Home, Lifestyle, Mental Health

World Mental Health Day: Living the (anxiety) dream.

Today is World Mental Health Day. This week I have had approximately seven anxiety dreams. And it’s only Wednesday. The irony has not escaped me.

Today is World Mental Health Day. This week I’m running a half marathon for probably the country’s most well-known mental health charity, MIND, and I’m currently the most anxious I’ve been in months. The irony has not only not escaped me but is enveloping me, like an invisibility cloak, but the cloak has a face, with a raised eyebrow, and its own personality, laughing contentedly at my misfortune. Basically it’s not an invisibility cloak, it’s the Sorting Hat. Thanks for bearing with me on that one.

In the first dream tarantulas appeared on my body; some kind of torturous manifestation of stress. They felt like dish scourers and were the size of side plates and before you ask, no, I have no idea why the tarantulas are all kitchen-themed. I could feel them under my feet, my back, beneath my hair line and the more I grabbed them by my hands and chucked them out the window the more they attached themselves to me, like Velcro, or a bad reputation.

Do I think it’s a coincidence this dream happened in September, aka spider season? No. Do I think it’s a coincidence this dream happened the night I washed my hair and left it in a scrunchy so that loose strands kept sticking to my back, my arms, my neck in an uncannily spider-like way? No. Do I think it’s a coincidence this dream – and the others, if only I had time to tell you about the scotch egg one – is happening at a time I’m busy, run-down and at risk of imploding? To quote the chef in The Little Mermaid, Non, non, non, mes poissons.

The problem with anxiety is just because I’ve got better at controlling it doesn’t mean it’s gone away. Actually, the older I get (at the wizened age of 28) the more I’m becoming convinced it’s just changed form.

I used to experience random, generalised, unpredictable bouts of fear and dread – sat in a hairdresser’s chair convinced they’d find some kind of cancer when giving me the special leave-in shampoo treatment (as if I’ve ever been able to afford the special leave-in shampoo treatment, they were just brushing it). Panic attacks working front of house for no reason (not even the time there was a terror threat and I was the one on cloakroom looking for potential bombs in suitcases and Harrods bags – that would be far too understandable). Filling up the car at the petrol station, sitting in the cinema, answering anonymous phone calls, walking to work, in the shower, in the supermarket – all-consuming, impossibly hard to recognise and even harder to solve.

I am in a position now where a lot of the time I can recognise the symptoms and solve them before it’s an issue. Go me. I spent the money I saved on special leave-in shampoo on some special leave-in psychoanalysis and counselling and worked out why my brain is the way it is. I can drive by myself now, I don’t freak out at the hairdressers anymore, I can even feel up my boobs in the shower without giving myself a death sentence. I understand the way my brain works and know when it’s misbehaving. I know when it’s a bad time for me to think about googling symptoms, I know when I need to get some fresh air and go on a run, I know when I need to sleep or eat or cry. I’m more honest with myself about when I’m struggling and spend more time saying no, looking after myself, and talking out loud.

I’m a way happier, calmer person for like 80% of the time. Now triggers for me are more circumstantial and less frequent but when they do happen they’re equally debilitating. I get anxious if I’m bored or unsatisfied or in limbo and I get anxious if I’m too busy and over-worked and burning out. What a conundrum. Working in the creative industries is a path I’ve chosen, not one I’ve been thrown into, and it’s an industry of extremes, so it’s my responsibility to get the balance right and most of the time I do. I might be working on a million projects alongside a full-time job but I still find time to eat carbs and watch Killing Eve and exercise and step on crunchy leaves so I stay sane. I’m happiest when I’m in control – whether that’s bulk-cooking vegetarian chilli or planning my week meticulously in my diary, mapping out evenings to exercise or to just lie down and contemplate the universe.

That other 20% though. That’s the mind number. It just seeps out, sometimes, seemingly, as a tarantula dream, and sometimes as disrupted sleep, butterflies, chewing the inside of my mouth, IBS, getting a cold, losing my voice, feeling exhausted, not being able to make decisions, procrastinating, crying or wanting to cry for no reason, nerves, nausea and general blues. All the shades of blue – the colour of the sea in Cornwall that one day of the year it isn’t grey, Daniel Craig’s eyes, the sky, the Microsoft word logo. You get where I’m at. And that’s what today is like. Ye olde Mental Health Awareness Day.

