My top tips on improving your finances

happy businessman with heap of money

Hello there!

Now- if you know me, you may know I am notoriously awful with money. If you don’t know me- I’m notoriously awful with money.

I really can’t explain where my bad spending habits came from as my family have never been well off, and growing up I certainly never had cash just going spare to spend recklessly… but somehow, I became a serial spender nonetheless.

I think ‘shit got real’ when I went to University, and received my student loan and maintenance grant, but was still living at home with my parents, where honestly, and shamefully, I contributed very little to the household. So all of a sudden I was 18 years old with a tonne of money in my bank account, and not a lot to spend it on. (Yes- I know what you’re thinking: ‘but Sophie, surely you spent your money on books and University supplies?’ no, as well as being terrible with money, I was a terrible student, too.)

So, I would have all this money in my bank account, and on top of that I had a free overdraft of £1,400! Free money– woohoo!

Every month I must have spent in excess of £400 on clothes, a lot of money on meals out and Costa’s, and just all sorts of other stuff that I didn’t need! And though I am broaching this topic from a humorous angle, it really was, and has been until quite recently, a serious issue. Schools teach you all sorts of very valuable stuff, but I think the thing that’s lacking are the life skills that pupils go on to need, and leaving school I had absolutely no idea how to manage money, nor the realisation that it would ever become a problem.

Fast forward a few years, to my first proper paid job, and oh wow- I have a quite large monthly income! I’m still living at home, but rent only equates to a small amount of that monthly income, so the rest is just an absolute joy to spend! New clothes, expensive trainers, Domino’s forever

Then I decided I wanted a new car so, with my ever expensive taste, got my heart set on owning a BMW. A very big financial decision occurred, and I walked away with a BMW. I am still paying my nearly 10 year old car off for another 2 years, and it’s a whopping amount, not even counting insurance.

Christmas approached and with rent, car finance, car insurance, and all the other things I’d been foolishly purchasing, I decided a credit card would be a fantastic idea! With barely any hassle at all, I was granted a brand new shiny credit card, with a £3,000 limit. Again- free money, woohoo!! I quickly spent the whole amount and then had to extend the limit to £5000, and did the same again!

Basically, my spending habits were absolutely awful. Money had started to become a real worry for me, and when Oli and I decided we really wanted to buy a house together, I realised it was about time I made every effort to sort myself out.

So after much work and discipline, I am now in a position where I am gradually paying my credit card off, I am never in my overdraft (where I previously was every month), and I (sometimes) have money to spare, too.

Before we go into this *disclaimer* I am by no means qualified to give ANYONE money advice… in fact, in ordinary circumstances I warn people to not be influenced by me when it comes to money. However, now I’m in a much better place with my finances, I thought I’d share my top 5 tips on not making a total mess out of you finances (basically giving you an opportunity to learn from my mistakes.) Here goes…

 


 

1. Don’t get a credit card – it’s NOT free money!

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I really didn’t take much persuading to get a credit card… if I could summarise the process of me getting credit card it would be:

Sophie needed more money quick

Sophie found out about credit cards

100 people told Sophie not to get a credit card because they knew how bad she was with money

1 person told Sophie credit cards are good because they give you a good credit score

Sophie got a credit card with a mega limit

The thing about credit cards is: yes, they’re great! They’re a great way to borrow small amounts of money, and give you a good credit score- IF you can pay it back each month without getting yourself into debt.

When I applied for a credit card they instantly granted my request and gave me a limit of just under 3x my monthly income, which at the time, I thought was great. What I should have done was lowered the limit to around £200, maybe £300, so that I knew that no matter if I spent that whole amount, I would be able to pay the whole amount off the next month.

Basically, I didn’t inform myself well enough, and I just spent and spent and spent, only paying the minimum payments, which they keep strategically low. In barely no time at all I was in a massive mess, knowing I couldn’t afford to pay off my credit card. In a hope to rescue the situation, I started transferring my whole months’ salary onto my credit card, with the plan to only spend £200 every month on all the things I needed, therefore paying off the card really quickly whilst still spending on it- needless to say- that didn’t work.

The situation now is: bit by bit, the debt is going down. I always make more than the minimum payment required, but never so much that I’m having to resort back to using the card- which I now don’t use at all.

If you are a sensible and frugal person, a credit card may be the way forward for you. People told me in the past to get a card and only use it for petrol every month and then pay it straight back- bumping up your credit score but not really doing much else in terms of helping you out with money or getting you in debt. However, if you are someone who finds managing your money difficult- AVOID credit cards. There are other ways you can get a good credit score, e.g. phone contracts, car finance, furniture finance, etc. that are less likely to send your further down the rabbit hole of huge amounts of borrowed money!

 

2. Speak to your bank!

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Later down the line in my months of worrying about money, I got so upset that I decided to just call my bank and tell them ‘HEY- BANK! I SUCK AT MONEY! HELP ME!’ and it was a fantastic thing to do.

The bank I have my current account with spoke to me, reassured me whilst I was crying down the phone to them like a bloody big baby, and said we’d come to some sort of arrangement to help me through this time. They asked me how long I thought I needed to get myself on track so I wasn’t living out of my overdraft, and I said 3-4 months. So they wiped my overdraft fee for 3-4 months, and put me through to their money experts who gave me some tips on budgeting.

My credit card provider was equally as reassuring; but they couldn’t really do a lot for me, as my credit card was already 0% interest, and as I had been making more than the minimum payments, on paper it all looked fantastic. This really made me feel not as consumed as I was feeling.

Now I’m not that naïve that I think the banks just felt sorry for me and did their best to help me for that reason. I know that at the end of the day, when you use a bank you are their customer, and they will want to make sure you remain their customer. So if you’re having any problems or concerns- just call them and tell them because they might be able to help you out a little, for the sake of keeping you on board.

 

3. Meal plan

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Starting to plan our meals is one of the BEST things that ever happened to my bank account! And, learning to cook properly. Mapping out what we were going to eat each day, writing down the quantities and ingredients, and writing out a proper shopping list just worked wonders. Buying fresh ingredients for proper meals may have cost me a few more pence than buying oven food, but home baking a lasagne that I enjoyed, was healthier, and fed us for the week in the form of packed lunches, was a great money saver in the long run.

Before I meal planned, I would just walk about a certain supermarket that rhymes with lanesbury’s, and put anything in my trolley at random. Once I meal planned I only got whatever was on my shopping list; and that cut the cost down by a considerable amount. So whereas before, I would spend anywhere between £80-120 on a shop, and probably end up going back in the week for more, I was spending around £40-50 instead. I then went that step further and started shopping at Aldi, and now my weekly shop for 2 people is around £20-25! So much money saved by just planning some meals and swapping supermarkets.

 

4. Create a monthly financial forecast

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So, this is something I started doing recently, and I don’t know how I ever survived without doing it!

