Meet The Maker- All About Me

22853321_10155332911794531_4485875489526709737_nThis month I’ve been taking part in the #marchmeetthemaker challenge and I thought the prompts could make a really good series of blog posts. I’m a proud maker and creative who also has mental and physical chronic illness. I don’t let it define me and my personal journey has inspired a lot of craft and creativity. So my first blog post will be a little more about me and what I do!

I’m Kate and I’m a writer, art journaller and book loving creative from York. I grew up in the beautiful Suffolk countryside and am take lots of inspiration from nature and the world around me, especially the sea! I love anything crafty, creative or vintage, which you’ll see makes up a lot of the theme of my shops! I live with my two cats Nala (18mth old rescue tortoiseshell) and Stitch (7 year old hand reared Blue Burmese) who are my top crafting buddies.

 

 

I have chronic mental and physical illness which is something that means life can be a little unpredictable at times. I’ve learnt to adapt on the poorly days and craft has become a really big part of my life. It’s great because you can craft pretty much anywhere and even when I’m unwell, I can do something creative to lift my spirits.

I discovered the wonderful Conscious Crafties site a little while ago now and have two stores on there and two Etsy stores too! The best part about being a Craftie is that you are surrounded by talented people who are all facing challenges of their own, it’s really supportive and it’s helped me to build up my confidence and keep believing in myself!

I try to art journal or craft everyday. I learnt to crochet about a year ago now and I’ve been building up my crochet skills since then. I’m still at a pretty basic level but I’m definitely getting much quicker!

 

 

I make a selection of different crafts for my crafty stores: #datewithabook sets, wax melts, stationery, paintings and painted jewellery and crocheted items… just to name a few! I’ve recently started acrylic pouring which is so much fun… if a little messy!

 

 

Craft, for me, is all about expressing myself, relaxation and being able to make something that I love or someone else will treasure. I initially wanted to make things that would be comforting and supportive to people who might be struggling with their mental or physical health… and it grew from there. While my overall range of crafty items has increased, the fundamental wish to make something beautiful and meaningful has remained. Everything I make is made with love and care and wrapped to make a beautiful gift for the person who has brought the item or a recipient… everyone deserves to feel special and cared for.

You can check out my Conscious Crafties site here!

 

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A Message of Hope In Difficult Times

Just over a week ago, the world felt like a different place. Things felt a little less sad and scary than they do today. We are in the aftermath of great tragedies both close to home, Nationally and Internationally; and surrounded by the uncertainty of an election where it feels as though many people are feeling alienated by the politicians who are meant to represent them. Looking at the world feels terrifying, there is so much hatred and suffering right now and we seem to be in the midst of so much change, that it feels really unstable and messy. People around me are hurting and struggling and it’s hard to always find the positivity and hope to get through the tricky bits to a new day. What is the use in powering through if it’s going to just feel the same? In the depths of my struggles and battles with mental illness, I have felt really hopeless at times; I’ve had times where I’ve not been able to imagine a life without my demons and it’s felt awful, to say the least. But, despite the hard times, there were always little glimpses of hope. I think Dumbledore said it best:

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In times of difficulty, it’s so important to take stock of everything around you that is good. Look out for the tiny positives, wherever you can find them because the little things can build up and grow to a much larger amount of hope and goodness. Once you start recognising the good around you, your mindset can be shifted and things can feel a little easier and more positive. When I was in inpatient treatment, we completed a task of noticing positives or negatives during the same day and reporting back to the group. We found that it was much easier for people to find negative things about their day as opposed to those who were looking for positives, however those who were trying to purposefully find something good in their day generally had a better day and noticed the little things that were good. People who were looking for negatives tended to slip into a spiral of catastrophizing everything that was happening around them and assumed their day was going to be bad anyway. Despite it just being a short and non-scientific experiment, it was impressive to see there was a difference between the two groups. Now, the effects of positivity and gratitude are

Now, the effects of positivity and gratitude are widely discussed, with examples of improvement health, happiness and wellbeing demonstrated.  Whilst looking for a little positivity or gratitude, or even trying to create a little for ourselves each day won’t fix the world around us or protect us from some of the horrible, unfair and upsetting things that life can throw our way; it can help to create the resilience and strength we need to find a way through the dark times and back into the light. These good bits of life are like the little glints of sunshine getting through, add them all up and you might find your days get a little brighter and you feel a little stronger.