It’s no wonder, really, because after a summer of waiting for things to materialise now, on top of my actual job, I’ve got to finish one play in the next month, another by the end of the year, am performing every week, rehearsing every other, doing a live podcast in ten days and I can feel myself getting ill and it’s supposed to rain on Sunday and I have to run 13.1 miles. WHAT. At this point it’s highly likely I’m going to forget I’m getting married next year too. Someone remind me nearer the time.

However. I’m very much living the dream, not the nightmare. I’m going to be fine. I am alive. I am lucky. I have people around me who I can talk to. I have a job. I have really comfy pillows. I have time. Time to run. Time to chase a dream. Time to eat. Time to laugh. Time to make mistakes. Time to crash and burn. Time to heal. Time to work out what I’m doing and who I want to be.

Here are the little things I’ve done today and last week and the week before when I felt myself tearing up and feeling breathless, just in case it helps: I told someone. A problem shared and so on. I treated myself (to an over-priced, bad-for-the-planet, orange and cayenne pepper shot from Pret – don’t shoot me). I trod on some leaves in the park in the sun. I made a gratefulness list. I did some stretches in my bedroom (where I realised my carpet will never be free of my hair). I helped someone out. I gave myself a break.

Every day is mental health day – this one just gets special attention because we all love a hash tag. I didn’t write this blog to plug my FUNDRAISING PAGE – I wrote it because I felt like I had to. But if you’ve made it to the end then can forgive me for shoving it in your face. I’ve spent the last however many weeks and months training to run my first ever half marathon and it’s all for MIND. I’m about sixty quid away from doubling my target and raising £1000. Even a fiver means the world. Thank you – take care, talk to someone, check up on your friends and family, and get out on those leaves before they go soggy.

 

 

Health, Home, Humour, Lifestyle, Mental Health

Roundabouts.

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Sometimes I think I’m in control of my life. I look at my impressive selection of Tupperware. I regularly buy courgettes. I think about insurance from time to time. And often I feel in control of my life when I’m driving, even if it’s just to the local swimming pool. I feel content, have a purpose. To be honest, I probably enjoy any mode of transport that isn’t the tube, but cars are the best. I can play music out loud, fill the passenger seat with snacks, feel the sun on my right arm and hope I get a lopsided tan.

It must be something to do with the fact I’ve made life decisions that mean I lack stability and a sense of direction in a general way. Sometimes, genuinely, I feel like I’m more likely to win an international snooker championship than ever actually write for a living. Sometimes I’m okay with that. Sometimes I feel happy in the decision I’ve made to chase a seemingly impossible dream and never pay off my student loan. And then other times, I pretend I’m fine and then I have a breakdown at a roundabout for no apparent reason, in the vehicle that’s supposed to represent me at my most sane (a Daihatsu Charade), and realise it’s all got a bit too much.

Recently I lost the plot at a roundabout and realised I’m not superwoman. And I learned that the biggest risk behind being in denial is finding yourself crying in a farm shop car park on the phone to your dad on a Saturday morning. I should have realised, by the level of anxiety the thought of filling my car up at the petrol station on the motorway was causing me, that I wasn’t in a good frame of mind. I should have known, from the fact I woke up, wondered why Ed hadn’t texted me from Scotland to say good night, assumed he’d died and started planning his funeral, that perhaps I wasn’t in the most balanced of moods. Nevertheless, I persisted, and it didn’t go so well.

Of course I’m no longer at the roundabout now, because I drove home, made a cup of tea and called it a day, but I am at a roundabout, permanently it feels, going round in circles, and I don’t know which way to go. I’ve talked before about coming out the other side of a battle with anxiety, dosed up on therapy and ready to rock the universe. And to a degree this is true – most of the time I’m much better than I was before. But right now, it’s not as good as it could be. Part of me wonders if it’s ironic, a twist of fate at work, because in a moment of ambition I signed up for a half marathon to fundraise for Mind UK, and since deciding to try and run 21 kilometres through the city of London in the name of the country’s biggest mental health charity my anxiety has gone through the roof.