I use Microsoft Excel (because I’m posh like that), and forecast what my monthly salary will be spent on, by budgeting set amounts of money, for set items/area, which I categorise. For example:

Car: £___

Credit card: £___

Savings: £___

Groceries: £___

Rent: £___

Birthdays: £___

Etc.

To see on paper where my money is going, really helps. I have to think really carefully before allocating money into each areas, on what areas are the most important, and how I can manage everything I need to buy, without going into my overdraft. I use formulas on the spreadsheet to ensure columns are linked with other columns and cells, etc. and can take away or add up sums, so that it all automatically shows me how much I have left after I assign a certain amount to a certain area. So if it shows minus, I have to go back and re-allocate different amounts, and that’s where I realise I either need to cut back on something that month, or I have extra that month. It SOUNDS complicated, but if you don’t know how to do it- just google it, or look for some YouTube tutorials- it’s actually pretty easy to figure out. Having it written down, and working hard on it means I do my absolute best to stick with it. And on the same document, I have my spending list, which leads me onto…

 

5. Write it down!

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What I mean by this, is basically writing yourself a manual bank statement each month.

Next to your forecast, create some more columns and write down:

  1. What/where you have spent your money (e.g. Selfridges),
  2. The amount you have spent (e.g. £23)
  3. The date you have spent it (e.g. 20/11/17)
  4. The category this would fall under (e.g. Extra/ Make-up/ Birthday)

Create a few more columns next to this, do some excel magic, and every time you input how much you’ve spent and in what category, excel will instantly take that away from your budget of that category, so that you can see how much you have left to spend in that area each month.

I do this every day, and it’s a great way to see when I’m coming close to nearly using up all my budget for a certain category, and this really helps me keep a track of the amount I’m spending, and what I’m spending it on.

 


And there you have it! Those are my 5 top tips!

Again, I am by no means a financial expert, but as someone who has, and does, find money a really difficult area, I have found these 5 things really useful in getting myself out of the red and into the black, and feeling more confident about my spending habits. I now have quite a large pot of savings, and the ability to say ‘no’ to myself when I want something I can’t afford!

So I hope this helps someone out there! My favourite money-related-saying used to be ‘whoever said you can’t buy happiness doesn’t know where to shop’, now I’ve definitely got a deeper understanding for that saying ‘money is the root of all evil’!

Let me know your top tips too 🙂

 


 

Bye! xo

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Creatively Challenged


When I was a child I was so into reading, writing, and drawing. I had a monumental imagination that kept me entertained for hours and hours. I would shut my bedroom door, tie a rope around my teddy bears waist, sit on my bed with my legs up the wall and my head hanging off the edge of the bed, and pretend I was on a crucial and challenging quest. My co-explorer had fallen off a cliff and I was pulling them back up with all the strength I could muster. To anyone else I must’ve looked like a strange little kid, alone with my teddy, with all the blood rushing to my head. To me; I was in a completely different, exciting world, filled with dangerous glaciers and wild animals.  A world that belonged solely to me.

I went through a phase where I had an imaginary dog called Benjie; and I also adamantly believed in fairies, Father Christmas, birthday wishes, and all things that were wonderfully impossible.

I remember long days in the summer holidays where I would sit at my own little table at my Grandma’s house, drawing until my hand ached. I would only stop occasionally; either to eat my chicken nuggets, or to crawl along the carpet on my belly, telling Grandma:

‘Help! I’m stuck under the floorboards and can’t get out!’

I read all sorts of books that sparked my creativity throughout my childhood, and my teenage years. The older I got; the quicker I read… I think I actually managed to read ‘Eclipse’ in a day, and ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ in 2 or 3 days. I just loved reading, and feeling part of stories which I related to much more than my own life. It was my love of reading which developed my love of writing… I would often write short stories, which I’d read to my family or friends once I’d finished. I vividly remember writing a story about a girl called Delilah and her dog, Red, which my Grandma praised passionately; telling me that one day I would be an author.

My creative spark burned for a long time, until the day came where my Grandma sadly passed away. Since that time 8 years ago, I have found it inexplicably hard to utilise the untamed imagination I once had- or even to identify if that imagination still existed.

This really resonated in me today.

I’ve been trying to get back into writing; hence the blog posts (which I still find difficult, but I am writing based on experience rather than creating new ideas). What I’d really love; is to be able to write stories again. Now I’m older, and wiser, and a bit more aware of the ways of the World, I can’t shake this feeling that if I could just unlock the door that has been shut for all these years and let it all out, I could possibly, maybe, potentially, write something quite… good.

I bought a writer’s workbook a while back called ‘Ready, Set, Novel!’ which aims to help you map out your ideas to guide you on your way to writing a novel. The first activity in the book is a blank box which you have to completely fill with absolutely anything. It could be lists, drawings, doodles- just anything your brain conjures up! This morning as I sat, pencil in hand, ready to make my first mark in this workbook, my mind was mush. Thoughts –of nothing specific, but thoughts nonetheless– were whizzing around my brain, bumping into each other, cluttering and suffocating my mind, leaving me unable to express a single thing in this box. I fell at the first hurdle of releasing my long-captive creativity.

The reality is, I know exactly why this is.

When I was young, I was reckless with my imagination. I didn’t map out stories I wanted to write, I didn’t think about pictures I wanted to draw, I didn’t have 101 other things to be doing between periods where I could sit down and read… I wrote whatever story I wanted to tell write at that minute, I drew whatever images were in my mind, and I read for days in a row because I had nothing but time on my hands. Every picture I drew, every story I wrote was always met with praise and adoration; because I was a child? Because my Grandma loved me and wanted me to feel capable? Because people actually enjoyed them? I’ll never know, but the praise meant something to me. It made me feel like I had a gift.

All sorts of things affected me as a teenager (much the same as most other teenagers), not just my Grandma’s death- but my wonderful advocate was gone, and life was suddenly much less colourful, and much more serious. I think I spent a long time not even trying to be creative; I was disinterested in art, in books, in writing; in anything that wasn’t ‘real’. By the time I started to revisit these outlets, I found I just couldn’t reconnect with them.

Where I would have once put pen to paper and just, drew… how could I do that now without knowing what to draw first? Without an eraser and a ruler and all sorts of other tools to get it right?

Where I would have once let my fingers slide across a keyboard creating fiction… I couldn’t imagine how I ever even did that now. How could I have sat and just wrote, without mapping out names, plots, researching locations and careers, and delving into degree level psychology to profile a character.

Where I would have once sank myself into a book I loved… where would I find the time to do that properly now? Between work, and responsibilities, I only get to read once every couple of weeks.

My problem was and is, I’m striving for perfection, where I never did before.

I put such limitations on my own imagination and my own creativity, because I think if it doesn’t look or sound perfect then it’s a waste of time, and I haven’t got it right. And it’s not just my creativity that’s limited by this mind set. In most areas of my life I strive for perfection and constantly feel like I’ve done a bad job when I haven’t reached it… I take on too much because I feel I should do it all myself, because I can do it my way, and try and make it the best it can be.

