Thursday, May 21, 2020

Mental Health Awareness Week - It's Okay To Speak Up

It's Mental Health Awareness Week and I don't think I've ever specifically touched on mental health on my blog, and if I have, it's stayed in my drafts as I've been too nervous to post it. Not because I'm ashamed of myself, but I just didn't believe in my writing enough! Since I've been posting on here more frequently this year and solely about the hard-hitting stuff, I really wanted to share something that I hope will strike a chord with at least one person who's struggling in silence.

I think at this point it's more unusual to come across somebody who hasn't got a history of mental health than somebody who has, whereas when I first noticed I was struggling with my mind ten years ago, I truly felt like I was the only person in the world going through it. It's such a sad reality that most of us have struggled or still struggle with depression and anxiety, not to mention the copious amounts of other mental health disorders that are less frequently touched upon. 

From day one of my struggles, I was always willing to speak up. I wasn't trying to prove anything or raise awareness, I just genuinely wanted someone to help me get the hell out of my head and figure out why I felt the way I did. My diagnosis has bounced between depression and anxiety over the years, primarily depression but I'd say I've suffered more with anxiety in later years and that's something I still deal with every day. The best thing I ever did was speak up, (actually, the best thing I ever did was starting to exercise, but speaking up was the catalyst to opening the conversation about my issues). I spent a good few months feeling, and I quote, 'a big black cloud over my head' before I broke down to my Dad and begged for help. At 14/15 years old I'd never even heard of 'mental health' before, and I'd certainly never heard the word depression. I had absolutely no prior influence to accelerate what I was feeling, I just felt deeply unhappy, foggy in my head and scared. I guess you could put two and two together and say that finding out about my Dads cancer diagnosis triggered this, and I know it frightened me to death about the fragility of his life, but the extent of my issues ended up going beyond that and I would fall into the big black hole of depression that I've climbed out of and fallen back into many times over the years due to many different things. 

If I didn't speak up as often as I did, no matter how difficult it was to say the things I needed to say, I probably wouldn't be here. I'd probably never have got to spend so many precious years with my Dad after my mental health improved and I became so much more loving and (mature dare I say). I probably wouldn't have had the billions of phone calls with my mum with that I do, chatting about anything, everything, and making memories with her every day. I probably wouldn't have seen my brother overcome the biggest tragedy of his life because I would've been too afraid to see it through by his side. I probably wouldn't have met the love of my life and travel around the world together. I probably wouldn't have rekindled my friendship with my best friend, and now we catch each other whenever we fall. I probably wouldn't have made so many delicious meals and I definitely wouldn't have tried so many insanely good foods! I probably wouldn't have discovered my passion for baking and the sheer joy it brings me, and I probably wouldn't have seen my favourite shows that have brought me hours of complete happiness.
That doesn't even scratch the surface of the number of incredible things that happened as a result of me staying here, even when that seemed cruel at the time. If I hadn't spoken out, if I hadn't cried for help, where would I be?

Without question, I'm going through the most difficult, devastating time of my life. There have been many times in the last few months where I'd had enough. I haven't got it all figured out, but I do know this, there will always be better days. There will be days where you think you can't see through to the next hour, but you'll get there. The important thing is to talk. You are absolutely not alone, nobody thinks you're strange, nobody thinks you're crazy and nobody thinks you're a failure. You matter. Your problems matter, no matter how big or small you think they are.

I started writing this post at the beginning of the week and decided to pick it up later on. I've picked it up again after settling myself down to bake some blueberry muffins after a difficult afternoon. I spent it crying after going through the collection of photos I have of me and my Dad, (I then made a video of family photos using the song played at his funeral, so I've been a wreck). To be honest, most days are like that. I genuinely don't know how people get it together after such a heartbreaking loss, my world is completely crumbled. Days like this leave me wondering if there's any hope for the future, but as I read over the first few paragraphs of this blog post, I remind myself that there will be better days. I suppose they will be different, but I have smiled and I will smile again. I'll do it all for my Dad, in due time!! (I'm human and emotional). 

So, I've had my reminder and this is yours. You can do this. You can smile, you can laugh and you can be happy. I am a great believer in a problem shared is a problem halved, (my mum taught me this because telling her the crazy nightmares I'd have really lifted the weight off, haha!). So please, talk to someone. Whether that's your best friend, a family member or a GP, take that first step and let it all out. You have no idea how things can transform for you, you have no idea the amazing opportunities that wait for you and the beautiful future you're destined to create. 

If anybody reading this wants to talk about anything, you can always send me a message. 


Samaritans Helpline - 116 123
Mind - Mental Health Charity & Support

Friday, May 15, 2020

Love Yourself In Lockdown

I don't know about anybody else, but I've spent a good portion of lockdown looking and feeling pretty lacklustre! (Okay, I think I do know, and I'm sure I'm not alone on that!). Whilst it's the easiest thing in the world to let the days roll by and barely shift out of your pyjamas, it can actually make you feel pretty rubbish, can't it? On the days where I'm spending day after day chucking on the same baggy t-shirt, I definitely don't feel my best! It took me a little while, but after I realised that even though I may not be out and about and seeing different people, I still deserve to love myself for me! (And maybe make a little bit of effort for my boyfriend too, oops).

I thought I would spread the love and share some of my best 'love yourself' self-care tips that you can do during lockdown too, (and we should definitely be continuing these going forward!).


This was actually the first thing that I let slip when we went into lockdown and the first thing that I picked up again when I realised my body was seriously lacking some h20. By drinking water frequently, I was beginning to incorporate some of the routines I had before back into my life. I also noticed my concentration levels had sky-rocketed and I was beginning to get the motivation back to make further positive changes as my head started to clear up. We all know water has endless benefits to our health, so go and grab yourself a nice big glass right now!


