there. Or shaving. I’m talking about nestling down on a corner sofa, in duvet hibernation, with a hot chocolate in one hand and a book in the other. 

And so we come to the books that have carried me through my winter daydreams. I’m throwing in a mix of fiction and non-fiction because it turns out I get my kicks from real life superheroes too. 

My new Bible…Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham

This book is the gospel truth for every twenty-something girl who’s ever had bad sex, doubted themselves, worried about cancer, embarked on a strange diet, been friend-zoned or just let your own head get in the way of success. I will read it over and over again and talk about it all the time until I become friends with Lena and have to disguise my inner fangirl. 

One to warm you up…Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe

This one made me fall in love with reading all over again. Love, Nina is a collection of beautifully written and hilarious anecdotes documented by Nina in letters to her sister, while she was working as a nanny in 80s London. I loved it mostly because Nina lived opposite Alan Bennett, and her unique retelling of familial interactions and observations will split your sides. It’s also being made into a television series so get reading and say you heard it here first.

While her name is everywhere…Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

Emma’s getting deservedly famous now Room’s a film and winning yonks of awards but Frog Music is incredibly different in style and tone. Set in San Francisco, Frog Music is a murder mystery come love story based on a true events and I couldn’t get enough. It’s a slow burning thriller but the most successful part of the book for me is the picture Emma paints of a city that can’t breathe for heat, sickness, death, crime and sex. If you want to fall into a different world for a little while this is pretty marvellous.

Because I’m in love with her…Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler. 

I’m so into America’s funny women sometimes I wake up crying that they’re not my friends. (Only half-joking). I’m experiencing a pretty intense girl crush on Amy at the moment. I blame the fact she played one of the most loveable characters ever to grace our television screens in Parks and Rec, founded the SmartGirls initiative that makes me sad not to be a young girl anymore, and that she writes like a total dream. If you love Amy, you’ll love Yes, Please, and if you’re unfamiliar, it’ll make you want to jump on the bandwagon immediately because the Poehler movement is pretty infectious. 

I got hooked on…The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North

I’ve been waiting for a book that makes me consider taking a sick day to finish it and this is the one. I’ve tweeted a little incessantly about it and for all the good reasons. The story follows the journey of film-maker Sophie Stark, told only from the perspective of the people who knew, loved or worked with her, which turns out to be an uncanny and beautiful way of portraying an artist built out of the impact she made on other people’s lives. It’s what I like to call hashtag meta…Sophie Stark has instantly jumped to one of my favourite books of all time. Go read so we can talk about it. 

What I’m reading right now…The First Bad Man by Miranda July

I’m saying nada because I’m about three and a half pages in but it’s pretty unique already and it’s come highly recommended so that’s enough for me for now. Watch this space.

Next on the list for me… A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler and Hot Feminist by Polly Vernon. So all in all – girl power much!? Any recommendations swing ’em my way please.

HAPPY READING. KEEP WARM. Love xxxxxx

Home, Humour, Lifestyle, London, Mental Health

Anxiety Remedies from A to Z.

Hi friends. You’ll never guess what I got given this weekend?

(Unless I’ve told you in person.)

A cup of tea “with added perspective.” Actual bottled perspective. In my tea. Such is this modern world. It was after the best only vegan massage of my life, so for anyone who cares, liquid perspective is definitely plant-based. 

Now I love tea, and inhaling bath bombs for well over an hour had left me parched, so I downed it in one. And I like to think that the absorption of liquid perspective into my gut is the reason I suddenly feel so inspired to alphabetise my favourite anxiety remedies.

It will either be really helpful or really wanky but what else is one supposed to do with an English degree?

For anyone who has stumbled upon this blog for the first time, alongside documenting the everyday chaos of being a twenty-something chasing big dreams in shoes that don’t fit, I sometimes travel into the pretty lush territory of living with anxiety. The funny and relatable bits of incessant hypochondria and perpetual butterflies. To demystify mental health and get it all out of my head and onto paper. 

Right now I’m prettyyy good. If you don’t count the day I actually cried over spilt milk and the fact that my skin is so bad I could weep. When will the day come that I’m not queueing in line with people still worrying about their Year 9 Sats to try the new Freederm range? I feel relaxed, on top of things, happy, and less fluttery than usual.