Really… I’m a bit of a control freak.

Long gone are the days where my biggest fan would be celebrating and encouraging the ramblings of a young girl who didn’t care for structure and systems. I’ve developed a need to be in control of all things, which has ironically taken control over so many aspects of my life… which I’m sure is totally normal! Through life, things happen, and your walls go up to protect yourself. That’s exactly what I’ve done, I’ve built up walls that, in efforts to keep the bad things at bay, have also shut out my imperfect, nonsensical, but pretty damn vast imagination, and have crushed all belief in my own capability of expressing that vast imagination in creative and interesting ways.

I’ve been trying to fit creativity into a box, making pictures to scale and stories that reflect every minute detail of reality. But, isn’t creativity supposed to have no boundaries? It’s supposed to run free, be imperfect, exciting, impossible, and a reflection of you- the real you.

So, if you’re like me, and put restrictions on yourself in the pursuit of perfection- join me in this completely average epiphany…

Take time to work on your imagination. Find that dusty box in the back of your mind where you’ve packed away multiple beautiful universes, wonderful people, crazy 3 headed polar bears, and whatever else has been shut in there. Even if you have no intention of writing, or drawing, or putting your creativity to any specific use… just find the imagination you had at 3 years old, 6 years old, 11 years old, 15 years old, and let it comfort you. Let your capability of creating completely unique and wonderful scenes and scenarios remind you how incredibly special, and amazing you are, in all of you imperfection.

We’re so tied down by the restraints of everyday life- of what we can’t be, and can’t afford. It’s so easy to forget what our minds are capable of. From now on- no more wasted energy and worry on reports and spreadsheets that I’m 95% sure no one actually reads. From now on- I intend to start putting my minds full potential to rediscovering my childlike heart, and delving into unknown worlds, full of all things magical, unreal, impossible, and beautiful.

How about you?

 


Bye! xo


 

 

20 Ways to Have a Bad Day in a Good Way


Bad days are just the worse, aren’t they?

You might be having a bad day because something really awful has happened; like your partner has just ended it with you, you broke your toe, maybe your purse got stolen when you were buying a coffee that morning…

It could be a bad day because lots of little bad things have happened; like your boss has pissed you off, there’s no milk in the work fridge, your partner didn’t kiss you goodbye when he left the house, and a bird pooed on you- all before 11:30am.

Or, it could just be nothing at all (my most common type of bad day), and you just darn well feel it. Maybe its hormones, maybe its mental health, maybe you just woke up cranky that day, but even though you know nothing has really happened, you’re in the bad day zone and it ain’t too swell.

But feeling bad, and sad is important. People often forget that feeling down is just as valid a feeling as being happy! Life is a beautifully chaotic array of emotions and events, and without the bad we wouldn’t have the good, and the good definitely wouldn’t feel so great. So embrace that bad day babe, because your best day ever is just around the corner.

That being said, you always have the option to turn a bad day around (or at least try). Everyone is different; we all have different coping mechanisms, and little things that put a smiles on our faces, and when the bad times hit us, it’s those little things we need to hold onto.

I’m going to share a few of my ‘little things’ with you, that have much to my surprise often managed to make a bad day, a little brighter.

So, without further ado, here’s my list of:


20 Ways to Have a Bad Day in a Good Way:

 

Listen to Beyonce

bey2

Beyonce has helped me many a time. All I need do is play ‘Love on Top’, blast up them speakers, and muster up a little sing-along and I change from head-down-on-the-floor Sophie, to super-sass-Queen-of-everything-all-women-are-beautiful Sophie. She gives me that feel good factor, and- top tip; if you’re going through a break-up, some of her music will prop you right up on that single and ready to mingle road. But in all seriousness- give it a go! Her voice is very uplifting and her lyrics are very empowering.

 

Visit a Rehoming Centre for Animals

vonunteer-with-dog

Ok, maybe this one is a lie. I’ve left our local rehoming centre in floods of tears more times than I care to tell you- but- there is some good in it! This is my go-to bad day activity. Not only does it put me at ease, and completely distract me from my problems, but me kneeling on the floor until my knees are dead, stroking those animals and giving them all the love and fuss in the world, makes their day. They are just so thrilled to have someone loving on them, and in those moments, how could you possibly be remembering your bad day? I leave in tears because I want to give them all a home but can’t. But I know I’ve spent time making them feel loved, and they’ve made me feel loved in return. I may not be able to take them with me, but I sure will go as often as I can to give them some love and attention until they find their forever homes.

 

Watch a Film Series

hp

Another HP reference? Yes. Yes indeed. I love nothing more on a shit day to stick my head in a HP book, or whack the films on the telly. The great thing about a series of films is that’s your easy activity sorted for the next few hours! Grab the popcorn and enjoy. What’s your feel good film? Why not put it on and let it consume you. Forget your rubbish day- you’re now bezzie mates with Hermione Granger and fighting off hundreds of pesky dementors.

 

Listen to Beyonce

bey

Do it some more. See if you can do that twerky thing whilst no one is watching.

 

Google a Weird Cult or Crime

cult

Ok, maybe this is just a me thing, but I love to find out about weird, or extremist groups and cults, and research crazy crimes. Why? Because it’s so interesting how humans work, how we’re all so different depending on what we’ve been exposed to in our lives! It’s interesting, it’s sometimes a bit dark, sometimes a bit funny, but it certainly does distract you from you and your life. How can you be thinking about that sarcy comment your coworker made when you’re learning all about people who like to worship giraffes?! (That’s a made up one.)

 

Do Something Creative

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When I’m feeling a bit down in the dumps and I’m looking for a distraction; I like to draw. I’m not great at it, but I do like copying things. So, I find me a picture of something I wanna draw (maybe a lion, maybe a house, maybe a disney princess…) and I keep trying to draw it until I end up with something I think looks quite alright! So why not try and get your creative buzz on? The concentration required might just be the way to take your mind off of other things.

 

Make Your Bed

Woman-changing-bedsheets

Whaaaaat? Why would anyone want to do that? Yes, it’s an annoying chore, especially if you’re doing it by yourself. However, getting a bit of a sweat on trying to tackle your bed sheets into submission, will work off some of that negative energy, and all the while you’re left with lovely clean crisp sheets. Winner! Who doesn’t love clean sheets?! Ps. I’ve never seen anyone look so calm and happy whilst changing a bed- I’m calling fake!

 

Change the Lighting

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Mood lighting is what it’s all about. Ok, the picture I’ve used is a bit extreme… but changing the lighting can make a huge difference! When I’m ready to get in my bed and watch a film in the day, I close the curtains so there is a nice glow behind them that makes the room red, and I turn my bedside lamp on and put the dimmer right now. The ambience totally changes, and calms me.

 

Get Snug

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After changing your bed and adjusting the lighting, it’s ready to get snuggled down and watch that film series we talked about. Wrap that cosy duvet around you till you feel as snug as a bug in a rug, and let the comfort kick in. Relax!

