For my friends with anxiety, and partly for me

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A few years ago I thought anxiety was just temporary nerves. I thought it meant someone was nervous about an actual physical event like a job interview or public speaking or medical examinations. They are the sorts of things I associated with anxiety. You fear, they happen, you move on.

Well fast forward to now, end of February 2015 and I know anxiety to be something very different. I don’t have anxiety. I may have had bouts of it in my life, but on the whole, I wouldn’t say I suffer with it. I can’t therefore, go into great detail about how it works and what it feels like because what the hell do I know? Well, I do know one thing, which is not as insignificant as I originally thought: I know that helping out someone who suffers with anxiety is no mean feat. This sounds a bit ‘hooray for me, what a hero I think I am’ but seriously, it’s really bloody important.

Some people very close to me, who I love and see or speak to practically every single day of my life, have anxiety. They’re very different people and feel it in very different ways, but it’s there. That anxiety has come to have quite a bit impact on my life, because for a long time, I just didn’t get it. I got a bit frustrated with people, and started to think ‘why can’t they just snap out of it?’ That sounds harsher written down than it felt in my head, because I wasn’t angry or hurtful about it, I just didn’t understand what the problem was. I wanted them to do more and enjoy things and socialise and meet new people with me and I didn’t get the big deal over things I don’t think twice about.

Now though, I get it.My few close loved ones who suffer from this condition don’t need to snap out of anything. They don’t need to be pushed or prodded or continually reminded about it. They just need time. The best thing you can give someone as a friend is a time. I can’t give them professional help or personal experience advice or much else that I wish I could. But I can let them get on with it, be there when they want me, help out if I can, be a hand to hold or voice on the phone (or whatsapp, because who actually phones anymore?) or a partner in gin drinking OR just let them totally blank me out for a while. These people have helped me with my shit, even if they don’t know it and now I want to do it back.

Seeing what anxiety can do from the outside looking in has made me a much more patient friend and I guess this an apology to those people that it took me so long. This post probably doesn’t make all that much sense and in the grand scheme of things, not many people will read it, but since writing has become therapeutic to me in a really weird time of my life, I felt compelled to write about my lovely friends.  Mental health is a weird one, and who am I to write about it when I have never personally been hugely impacted by it? Well mainly I’m a friend who now gets it and I hope that everyone who doesn’t yet can join me soon.

16 funniest memories from student life: Part 2

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I recently went shopping in Asda with a couple of uni friends to buy discount biscuits, jalapenos and mass cakes for a mini-holiday (the essentials) and they were basically playing the soundtrack to my student years. Loads of Rihanna and other such songs from 2010 and The Wanted- Gold forever, which for some unknown and inexplicable reason is basically the song that I associate most with uni despite being by a band I hate. Life.

Anyway, cheers for the emotional influx of memories Asda. Oh and the really nice white choc chip pancakes.

1) Lemon shoulder. The really great game where you take the lemon slice out of your discount vodka and lemonade and place it on someone’s shoulder without them noticing. Extra points if you got a photo of it.

2) Lick a stranger. Clearly a time where health and safety was buried and no one worried about germs. The great game where you lick strangers without them noticing. If they did notice they most likely asked for your number. I hope lick a stranger has led to some marriages.

3) Centurion. The great game where you drink a shot a minute for an hour that everyone hyped up but no one ever finished or really honestly attempted without throwing up out of a window or phoning their ex boyfriend from five years ago to declare undying love.

4) Shop staff love. Corner shops, off licences, convenience stories, whatever you called them. Most people I knew at uni had a serious friendship or weird obsession with staff in their local shop. Particularly shops that sold discount cider and a good selection of Cornettos.

5) The one time that person who usually got reservedly drunk got absolutely wankered and danced and touched people and did all manner of outrageous things in a locked bathroom. (Basically everyone I knew at uni, at some point, was this person)

6) Watching a friend crowd surf off of a fridge before 10pm at a house party.

