Getting through grief, well, trying anyway

Hello. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Last year I think I just lost my spark for blogging, I didn’t want to put posts out just for the sake of it and copywriting became my main freelancing income. I guess a part of me was writing every day and sometimes night, not only was I exhausted but I just needed to write about things I was passionate about.

I haven’t updated the blog with some of the biggest things to have happened in my life since September (I finally got married!) and I will talk about them all but for tonight, I wanted to write about grief. I know, it’s a cheery topic to come back with. Totally on brand. Next month it will be 6 months since the sudden and unexpected loss of my beloved grandfather. I have thought so many times about writing a post about it, so many times about putting it into words and setting it free into the world.

You see, my Gramps and I were incredibly close. I even hate writing the word ‘were’. We shared a love of history, politics, family genealogy, music, laughing. There are some people in your family that you just fit with and, for me, he was one of those people even from when I was tiny. Even though I grew up, the thought of losing him was just abstract. His mother lived well into her 90s and he was always active, going to the gym more than me, eating right (mostly) and full of life and laughter.

I’d gone to Northern Ireland for my first work trip, I hadn’t been there for a few days before I flew because I had a nasty cold (not Covid) and didn’t want to give it to them but I called, I spoke to him the day before I flew on the phone. I planned to go there the day after I got back. I’d even FaceTimed my Mum the day before while she was at their house and chatted while he was sitting in his chair, laughing, cracking jokes.

If there had been any inkling, the slightest sign that something was wrong I would not have gotten on that plane. I would have cancelled my trip. I would have done absolutely anything. On the penultimate day of my trip, I’d done some sightseeing, picked up some gifts to take home, had gone back to my hotel to charge my phone, pack and have a nap. My biggest worry was where I’d get cash out for the next day. That was until my Mum called. Until my entire world changed. I’m not going to go into details, I can’t, but I threw everything into a bag, sorted a flight home and went and sat in an airport for about 2 hours sobbing while waiting for the next flight to London.

For weeks after I was filled with pain and anger, I lashed out a lot. I blamed myself for not being at home, I wanted to do anything just to hug him, just to talk to him one more time.

The weeks after are a bit of a blur, I was meant to have my Hen Do and was going to cancel but was banned by my whole family because he would have been mad if I’d cancelled. I had a day of relief, I guess and felt incredibly guilty after. I spoke at his funeral and even then it didn’t feel real that it was him. I got a tattoo in memory a month to the day.

From that point the wedding was weeks away and where I could I let it just take over, I planned, I sorted things, I had a part of his shirt sewn into my dress and I held it together for the most part. I kept going and wondered what would happen when I stopped. The night before the wedding I sobbed into my best friend’s arms, the day of I thought of him and smiled, the day after I cried again because I was so happy but so sad he didn’t get to see me get married when he was so excited.

And now we’re months passed, my brain and my body finally caught up with me. Months of keep pushing, keep going, holding it together broke. I’ve been in a flare now for a good few weeks and when you’re in pain the defences are wobbly. You’re already not feeling great mentally and the gates open and let everything else in.

Grief, for a human, is something that I’ve not truly experienced before, this is the first major loss for me and wow they had to go and take one of the big ones first. There’s no good way to lose someone but being alone across an ocean on your own with limited flights home was particularly shit. Pretty sure I scared a small child at the airport.

When the feelings overwhelm me, I cry until I feel like I can’t anymore, there is a gaping hole in my chest and physically have to hold myself together. All at once, I feel like a child again but an adult who has to put those pieces back together. I have so many questions and already in a matter of months there are so many things I want to say. It fucking hurts.

But there are days where I’m doing ok, where I can laugh and smile, look at pictures and tell people all about him. Try and convey the love I have for him without being able to introduce one of the most important people in my life as well as try and navigate this world without someone I always turned to.

This is a very long blog and if you got to the end, I’m impressed. I don’t know how much sense this makes, if it makes any sense at all. I had to write though because he loved reading my blog and read every single one he could, leaving comments that it was a good write, talking to me about when I’m finally going to write a book. He told me once I would be after he was gone and I didn’t believe him, but I guess now it is.