Because, perspective…

So I thought, while I’ve got all this rationale in my digestive system, I would make a list of what gets me out of a funk, in the hope it might help anyone else desperate to be a superhero but constantly tripping up on their cape. My anxiety alphabet is a combination of things to build into an everyday routine to try and maintain a more positive outlook, as well as those in-case-of-emergency spoonfuls of sugar. Remedies for the symptoms rather than the causes but every little helps and this girl don’t have time to dig that deep today.  So without further ado…

A is for… Air

I’m talking fresh air, oxygen, space. Venturing outside, preferably with all the trees, a beach and at least one animal to rescue. Getting away from the panic zone, realising the world ain’t going anywhere, and putting one foot in front of the other until you’re back on track. 

Breathe 

Slowly realising the first two on my list make it look like I’m writing a First Aid training manual. Totally feel like I’m in Casualty. Anyway. Integrating deep breathing into your daily routine, and not just when you’re feeling overwhelmed, is vital. Your brain the oxygen and it’s a good excuse to play sleeping lions IMO.

Cleanse

Clean clothes, clean sheets, clean skin. However wanky it sounds, it’s a simple and effective way to calm the hell down. Also easy to build into a routine and good for the soul innit – dare you to put on some whalesong at the same time. Feed back and tell me if it’s too much. 

Distractions

Anything to get you out of your own head and doing something that isn’t beating yourself up (or googling symptoms.) This might be cooking if you’re not me and regularly burning water or playing the piano… For me right now it’s getting competitive on my boyfriend’s playstation. It feels good when the biggest thing you’re worrying about in the evening is capturing an escape pod on Battlefront. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say. 

Exercise 

I’m very rubbish at exercising frequently. I struggle to run unless someone’s legged it with my Krispy Kremes and I’m pretty sure Pilates gave me a hernia. But there’s literally nada better for raising your endorphins, Lena Dunham swears by it and she is the gospel, and it sure as heck feels good when you get your donuts back AND look 0.5% more like Jessica Ennis.

Friends: your Anxieteam.

The people who will listen to you and get you through it. Because you’re never alone. I overshare because I lack a filter but my goodness I’m so grateful for the people who at a moment’s notice will sit on Skype and feel their boobs to assure me I’m normal. Find an Anxieteam and create an emergency WhatsApp group who’ve got your back. 

Gratefulness

Feeling lucky can often be enough to snap you out of the blues. Even if it’s sitting in bed with a hot chocolate at the end of the day and being grateful you didn’t burn your tongue on it (just me?), jotting down in a notepad the good things in your life is grounding and builds a positive state of mind.  

Hot drinks

My mum taught me that at times of real stress, sipping a hot drink is distracting and calming. She is bang on and this is one of my ultimate faves. It also completely justifies stocking up on Teapigs.

Ink

Writing. It. Down. It’s not for everyone but materialising worries makes me rationalise them, break them down, see them for what they are. Which is mostly my imagination. Which one should reserve for Antonio Banderas fantasies and nothing else. 

Joy 

Being happy about the little things in your life. It lifts your mood, your perspective, your values. Also finding things you are happy with about yourself. I’m guilty of placing more value on Tupperware than my own brain and I’m working on being happier with who I am, even if that means accepting I may always gag on my toothbrush. 

Kindness

Be kind to yourself. We all have that little voice in the back of our heads, more poisonous than the primary school bully who stole your gel pens. Time to be a bit nicer to ourselves. Having anxiety does not make you weak or stupid. It makes you brave, strong, unique. Remember you did good today going underground/having that blood test/doing that presentation. Time to toast yourself with some wine and wotsits. 

Laughter

Laughing is the best. I started listening to the My Dad Wrote A Porno podcast and it is the most hilarious remedy ever. Twenty eight minutes in and I nearly weed myself on the tube three times yesterday. Someone needs to tell Mary Poppins that an adult analysing his dad’s erotica is without a doubt the sugar of the twenty-first century. 

Mindfulness

Not gonna lie. Still haven’t quite got the hang of this because if I focus on the present I mostly see pigeons, chewing gum and recycling bins. However I do try and be mindful in the shower (when I’m not checking myself for all forms of cancer or pulling hair out the plughole). To train my brain to focus instead of wander. I’m including this as motivation more than anything. Perhaps motivation should have been my M word. Hm. 