One of the most frustrating triggers is a sense of restlessness, boredom or loneliness. It makes me feel like a failure, it makes me panic, it makes me cry. It’s why I don’t spend much time alone in my house. I see plays. I do classes. I run around the park. I see friends. I fill my time with work. But this is complicated because another trigger is exhaustion, doing too much and high levels of stress, and so I often find myself trying to find a balance between doing too much and doing too little. I suppose this is the reason why I seem to have developed a perpetual fear of making decisions and a rather debilitating sense of potential regret or guilt. I’m constantly over-thinking what I should and shouldn’t do, with my day, with my job, with my life.

I’ve become slightly allergic to people asking me ‘How I am’ and ‘How things are going.’ Something bottles up inside me. Genuinely, I have no words, and this is a scary thing for someone who enjoys words. Succulent. Discombobulated. Refrigerator. I feel like I have nothing to say – or that if I did start to actually try and describe how I feel it would be extremely inappropriate in the theatre green room, or during a smear test. But that’s why I have a blog – to open a lid on things unspoken. The other day on Twitter I saw the description for the 19th century equivalent of “meh”; “flobly-mobly,” which means somewhere between well and not-well, and in need of sunshine.

I am extremely flobly-mobly right now.

I really hoped that I could start referring to ‘my anxiety’ as just ‘anxiety’ – something separate from myself, like ‘crunchy nut cornflakes’ and ‘nuclear war’ but I can’t, because it’s a part of me, like my ability to play on words, and my hair. And just like my hair, sometimes my brain behaves, and sometimes it gets a bit frazzled. My anxiety means I spend a lot of time thinking about cancer. It means stomach butterflies. IBS. Chewing the inside of my mouth every day. Not picking up the phone to unknown numbers. Thinking about getting home before I’ve even gone out. Fearing decision making. Intrusive thoughts. Thinking about cancer some more. Restless nights. Palpitations. Distraction. Procrastination. Dread.

However…

My anxiety makes me a caring person. Empathetic. Forward-thinking. Organised. A good party planner (even if once everyone arrives and has a great time I go upstairs to bed). Without anxiety I doubt I’d have acquired my sense of humour. My cynicism. To be honest, I doubt I’d have such good Tupperware, because I’d probably just chill out about routine and money and just buy lunch out more often. My anxiety makes me hungry – for success, for fulfilment, for crème eggs when I’m feeling really low. My anxiety makes me me – a Wednesday’s child, a good friend, a funny person, a writer.

It’s 6.50am. I set my alarm to go on a morning run.* I’m trying to break through this distaste I have for running first thing in the morning. I once had a terrible experience involving a Park run and hay fever and it put me off. But most half marathons seem to be at the crack of dawn, so I need to somehow get through it. I’m in bed, having a cup of tea, waking up, writing, and then I’ll leave the house. It’s sunny outside. This week, I’m doing me. I’m doing the things that make me happy, and giving myself a pat on the back for just getting through it. Often I fall into the trap of thinking anxiety is a weakness, a failure, a system breakdown of sorts. What I forget when I’m panicking, and remember when I’m calm, is that it makes you strong. It’s not easy getting up and going to work on an average day, let alone when your brain has spent all night telling you you probably have HIV. Sometimes it’s really hard just to get on the damn train.

I am lucky. I live in a world where we are beginning to talk about mental health openly. The sun is shining outside. I have a support system. Freak shakes exist. This is a reminder to myself that I need to get back to operating on a scale of gratefulness, love and joy, and not a scale of fear, pressure and guilt. I’m running this damn half marathon whether I like it or not, and I’m running it for brains, and health, and honesty. So you can expect some more from me on this topic. I’ve shut it off for a while, because sometimes it’s quite nice to think you’re chill all the time and crack on like a normal person. But the door’s wide open again. Because I’m hardly normal. I have two pet sharks. And normal is boring.

*I wrote this blog post yesterday and forgot to post it. I’m not going on a run this morning. I have an 8.30am hospital appointment for a colposcopy. The third year in a row that my smear test has come back abnormal (told you I wasn’t normal.) Don’t want to sound like a preacher’s daughter, but go get your vaginas looked at, mates. It’s not the most fun I have on an annual basis but I’d rather this than, you know, my vagina falling out or something. Book. Your. Smears.