We are in difficult times at the moment and it is so important to seek support from those around you or professionals if you are struggling. You deserve happiness and healthiness and you deserve whatever support you need to get to that place. Stay strong everyone.

My Mental Illness Is Real: Stop Making Me Prove It

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I read an article on The Guardian website a couple of weeks ago that got me thinking. The article talked about society’s apparent need to conceptualise mental illness as a ‘real’ thing, in a way that is physical and material. It’s something that has bothered for a long time; there seems to be such a divide between mental and physical illnesses and as someone with mental health problems, it can be exhausting trying to validate an illness that others can’t see.

The article describes society’s need to find ways to present mental illness as equal to physical illness and it’s something I’ve faced frequently during periods of struggling with my mental health.

Simplistic biological explanations tend to increase stigma, not least because they cement a division between ill and well people. Many people have felt silenced and traumatised by such accounts, feeling that the illness model shuts down their truth.

There is an implicit suggestion here that mental health problems have to be viewed as being equivalent to physical illnesses if they are to warrant society’s care and funding.

The Guardian Website

It’s no surprise that it can be challenging for people to understand something they cannot see, as humans we often need something tangible to hook into. But there seems to be a great focus on people with mental illness to need to prove that it’s there, something that seems less apparent with physical health problems. When was the list time you needed to demonstrate you had asthma, for instance? People tend to accept your condition at face value without needing to have proof of it.

I asked people with mental or hidden illnesses to share what they wished they could tell friends around them about their condition: 

  • Just remember. Ask but not push. Learn about it. Learn the signs.
  • When you say “Yes I found X hard too, then I did Y and it was better” in response to me saying I cannot do something, it is hurtful; it shows you believe I could do it if I wanted it enough or if I was more like you. There is often a hint in there that you are finding it frustrating. If you want me for example, my room to be tidy that much, you could just ask if I would like it if you helped me to do it. Otherwise, you can accept that what I am saying is the truth: cannot, not will not. No matter how much you may think “if she can do X, why can’t she do Y?”
  • Knowing that the unknown can panic someone, like not knowing if food is involved, how long you’ll be doing whatever it is, who’ll be there etc. Be understanding if someone is too freaked/anxious or uncomfortable being there!
  • Simply believe me. Just because you cannot see it, certainly doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. When I am bad, the world doesn’t see me, only my bed does. So please believe me in every way. If I say I am not up to something today, it’s true. I shouldn’t have to justify myself to my friend.
  • Don’t give up on my as a friend because I’m always cancelling or having to leave early. Don’t think I’m lazy because I need to sleep lots.
  • It’s not ‘just a crumb’, it’s poison to me
  • Just because I cancel at the last minute every time, it doesn’t mean I don’t value our friendship. It means I just couldn’t that day.

So what can you do to support someone you know who is struggling with a mental or hidden illness: 

  • Please understand– sometimes I need a nap in the day. I am not lazy, I cannot always sleep at normal times and everyday activities exhaust me.
  • Please still include me– I cannot always participate but I feel good when included and will participate whenever I can.
  • Please don’t judge me– sometimes I go silent and hibernate, sometimes I express my pain through status updates or messages. I’m very vulnerable when I do this and appreciate kindness.
  • Please forgive me– when I’m not there for you as a friend, because I’m struggling to keep my head above water and survive.
  • Please understand– my medication sometimes makes me sleepy/out of sorts/upset etc. I may seem over the top at times, but at that point, I’m just needing a comforting response.
  • Please be patient with me– it’s difficult living with an illness. There are days when I’m not myself and not up to all the things I might have once done. Please give me time and patience and maybe we can do those things once more.

Hidden and mental illnesses warrant the same support and respect from friends, family and those around them. It can feel challenging to have to prove you’re unwell if you condition isn’t obvious from looking at you, but it doesn’t make it any more valid. Perhaps try and discuss why proof is necessary rather than feeling the need to provide it.

40 Things To do When You Feel Dark And Twisty

So you’re in the dark place, but what can you do to pass the time while you’re there and ultimately help you to get out of it and back to an adequate level of humaning? I’ve come up with my go-to list of dark and twisty activities, that can be used at varying levels of commitment, motivation, energy and willingness to participate in any form of life. 