No 

It’s okay to say no sometimes. Put yourself first. A lot of anxiety comes from the pressure of not letting anyone else down, worrying what people think, committing to too much, piling on the pressure. It’s okay to say no to drinks one night and just go home and order Dominoes. As long as you order extra garlic bread. 

Own it 

For me, realising I’m having a bit of a crazy anxious moment is the first step to sorting it out. So owning anxiety and then learning how to handle it makes you feel a whole lot better about progress. It’s very difficult to treat when you’re in denial but easy to get help if you recognise it, and definitely, definitely, not something to be ashamed of. Own it gal, wear it like Louboutins and it won’t trip you up. Unless you suck at heels. Then own it like Uggs. 

Projects

Motivation. Creativity. Something to take pride in. That’s yours. Whether it’s colouring or couch to 5k, if you have something on the go it builds your confidence, helps you discover a new side of yourself, gets you out of your own head, introduces you to new people, and makes you happy. Writing this blog has become the best downtime activity I could have wished for with the exception of caramel nibbles and Twitter stalking. 

Questions 

I worry about irrational things, like  having cancer, or constantly losing my phone/purse/mind. Treating this rationally helps to separate the logic from the fantasy, to conquer them. Useful questions: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” “How likely is that?” “What can you do to make you feel better?”

Room 

Make room for anxiety in your life. It’s probably not going anywhere anytime soon so just shift a bit of space around to accommodate it. The less unwelcome it feels the less intimidating is and the more manageable. Secondly find a room, somewhere, that makes you feel happy, comforted, and anxiety-free. Mine is my lounge. It’s full of candles (I’m so bloody middle-aged) and there are Nobbly Bobblies in the freezer RIGHT. THERE.

Smells 

I’m a bit obsessed with nice smells at the moment. Aforementioned candles. Also linen spray. They are very comforting and oh my god I’ve turned into my grandma. Abort. Abort. 

Treats

Treat yourself gang! The other night I rang my mum upset because I was worried and beating myself up for not feeling better after a doctors appointment and basically drowning in despair. Good old madre told me to go to sleep then wake up and treat myself to something the next day because, yes, I’d been putting up with a lot of shit, in my body and in my head, and I deserved a break. As a culture we probably don’t do this enough. It’s about working the hardest and competing to be the most exhausted or stressed. This is not cool. Living in London is lameeee sometimes. So’s being a girl/being 25/paying rent. Time for some rewards just because. Who’s with me?

U-turn

I was going to say underwear as it sounds all sassy and life-changey but when I’m anxious I can forget to put underwear on so it’s not really a thing for me. My U-turn is recognising something that’s making you miserable and instead of just putting up with it, side-stepping the hell away and changing your life for the better. I ran away from real life this time last year and flew to Australia and it was the best decision I could have made. 

Variation 

Now don’t get me wrong – I love a routine. But I also get alllll the fear if my life starts to feel too mundane. So mix it up a little so you don’t feel trapped. That could be switching up your packed lunch or doing stand up comedy. Either way it’s exciting, it’s plucky, and at the very least people around you will get crudite envy. 

Water

It’s good for everything. It should be on every list. There is nothing better beginning with W except maybe ‘wishes that come true’ and ‘wizards’ but neither of those exist in our world. So water, water, water. 

X-tremes 

Pushing yourself towards the healthy kind of adrenaline rather than the adrenaline that wakes you up in the morning with all the fear. It’s realising you can do anything if you put your mind to it. For me this was climbing a mountain and riding a rollercoaster with a loop in the same week. Neither of which I thought I could do. Literally rock and roll. But it could be smaller – like jumping into a swimming pool, dancing in the rain or trying olives. 

You

You got this. Be proud of who you are. Anxiety doesn’t define you and won’t stop you doing anything. It’s just finding the path that’s right for you to do it your way. 

Zzzz…

Total cheat but Z is for sleep. Sleep’s a tricky one as sometimes stress and anxiety = hello insomnia. But I still live by the rule that everything feels better in the morning (except pizza digestion). Starting a new day afresh is the way. 

Thanks for reading mes amies xxx xxx

Graduates, Home, Humour, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

A birthday special

Sometimes life goes so fast I just want to lie down in the middle of Patisserie Valerie and have the staff smother me in that cake with all the profiteroles until I feel like I’ve got a better grip on all my senses. You get me?