 

Get Out

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Don’t you hate it when you’re feeling pants and someone says: ‘why don’t you go for a walk?’. Erm, no… why would I willingly do something I hate when I feel so rubbish? Exercise. Bleugh. But in all honesty, sometimes getting out of the house is the best thing you could possibly do, and sometimes the hardest thing to do! If your bad day is relating to mental health and anxiety, leaving your nest can be really daunting. But it’s a distraction technique- and a good one at that. Go food shopping, grab a Costa, just drive around- but the change of scenery may help.

 

Wash Your Hair

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Washing your hair can be a real chore, but this is something I try to do when I’m having a bad day, because it makes me feel 100x more together. If I’ve got shiny sleek hair, then I need a shiny sleek attitude to go with it.

 

Write Something Repetitively

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I love doing this. It’s such a theraputic thing to do when I’m annoyed and stressed. Whatever you wanna write- maybe it’s ‘Sandra at work is a silly tw*t’ or ‘I wish I was married to Brad Pitt’, sometimes just the repition can do a lot to calm your mind and get whatever is eating you up, out your system.

 

Bitch About It!

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I know a lot of people may disagree with me- but I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a little vent. As long as it’s to the right people, and you do it in confidence and aren’t harming anyone, then you’re well within your right to talk about what’s bothering you. Sometimes you need to let the word vomit come out with your best friend, to realise that maybe your perspective is wrong, and it isn’t all as bad as your originally thought.

 

Listen to Beyonce

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Yes. ‘yonce it up some more.

 

Eat the Yums

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Forget the calories, drop the diet, and get your fav food in your tum! Food is a definite comfort when you’re having a bad day- whether it’s because you love the taste of that Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’ chocolate cake, or having a banana to give you that boost of energy you need to lift your spirits, food is an all around good idea.

 

Do a Little Dance

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Get your wiggle on and shake your bootay! Yes, this may well feel like the last thing in the world you wanna do- but it’s definitely a mood booster. Crank up your feel good track (may I suggest something by, Beyoncé, perhaps?) and let it all go baby. Just let that music take control and listen to your body- and let’s get this straight, it does not matter one bit if you look good, this tip is all about feeling good.

 

Make a Little Love6357408390420931231938245132_winkemoji_0

Ok so I mainly put this one in because I wanted to carry it on from ‘Do a Little Dance’ in true KC and the Sunshine Band fashion. But hey- getting down and dirty is sometimes the perfect distraction, and a great way to release some of those positive, happy endorphins.

 

Tidy Up

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This is another one where you’re probably thinking ‘Tidy? Really? You cray.’ but sweating it out, clearing it up, and going through all that stuff you haven’t touched in years is a great therapy. And it’s always a nice feeling when you’re able to see your carpet again.

 

Swear

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Get that word vomit out, and say all the worst words you know. Shout them if you want- scream them into your pillow, or whisper them into the ear of a loved one. However you wanna do it, sometimes saying those taboo words with all the conviction you can muster gives you a real sense of satisfaction and relief.

 

Cuddle

Macachi

I find a cuddle the best possible treatment for a bad mood or a bad day. One of those cuddles where you really hold each other tight and feel the hug. That physical closeness is so nice, and so much can be said in a hug. So find someone you love, or I suppose just anyone would do, and say ‘gimme a cuddle please’ and feel those happy and loving vibes spread through your body.


So there you have it, those are my top tips on dealing with a bad day. Feel free to use any of them for your own bad days, and let me know your top tips too 🙂


Bye!xo

Angry.


I’m angry.

I’m angry because I know someone who hurts people, and lies, and feels no remorse about it.

I’m angry because she is manipulative and spiteful, and full of misplaced hatred.

She inflicts physical and emotional abuse on her children, because she can’t control her anger. She offers them the bare minimum of parenting, and leaves her children neglected and unloved. She puts relationships with men, drugs, drink, parties… above her children’s need for a mother. Yet, she holds onto the kids, she fights for them. Why? Because she loves them? No. Because she is stubborn and doesn’t want their dad to ‘win’. Because she wants the child benefit that comes through at the end of the month.

She lies to social workers, the school, the police, herself, and to her child’s face- denying the accusations that she has inflicted physical pain on her children, when they have the marks to prove it, and the irrefutable emotional damage to match.

I’m angry because people believe her. Every time.

She puts the waterworks on, she puts the innocent act on, she puts the ‘I’m a single working mum, and I’m struggling’ act on. I think she genuinely believes her lies. She sits in a room with professionals and has the audacity to deny, deny, and deny again the truth. Her children who love her regardless, have finally and difficultly worked up the courage to speak up and talk about her abuse in the hope of a positive change, and she has the audacity to lie to their faces and tell them they’re wrong. She tells them and others that her children are lying, that they’re naughty, that it was an ‘accident’, and all that courage they worked up turns to fear as they realise, yet again, she’ll get away with it.

Why? Why will she get away with it? Because she’s a woman. If the same allegations were made against those children’s dad, do you think there is any way social services, the police, a court, would leave them in his care? Of course not. Through this whole process, he has been trying to safeguard his children, and even then, they barely want to give him the time of day. But her? 5 minutes in a room with the professionals and it was all just a ‘misunderstanding’. They buy her tears, they buy her lies, and they completely ignore the people who really matter in this situation- the kids who have suffered at her hands for years, who love her anyway, and just want that love in return, and she can’t even do them the decency or admitting her wrongs, taking the blame and doing something to change.

Why do we have a system in this country, that ignores serious accusations, ignores childrens wishes, and intervention is solely a tick-box exercise? Why do it take a childs death to make social services sit up and take notice? Why are cigarette burns, bruises, fingernail marks in necks, not sufficient triggers for concern?

She has cut one of her children off- at the age of 12, a little girl who adored her mum and just wanted a better relationship with her, now has no relationship with her at all, because her mum called her a liar and a bitch and told her she didn’t want anything to do with her. She now makes a choice to not even acknowledge her- to walk past her, and treat this poor child like a stranger. Imagine your mother, inflicting that level of emotional torture on you, at such a young age.

There are so many things unsaid. Every detail left out, every feeling brushed over, that I couldn’t go into now for many reasons.

She is not the kind of mother that struggles, puts her hands up and says ‘I’m not perfect!’- Because no one is perfect, and that’s ok. She is the kind of mother that treats her children like a pawn in a game, not wanting to let go for her own pride and selfish reasons, and that’s not ok. She has no real love or affection invested in those children. She likes the idea of loving them, but when it comes to it- there are far many other things she’d rather be doing.

She is immature, selfish, manipulative, ignorant, a liar, evil.

I am upset.

I am angry.

I am furious.