Book Review: The Switch – Beth O’Leary

Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…

The switch isn’t like any book that you’ve read before. A young woman who’s worked herself to the point of collapse and still grieving her sister, is ordered to take some time out to rest and recharge. Eileen on the other hand is frustrated, in her late 70s living in a small village she wants a little more excitement in her life – particularly as she’s getting nowhere with the local dating scene.

After Leena takes a trip to see her grandmother for a bit of comfort they hatch a plan, one that seems insane but might give both women just what they need. Eileen will go and spend some time in Leena’s flat in London – giving herself a taste of the city life. At the same time Leena will stay in her small town in Yorkshire for her sabbatical. Who knows what they’ll learn from taking on each others lives.

Beth O’Leary has a way of getting you to not only fall into the story, but you also really care about the characters. I still find myself thinking about the characters from her first novel, The Flatshare, sometimes and I read that over a year ago. I pre-ordered the audiobook as soon as it was available on Audible and it did not disappoint.

I could relate to Leena on a personal level, someone who wants to prove herself, be busy and often overworks herself and the whole way through I was rooting for her. As for Eileen, I absolutely adored her, the way she fits in with Leena’s firsts, how she takes life into her own hands and decides to go for it after not having the chance as a young woman.

What is excellent in O’Leary’s books is that she also manages to weave in some important lessons within a story that is ultimately a romance. Within this novel is the pain of grief and the complexity of family, giving so much more to the story and the heart of it.

If you’re looking for a read that will lift your spirits, give you a laugh but also make you feel that there is a bit of love and hope in the world, I would suggest picking this one up. I’ve read all of Beth’s books so far and I absolutely love it.

Book Review: The Song Of Achilles - Madeline Miller

Book Review: The Song Of Achilles – Madeline Miller

Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.

I’ve seen this book pop up everywhere and I finally picked it up a few weeks ago, why have I only got to this book now?! This novel is a emotional whirlwind, most people I know said they cried over it, I didn’t but I think that’s only because it was too hot to cry but my heart hurt a lot after and I just wanted to start reading it all over again once I’ve finished and I’m not much of a re-reader.

This is the story of Achilles and Patroclus, not the one you may know, the end but we do get that eventually. This story starts as Patroclus has been exiled for killing a boy (not on purpose I may add) and is sent to live with King Peleus. In a chance meeting Achilles, who is destined for greatness, meets Patroclus and it is the the start of a beautiful friendship, one that will last the rest of their lives.

It honestly felt so pure to read in the beginning two boys growing together and slowly but surely falling in love with each other and the trials they must face – for Patroclus his exile and quieter nature, for Achilles the demands of his Goddess mother (who hates Patroclus) and his impending greatness.

I had to look up more about the story and, yes of course there is some creative license here but the two men were closely linked as friends and as many thought, lovers. Now, this book gets sexy. There are a lot of steamy moments for both character where you may need to take a minute after reading, if you catch my drift.

Miller is an incredible writer, I could quite easily see the the story in my head, I won’t lie reading in a heatwave made it much easier to imagine I was in Greece. She manages to make the story tender, while also making these boys, and later men, so real in their actions and emotions. I also had a few gasp out loud moments where I sent messages in all caps to my friend who has read and recommended it to me.

I gave this book 4.5 stars, it is brilliantly written and it hits you in the heart, if anything I wish it were longer. I adore Achilles and Patroclus and I think they have a place in my heart as two of my favourite characters that I’ve read about this year. I’m also eager to read Circe by the same author as I’ve heard both are fantastic and I’ll also be diving into some more myth and legend inspired novels too.

Have you read any of Madeline Miller’s books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Real Talk: Why I'm Going Back to Therapy

Real Talk: Why I’m Going Back To Therapy

It’s Friday night and it’s time to party and by party I mean talk about mental health and therapy – woo!