My little blog is one whole year old. I’m expecting Hagrid to come crashing through my door any minute with a cake. 

Firstly I can’t explain well enough just how much I love spilling my heart and fears and puzzles and dignity on the internet so thank you so so much for sticking with me/reading/sharing/just making the commitment. Tying in nicely with the birthday week I have a brand new, positively gorgeous laptop. It feels so good to type on something that isn’t a fire hazard with more viruses than a sexual health clinic. 

The last year for me was the most shambolic, topsy turvy, all over the place twelve months since the year I tried to learn how to tap dance and the best thing about experiencing alllll the chaos has definitely been oversharing it online. 

Actually, one year on, I’m more baffled by life as a twenty-something than ever before, but I’ve never been happier about it. I’m learning to love the dilemmas. Realising you live in a world where vegan soap exists, planes disappear into thin air, Hogwarts letters are lost, and contouring is now a thing on your face, not just Ordnance Survey maps, means you stop hyperventilating at everything and realise life is a) pretty funny b) just fine. 

In the last year I’ve discovered real life is a bit like Chemistry GCSE. It’s confusing and you might get burned but we’re all going through it together just with quinoa instead of goggles. Blog-wise I’ve learned that everyone also secretly loves a bit of catastrophe and TMI, because bonding. It still comes as a surprise to me but the most popular posts I’ve written are the ones about periods, sore boobs, anxiety faves and hormones on holiday. Apparently the world (aka my Facebook) likes all the gore that comes with being a girl with skewed hormones and no filter. And boy do I love that. 

Because I’m on the subject of birthdays I started reminiscing about some of my birthday faves, nightmares, hilarities from my last twenty five years on this planet. (Because I’ve literally got nothing better to do while I wait for Hagrid, okay?) After all it was the prospect of turning 25 that inspired me to start writing down all the tragicomedy of being a twenty-something. 

Over a decade ago (FML), on my fourteenth birthday, I was on holiday in Italy with my family. I was feeling fly because I had a sweet little suntan ready for school, pretty rad braids obvs and had made friends with a strange German girl who I was hoping to take home with me. 

Then I walked out into the middle of the road with my mum and my littlest brother and us two siblings got hit by a motorbike. Turns out this dude had just got out of a coma after hitting a lorry. What a muggle. 

The first thing I remember is him offering me a cigarette (yup) and the second thing I remember is the Italian medic equivalent of Josh Hartnett arriving on a moped, whipping off his fluorescent helmet to reveal a bandana, and taking me to hospital. Apparently I told my dad I was in love and that’s how he knew I wasn’t going to die. 

Later, this paramedic found me in the hospital and sang happy birthday to me and it went from being the worst birthday ever to the best birthday any (pretty minging even when they haven’t just been run over) teenager could have wished for. 

I still class him as my first serious boyfriend.

‘Cause birthdays are at risk of being traumatic at any age, even when you’re not face to face with tarmac, right? The birthday bumps at school were positively punitive. Then again so’s turning 21, forgetting to eat dinner, being sick on someone’s shoes in a club and pouring a pint of water down yourself “as a disguise.”

There are highs and lows even when you’re not turning a quarter of a century old. 

And especially when you end up in Benidorm.

Ironically despite milking turning 25 for writing material  for months and months I didn’t actually end up celebrating it. Instead I went to a wedding, ate two hog roasts and experimented with multiple ways to keep a stick-on bra stuck on. 

Which I think is pretty civilised. I’ve come a long way. 

Seriously though, more like “falls-off-after-one-round-of-macarena-bra.”

So 24dilemmas is one year older. Hagrid’s not here yet, for those of you who were wondering.

I feel like a new mother except I’m not lactating. I really hope I’ve got my hair cut by the time it’s two. I keep putting it off and it’s been like 10 months and my split ends are so bad now I look like I’ve touched a live wire. 

You know what, though, I’m pretty excited for what’s to come. When I’m not biting my nails or finding croissant crumbs in my scarf I’m dreaming up ideas of what to do next. So thanks for reading and please don’t stop because it’s important I look witty and not on the verge of a breakdown.