To the woman I am talking about in this blog: Childhood is supposed to be a safe and comfortable time, where you’re loved and looked after. Their childhoods have been tainted with stress, hurt and confusion. They are left with everlasting damage, all because you are so selfish and careless with their lives. I wish you could feel my rage and understand, but you can’t; you have no perception of the chaos you have caused in their innocent minds. You don’t acknowledge the self-hatred they have developed through all of this, because of you. You don’t see what you’ve done, and I hate you for it.


To you reading this: be kind. Please, be kind. If you have children someday, I beg you to think of them in all you do. Think of the enrichment they need from you, and from others. Don’t cut your parents out of their lives just because you don’t get on well with them. Don’t keep your children from your partner just because you’ve split up. Love selflessly- and yes, I know that is a big ask, I know that puts a lot on your shoulders, but do it. Do it for the knowledge that your kids will be able to live their lives being loved, being given the best they can be, and being protected from futile adult conflict that they should never have to be subjected to. Be kind.


 

20 Things Before I’m 30


I’ve never really been one for setting goals, targets, New Year’s resolutions, and all that jazz.

I find it hard enough getting out of bed in the mornings, let alone having unachieved goals to attend to, too. That being said however, I am now approaching my mid-twenties, and often find myself thinking:

‘what have I actually done with my life so far’

and

‘what do I want to do with my life?’

So, for the first time ever, and probably the last- I have written a bucket list!

Without further ado, here are:

20 THINGS I’D LIKE TO DO BEFORE I’M 30:

 

1. Get Hitched!

Marriage

I’ll get the obvious ones out of the way first shall I? In at number 1 is: getting married. There are a number of reasons I want to get married someday (that’s right; not just because I want to throw an amazing, elegant, glamourous, lavish, and way out of my price range party). I know, that not all marriages last. I know that some couples get married who don’t love each other, who fall out of love with each other, or just marry for the sake of it. I know there are couples out there who have never married, and are far happier than couples who have! I’m under no illusion that marriage means ‘happily ever after’.

But, for me, who has spent the majority of my life doubting myself, and doubting that someone could ever love me, and just the idea of somebody wanting to marry me, asking me to marry them, making that commitment in front of our loved ones, etc. etc. would be such a hugely significant gesture, that I just can’t pretend I wouldn’t love to receive.

If I don’t- it’s not the end of the World! I’d be happy enough to just be happy in love. But for now, it can retain its place at the top of the list.

 

2. Babies, Babies, and More Babies

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From a very young age- I have loved children. I could always be spotted with someone’s baby on my hip, cooing over them and wiping the dribble off their chin. I sometimes think that I was put on this earth with the sole purpose of being a mother, and that I’m even a mother now- just waiting for my children to come along. Is that sad? It actually probably sounds a bit creepy, doesn’t it?

I promise I’m not being creepy! I just have so much love in my heart to give to my future children, whether they are adopted into my family, born from a happy relationship, or however else they might get here- I just can’t wait to welcome them and watch them live a completely unique and fantastic life.

 

3. Buy a House

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This should probably come before the marriage and the babies, shouldn’t it? Oh well! In the next 6 years I’d like to be living in my own house, which I’d have successfully made into a home. With cosy rooms, and a kitchen that always smells delicious… I imagine there’d be a dog or 2 (or 3 or 4 or 5) running around as well.

 

4. Be a Viking

Jotunheimen, Norway

Yes, a Viking. Ok, so maybe not pillaging and plundering like a Viking, or mirroring any of their violent tendencies… but you know what I mean. For quite a while now, I’ve been yearning to travel to Norway- specifically Jottunheimen– to see where the Norsemen lived! I want to feel the breeze up in the mountains, and walk bare foot in the streams and lakes… I want to look up at the sky and to the mountains around and imagine what the Norsemen used to image… that Odin is up in the clouds ruling over Valhalla, and that Thor’s hammer could strike down any one of the magnificent mountains around me.

I dunno, just think that’d be pretty darn cool!

5. Travel

I’m not a very Worldly, well-travelled person- most of our holidays growing up took place in Wales, or somewhere else rainy and green (which I still loved). So, as well as venturing to Norway, there are a few other places I’m hoping to pay a visit to in the not too distant future. I’d particularly like to go to Canada and New York… just to see what all the fuss is about.

6. Whale Watching

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Now, I’m sure this won’t come as a shock to many who know me, but I love animals. What some people may not know is; I also love the sea. I tend to link this with being a water sign (Cancer), though I’m sure a lot of people think that’s codswallop. I get so much out of just being by the water, and the contrast of tranquillity and power of the ocean amazes and terrifies me, and the same can be said for the creatures that live in it. Whales are magnificent, and I’d absolutely love to see them enjoying their natural habitat up close.

 

7. Make the Perfect Cake

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I am partial to a spot of baking, and seem to have quite the knack for it (even if I do say so myself). I’ve made delicious brownies, cheesecakes, birthday cakes, muffins, cupcakes, biscuits… all sorts, with great flavours and… ‘interesting’ decoration. However, I don’t think I’ve ever quite achieved a ‘perfect’ cake. Some have been 1/10’s, others have been 9/10’s, but I’d quite like to be able to say I can make a; 10/10, delicious, fluffy, moreish, light but gooey, scrumptious cake.

8. Create My Own Recipe

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I’ve only started getting into cooking in the last year, and a bit like baking, seem to be a bit of a natural (please don’t think I’m boasting- I’m never usually a natural at anything, so I have to own it on the baking and cooking front). I really enjoy putting ingredients together, and watching it become something tasty. I’ve found some great recipes online or in books, from incredibly indulgent cheesy bacon pasta, to making my own healthy ragu’s. I tend to follow recipes strictly, down to the very last detail, until I get used to making them, then add my own flavours and twists once I’ve got to know them better. But what I’ve never done is completely created my own recipe. This is down to not having enough experience of what works and what doesn’t, so I’m hoping this will come in time, and that someday, I will have my own superb secret recipe to hand down the generations.

9. Get fit!

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After the last 2 points on this list being about food, you may have just laughed out loud at the title of this one. But really, I would like to be fitter. Not only would I like to get fitter to improve my health, but also so I can turn round to every single person that ever called me fat, and say:

‘Look at me now- I’ve changed, but you’ll probably always be a dickhead!’

And walk sassily away with my perfectly toned butt.

10. Go On a Yacht

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Again, it’s a water thing…I love being on the sea, feeling the waves underneath a boat and seeing nothing but blue surrounding you is unbeatable. I’ve been on plenty of boats, but there is a shallow part of me that would really like to go on a fancy, luxurious yacht, and spend a day out at sea, eating good food, drinking refreshing drinks, playing in the ocean and lounging out on some ridiculously overpriced leather seats on the deck of a boat. Don’t hate me for it- I just wanna see how the other half lives! However, the only way I’d be likely to do this, is to make friends with rich people who own yachts, which I’m sure is highly unlikely… so maybe I’ll settle for going on a cruise instead 😉 .