 

 

 

Home, Humour, Lifestyle, London, Mental Health

This Valentine’s Day, I choose me.   

As I write this, it’s Sunday and I’m in a strange place. It feels familiar – but like I might not have been there for a long time. It’s warm. I’m under a blanket. I have a mug of Gingerbread Green Tea next to me which makes me a wanker but a happy one because it’s delicious. I’m watching Julie and Julia and wishing with all my heart that Nora Ephron was still alive to write parts for women like this. I’m looking at Airbnbs and one of them has a pet pig and I might have to move in there. It’s cosy. It’s dark outside. I’m alone.

I’m on the sofa.

Guys, seriously. I’m on the actual sofa. Chilling the fuck out. What happened to me?

Is this… is this self-care?

Let’s rewind.

2018 has not got off to the start I was hoping for. Nothing terrible has happened. There are a lot of things to be happy about. I have a job. I have two sharks. I can afford to buy Eat Natural bars. But I’ve not been that happy.

If we can take a moment to remember Anastasia and her famous words, I’m sick and tired, of always being sick and tired. Where are you now girl?

If we want to be specific, lyrically and contextually Anastasia is talking about how sick and tired she is of her boyfriend being a dickhead. Not a great Valentine theme. Eduardo – “my man” – if I dare to claim him, is pretty much my only constant source of inner peace at the moment and that’s not even an innuendo.

Nevertheless, I’ve spent most of this year feeling sick and tired. And I’ve decided enough’s enough. That shit’s gotta change. Which is why it’s pretty monumental that I’m chilling my beans on a corner sofa right now.

There are a lot of great things about working in the arts. You can wear what you like. (Most) people have great personalities. Every now and then you meet Sharon Horgan (yeah I had to bring that up again.) But there’s also a lot of stress. It might be stress about your bank balance. The late nights. The competition. (The sexual harassment and abuses of power.) Or the fact that everyone in the industry seems to have the most perfectly white teeth and by comparison you think your teeth look like you’ve been smoking 40 a day even though the only thing you’ve ever smoked is a sherbet dip dap by accident.

To give you an idea of where I’m at, in the last six days, on top of a job that takes me out the house from 8.30am – 7.30pm, I did a live podcast recording, finished a draft of my new play, rehearsed my current play, started to read a book to report on for a film company because I need the extra £££, sent off a bunch of press and industry emails every day to try and get them to see my show AND had to maintain appearances of sanity and fun and energy and coolness on all social media channels so, you know, people still like me and come to my play. It’s lucky Ed was working away because seeing my boyfriend on top of that, as well as my friends, speaking to my family, cooking meals with vegetables in, not spending too much money and doing the occasional bit of exercise, was IMPOSSIBLE.

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I mean, don’t get me wrong, seeing our faces and names on a wall makes it ALL worth it.

It’s no surprise, really, despite eating a lot of tomatoes and Berocca and walking to work every day and trying to avoid the underground if possible, that this January I got the flu. And I got sad. And I felt guilty. And it took some wise words from my friend, that I don’t live in a war zone and I have all my limbs, to give me some perspective.

Because I’ve been doing it all wrong. I need to stop saying “I’m really busy, or ill, or tired” out loud or I’ll just let it happen and do nothing about it. My life does not have to be this way but I have made a decision to want it all – all by myself like a grown up (although to be honest – I don’t think I’ll ever feel like a grown-up until I can use the word smorgasbord in a sentence). If I just stuck to having a day job and a social life I would have – in many respects – an absolutely banging life. It could be enough. I could buy WAY MORE than just Eat Natural bars. Everything would continue just fine without me.

So I’ve decided it’s time for me to start having fun again. Because if I’m eternally miserable chasing a dream I should just go and get a well-paid job in the city and start spending lots of dollar in Cos, or something, whatever those people do.

Two weeks ago I went down to four days at work. It’s a horizontal step. My bank balance is frowning, but my soul is happier. I have time… time to dedicate to my own projects without it eking into my weekend so much. Time and breathing space. A little bit of risk and a little bit of pressure to keep me inspired.