ALL the love and au revoir xxxxx 

Beauty, Books, Home, Humour, Lifestyle, Literature, London, Mental Health

Autumn Feels

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Autumn is everything I love in life. It’s romantic in the purest sense, every heap of crunchy leaves inviting you to roll in it and invite a chiselled dog-walker to make out with you. It’s refreshing; the air is clean whether it’s wet or dry, the sweaty, sticky summer is swept away under a carpet of leafy goodness, the sun either warming you in a breeze and injecting life into your cheeks without the threat of melanoma or glowing all night while you carve the shit out of a pumpkin. It’s eventful, because people have stopped fucking off on summer holidays and are actually around to hang out. It’s by far the best season, with all the greatness of Christmas without the threat of January looming, fireworks are thrown in for good measure, and it’s not just dogs looking super cute in their little woolly jackets; this week alone I’ve seen a smoothie, a cactus and a traffic cone in knitwear.

Obviously I’m a realist and not oblivious to the issues Autumn throws up in all its glory but I am nevertheless determined to smash through the season with style. By style, I should clarify, this is no sugar-coated guide to golden eyes and berry lips. I’m talking about how to rock laddered tights when you catch them on a lone cactus that has seemingly penetrated its outer woolly layer, which foods truly necessitate bingeing all season, and, obviously, how to strut while you chafe. So, without further ado…

For me the lead into winter is all about snuggling up with a hot chocolate under a duvet and reading to my heart’s content. It’s also about trying to manage being slightly allergic to knitwear, needing excessive amounts of lip balm and coping with extreme welly envy. But that, if anything, is even more of a reason to cosy up with a good book. I’m crushing on gorgeously witty women non-stop these days; I finished Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind Of Girl on the train this morning and miss it already. She’s a superhero writing for the generation. I may even love her more than Autumn.

Next love; big scarves. I’m talking duvet-size, emergency circus tent numbers. These scarves invite cuddles but also crumbs so take care eating croissants. I like to hide behind my scarf a lot. I don’t really do “fashion”, I’m allergic to knitwear and making decisions, my hair clashes with most colours except the colour of darkness, and my body temperature is incredibly unreliable so I have difficulty dealing with layers. So for anyone else who is fashion shy, living with high-maintenance hair, painting in the holes in your tights with black nail varnish, or has difficulty pulling off anything other than a sheep onesie or a sleeping bag, the giant scarf canopy is for you. If you’re lucky, like me, your super stylish best friend will buy you one that also doubles as a cape so you feel extra invincible in all weathers.

Which leads nicely onto playing outside YAY. I spent Sunday with my favourite adventure team going to Christmas Tree Farm in Kent, falling in love with cows, feeding baby goats, getting muddy. However, this change in weather can result in feeling a bit LIKE DEATH from time to time, Albas Oil is suddenly your scent of choice and your dental hygiene goes down the drain because keeping your mouth open long enough to flush makes you choke and maybe die. So it’s the perfect time to become an expert in the kitchen and dose up on veggies, splurge on all the new hot drinks flavours at the coffee shop, pretend to be interested in candles, snuggle further down into that duvet, and get addicted to a new Netflix series until you adjust to the arctic feels.

I think Autumn means so much to me right now because London life’s been a bit up and down recently. I’ve started a new job and moved house in quick succession, I now live with a BOY, I really need a haircut, I haven’t seen a Mary-Kate and Ashley film since forever, I’m in a complicated relationship with all of my underwear, the list goes on. So in order to stop thinking about micropigs, breast cancer, food, lack of sleep, life decisions and spending too much time trying to find a Buzzfeed quiz that doesn’t tell me I’ve got the personality and life achievements of a warm-hearted 17-year old, I’ve been avidly searching for happy things. Like this cow:


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And it’s totally paid off. I’ve fallen in love, despite still hating all my bras and having all the split-ends. So hi Autumn, thanks for having me, you da bomb.

PS.

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fitness, Health, Humour, Lifestyle, Mental Health

Over the moon.

Last week, in all its reflective glory, the moon made my days and nights the absolute opposite of fun.

I couldn’t sleep, for one thing. Light was streaming through my bedroom window, an emblem of my dysfunction. I wouldn’t have felt so bad about it if I’d at least had some warning, so I could use my newfound talent for being wide awake all night in a useful way, like being a superhero. But I checked, and there was no bat in the sky. I was not Batman. I was wide awake. And I stubbed my toe.