 

11. Immerse Myself in a Different Culture

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I’m definitely a home comforts kind of girl, and have always found it a struggle to venture outside of my comfort zone. When I expressed an interest a few years back in going on missionary aid trips abroad, people laughed and said;

‘How would you cope without washing your hair every day?’

‘You’d never cope with the heat!’

‘You wouldn’t be able to be away from home long enough’

Etc. etc. It filled me with doubt and I never took the leap. Now I’m older and wiser, and probably a bit more stubborn, I not only want to prove those people wrong, but I want to experience something unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before! I want to go somewhere where the way of life is a complete contrast to here, and to mine, and immerse myself in the culture and lifestyle. I want to learn new things, teach new things, gain different perspectives, and open my eyes to the World that’s outside my window… well, very far away from my window actually…

12. Be Good With Money!

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It pains me to admit, I’m not good with money, not at all. I wish I was! But I just seem to always get myself into a pickle… I try and budget every month, and something always goes wrong. So by the time I’m 30, I’d like to think I’d have got over this ‘phase’, and have finally learnt how to be frugal.

13. Harry Potter Studio Tour x 2

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I’ve been to the HP Studio Tour once before and it was magical! As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I am a proper HP nerd; so going somewhere that was completely dedicated to the films was heaven. I’ve been wanting to go back again since I walked out the exit the first time… but something always comes up; be it a lack of money, not having anyone to go with, getting the time to go, etc. So I think if I don’t get to go back before I’m 30, I may just cry.

14. Sort Out My Career

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Now, I have some pretty serious career goals already in the pipeline, and I know where I want to be this time next year, let alone by the time I’m 30. That being said, whether my current goal is achieved or not, I hope that by the time I’m 30, I’m in a job where it’s not a chore to go to work… where I’m doing something I love, and the pay is just a bonus. But then again, everyone wants that, right?!

15. Perfect the ‘Smoky Eye’

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I JUST CAN’T DO IT! I follow the instructions on the YouTube tutorials, I can do it on other people, but I cannot for the life of me give myself a good smoky eye!

16. Volunteer

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In my teens, and throughout my time at University, I volunteered quite a lot. Now I’m in full time work, the only volunteering I do is leading my Beaver group on a Thursday evening. Most volunteer roles require you to be available in the day time, or at weekends, which isn’t always practical. So, I’d like to find some volunteering opportunities that fit around my schedule, that I enjoy, and where I can give something back.

17. Grow Something

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I hate gardening, I find it really uninteresting and boring, and I’m not the kind of person that would ever own an allotment. But when I have my own house, I would quite like to be able to say I grew something in my garden! I don’t know, maybe just a carrot or a potato or something….?

18. Write a Short Story

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I’ve been into writing stories ever since I was little. I remember writing stories at school when I was supposed to be doing proper work, and bringing them home to read to my Grandma, who would always say what a colourful imagination I had, and encourage me to write more. When my Gran passed away, I found it really difficult to write anything that made sense; whether that was essays, or stories… words just didn’t seem to flow on a page (or out of my mouth for that matter) as easily as they had before. Blogging has encouraged me to start getting over that, but I still struggle with a block for writing fiction. I’d like to overcome this someday, and write a gripping short story that others might get as much pleasure out of reading as my Grandma would have.

19. Win The Lottery

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I put the lottery on almost every week (taking after my Grandad who did it religiously), and every week I convince myself I’m going to win. I never do! So, please, before I’m 30, I’d like to win a substantial amount on the lottery… that would be very nice. Thank you.

20. Be Happy!

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Despite everything I have listed on here, all I’d really like when I’m 30 is happy; whether that’s as happy as I am now, or even happier, that’d be great. Whether the rest of this list gets accomplished or not, doesn’t really matter to me a great deal, as long as I’ve got a smile on my face and feel content, as long as there are people for me to love, and people who love me, that’s all that really matters.


So, there you go! There’s my first bucket list. Why don’t you try writing one, too? Let me know what’s first on yours!


Bye! xo

Orlagh Grace


Orlagh. Orlagh G. Orlagm. Homio. Pallion.

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A.k.a. My wonderful best friend.

Orlagh and I met at secondary school; in the infamous ‘picnic area’. The picnic area was a sacred place: where more social and popular students went to the ‘bottom playground’, the picnic area was the place to be if you were a bit of an alternative misfit.

I can’t remember exactly when it was we first spoke to one another in this great place on a week day lunch time, but I’m so glad we did! Orlagh was in the year below me so we’d have never met if it hadn’t have been for that lure of the picnic area.

Whenever it was that we hit it off; it was the start of an amazing friendship! One that little did I know at the time would last 12 years!

At school, we would print off each other’s class timetables and keep them with our own so we always knew what lessons we’d be coming out of pre-lunch and break times (we’d also leave messages to each other if we knew the other was going to be in a classroom the other had been in that day).
We’d spend our breaks together and made each other laugh till we cried (still d. We’d walk around the school shouting names like ‘Josh!’ ‘Barry!’ ‘John!’, to see if anyone turned around. Most of the time people only turned around because they thought we were mad, not because they were actually called Josh, Barry or John.

Seeing Orlagh on our breaks was the absolute highlight of my day, every day. We’d talk and talk and talk, get home from school, and talk some more! Even looking back now, our messages on Facebook go back years, where we’d write essays to each other; about our day, about our families, about boys, about friends, and mostly about twilight (we were big fans of the books back in the day).

We stayed the closest of friends all through periods of change in both of our lives, from me leaving school, to Orlagh moving to Nottingham…

As we got older our interests changed from twilight, to getting tattoos and piercings, to boys, to scary film nights, etc.

As time went on, we both changed, we both grew up; but despite that, and despite the distance between us, we always remained close.

I would travel to Nottingham to see Orlagh, or Orlagh would come to Coventry and we’d spend days out together. Picnics, dubsmash, snapchat, and shouting ‘Oioi!’ out of the car window whilst blasting gangster rap, were (and are) some of our favourite pastimes.

The beauty of my friendship with Orlagh is that we laugh until we cry every time we’re together, we talk about everything and anything, we can ask each other questions no matter how strange or crude, we can cry to each other, we support each other, and we know 100% the other is going to be there no matter what.

Orlagh is my ride or die! She has been there for me through all of my rock bottoms (plug last blog post), and she goes above and beyond what friendship is about. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her.

So to summarise:

Orlagh,
I’ve had so many unforgettable, hilarious, amazing, emotional, and crazy times with you that mean the absolute world to me. I love you more than anything, and thank you so much for being the bestest friend I could have ever asked for. This blog is just a small shoutout to you and all you do for me. I love you x 1,000,000, and I’ll see you soon. Enjoy the photos!
Loves from, your Pallion xxxxxx


Bye xo


The Silver Lining to Hitting Rock Bottom

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I’ve been told that growing up I was a bubbly and confident child, until I started school, where I was a victim of bullying. Looking back, it’s funny how from aged 4 to 14, the types of bullying I experienced didn’t really change all that much, the bullies just got a bit nastier, a bit older, and did things a little differently. I experienced; hair pulling, being called names such as ‘fatty’, people making fun of my family, people whispering about me but so I could hear them, being purposely left out, being taunted on social media, etc.