I’ve changed my commute – I leave five minutes earlier so I can avoid going underground in the mornings, stay sane, look at the sky and get some work done on one train with a seat without having to get off at Victoria station which I have to say I find more traumatic than the end of The Notebook.

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Anyone else think King’s Cross is a total megababe?

And I have a new resolution. FAKE IT UNTIL I MAKE IT: to be positive, to work hard and to chill the feck out in equal measure.

I will no longer be that person who says “I’m busy, or tired, or stressed, or down” when someone asks how I am. From now on I will say “I’m good, I’m working hard, I’m hungry” (because, sadly, that I always am.) So this Valentine’s Day I’m making an online promise to love myself (not that way) that little bit more. To stop comparing myself to others, or beating myself up for not making it yet, or overdoing it. I’m going to drink more tea, sit on the sofa more, get outside for some fresh air, and floss. Because no matter what, we should always floss.

If you’d like to come and see my show SPLIT, co-written and performed with the brilliant comedian Tamar Broadbent, you can do so HERE. Use the code BESTFRIEND for £5 tickets – it runs from 28 Feb – 04 March 6.15pm as part of Vault Festival. 

 

Home, Humour, Lifestyle

Why I’ve stopped waiting for the next big thing.

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Um… anyone seen my future?

This summer I experienced (or survived) my first wedding season. It was a whirlwind month, not only brimming with joy, confetti and ASOS-induced bankruptcy, but loaded with “what’s new with you?” questions that accompany being reunited with old friends, sitting next to your parents’ neighbours, or small talk with an old flame in a conga line.

One hazard that comes with free alcohol – alongside inappropriate flirting with the DJ at 1am – is the limitless scope for toasts. From visas to pregnancies to dogs to promotions, we were celebrating big news left right and centre when it dawned on me that I didn’t have any. I was, one might say, “news-less.” So as not to alarm anyone with my distinct lack of progress in life, I declared my biggest achievement was minesweeping table wine like a secret agent whilst discretely rearranging my underwear. But in that moment I felt a pang of self-doubt, which got me thinking about what it means to be in a quiet period in life, and whether we put too much pressure on ourselves to always have something to envy.

Social media timelines are all about special news (at least when they’re not about nuclear war) and we’re at risk of believing we’re failing if we have nothing to compare. I was caught off guard this summer, because I’m not planning a wedding, or getting a pug. I have no idea how my career will pan out, hell, I barely feel grown-up enough to use scissors without adult supervision. A voice inside my head whispers, “even Fake News is better than no news.” On reflection though, now I’ve escaped the barn conversions and am back in the safety net of London, a city teeming with lost twenty-somethings searching for the perfect coffee shop and a true sense of self, “no news” doesn’t mean we’re failing, or boring, or falling off the radar. For me right now, the classic saying rings true: no news is good news.

This summer I stopped asking myself every five minutes why I haven’t made it and gave myself a break. To see more friends, get more sleep, maybe even pluck my eyebrows. When I look back at the news I’ve shared in the last year, the things that stand out to me are writing and performing my first play (maybe worthy of a toast but alongside a full-time job it nearly finished me off), sticking to vegetarianism (let’s face it, that’s more boring than unseasoned tofu) and seeing Celine Dion live for the first time (pretty niche and cost me a week’s wages).

Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely when life is flourishing, time is flying by and you’ve a million Facebook updates to share, but I’ve realised it doesn’t necessarily make me any happier.  So I’ve stopped waiting for the next big thing, because the things that make me happiest are much smaller, or gone in an instant. Like a perfectly ripe satsuma without a pip in sight. Or finding a sun cream that doesn’t make me feel like I’ve been wrapped in cling film. And my greatest achievements? Shaving my legs without maiming my ankles, or simply not burning anything in the kitchen, obviously.

So I’m proposing my own toast. To having no news – but a lot of things to celebrate. Things which might form our every day but which are every bit as special. Because what I’m learning is, if we spend our days waiting for the next big thing, we might miss the moments that really count.

Home, Humour, Lifestyle, London, realism, Summer

Boob sweat, bum imprints and surviving the British heatwave.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of sun. Or rather, I love that it’s not rain. Rain gets in my shoes, frizzes my hair, fogs up my glasses and drowns my miniature strawberry plant. Rain is not for dancing or romance, like they tell you in the movies. It’s for drenched socks, slippery stairs and soggy newspapers strewn on the streets of London like leaflets for a storm.