I think all of us can agree that the last 15 months have been a LOT. Before the pandemic started I’d just started with a therapist through the NHS who I carried on with on and off throughout, she was nice but it was incredibly focused on CBT – something I’ve done multiple times and honestly the approach doesn’t work for me most of the time. That said, it was all I was going to be offered so I took the help. Even though as time went on my mental health was getting worse and external factors were taking their toll I was told that I only had a certain number of sessions, once my last one was over that was it. I could apply again in 6 months if I was still struggling.

I was given this news around November time, I knew we were going to have to move, I’d just postponed my wedding, we were in lockdown again and I couldn’t see my support network. In the few weeks that followed we moved into a small space with family, got covid, lost a beloved pet and I got some worrying health news. It was a pretty bad time. I wasn’t in a position to pay for private therapy sessions and couldn’t stand the thought of doing video calls when people were around all the time and I might be overheard, so I waited.

Time passed and things got worse and then better, at least outwardly. Ali found a job, my work started picking up and we found somewhere that we would be able to rent again, we could move out and have our own space. I should, in theory have felt much better and a part of me did but deep down I knew I was struggling. The things I originally went to therapy for hadn’t gone away and on top of that I was dealing with new things and none of my normal coping methods were working. I’ve had talking therapy in the past – the longest was for a period of 3 years while I was at university and it changed my life.

It does, to us Brits at least, seem a very American thing to see a therapist regularly and work on yourself. It doesn’t exactly go with the stiff upper lip mentality does it? But, thankfully, that’s changing. I know a few people now who have regular therapy appointments and I think if they were more affordable then we would see even more people paying to go. It’s not cheap. If I could I’d have weekly sessions but, right now, I can only afford every other week – but it’s better than nothing.

I’m going back to therapy because I want to be the best version of myself. I want to be able to do something that I know supports my mental well-being. It might be for 6 months, it might be for 6 years – I’m not focusing on that.

I really hope we continue to normalise therapy of different kinds. To me it’s like exercise for my mind and my emotions it can only make me stronger. If you’re reading this and don’t have the funds there are services across the country that can help those who need it and some are starting to open up face to face (a big thing for me!).

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2021

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2021

It’s that time of year again, we’re already half way through the year and I have to admit it hasn’t been my *best* reading year especially after starting 2021 recovering from covid! That said, there have been some great reads, so let’s take a look at where I am so far!

My goal: 50 books

My Harsh Reality: As of writing I’ve read 42 books. However! My original goal was 100 at the start of the year but Goodreads kept telling me how ‘behind’ I was so I decided to change it to 50 and I’ll review the goal once I hit it. I can see myself reading about 75 books this year if I’m still not 100%.

Let’s get cracking.

Best Book of the Year- So Far

The novel just managed to sneak in as I wrote this post and oh wow I loved it. This novel takes us back to Victorian London but also takes place in the present day. We follow two women and one girl as big changes take place in their lives and they’re all seamlessly interwoven. There’s murder and revenge but also a lot of heart and understanding. It’s pretty brilliant.

Best Sequel Read in 2021

No other sequel I’ve read has lived up to it – this was an excellent follow up to the ACOTAR series, one of my favourites. This is now competing for my favourite book of the series in general because while Nesta isn’t always likeable she is real. She feels a deep level of pain, anger and lashes out. The fact that she isn’t perfect makes the novel even more powerful and I can’t wait to see what comes next. It’s a brilliantly written book.

Newest Release I Haven’t Read Yet, But I Want To

While One Last Stop is actually out as I write this, my copy has been held up so I’m eagerly waiting for it to arrive. I absolutely loved Red, White and Royal Blue and can’t wait to read another book by the author. Also this one has time travel? I’m down.

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

Can I pick 2 here? Mostly because they’re both the final book in series’s that I’ve loved.