Overall, due to these initial experiences, I spent the majority of my life being a very unconfident person, with serious self-esteem issues, and what seemed an innate self-hatred.

All of these experiences, thoughts, and feelings, led to a crippling journey with depression. A journey I am still on now, though little did I know that’s what it was at the time. Depression shaped my actions, and rather than talking about the symptoms and feelings of depression, I’ll tell my story about the effects of my actions- actions I took whilst suffering from a mental illness. But more importantly, I wanna talk about the good that’s come from the bad.

For as long as I can remember, I only ever saw myself as unlikeable, and unlovable. I was always a last resort, never a first choice. I wasn’t popular, funny, pretty, or desirable in any way, to any one. Therefore, I did my best to retreat, withdraw, and hide away, so as not to annoy anyone with my presence. I was quiet, shy, and feared being the centre of attention.

Around the age of 14 I hit my first ever rock bottom.

Rock bottom #1

I felt completely lost in a world where I believed no one could possibly understand me, or help me, and I would never have dreamt of burdening anyone by asking them to, anyway. I had no idea what to do, and all I wanted was to disappear- to die.

I remember walking to a friend’s house one afternoon on autopilot. When suddenly, with what seemed like no warning, I collapsed onto my knees and cried like I had never cried before. I cried from the pit of my stomach, and I screamed where I knelt. It was as though the physical and mental exhaustion and inability to cope had burst free and broken the dam I’d built to block it all out. I felt physically sick, and all I wanted was an answer- how could I get out? How could I end my life without hurting my loved ones, and without the risk of survival? After about 10 minutes, I managed to pull myself back into reality, and carry on as if nothing had happened, back into autopilot mode.

I was self-harming. I was desperate to hurt myself- because I hated myself. I hated myself for being so ugly, fat, unattractive, unconfident, unpopular… but I was also desperate to feel something. Feeling pain was better than feeling nothing at all. No one knew anything about what was going on, because despite common assumptions that people who self-harm are seeking attention, attention was the last thing I wanted. I covered up the scars on my arms every day, and every night, and feared anybody finding out.

I was creating fake profiles on all sorts of different chat rooms, and social media’s, pretending to be somebody I wasn’t; pretending to be the person I wished I was. I was older, pretty, slim, a model, had boyfriends, large groups of girl friends, lived alone, etc. I immersed myself in this persona I had created, it became a form of escape for me. I talked to hundreds and hundreds of strangers online, and had no idea of the real danger I was in.

Eventually I crumbled. One day, I sought out my head of year at school, and confessed everything I’d been feeling, everything I’d be doing, and all the terrible things I’d been thinking. Soon after that, I was referred for a mental health assessment, which led to me receiving counselling.

The next few years of my life were better. Much better. I came out of my shell, made great friends, and had hope for the future, rather than the dread I had grown accustomed to.

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So now we’ll fast forward a few years…  Thankfully, I was still in a semi-hopeful state of mind for my life, but I was definitely still experiencing the wrath of depression. I was on a dating site (a dodgy one, that concentrated on ‘larger’ women, as I thought that would be the only way I could find a man: if they knew what they were signing up for), and really wanting to find ‘the one’. I was desperate for the security I thought a relationship would give me, and also desperate to know if I was even capable of being loved by someone.

Having never been on a date before; when one of the most handsome men on the site asked me to meet him for dinner, I couldn’t believe my luck. I met him just 3 days after our initial messaging back and forth, and was the last of the 2 of us to arrive at the restaurant. I walked in, and he was stood at the bar with his back to me, looking around the room; I recognised him straight away. My cheeks instantly flushed and my heart raced- he was fucking gorgeous. Tall, lean, slick and handsome, dressed in a fitted suit that looked dreamy on him.

My instant reaction? There was absolutely no way he was looking for a girl like me.

But, much to my surprise, we had an absolutely wonderful evening, and it felt like the butterflies that were fluttering away inside my stomach, were fit to break out and fly away. He text me straight after he dropped me home saying what a great evening he’d had and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, we set our next date for bonfire night, where he invited me round his house to cook for me.

Alas, it was another perfect evening with amazing conversation. We had so much in common, and after we’d sat chatting for a while post a lovely meal, we noticed there were fireworks going off outside. He grabbed my hand, pulled me over to the window, where we stood watching, and then his arm was round me, and we were kissing. I thought I would explode with happiness.

It couldn’t have been going better, until he pulled away, took my hand and started to lead me out of the room and up the stairs. I was hesitant, I didn’t know what to do. I had never done anything with a man before that point, and didn’t know if I wanted to- but didn’t want to seem rude, I wasn’t sure what to expect, etc. We didn’t have sex, but we did get intimate, and he was the first man I was naked in front of. He could tell I was nervous, and was comforting, and reassuring, telling me he thought I was beautiful.

I left his house that night in absolute certainty that I had found Mr. Right.

And then, in the space of just 2 days, it ended before it had even started. His kind and chatty texts stopped as soon as I had left his house that night, and it wasn’t long before he had just stopped contacting me completely, with absolutely no explanation.

[Explanation later found- he was a dickhead.]

Rock bottom #2

I was young, I was naïve, and I was hit so hard by this quick and unexpected rejection by somebody who I had completely invested in, in such a short space of time. It confirmed everything I had always felt about myself; I was unlovable, unattractive, unworthy. Why did I ever fool myself into thinking he would have chosen me?

All this confusion and anxiety inside me that I’d been carrying for all my life, boiled inside me, combined with hatred, bitterness, exhaustion, exasperation, anger, sadness… and then it happened: it erupted like a volcano and destroyed me.

I changed, completely, overnight.

The next 2 years were quite unlike anything I had ever experienced. I went from being a cautious, quiet, friendly person, to being a rebellious, emotionless, risk taking, person, who didn’t care about a thing.

How did I channel this?

I cut myself off from everyone. This was also to do with misplacing my trust in people who abused it- but unfortunately I took it that step further, and instead of just cutting those people out of my life, I cut everyone out. I still wanted their friendships, I still cared about them to an extent, but I didn’t want them to care for me or ask me about my life, because that had now become a very private thing, enclosed within some very high walls. I was determined not to let anyone else inside, ever, ever again.

I became cold, calculated, and numb.

I lost my virginity to a man I met online, in an awfully shabby hotel room, and I never spoke to him again. I drove there to meet him knowing full well what I was about to do, without feeling a single thing- no nerves, no caution, no wondering what it would be… I felt nothing, my mind was blank for the whole 45 minutes I drove, and for the whole night proceeding.

This was the start of a chain of pointless dates and one-night stands. I was using men, as much as they were using me… I wanted their gaze, to feel like I was wanted and attractive, because it validated me. But I let myself believe I never wanted more than that. I kid myself I didn’t need more than that. I thought I was mysterious and independent, but in reality, I was so terrified of being hurt that I pushed people away before they could have the chance to hurt me.