The feeling of ‘dark and twistiness’ was brought to us by the incredible Shonda Rhimes, the amazing creator of Grey’s Anatomy, who has also been described as a ‘life ruiner’ for her heartbreakingly wonderful yet emotionally wrecking writing. I’m a bit obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy, partly because I generally love most medical dramas, but also because the lead character Meredith Grey seems to channel a lot of the inner turmoil and deal with a whole lot of life shit that connects with me on a spiritual level.

The idea of dark and twistiness came to the world from Grey’s and explained the type of person in life who is generally dark and pessimistic but also has the ability to perceive a situation to be the worst it possibly can be. The reason for becoming ‘dark and twisted’ is having lived through difficult times that have in fact prepared you for the world, rather than being someone who is bubbly and positive and therefore clearly doomed to hit unhappiness and reality out of the blue. Ok, it may seem like it’s negative to be ‘dark and twisty’ but I see it as quite the opposite, it’s a kind of understanding that life is shit but actually you can be ok with that and sometimes allowing yourself to be in the ‘dark and twisty’ place means you can hit those feelings head on and deal the crap out of them!

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So, often it seems, I reach my dark and twisty max level and want to grab Stitch and spoon under my duvet until the end of time. Whilst this is a totally good use of time to just sit with the feelings, it can also be less than ideal when you are required to be an actual human. It’s important to remember that it really is ok to have real dark and twisty moments, real life is full of difficult times and the key is to be able to get through them rather than pretend they’re not real or try to do everything you can to never have them.

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So you’re in the dark place, but what can you do to pass the time while you’re there and ultimately help you to get out of it and back to an adequate level of humaning? I’ve come up with my go-to list of dark and twisty activities, that can be used at varying levels of commitment, motivation, energy and willingness to participate in any form of life.