Right now though, after I’ve managed about three hours sleep because my room is (and I know this because my radio is a thermometer) over thirty degrees at midnight, I can’t remember the last time it rained. Hydration feels further in the past than dinosaurs. Sun cream and a suffocating tube carriage have blocked out all memories of anything other than sweat.

It calls for an emergency remedy. But this is no time for water, sunglasses and climbing in the freezer. It’s time for a list of the daily dilemmas that impose themselves on us unaccustomed Brits every time the heatwave strikes. This is for everyone trying to be a functioning adult in the heat, as opposed to a millionaire blogger, small baby, or anyone with their own swimming pool. This is for everyone trying to remember a life without crotch sweat. Because we all know the only way you survive change is by stalking the internet for lols, right?

So where are we at?

Well. You’ve sweated so much between your boobs in the last 48 hours you’re about one hour away from wedging a Calippo in the middle of your bra and calling it a day.

You’re on Twitter approximately every 12 minutes missioning through #Britishheatwave hashtags because sarcasm is the only relief.

You’re afraid to sit down anywhere that isn’t the shower because you’ve left an imprint of your bum on every seat in the city and it feels a little bit like unprotected sex.

You have spots in places you never knew possible because it is impossible to stay grease-free in buildings that were made for the Ice Age.

You’ve spent most of your working days trying to overcome your seething jealousy of girls whose make-up stays on their faces, as opposed to seeping down cheeks, onto clothes, so you look like a picture a five year child drew for their school tea towel.

You’re thinking about starting a petition for free sprinklers in all London Underground stations. And free journeys to Antarctica.

No matter how hard you try to sleep on top of the duvet, there’s still a part of you that needs to keep some part of your body under the covers for safety, so you melt in your own predicament.

Sun burn will come for you, whether you like it or not. It will find a way in, like James Bond, and it will leave strange shapes on the underside of your arms and in between your toes, and suddenly you’ll miss your chilblains.

You’re so unbelievably bored of salad but it’s the only food you can eat without feeling like your insides are boiling.

Blow drying your hair has become as unrealistic as paying off your student loan, so you’re wild like Mufasa and hoping no one will notice.

Hayfever’s back. That bastard of a sidekick to any increase in temperature, where sleeping with the window open is a death warrant, and you’re one sneeze away from asking for an induced coma.

Physical contact has become impossible. You try to kiss your partner goodnight and they flinch, roll over and mutter “Are you trying to kill me?” You lie together, but apart, staring into the void, alone in the dark.

But it’s not all bad news. Every sun has a silver lining, right? Right?

For example, my cactus is thriving. It’s literally never looked so good. I swear – in my slightly hallucinatory state this morning – I saw it smile at me. Another brilliant thing about heatwaves – we have a medical reason to eat ice cream on the hour and not wear a bra for the next two months. When you add in the joy of freckles, no need to carry around a coat or umbrella, the fact that we Brits all love to complain about everything anyway, and the valid excuse to go up to dogs you don’t know and give them sips from your water bottle, it might just be the best time of year.

And just like that… as my sunburn from twenty minutes outside at lunchtime fades and I grow accustomed to this new climate, I check the weather app on my phone and see rain is forecast for seven days next week. It was nice while it lasted.

fitness, Health, Home, Humour, Lifestyle

20 thoughts we all secretly have in yoga class.

We’ve started yoga at work. It’s at half past six every Tuesday. There are approximately ten of us and I have the least cool yoga mat. It’s at the top of a building in Angel which could bear similarities to the Sky Tower classes except you have to climb approximately six flights of stairs to get there so everyone is too exhausted to take selfies. 

Yoga is officially the best thing that’s happened to me since they invented giant crumpets. Even so, there are some major struggles because it turns out in a class that’s dedicated to being zen there are like one million very un-zen moments. Similar to giant crumpets seeming like a good idea at the time, until you remember they contain enough gluten to RUIN YOU and wear out three hot water bottles before it’s over. 