First up Gods and Monsters by Shelby Mahurin and after the cliffhanger in book 2 I need to know what’s happening to Lou and Reid, also even though it came out last year I’m still not over what happened in Blood and Honey. It’s out next month, the 27th July 2021 and I have everything crossed my copy comes on time because I cannot handle spoilers.

Next is the final book in the A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series which I took way too long to pick up. I loved the first, was hooked on the second and I’m intrigued to see what the third holds especially as this time it’s a threat against Pip herself. It’s released on the 5th August on the UK.

Biggest Disappointment

This was hard because I don’t think there’s anything I was really looking forward to that disappointed me, I guess it would have to be Dearly by Margaret Atwood. I’d just heard so many good things and I just didn’t connect with it at all.

Biggest Surprise 

I can’t remember how I came across The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott but it looked interesting. This is Zoe Thorgood’s debut and that fact was a huge surprise. This is an excellent book with a stunning art style and it’s made me incredibly excited to see Zoe’s career develop, also her Instagram is great.

Favourite New Author

I’m currently really into Tillie Walden books and I’m slowly picking them all up – I really love the art style and the stories find a way to pull at my heart strings, no matter what their length. I’m really hoping to find a few more of her books when I’m next in London and am let loose in Forbidden Planet.

Most Beautiful Book I’ve Bought This Year

This picture doesn’t do it justice, the colours, the design, there’s foiling. It is *chef’s kiss* also I really loved this book, it’s perfect for any lover of books. Also, Cathy Rentzenbrink is really, really lovely.

Books To be Read By The End of The Year

I have a huge TBR in my house and there’s so many that I need to get to which includes (but isn’t limited to):

The Wolf Den – Elodie Harper

Circe – Madeline Miller

The Missing of Clair De Line – Christelle Dabos

Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Lycanthropy and other Chronic Illnesses – Kristen O’Neal

What are you looking forward to this year? Let me know below!

Book Tour – Rapids by Anna Bowles

Yan Harris is VERY EXCITED.

Well, of course she is. It’s summer, she’s got over her depression and she’s in London for a week with her BFF Chelsea. After seventeen years in a sleepy village where everybody just knows them as The Chinese One and The Brainy One… life is calling.

It’s a pretty cool prospect… if Chel can stop worrying about online discourse in the Nordhelm TV fandom long enough to enjoy it. Chelsea’s worried about Yan, too, to Yan’s annoyance.

Barely sleeping, barely eating, getting increasingly gobby, having an – ahem – close encounter in a toilet, giving a Tory MP a good kick in the shins, and running around kind of literally screaming…. well, it’s all just good summer fun, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

In the desperate battle of Yan vs. bipolar disorder, does the poor disease really stand a chance?

I was asked by Zuntold if I would like to be a part of the book tour for Rapids a little while ago and jumped at the chance. While I myself do not have Bipolar Disorder, I’ve had my own struggled with mental illness and it’s important to me to educate myself, even if that is through fiction! It’s worth pointing out I finished this in 24 hours – I needed to know what was happening to Yan and Chelsea and get to the end, this is a novel that will grip you and take you on a wild ride.

Two teenagers exploring London for the first time while also looking at universities was always going to have humour in it, even if you don’t expect one of them to kick a Tory MP in the shins – although I’m sure plenty of us who have had their mental health services cut to ribbons have thought about it in the last few years. I was in love with the friendship between Yan and Chels, they’re very different but they work. I also liked the fact that as characters they could stand on their own two feet and not be completely dependent on each other – I’d quite like to read a book about Chels actually!

Fandoms and online interaction play a big part of this story and while I can see why it was included and it did add to the plot, it wasn’t really for me – but I think that’s just because I’m not really into fan fiction so it didn’t grab me in a way it would others. That said, I think including the online world, the worry about doxxing, people arguing about ‘what’s appropriate’ did make the novel more realistic, teenagers are online and it should be shown more in books!

What Bowles does well is mixing humour while also helping us to understand mania and what Bipolar can look like. This is a funny book and it takes a good writer to mix humour with a delicate subject. There were times where I laughed out loud, but others where I wanted to reach through the book and hug Yan, tell her it’s all going to be ok.