  1. Open the curtains– if you can’t go out, let some of the world in. Sunshine can help you feel a little more like you can do some of life and if the weather is miserable it can help give you a good reason to hibernate and focus on self-care for the day. Open them a little way if you can’t face the whole word at once. Sitting in the dark isn’t good for your mood, let in some light and see if it helps you feel a little better.
  2. Call in sick– just because the feeling is in your head, it doesn’t mean it’s not an acceptable reason to take some time off to feel better. Sometimes it’s better to give in and accept you’re feeling dark and twisty than keep pushing through until you crash. If you had flu, you would take time to recover and mental health shouldn’t be different just because you can’t see it… well I mean if you’re only able to lie like a starfish on your bed, it’s pretty obvious you’re not doing all that great!
  3. Lie like a starfish on your bed– for me, starfishing is very therapeutic. Sometimes I will set an alarm and allow myself a period of time to just feel sad, angry, frustrated… whatever it is and take up the position of starfish face down on my bed while I feel those feelings. It doesn’t have to be done in starfish form, but giving yourself a set time to be sad can be so helpful as you give yourself permission to do it, let it out, and then in some mental way can often move on from that feeling and allow yourself the brain space to do something else.
  4. Find a new project or learn something– I’ve recently taken up crocScreen Shot 2017-02-14 at 19.01.11.pnghet. Being a massive perfectionist, I tend to hate the beginning of new hobby as I dislike being ‘rubbish’ at something intensely. Thankfully a patient friend persisted with me and taught me the basics of crochet… I’m now officially hooked! The benefit of crochet is I can do it when I am lacking in brain power. It doesn’t matter if I’m not feeling great, I can get a really satisfying feeling of making progress with a project, as well as it being fantastic as a distraction from the way I’m feeling.
  5. Watch a whole lot of Netflix-of course, other streaming platforms are available! Netflix is full of all sorts of films and tv shows etc; that can be a real escape from a difficult mood or stressful feelings or emotions. Netflix can make it easy by playing the next episode automatically for you to save brain power!
  6. Spend time on Pinterest– Pinterest can be really useful if you’re struggling. It’s full of positive inspiration, interesting ideas and tutorials and general distraction. I have created different boards to suit different purposes and emotions. Pinterest is one of my go-to distractions.
  7. Turn off your phone– when the world is overwhelming, the constant ‘on call’ nature of modern technology can be exhausting. Whilst it can be great to be available, the presence of read receipts and notifications that you’re online can mean you don’t get a break from people. If you’re feeling a little peopled out, take some time with your phone turned off, or at least in another room. It can be really freeing to not feel the need to check it all the time.
  8. Avoid social media– similarly, it can be really soothing to have a social media free day. Social media is an amazing way to connect with people, but it can also be a real stress if you’re not feeling great. Feeling the need to keep up with everyone else’s perfect lives is not only exhausting, but it’s not necessarily real! People often present their lives on social media as ‘instagram perfect’ when they may not really be as happy and perfect as they seem. Taking a social media break can help you focus on you and also help you stop comparing yourself to other people.
  9. Keep hydrated– dehydration can have an impact on mental health as well as physical health; such as causing anxiety, difficulties in focus and concentration and generally cause lethargy which can lower your mood. Keeping hydrated can help you feel a little more energetic and if nothing else, may stop you feeling worse!
  10. Morning pages-a fantastic ED nurse Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 10.30.51.pngintroduce myself and a friend to
    morning pages. I’d never heard of them before, but now I’m an avid morning page convert! It’s a really simple process. All you need is a blank notebook or sketchbook and some pens or pencils. The idea is to write or draw whatever is in your head first thing in the morning before you do anything else. The benefit of getting ‘out’ what’s in your head, is it can help you to realise what you’re thinking and act as a healthy way to let out difficult emotions etc. Morning pages can be a really good addition to your routine or something you use when you’re feeling dark and twisty. The key is to not look back over the pages. Once the thought it out, it doesn’t need to be revisited as this can cause you to feel the same emotion again if you’re reminded of it.
  11. Blog or journal-another way to try and get out difficult feelings is to write in a journal or write a blog post. There are lots of journalling prompts on Pinterest and other sites, or you could free write to get whatever you’re struggling with ‘out’ on paper.
  12. Crafting– one of my favourite self-care acScreen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.00.57.pngtivities is craft. Whether it’s
    drawing, painting, sewing, crocheting or anything that allows me a little bit of downtime, craft is so essential to maintaining good mental health. Craft can be something that’s really personal to you. You don’t need to show anyone or need it to be perfect. It can just fulfill a purpose; whether it’s as a distraction, as something you enjoy or as an outlet for the way you’re feeling.
  13. Sleep or rest– sometimes, all you can do is rest and build up your strength to fight on another day. It’s important to keep an eye on your sleeping patterns, in case you are using sleep as a way of avoiding rather than in a more positive way. Listen to your body, it’s so wise and will let you know if you need to have some rest. When you’re struggling with your mental health, you will probably feel it physically too. Listen to what you’re body tells you it needs and think about resting as a bit of self-care.
  14. Try and read something– even if you lack concentration and can only read a page (or the same page about a million times), a little escape into a book can be a way to help lift your mood or distract you from the way you are feeling. Children’s books, poetry or your favourite classics can be easier if you’re lacking concentration and still feel like an achievement when you complete them.
  15. Surround yourself with comfy blankets/cushions/snuggly things– self soothing is a key part of distress tolerance techniques. Finding things that help you to feel safe, calm and comfortable; can really help you to feel a little better or more grounded. Experiment and find the things that help the most.
  16. Put up some happy pictures on the wall– again, pictures can really promote wellbeing and remind you of the reasons you’re getting through the hard days. Photos are also a brilliant way to feel closer to people who you’re away from, such as family and friends.
  17. Get out feelings with paint– recently my life has been all about art journalling! Art journalling is a great way to express yourself, get out difficult feelings or emotions, motivate or inspire yourself… and all the while be really creative and experimental.
  18. Throw something at the wall (ping pong balls are good)– sometimes you just need to get an emotion out quickly. Often this can lead to unhelpful or harming behaviours. But a similar effect can be gained from doing something that can feel destructive but is essentially a safe activity! For example throwing a ball at a wall, shredding newspaper or screaming into a pillow.