I’m putting myself out on a limb here (because yoga is a part of me now) and assuming praying that I’m not the only one who thinks these thoughts alone on my mat when I’m supposed to be perfecting child’s pose.

20 thoughts we all secretly have in yoga class. 

1 You don’t mean to sing your own praises but you are seriously good at breathing through your mouth. Maybe there’s a league we could all join?

2 Whilst you do love sitting cross-legged on the floor it does feel a slight waste not to be singing All Things Bright and Beautiful at the same time. 

3 What shall you have for dinner… perhaps something clean, like sushi, or bleach?

4 Alternatively if you order ahead perhaps the burger could be in your mouth within ten minutes of leaving this class. 

5 Fuck. Forgot to shave your armpits. Game over.

6 Whilst you love the idea of cactus pose you can’t help but be reminded of that time in Year Eleven PE where your cool rating was directly proportionate to whose thighs were wider than their handspan and TBH you’re still extremely traumatised. 

7 You love planking. You haven’t been this relaxed since you tried to wax your bikini line at home for the first time, left it on for too long and glued your underwear to your skin for two days. 

Just me?

8 You have a gut feeling that owning a dog might be a tad more therapeutic than pretending to be a downward facing one, six floors up, whilst all the blood rushes to your head and what feels like the tendons in the back of your knees turn inside out. 

9 Why has no one farted yet? Something very un-zen about trying to perfect sphinx pose when you’re so painfully conscious of your own digestive system. 

10 What did you do to deserve being this inflexible? Was it that time you stole a cola cube from Woolworths? Of course that had to come back and bite you in the ass. 

11 Babe you are owning child’s pose right now. Maybe you should move to LA and start a Youtube channel.  

12 Why are everyone’s leggings so much cooler than yours? You haven’t been this jealous of other people’s clothes since the jungle trousers phase of 1999. 

13 You are totally gonna name your first child Yoga. 

14 Not usually one to solve all of life’s problems but the world would be a much better place if we all had a bit of intravenous lavender oil. Just saying. 

15 You know what the best thing in life would be? Yoga that makes you tanned at the same time. Why is that not a thing?

16 Those people who do this for a living…why don’t they have any loose hair strands getting caught in their mouth? 

17 Not sure whether it’s fashionable to have VPL in sports leggings but either way you should become its ambassador.

18 Remember that time you really, really wanted a Baby G or Baby B watch from Argos and had to wait until Christmas? That was a positively minuscule problem in comparison to how much you want to be able to shove your foot into your upper thigh and perfect tree pose by next week. 

19 There’s some kind of sick injustice in the world when everyone else has managed to find their namaste with one leg up against the wall and you’re still trying to work out which one of your legs is left and which one is right. 

20 “Please don’t make me leave my mat. It’s so safe and warm here.”

Namastay cool babeeeeees. X 

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Sneeze if you want to go faster: on hay fever and Brexit.

I’m doing something daring right now. I’m writing about a first-world problem in the wake of the result of the EU referendum.

Actually I’m doing two daring things. I’m also drinking peppermint tea when it’s just that little bit too hot.

First things first, this ain’t because my priorities are skewed (I hate burning my tongue). Nor is it because I don’t care or don’t understand that our country would be better off it were being ruled by Voldemort right now. I feel as nauseous and full of angst and fear and anger and disappointment as everyone else I know.

If anything it’s the opposite. After Friday’s result we have a fight ahead of us. We. The young who want a brighter future. We who can’t watch the world we know implode in front of our eyes and do nothing.

I have faith in us of course. The Spice Girls splitting up was just the warm-up. We got this. We must be strong. United. Positive. Level-headed. Persistent. Vocal. Committed. It’s time to talk. Write. Petition. March. We must not give up. 

Which is great and everything but I can’t stop sneezing. 

You see – alongside the fact that our country is fractured, croissants are going up in price, David Attenborough is sad, the racists won and everyone in the world thinks Brits are a joke, there is another pretty enormous dilemma in my life right now that is not only bringing me down but significantly limiting my ability to delve into peaceful protest as an effective human being. 

And by bringing me down I obviously mean hurtling me into a dark existence of emotional eating choc ices. But you knew that.