7) Wildfire rumours (even among lecturers) that one couple in my main friendship group had bought a dining table and put it in storage for the future which freaked everyone else out because it was SO adult… but wasn’t even remotely true anyway.

8) Cutting a night out short because a friend was a stuck in a roadworks hole and while trying to hoist him out, finding two other friends in a JCB near by.

9) A big night following a big work hand-in being followed the next morning with a text from someone saying ‘I have been sick somewhere in the house but I can’t remember where. I am sorry. Really sorry.’

10) Turning up to graduation not really excited about officially having a degree or a huge moment in life, but because the robes made everyone feel like they were in Harry Potter and then being thrilled that someone actually bought a wand with them.

11) A friend accidentally submitting a link to an Akon song on YouTube into the ‘Turn it in’ electronic system instead of their essay. Having to then contact the administrators and explain this error.

12) Watching two friends slowly tare down some curtains in a club then just stand and stare at the bare wall to re-create a scene from Blair Witch Project.

13) Losing one member of the group to a weird and questionable uni society and then finding out the members regularly rent BMWs for one night at a time to drive around town listening to Drake.

14) Treating a powercut as seriously as a war time blitz and texting people to ask if they are okay and do they know is Subway on campus was affected.

15) Going to a friends who had hosted a BBQ the night before and instead of helping to clean up just going through the left over meat and making a feast in the George Foreman grilling machine and then leaving without helping to clean anything because hangover and meat sweats.

16) Eagerly awaiting the first sunny day of the year to descend on the river, sitting there and freezing half to death while having a cider, losing all feeling in limbs and taking loads of photos of swans before deciding fuck this, let’s go to The Mill.

The thing about growing up is…

Remember being like, 9 years old? All you had to do was go to school, do some homework, eat your peas and tidy up. Life is easy when you’re 9, for most people anyway. As much as I sometimes think it would be nice to be a carefree child again playing original Playstation and drinking Fruit Shoots, I wouldn’t honestly want to be 9 years old. (I hate peas)

Growing up is pretty good. You can get drunk and go out with your friends and spend money and buy as many pairs of Topshop jeans as you want. You can also go to bed when you want, book holidays you probably can’t quite afford, go out for breakfast (the best meal to eat out) and have Crunchy Nut for dinner if you fancy. The dream.

Well it is the dream, until you realise that the older you get the more problems you encounter. Illness, break ups, money troubles, job worries, people close to you getting even older. Gulp. All of these things start to nag a bit. Then you have a small breakdown mid-twenties because life is HARD and no one understands you but then everything sort of chills out and you realise it’s going be okay and you need to keep check of those hormones. Who invented hormones?

Basically growing up has been harder than I thought. I can’t say for sure what I thought it would be, but it’s been quite tough. I still wouldn’t swap it for a more care-free, primary school time (although someone needs to get on top of time travel) because being an adult is way better than being a kid, despite all the tests life throws at you. Maybe it was the fun, frolicking, blurry, blue VK-fuelled three year hiatus I took out of real life at uni, but actual grown up life can hit a bit hard.

You wouldn’t have imaged, swanning round some grotty nightclub having the best time ever aged 18, that in a few years you would face unemployment, illness, money troubles, sky high rent, anxiety, a bad break up. Whatever you’ve gone through, you just wouldn’t have imagined. Good job really because imagine actually dwelling on the chances of any those things. Grim. Let’s not do that. Let’s discourage our younger contacts from doing that too. Be good older siblings/friends/cousins/colleagues and discourage worrying. I know so many worriers, myself included, and it’s really not worth it.

The thing about growing up is, and this is something other people have helped me realise too, you just have to do it, deal with it and move on. Dwelling, reliving, trying to fix things that don’t matter now, drunk texts to the wrong people: so not worth it. Easier said than done, and we all need to learn the hard way, but by actually being responsible, (sometimes) rational grown-ups, we can make everything a bit easier.