  19. Have a mega clear out– spring cleaning and getting rid of clutter can feel really productive and help you feel like you are doing something beneficial. Getting rid of things you don’t want or need anymore can help the space around feel more calm and help centre or ground you a little.
  20. Reorganise your room– creating a nice clear space to think in can be so helpful if you’re not feeling great, once you’ve got rid of any excess clutter, perhaps have a move around and try and find a little Hygge or Feng Sui.
  21. Go back to the films and TV that give you most comfort– most people have a film or tv program that makes you feel happier; whether it’s a classic from your childhood or a series you’ve seen so many times, you know all of the words. Revisiting something that reminds you of good times, helps you to feel calmer and more content, or acts as a bit of background noise to keep out the dark and twisty thoughts can be really helpful.
  22. Listen to music– music that reflects how you’re feeling or tries to get you into a different mind frame is another way to either get the dark and twisties out, or help you feel a little better. Creating a playlist of songs for different moods can be a great bit of distress tolerance distraction and once you have them, they can be really accessible when you need a bit of a musical interlude. Explore other people’s playlist for different moods if you want to see what other people have found helpful, that might suit you too.
  23. Eat what you fancy– sometimes a little comfort food is just what you need to nurture yourself when you’re not feeling great. Tasty food that you really fancy can be really helpful for your wellbeing and giving in to a craving can feel like a real treat.
  24. Take vitamins– when you’re not feeling great, a boost of vitamins can help you feel less run down and stave off any illness when your immunity might be low. Vitamin deficiencies can cause mental health issues or exacerbate them and poor mental health can similarly cause deficiencies. The likelihood is that difficult patches with your mental health could leave your body needing a bit of help, so taking vitamins could help shorten the difficult patches or even prevent them in the first place.
  25. Spend time with your pets or with animals– Animals can be really soothing and the links between animals and improved mental health and wellbeing are widely discussed.  It can be helpful to observe that animals live in the moment, they don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow, they are content with the here and now, perhaps showing us a different way of being. Pets can reduce stress and anxiety as well as be a comfort on a difficult day. They can be a real motivation to get up and look after them and them are good reminders of the simple things that are required in life such as food and water.
  26. Have a shower and get dressed– when you’re struggling to find motivation, self-care can fall by the wayside. Sometimes having a nice relaxing shower or bath can be another way to soothe your dark and twistiness.
  27. Take a trip in your mind– your imagination is a really powerful thing. When your head is in a difficult or negative place, doing a little mindfulness or using your brain in a more creative way can be really helpful. Take a trip in your mind to a place that feels safe or special to you, or even choose somewhere you would like to go to. Remember or imagine as much as you can using all of your senses. The more detailed the image, the more distracted or calm you could feel.
  28. Spend some time in nature– finding a way to connect with nature around you can help you find some stillness and beauty within a difficult day. Find spaces of natural beauty around you and enjoy the smells, sight and feel of the nature around you. Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 11.18.37
  29. Look for inspirational quotes, literature or poetry– looking for some inspiration from others can help you feel more positive or help you find some motivation. Collect positive quotes etc in a journal or on your phone so you can refer back to them at times of need.
  30. Do some yoga– the process of learning and practicing yoga has lots of benefits for mental and physical wellbeing. The idea is to do what you can and not push yourself past your limit. A big part of yoga is focusing on breathing, which can really help if you are feeling anxious.
  31. Take a gentle walk– A nice calm walk to see something nice, visiting someone you care for or doing something like feeding the ducks can give you some respite from the difficulties you’re facing. Take a friend or go alone with your camera and make sure you notice the little things as you go along.
  32. Have long gaming sessions– whether you’re a seasoned gamer or have a copy of the Sims from when you were a teenager; gaming sessions can act as a real escape from difficult times. Getting stuck into building the best Sims palace you can, you might find you get sucked into playing which gives you a break from your head.
  33. Treat yourself– a little treat can help to pick up your mood, or act as a tool to manage your struggles.
  34. Allow yourself to not be human for a while without feeling guilty about it– it’s ok to not feel ok. Some days are a real challenge and can feel impossible to get through. It can be helpful to allow you to feel the way you feel without trying to fight it. Curling up on the sofa for the day and watching reruns of your favourite tv is often as good as a proper break. You don’t have to feel guilty about it, if you had flu you would take a day off work. Mental health struggles are still illnesses, just invisible ones.
  35. Reach out to friends who can support you- friends can be a really useful support network who can provide company, advice, distraction and understanding. It can be hard to explain the way you’re feeling to friends. But once they know what you’re going through, they are a great source of love and hugs which can help you feel better.
  36. Get some fresh air– even if it’s just sitting in the garden doing nothing, fresh air and a little change of scenery can help you feel a little better than staying cooped up at home.
  37. Make something with your hands to get out of your head– like baking, knitting or colouring. Keeping yourself busy can give your head a different focus. It can be really distracting to learn something new to keep you head extra occupied.Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 12.37.25
  38. Eat something really nourishing and tasty– A simple recipe with some mundane chopping will give you a good meal and help you feel like you’ve done something for yourself.
  39. Invite over some company– sometimes being alone when you’re not feeling great is not the most helpful thing to do. Time alone can be good, but isolating yourself can make ruminating on the thoughts and way you are feeling worse. Finding friends who understand what’s going on for you can be really helpful, but sometimes just having someone with you as a distraction is enough.
  40. Ask for some more support– it’s ok to not feel ok. Sometimes you need a helping hand from someone who cares about you and can support you. Support can come from friends or family members, but sometimes you need a little more than friendly people around you. Your GP can be a good start to getting more help, they can prescribe medication or refer you to secondary mental health professionals. Sometimes it can be hard to communicate the way you’re feeling, writing it down or using a different medium such as art can help you to explain.