What I was doing was very dangerous, but I did it because I was so out of touch with my emotions, and I had no regard or interest in the value of my life. What did I care if the man I met in the middle of nowhere raped or murdered me? So be it.

In my routine of chatting to men online, I started speaking to a man, who it transpired I had quite a spark with. We chatted for a while, we met up, the usual happened, but no matter how much I told him I wasn’t interested in anything more, the ‘more’ gradually arrived. We slowly but surely developed a relationship, and the days of recklessness seemed to be gone.

We were a great pair! We made each other laugh, we shared the same opinions on things, and we fell in love. It was always a complicated relationship, but we were best friends. For the first time in my life I experienced what it felt to be truly cared for.

After just under a year we ‘broke up’, but continued on as if nothing had changed for another few months. It seemed that neither of us could move on and be happy, without the other.

Another few months down the line, and after some snooping on social media, my world came crashing down.

I found out he was married, and had a child.

As I mentioned; our relationship had always been complicated. There were a lot of rules about the time we could spend together, when I could call him, etc. but I always buried my suspicions, looked the other way, and believed the lies that he told me: that he was busy caring for his recently widowed mother.

We met up and I confronted him, as a teary, snotty, mess. I know despite his wrongdoings that he had loved me, but this was the end for us. I would never have willingly entered into that relationship, had I known what I found out, and now I knew, I couldn’t continue with it. However, it was so hard to see the man that I had loved, and try and apply this hate to him that I felt. It just didn’t fit.

Rock bottom #3

You know when you cup your hands and pick up sand, but it just falls through your fingers? I felt like that was my life. I had no control or grip on it.

I had based my happiness on another human being, and now it was gone again. I felt like I’d been so stupid.

I prepared myself for the next round of shit that had usually come with hitting rock bottom, however, after a few weeks of not eating or sleeping, of crying myself to sleep, I surprisingly felt… ok. There were even some days within the first few weeks that I felt happy.

I had spent so many years building walls, being hard faced, and not caring, that this had seemed to form a new found confidence in me, and the ability to cope with copious amounts of crap. I realised that actually maybe this relationship I thought was perfect, really wasn’t? Maybe, me being out of it, didn’t mean I was destined to go back to pointless flings. Maybe, just maybe, it had shown me I deserved more than the flings, and more than him.

I took that time, and those feelings, and really reviewed where I was at in my life. Did I want to spend my life never truly feeling satisfied or happy because I was determined not to get hurt again, to just turn a blind eye to what could be? Or did I risk the hurt, and chance the possibility I might find happiness, if I just let myself be free.

I took the gamble.

I spent time investing in myself for the first time ever. I joined the gym, I got a new job, I saw more of my friends, I learned to say ‘no’, I steered well clear of men for a while, and I spent more time with my family.

After the years of not knowing who I was, I finally felt a little more grounded in my sense of self. I was living for me, and wanting to live. I stopped telling myself things that weren’t true, like; I didn’t want a relationship, I didn’t want my own family, I didn’t want happiness. Because actually, those were the things I had wanted all along, more than anything, I just hadn’t wanted to be vulnerable.

After a while, I re-entered the wonderful world of online dating, and went on a date with a nice looking lad called Oliver. This was the first date I’d been on where I had been truly myself. I even dribbled my drink down myself at one point (accidently, not on purpose). We talked lots, and I let myself be mundane, I didn’t even try to be sexy and sophisticated (like I had done before).

After our date, I wasn’t expecting to hear from him again. I had mentally prepared myself for a gruelling time of dating, before finding somebody I connected with… but sure enough there was a second date, and a third, and it was scary, but amazing! I was totally falling for this guy already, he was kinder than anyone I had ever met before, funny, and down to earth. He wasn’t a middle class, middle aged, business man looking for one thing. He was just a real person, with a beautiful soul.

Seven months on, and Oliver is living with me, and I couldn’t even imagine feeling more loved and accepted. He’s seen the best in me, the worst in me, and all the bits in between, and he’s still here, still loving me, still letting me love him. I am not scared or cautious to invest in Oli, because he is beyond worth investing in, and he has also invested in me. He chooses me time and time again, and each time it takes my breath away.

So, where am I going with this 3 page essay?

silverlining2

Ah, yes, the silver linings!

So, all in all, that’s 3 major rock bottoms I experienced in my life, with spurts of serious depression on and off throughout. So what are my silver linings?

If I hadn’t have reached the bottoms, I wouldn’t have…

Learnt that a problem shared in a problem halved

Realised who my true friends were

Learnt that I had nothing to lose by coming out of my shell, and not hiding myself away

Experienced my first date! Regardless of what came to pass, that’s a milestone, and it was still a great date

Learnt to guard my heart

Got over my shyness, and gained confidence

Learnt to feel free to speak my mind

Seen the best and the worst in people

Seen the best and the worst in me

Had fun in the process! It wasn’t all bad, all of the time. Some of the dates I went on, and the nights I had, were great, and no different to what other women experience. I learnt to let my hair down.

Experienced falling in love

Experienced heartbreak and came out the other side

Experiend betrayal and came out stronger

Been strong enough to walk away from someone who had a hold on me

Been able to look at my life and make constructive changes

Become unapologetically myself

Learnt to care again

Met the kind of man I thought didn’t really exist, I met the man I want to spend the rest of my life with

Learnt that being vulnerable is one of the bravest things you can be

Basically, this has been a really long, drawn out way of saying: life has loads, and loads, and loads of shit times.

Whether it’s circumstantial, a mental illness, or both: life can be really hard, and really tough. But for every bad experience you have, and for every down phase you go through, there is always something you can take away from it that you didn’t have before. A lesson to learn, a feeling to cherish, a new characteristic, or even just the desire never to be in that place again.

And it’s not as simple as up and down. You don’t start at the top then just pelt it down to rock bottom, it’s a journey. One day you’ll be feeling awful, and the next you might be ok… your rock bottom may last moments or it may last months, and the recovery isn’t simple.

I started off as a young, naïve, loyal, sensitive, and kind person, and over time I changed. I changed into a not always nice, quite cold person, who was determined to be alone. Now I’ve become a confident, kind, strong, loyal and driven person, who will definitely not take any shit, but is sure of my morals, and I won’t deny, I 100% do care.

Had I not been through all that I’ve been through, I would never be the person I am today.

You have to go through life, learning the lessons and taking the punches, because they will mould you and shape you into the warrior you’re destined to be.

Most importantly, try to remember: the bad times, make the good times even better.


If you’re struggling with a mental illness, why not seek help? It won’t solve your problems, it won’t change you overnight, and it won’t rid you of your mental illness. But it may just give you that support system you need, and the skills to cope. It could help pull you through, and get you to the other side where you’ll be a stronger you.


Bye xo

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