Heaven knows being an adult is bloody hard at times. I mean think about sex. How many situations and problems and regrets and ‘OMG WHAT ARE YOU/AM I DOING’ moments can you rack up in your mind related to sex? Many, I reckon.

I bet you can also rack up a lot of problems that you could have dealt with better by actually, erm, dealing with them. Yeah, there’s the money shot, the bulls eye, the hole in one and other ‘you got it’ metaphors that I can’t think of.

Being a functioning, real adult with responsibilities, no matter how small, like even if you just have a goldfish or something, means you have shit to get in order. I mean you might choose to get drunk on vodka and do it tomorrow, and that’s fine because we all need to do it sometimes, but your to-do list won’t go away. Life fairies won’t come along and remove it, trust me, I’ve waited and they are yet to arrive.

The thing about growing up is, you’ve GOT to deal with stuff. Don’t be Nick from New Girl. Flamingos bury their head in the sand. We are not flamingos.

(They actually don’t, I googled it, it’s a myth, but you get the point.)

Home decor lust list

I’ve become fully obsessed with Pinterest all over again in the last week. I love home ware and basically anything clean and white and pretty with splashes of colour. Also after staying in the most beautiful house in Scotland with pale blue wooden floors and white walls with lots of framed prints and colourful armchairs, I started pinning all sorts of bedrooms together to prepare for eventually moving house. These are the kinds of looks I’m currently lusting over:

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Photo wall: Pinterest

Rug: Urban Outfitters online

Bedding white and blue: Laura Ashley online

Armchair: Pinterest

Guava candle: Urban Outfitters online

Floral armchair: Pinterest

White desk and wall hanging: Pinterest

Friend therapy

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I love my friends. I talk about them a lot in this blog and just generally everyday. It’s taken about 20 years to perfect, pick, cull and nurture the right group of friends. Sounds a bit militant doesn’t it? Friends are for fun and support and adventures right? Well yeah of course, but having the right friends is so important, particularly when you need them on a deeper level than just going to Primark together and laughing at pigeons in the street (just us?).

We shouldn’t be scared to cull bad friends. If it isn’t working and there’s more lame than game then get rid. Life’s too short. Why have friends you don’t like? That goes against the entire point in my books.

Anyway getting on with it: is there any better therapy than your friends? I say this because after a week of not feeling good, worrying, work stress, tiredness, upset and all of the hormones in the world, a night in with two best friends and a bottle of gin has improved life drastically.

We sat around, we ate crisps, we drank, we laughed and we listened to early 00’s r&b tunes then the next morning we laid in bed mildly hungover googling when Gregg’s opened. Donuts are important. What a time to be alive. I’m reminded constantly from looking on Facebook and going back through WhatsApp conversations that I have really good friends. And thank God for that.

In the last week I’ve stressed, got angry, threatened inanimate objects, talked to a wall, shouted, got teary and raged. It’s tiring having all the emotions innit? I’ve turned to food, I’ve turned to cute animals, I’ve turned to wine, I’ve turned to laying in bed alone in the dark and guess what? Not helpful. I mean, food and cute animals help A BIT but not for long.

What I really needed was to lay in bed, merrily drinking and singing to 50 Cent- 21 questions, with two people who I love and who are hilarious and who listen to me.

There are few things in life as precious as good people. And there are few therapies as good as close friends.

16 things women in their twenties really think about

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So earlier this week I went on a lunchtime coffee date with some work friends and we ended up talking about the stuff that’s ACTUALLY on our minds, as opposed to what we think we should be thinking about. You know how sometimes you worry that you’re thinking more about buying The Sims to relive your childhood than you are about settling down and starting a family or other really adult things? Well don’t worry, you aren’t alone.

1) When did I last wash my hair?

2) Shall I go travelling? Is it too late? Shall I just do it anyway? Who will come with me? WHERE IS THE NEAREST STA TRAVEL?

3) How much will giving birth actually hurt and will I definitely shit myself during?

4) Am I too old to still take a hip flask to a club and will God judge me if I do it anyway?