 

The irony is, this blog took me a number of weeks to complete because of my own dark and twistiness. My way of managing it was to think of some of the ideas within this blog as well as reaching out to those around me to help. The feeling of overcoming a patch of greyness is amazing. It’s hard to imagine getting through it, but when life begins to brighten around you, you may not even remember the depths of where you have climbed from. 

Hoping For Some Sensitivity This Halloween

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Autumn is hands down my favourite season. The crisp frosty mornings, crunchy leaves, beautiful colours and opportunity to wrap up in lots of layers; never ceases to make me happy. The only issue is that it brings with it Halloween… which I meet with an equal amount of excitement and trepidation.

Wednesday Addams is clearly my spirit animal. Those who know me, understand that my dark and twisty soul has a lot in common with her. In theory… Halloween should also be up there with Autumn on the list of best times of year! I mean… dressing up… good… get to wear black… also good… and get to demonstrate your passion for death and doom… perfect! However, it’s fraught with all sorts of things that can make it an anxious persons nightmare. I already had a mini panic yesterday where I feared trick or treaters may be upon the house over the weekend, due to Halloween being on a week day… which meant I was not prepared! Thankfully, we’ve so far not received any early birds… but the anxiety is still there.

For people who are anxious, or struggling with many different elements of their mental health. Halloween can be pretty tricky. If you spend your ‘regular’ days on the look out for doom and the probable terrifying situations your brain invents for you; the addition of actual monsters, witches and zombies (eugh my least favourite) can suddenly make fears seem all the more real. When I am struggling with my OCD, I tend to have ‘lovely’ dreams about horrible and scary things. It’s not ideal to have some of those facing me if I want to head out after dark tomorrow… ironic coming from the girl who watches a lot of CSI and murder mystery… but hey perhaps I’m just trying to be totally clued up, in expectance of an imminent axe murdering!

Halloween has always been an interesting concept for me. When I was little, we were discouraged from trick or treating, with the explanation that it wasn’t really very nice to go around threatening people for sweets and chocolate. Whilst this is perhaps a movement away from the intended fun spirit of the holiday, there’s a grain of truth in there. Last year, despite dutifully opening the door throughout the night and attempting to identify the costumes of small children who appeared at the door (apparently ‘what a lovely dead thing you are’ doesn’t quite cut it!); our house was still egged! For those who feel too anxious to go to the door, it’s really not fair to punish them for not wanting to be involved.

Halloween comes from an ancient festival that celebrated the day of souls crossing over and people would knock on doors asking for food in return for prayers for the dead. The idea of tricks was something that became of Halloween later on. Over the years Halloween has become more of an event, but of course it’s not a compulsory celebration!