I’m talking ‘bout you, hay fever. Seriously. You’re one eye infection away from being more damaging than Brexit.

It’s testament to how deeply panicked I felt at the thought of Britain leaving the EU that I was even able to leave the house and vote because, to be honest, in the last three months, besides dragging myself to work and occasionally venturing out to see if chocolate oranges are on sale, I’m barely exaggerating when I say I’ve spent about 90% of my free time in May and June sat down on the floor rocking from side to side trying not to claw my nose off my face and die. Trying to recall a time when I didn’t wake up feeling like I needed to bathe in vic vapour rub for eternity or just simply live under water. 

When did British summer time stop being about Pimms and strawberry splits and freckles and sunburnt scalps because all hats are made for heads that are smaller than mine and instead turn out to be this seasonal nightmare where noses literally die from the inside just because flowers exist? Forget sun blindness – now it’s pollen-infested corneas and breathing through what feels like a plant stem for a throat. 

To think I had it tough when I was nine and the kids at school laughed at me because I got sun cream in my eyebrows and up until that point no one thought I had any eyebrows and they called me grandma for six months. Now I no longer have an affinity with bees and we’re out of the EU – is this really adulthood?

Hay fever is so far under my skin it’s affecting both my professional and personal life way too much. I’m genuinely concerned people at work think of me as ‘the nose-blower’ or ‘even her elbows are allergic.’ I can’t taste food anymore because my sense of smell and taste buds buggered off to somewhere pollen free a long time ago – probably the Antarctic, or the kebab shop. You know what, those senses have probably got EU citizenship by now. 

My relationship is suffering. As much as one might think smothering my pillow in albas oil every night is arousing, while a boyfriend who chooses an allergy-free partner might get lucky mid-week, mine has albas-induced tears rolling down his cheeks and spends most evenings trying to locate his libido amongst all the nasal spray and phlegm. 

You can imagine all this can get pretty depressing. To put it into context it’s pretty difficult to vocalise your total despair at this country’s political system when you can’t get through a sentence without sneezing or clearing your throat. My voice is lower than the pound right now. My sinuses as effective as Jeremy Corbyn.

As a distraction from my decrepit body I came up with a list of things I enjoy more than hay fever, because positivity. Stand out items are quinoa, humidity hair, and reaching the end of my overdraft. So you get a sense of scale – the fur trade only just beats it. 

While everyone else has been successfully breathing this week I also came up with a list of things I could have treated myself to if I wasn’t currently spending my life savings on prescription anti-histamines. Up to and including flights to Madrid (that was before Friday’s result – it’ll be too close to call now), things on Asos that haven’t come from me filtering ‘lowest prices first’ and like five pet lobsters. 

I have tried everything. Bowls of echinacea. Eye drops. Pills. Creams. Strange herbal balms. Prayer. Meditation. Applying for a lung transplant. At one point I considered moving to Europe but I guess that’s out the window.

What I’ve discovered amongst all this is if you well and truly get hay fever (if you think you have it you don’t so that’s nice for you high-5) there is sweet fuck all you can do. In political terms it’s as hopeless and as soul-destroying as the prospect of Jeremy Hunt running for Prime Minister. 

A week ago after a particularly traumatising experience mistaking perfume for Beconase I resigned myself to the last remaining option: hang fairy lights in my room, start buying presents, make a Christmas playlist and lie on my bed waiting for winter to arrive. 

But now I can’t. BECAUSE OF YOU, BREXIT. 

Now I have to act instead. There are way too many truths to post on social media and parades to join and flights to book before we can’t afford them. We can’t just sit back and wait until the sweet cocoon of winter enfolds us in its pollen-free wings. We can’t recline and self-medicate Piriton whilst watching David Cameron trot off in October leaving us to that mop-haired buffoon who – I’ll be honest – scares me more than Azkaban. 

So where does that leave me?

Well. I’d give up anti-histamines to be a part of the EU. That’s what it comes down to. And that realisation is enough to make me breathe a little easier and see a little clearer.

Armed with my comrades in arms – Airwaves gum, Kleenex and that 48% – I’m ready to fight back. Who’s with me? 

PS. Does anyone know if Nigel Farage gets hay fever? Just digging out any last sense of justice in the world. Thanks and love. X