5) How do you go about not inviting friends you secretly hate to your wedding that isn’t happening with the fiancee you don’t have?

6) Cheese. A bit in the mornings, a fair amount at lunch time and obsessively during the evenings. Saturdays are good days to think about Cheese solidly because what else are you really going to do?

7) If you don’t get given, lent, or inherit money how do you ACTUALLY buy a house? Are squatters rights an actual thing and if so where is the squatters right to buy scheme?

8) Life without dry shampoo. I mean, imagine.

9) Will a nicer bum bring happiness, prosperity, success and a love and is there an easier way than squats?

10) The amount you fancy your boss, the dentist and the man that sells Sky packages at the tube station can’t be okay. Hormones be real.

11) Are these feelings hormones or am I mentally unstable?

12) Spots were not meant to come with me into my twenties. Who allowed this shit to happen?

13) It’s sad that Blu Ivy has more prospects than me and she’s 3.

14) Why aren’t tampons free?

15) What if I don’t know if I’m a feminist? What if I don’t care?

16) Might cut out my urinary tract. Then we’ll see who’s laughing cystitis, you horrific dickhead.

Unraveling traveling: Croatia

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I love Croatia. It’s a seriously good looking country. You are forced to forgive it’s slightly turbulent weather when you get blown away by yet another amazing view of rocky coastline with a mountainous backdrop. If you want to go somewhere this spring/summer that won’t break the bank and will make your Instagram followers green with envy, give Croatia a go.

Wall to wall sunshine can happen, but don’t go expecting it, even in the height of summer. Cloudy days and storms aren’t always few and far between, but when the sun shines, everything shines, so it’s worth putting up with a grey day here and there. I have actually experienced some seriously crazy rain storms in Croatia, one that saw my friend take shelter in a port-a-loo for an hour with a German dancer while at a festival. But that’s for another time.

I won’t bore you with constantly describing how lovely everything is, because anyone can see that from a quick google search. Basically, if you’re going to go, here are some things you should do:

Visit a little coastal village, as well as big towns. I stayed in a wee place called Baska Voda the first time I went, about an hour on a bus from Split. Pretty easy to get to, once you get used to the idea that the buses have a firm mind of their own and probably won’t stick exactly to timetables. These little places are great for atmosphere and little markets and shops and especially for nice hotels, but one thing that can be a bit repetitive is food. I’ve found this all over Croatia. If you aren’t a massive fish lover options in restaurants can be a bit limited and many have exactly the same menus (literally, even the pictures are the same).

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If you want to see more of the country then island hopping is worth while. You can stay on the mainland and get boats across and do islands in a day (most are really small) or stay on them for a few nights. Boat tickets are really cheap and for the most part you can just turn up at a harbor like Split and buy a ticket for the next ferry, or do it online by just searching Split ferry service. They’re great for people watching, these ferries. Also a good way to take lots of photos of seagulls that follow the boats, if that sort of thing tickles your fancy. Things might be different in high season (ferry waiting times/queues etc), so it’s worth checking beforehand, but friends who’ve gone in the height of the summer school holidays had the same easy experience as we did.

If you make it to Brac, which is an hours ferry journey from Split, you can visit Bol beach, which is triangular, moves with the tide and is postcard perfect. It has nice white beds everywhere and waiters in white jeans, so you feel a bit like you’re in a George Michael music video. Worth the half hour drive. There lots of taxis available to take you when get to Supetar, which is the main town. Supetar also has a refreshing selection of restaurants if you fancy a change from the usual menu, most of which are set against the pretty little harbour.

Another Croatian town worth a visit is Rovinj. This place is super-model material as far as the post-card European towns go. If you do get here, take a wonder up through the tiny cobbled streets to the main church. There are lots of really nice shops selling lavender and some good wine cellars. Cheap alcohol heaven Croatia most certainly is. The church is definitely something not to be missed. The climb up the main tower on wooden planks is absolutely terrifying. It’s very Crystal Maze and not for vertigo sufferers. Also not for kids. Like, at all. If you can bring yourself to clamber up the views are really lush, you just have to then ready yourself to climb back down. There are some really nice boat trips from Rovinj too. If you can, go to Lim Fjord. It stops off at a pirate cove and a tiny little village and is SO pretty.