I’ve already spent time worrying about whether or not to let Stitch out, after seeing animal activists sharing information about cats being injured or attacked over Halloween; I’ve worried I’ve not got enough sweets and perhaps we may fall victim to tricks regardless; I’ve worried that actually I might not feel up to getting involved and want to just get a chilled early night and pretend I’m not in!! I’ve spent time reading articles about this years array of insensitive ‘crazy person’ costumes… and overall I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps we all need to be a little more sensitive this year over Halloween! Sensitive that some people might not want to get involved or may feel scared by some elements of the celebrations and that’s totally ok. It’s ok to not actually scare people during Halloween but still have a great time!

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Thank You Adele

142ae7a41e4af7e1a18b9013d5f7d4b5I wanted to take a moment to thank Adele for releasing her new song ‘Hello’. It’s a beautiful song and of course her amazing talent shines through. If you’ve not listened to it yet, then I really urge you to go and do that now!

The main reason I wanted to say my thanks was because it’s a song that seemed to reach inside of me and really take a bit of what I’ve been trying to say and put it into the most beautiful words. I love music and singing, but it’s been a while since I really felt a song this much.
According to a review by The Telegraph; Hello offers a glimpse into Adele’s inner private sphere, singing of loss and regret, of loss and attempts to rekindle friendships that have drifted apart. As I sat listening in the car today, I felt myself going all goose-pimply and just thinking ‘yes, that’s exactly it’.

I’ve always wanted to write beautifully, in an inspiring and poetic kind of way. Moving people not only by the content of my words but with my own style. Perhaps the perfectionist, that never really feels content, within me feels like I currently settle for adequate! So in a way, it was wonderful that Adele put into words some of the ideas I’ve been trying to convey. I’ve written a little about friendship and mental health before; firstly when blogging about being incommunicado but still caring and more recently about my gratitude to friends who have stuck by me throughout my difficulties with my mental health.

Perhaps that’s why I felt such a connection with ‘Hello’. The song starts with the idea of getting back into contact with someone you’ve drifted apart from, with an idea that things maybe should be different but haven’t quite got there yet… for me time made things more strained and challenging. A chasm of unsaid words, assumptions and anxiety made even the notion of that kind of phone call terrifying. Next, the idea of being a different person than you used to be, having a weird memory that’s not totally there of the past but recognising that perhaps those similarities aren’t there as much, the shared present is different now. You’re then led into the powerful chorus- the missed calls and attempts to make contact that often don’t happen. I found anxiety was a huge block for me, fear outweighing any positive that might come from getting back in touch. Then the idea of making that contact but somehow messing it up by saying the wrong thing or getting the balance right, something I was always completely terrified of!
When mental health problems are getting you down and simple things like self care seem impossible, it can be so easy to lose touch with people. Having friends who stand by you and support you is something to be really thankful for, but when you come out the other side of your problems… trying to rebuild lost friendships can be such a challenge.

I saw an advert for the Bupa Cancer Survivorship Programme recently, it depicts someone who has completed their treatment and ‘beaten’ cancer returning to their lives pre-illness. Of course I am not saying my situation has been comparable to that of someone who has beaten cancer, but there were definitely some similarities. Being in hospital for ten months meant I was off work for the majority of that time. Finishing my treatment program and returning to the real world was surreal. It was all similar and yet very different. I was terrified of seeing people I knew and getting back to normal but equally terrified of not doing so. In the Bupa advert, the young man walks into his office to be greeted by a colleague with a bunch of balloons and big smiles. My first day back in the office passed me by like a big blur of hugs and excitement but also a tiny bit of hesitation and perhaps awkwardness of how to deal with the situation. I’m so glad to be back to normal with work now, but it was definitely a very odd situation to return to. More recently I’ve gone back to University, back to familiar surroundings but a different cohort of peers and a different mindset to being on my course.

I wish there was a manual to guide you through rekindling friendships and returning to a similar but admittedly different life after time when you have been unwell through mental illness or in hospital because of it. My eating disorder took a lot from me and really shut me away from a lot of people in my life, and it’s only now that I feel robust and resilient enough to try and navigate the nerves and fears of getting back into contact with some of those people. You work hard to find a way through the darkness and back to the life you want and deserve to be living, to find that not everyone waited for you… a few drifted away but it doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. You never know, they might be waiting for you to come back to them.

So thank you Adele, for explaining it so much better than me!

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