On top of the insomnia, everyone and everything upset me. I felt disconcertingly sad, lonely, anxious, paranoid. I was going into what I like to call my extreme worrying mode – I realised I was spiralling out of control a bit because my hair wouldn’t straighten and I kept gagging on my toothbrush. Friends told me the moon was to blame; it was full, it was present, it was manipulating us all.

Really though, the main reason that I was so madly upset, at the moon, my hair, everything, last week was because my period was three weeks late. I will never stop marvelling at the magical power wombs have to change the way you view the world.

Sorry, by the way, if this is too much information, but it’s good to talk, you know, and I imagine my hormones are still a bit askew and also, I don’t care.

This joyful delay, the kind that puts Southeastern Railways to shame, has never happened to me before. So obviously I was on high alert. You see, I have to think very carefully about bringing children into this world because it takes an awful lot of responsibility to get a child with my hair through school safely. So I spent a week taking pregnancy tests every other day, falling apart with worry and reconsidering all my life choices.

I’m definitely not pregnant. It turns out any combination of anxiety, stress, the bloody moon, lack of routine, and potentially even exercise, could have been the reason why it was so excessively late. It was unbelievably stressful. I have slowly begun to relax. I can just about look my boyfriend in the eye. Not because I blame him for the pregnancy scare. It’s just his first ever word was ‘moon’ so he was never going to be on my side.

I had to be really on it last week, for two different jobs, rehearsals, a photo shoot, several late nights and more than several occasions where I had to very much be there for other people. It was tiring and I felt like I was unravelling whilst trying to so hard to keep myself together. That sounds very over-dramatic (if anyone wants to make the feature film, please email me with a copy of your CV and your favourite flavour of crisps).

I was also skipping a week of CBT for work so I felt like I was working really hard by myself at being happy and functional – it was really important to me that I didn’t let anxiety win, period or no period. This was beyond difficult, because if I wasn’t lying awake at night worrying about carrying a child, I was convincing myself it was a sign of multiple tumours, or the beginning of my entire reproductive system shutting down.

BUT…I totally got through it. I literally forced myself to think happy, act happy, be happy. I stumbled a lot (I cried when my hair dryer made me too hot. Again – please think twice before bringing a child with too much hair into this world) but I went to sleep on Sunday night happy and grateful. So I wanted to share how I got from Monday to Sunday last week and ended it with a smile.

I struggle with anxiety big time in the mornings, even when I’m not weeing on a stick. So for anyone else who struggles here are some of the ways I’ve managed to switch up my morning routine a bit and started my day with a smile, rather than absolute fear, waking on the sunny side… like a perfect egg.

Happy Time.

It’s a shower gel. Not masturbation. I’ve always showered at night but it’s really helped switching my routine up by jumping in the shower first thing instead. I like to think I have the happiest shower gel ever. It’s Nivea, it’s called Happy Time, it’s cheap and cheerful if you’re poor and work in the arts like me, it’s my little citrus miracle worker. It smells like orange starburst and I genuinely get excited about washing now. You are very welcome.

Breakfast.

I’m a breakfast girl anyway, but part of all the mindfulness I’m being told to exercise, is concentrating on enjoying every moment of my day in its present form. I’ll be honest, right now I’m averaging two breakfasts per day all in the name of happiness but it’s hakuna matata in a bowl, so sod it. What I’m really going to say is – eat, something, anything. Vitamins, endorphins galore, look after yourself.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S

I tell you, this show is genuinely a part of my soul. If ever I’m stuck inside my own head, which I am most days at 7am, I’ve found one utterly consistent way of breaking out of my mind and laughing. I’m distracted, I’m positive, I’m happy. If you can find something that does the same for you, it really works wonders.

Fresh air.

I am positively rubbish at dragging myself out for a run in the morning because my runs are usually motivated by chasing an ice cream van. Every time I do, though, I feel a million times better and can actually justify two breakfasts. So mega snaps to you if you manage it. If not, taking even five minutes of fresh air before my day properly begins clears my head, freshens my senses and reminds me of the bigger picture. Walking over bridges or anywhere with trees hits the spot.

That’s it for now. I have overshared to excess and I really need to go and at least try to brave the hair dryer again. I wish happy days to each and everyone one of you! Thank you for reading 🙂 x

Photo credit: Paperchase