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This is in the Istria region, where a lot of festivals are in the summer, so some weeks might be worth avoiding if you don’t want hungover/drunk/high crowds of youngsters. If that is your thing, though, you couldn’t ask for a better festival location.

You can get to Croatia from Italy and Slovenia easily if you’re driving and there are loads of camping places in forests and other such locations if you fancy. Or if the idea of camping is hideous you can go totally to the other end of the spectrum and stay in boutique hotels on the islands. Whatevs.

GO TO CROATIA.

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Think about it, you’re actually doing just fine.

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I’m slightly concerned about the internet at the moment. By internet, I mean my internet, like stuff I look at (blogs, news Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). I’m a bit worried about and sick of people moaning and putting themselves down so publicly. It’s really not nice. It’s also usually about really trivial things. If you’ve eaten something that makes you feel awful for breaking your diet, don’t share it with the world and give yourself a horrible time over it. Seriously. This is the kind of stuff that’s not alright. I discussed this with a close friend over the old Whatsapp this week, and we were both a bit shocked at the sort of stuff we’ve seen people posting.

Everyday (while eavesdropping or being OTT with my friends) I read, hear or personally say things like ‘Life is just SO hard’ or ‘Why isn’t my life more like…’ Most of the people who say these things (me included) really shouldn’t. I beat myself up all the time over things, even stuff like forgetting to turn the bathroom light off. Lame or what? I need to get over it, and so do lots of people.  I worry that I should be trying to get a different job, or that I should move house, or that I should spend less, eat healthier, work more, actually do exercise rather than just plan to. All the normal things really. I feel like everyone I know is beating themselves up. Shall we all just stop it?  I’m surrounded by people who give themselves a hard time and think they’re doing a bit shit at life, or could at least do better, when actually, is it really that bad? I don’t think it is.

Worried about your salary? Not doing as good as someone you follow on Instagram and have never met? Think you should own a house by now? Concerned you’ve made too many big mistakes and now you’ll never get your dream job or own three puppies and live in a mansion? I’m not about to advertise my life-improving services, don’t worry. Why don’t we just slowly ease away from these things and have a Kitkat. Or a Dairy Milk. Much better. Why don’t we think about these things instead:

-Being able to rely on your friends (or even just one friend, or your boyfriend/girlfriend)

-Being able to support yourself, even if just in one thing

-Having things to look forward to, no matter how small

-You’ve overcome something, and came out the other side stronger

-You can list three things you think you’re good at, no matter how stupid they are

-You know how to cheer yourself up and when you need it

If you can do a couple, or even better all of them, is your life really failing? It doesn’t take much when you put life in perspective, to realise you’re probably doing alright. Also that being rich and having a glossy lifestyle like a Kardshian clone won’t give you eternal happiness and a life of smiles and rainbows. I need to remember this the next time I have a ‘WAH EVERYTHING IS SO UNFAIR AND AGAINST ME’ moment. Which is quite a lot. Oops.

Surely having good friends, plans to be excited about, the satisfaction that you are earning money or trying to should be enough to not be self-hating all the time.

I recently got told at work by an older colleague, that the best life lesson she’s learnt in life is that self-worth counts for everything ( I was hungover and talking about getting under the desk at the time.) I can obviously see why she says this, although I know a lot of people have major demons in this area and don’t see much in themselves. Give it a go. Also, if you need eat 6000 calories, get drunk and buy new things to feel better, just do it. Screw it. What’s the worst that can happen, honestly?

My friend Hannah Gale who you will most likely have heard of if you read blogs wrote this yesterday, and I thought I should include it in this as I’ve had this scheduled a few days. Take note people: 27 signs you’re doing better at being an adult than you realise.