I'm so sorry that doesn't say 'lie on the sofa all day', but it's true, exercising is one of the most amazing ways to love yourself! I've been doing the Tone & Sculpt new 'Sculpt It' guide since the gyms closed down and I couldn't be happier. The guide is circuit based and only takes up thirty minutes of your day, yet it leaves you feeling strong, fabulous and motivated! I checked my diary and found no excuses to not fit one of these workouts into my day, and my mind and body are thanking me so much for it. If you have gym equipment at home, then go ahead and keep smashing your gym workouts! If you don't the app has endless incredible workouts that you can do with or without equipment! Take the time for yourself, you deserve it!


It would be cruel to suggest that you don't indulge in some treats every now and again, well, I'd be a fraud considering the stash I have in my cupboard at the moment! But I feel so much better in myself for eating my wholesome and nutritious foods. I'm sure we all agree that one too many trips to the snack cupboard can leave you feeling lethargic, so I try to have balanced meals for my breakfast, lunch and dinner. My favourite meal of the day is breakfast, and I kickstart the day with my favourite Tone & Sculpt meal, scrambled eggs on toast with a side of strawberries! (I definitely dip into my bag of Maltesers every now and again, because that's self-love too!), but Tone & Sculpt have added countless new dessert recipes to the app, so there's no reason why we can't enjoy a bit of everything! I'm looking at you, three-ingredient brownies!


I hope I'm not alone in this, but my screen time shot up dramatically once we entered lockdown! It's just frightening to think I could spend an entire day staring at my phone, so I decided to pick up a book! Reading deserves a lot more hype, it's an opportunity to escape our own lives and enter somebody else's, or it's an opportunity to learn something new or expand our knowledge on an existing interest. There are so many great places online to find book reviews, you can even join one of the many book clubs on Instagram! Put that phone away and get stuck into that book you've had that you promised you'd read a year ago! (Definitely not talking about myself).


I thought I would round up my 'love yourself in lockdown' tips with a bit of 'me time'. Something we all never seem to have enough time for, so now is the perfect opportunity to do that face mask, perfect that skincare routine and invest in that cute fluffy dressing gown. I recently invested in a whole host of new serums, lotions and potions to try out whilst I had all of this new free time and I've found it a very therapeutic part of the day to simply take care of my skin, take care of my hair and moisturise my legs because sadly, some things get neglected when we're rushing from one thing to the next! Like I said at the start, it's too easy to forget about ourselves at the moment, but it can transform your mind and soul just by taking some time for yourself and treating yourself with the love you deserve!

It's so easy to neglect ourselves when it comes to spreading the love, and I've found that by taking the time for myself and practising the five tips above has helped me feel revitalised and more positive during lockdown, and I'll certainly be continuing them after! So wake up in the morning, have a big delicious breakfast, put some fresh pyjamas on and give yourself the love you deserve! 


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Two Months On

Today marks two months since my wonderful Dad passed away. It's frightening how time stops for nobody and continues on, even if we're not ready to move with it. I hate that it's been just over two months since I last heard my Dads voice, it's not normal and it never will be. I hate how it's been two months since my Dad took his last breath. He was always the most special, always the most precious but he becomes more and more treasured to me as the days go by without him.

I have spent probably my whole life completely deluded into thinking that grief goes like this, 'person dies' .. 'you feel the most intense pain and sadness immediately' .. 'life gets easier as time passes by'. WRONG! It's actually so much harder as time goes on because I grieve different parts of my Dad, different memories and experiences that he's not here to share every day. 

I've been learning more and more about cooking every day during quarantine, you could even say it's become quite a passion of mine now and this is something I am desperate to share with Dad. Dad was always the cook of the house and I grew up on whichever delicious meal I desired that day because I was for sure a Dad's girl, (we don't say Daddy around here, it's super weird), and he would love whipping together anything and everything! My favourite was spaghetti bolognese. He was always bringing the family together with food. We'd be off doing our own thing, but when Dad called 'foods ready!!!', we'd all drop everything hop-foot it downstairs ready for dinner. When Dad passed away, he knew I'd been trying broccoli and now love to eat it, (I have an issue with vegetables but this post isn't about that!), he was so proud of me for that as I've always been trouble with my limited palate. What he doesn't know, is that now I cook with onions, chillis, spring onions and ginger AND I eat it too. I can make my own homemade salt & pepper chips. I made the Wagamama chicken katsu curry, from scratch!! I've perfected my roast potato recipe. I just want to send him the photos of the food and call him up and tell him my exact method, how I chopped it and how proud I am for doing it, all by myself! I know that he would love to hear about it and would be so excited to try it! I promised him I would cook my broccoli for him, and I never got the chance. I'm sure the tenderstem broccoli in heaven isn't as good as mine when I stir fry it with garlic and ginger, but Dad was never a big fan of garlic, so that's okay.

That's just one of the simple things that have left me feeling the massive Dad shaped hole in my heart in just two months of his absence. My relationship with Dad was so much more than just cooking, so I can't even begin to write down the copious other things that hurt my heart every time he's not here to share them with or to talk to him about.

Treasure your parents if you're lucky enough to have them. It's a lifelong stab in the chest to lose one, and then you try to learn to live with the wound. I remember just wanting to wrap Dad up in cotton wool and bring him home, I just wanted to protect him forever and ever. I would give anything for him to be with us. 

So two months later and I'm missing your voice like you wouldn't believe. I'm missing your hugs, I've said it a million times and I'll say it for the rest of my life. I'm missing your comforting words, your humbling words and your guidance. I'm missing your interest, your passion and your intellect. I miss you now and I will be missing you forever.

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