We can’t just go around claiming we are awful and feeling like we’ve messed up or gone the complete wrong way when there’s still plenty of time to turn things around or change things for the better. What’s actually going to happen if you don’t buy a house, earn 40k, and have two kids in the next year? NOTHING. Chill out. Everyone chill out.

Most of all though, think about it, really think about it, you’re actually doing just fine.

15 ways the female struggle is real

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1) Cystitis. This is number one because it is the struggle of my life, and of so many fellow lady friends. The burning, the pain, the bad timing, the downing pints of water and trying cranberry juice to no avail. I need a wee. No I don’t. Yes I do. It’s horrible. It’s unwelcome. It’s far too real.

2) Tights. Just tights in general. They fall down, they itch, they ladder and you have to hoist them up 10000 times a day when the elastic goes.

3) Periods. Mostly the pains, partly the ‘is there anything on the back of my skirt?” and a bit of the dropping a tampon out of your bag in public and chasing it.

4) Bags. I often get to the stage where finding anything in my bag is like digging for buried treasure. Want 54663 receipts? No problem. Want your oyster card? Dream on.

5) Not being Taylor Swift.

6) Not even being friends with Taylor Swift.

7) Leg shaving. Difficult in the shower. Cba in the bath. Might just grow two vertical forests.

8) The eternal toilet queues. Clubs, bars, festivals, busy restaurants. Want a wee? Join the back of line, it starts in France.

9) Bikinis. Really nice to look at, fun to shop for, ideal for tanning. Keeping everything in them while taking on the sea or jumping in a pool however, not so ideal. Oh and cheeky nipple flashes.

10) Penises.

11) Unexpected emotions. Oh that’s a really nice picture of a dog on that poster. I’ll just have a little cry because life and hormones and omg I hate everything.

12) Nail varnish. You paint them, you instantly need a wee.

13) Cellulite. Just why? WHY?

14) sheer tops. Nothing like getting dressed in a hurry and then taking your coat at the office to reveal your skimpy bra and nipples. Hiya.

15) Playsuits. There to make going for a wee 45533 times harder. Oh and navigating them drunk is essentially a Crystal Maze task.

5 good things: 3

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So last week on Sunday I got too carried away cooking an epic roast dinner with my pal for six friends to do this. Only one potato disaster happened, and it was seriously the nicest roast I think I’ve ever had. Humble, I know. My latest 5 good things unsurprisingly include a lot of food, because eating makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

When I was away in Skye I saw the most beautiful sunset, shown in the grainy, crap iphone photo above. We had to suffer for this sight though. It was FREEZING when we got to this tiny, remote village called Elgol to watch the event itself. Even the sheep looked a bit like they could use a hot chocolate and an electric blanket. My second thing is something I’ve started doing called ‘cooking from scratch week.’ I read about it somewhere ages ago and the idea is one week a month you cook a meal from scratch everyday. The best so far was lemon and parmesan linguine, even though my boyfriend hated it and I ended taking his to work the next day. Hidden blessings. Another food marvel, and I guess this is also a meal from scratch, is waffles. Not just any old waffles, waffles with Biscoff (my new food true love), syrup and blueberries. Saturday morning ain’t ever tasted so sexy.

Obvs Saturday was V day, and as much as I don’t really care much about it, we still went out. A placed called Spiaggia London just opened in Fulham, and it is seriously, seriously cool. The tagline is ‘Italian beach food’ and the whole place feels like you’ve just stepped off the sand into a chic little food hut on a sunny day. They also have a projector and show films downstairs, with a bar and retro games. I highly recommend. Food was lush too.

My last thing, and big picture, is that I got to spend relaxed, not drunken, not rushed time with friends. After a turbulent few months it was so nice to lay around, have massive breakfasts, talk about life and drink endless amounts of coffee. Oh and play LOTS of Cards Against Humanity, of course.

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