It’s important to note that this novel is own voices, the author herself lives with bipolar disorder, meaning that the reader is engaging with someones own perspective of what it is like to live with it. I think this comes across in the writing because when she’s manic Yan is Yan. You can understand how she thinks and feels when in this state and even though she may not be a likeable character at times – it further reinforces that mania is a medical issue. It’s obvious that Yan cares for her best friend and her family but in the grips of mental illness she acts in a way that she cannot help without treatment.

This is definitely a book to pick up, it will make you laugh but will also make you think and I do believe that, for some, it may help them feel less alone.

Thank you to the publisher and author for inviting me to take part in this book tour and don’t forget to check out some of the other lovely bloggers below!

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 – Anxiety & The UK Opening Up

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, I wasn’t sure if I was going to write posts this week because of the awful migraine I’ve been living with for the past two days so looking at a screen for much more than work hasn’t been great. I’ve spoken a lot about my mental health in the past few years and I’m pretty open about it, recently I posted on Twitter that I was struggling a little as things started to reopen here in the UK. So, I thought I’d talk about it because for those in the UK at least it’s pretty relevant.

Of course I’m excited to see businesses open up again, not have to worry about eating in the cold or the rain and being able to just pop into a coffee shop for my lunch break but I’m nervous too. I don’t know about you but I kind of feel like I’ve forgotten how to be a human. Seeing groups of people, even groups of friends, makes me feel uneasy – something I felt before the pandemic but it’s definitely got worse since.

When I go out now I feel nervous when people get too close to me, I use sanitiser when going inside and on the way out of a shop and certain shops I just avoid all together because people just don’t know how to give each other space, my local Primark is particularly bad for this.

I feel like there’s going to be step by step progress when it comes to being comfortable again and I know I’m not the only one. There are so many people I’ve spoken to who aren’t doing cartwheels at the thought of people mixing as they were. I’m also absolutely dreading handshakes, I didn’t like them before and now I know the thought of shaking another persona hand and not immediately covering my hands in sanitiser fills me with dread.

There will be people in your life who need time to adjust to being around people all time time, to a lack of personal space, to the noisiness. Don’t get me wrong I’m looking forward to going for drinks with my friends in a few weeks time but I know the whole day running up to it I’ll be nervous about it, about other people in the bar etc. But we’ll get there.

How are you feeling about thinfs opening up? Excited? Nervous? Worried? Let me know in the comments below.

A Lot Can Change In A Matter Of Months

As I write this most of my possessions are in boxes or bags, I’m practically bouncing off the walls because today my partner and I get the keys to our new home. I know that I haven’t written in a month, if I’m honest I’ve been working so much, sorting the house, getting myself back on track in terms of my health – it’s been a lot.

If I’m honest I’ve hardly been reading anything either! Last year I was averaging 10 books a month, this year four-six. I keep trying to remind myself that it’s not a competition. I even changed my Goodreads goal to 50 books this year because I didn’t need the guilt of logging in and seeing that I was ‘behind’ on my goal. I stopped looking at my blog stats too. I didn’t want to be worried about things that really didn’t matter looking at the bigger picture.

So, what’s really changed?

I feel more confident in my work

Being a freelancer isn’t easy, being a freelancer in a pandemic was a bit terrifying. Most people, understandably, cut back their budgets, meaning that copy, content and social media were quickly cut – not good when that’s your whole business. I kept myself going but I was anxious and worried all the time.

When work started to come back again and businesses were ready I was in there, I didn’t take a day off applying, searching and talking to people for months. After a few good contracts and interesting pieces at the start of this year I finally feel confident in what I do and what I can offer.

Now if a client moves a project or I get rejection after rejection, I’m better at not taking it personally I just keep going. Sometimes I am a little upset if it’s something I really tried for but something else comes along eventually and fills the spot.

I’m working on letting stuff go that doesn’t matter

Kind of going back to the Goodreads and stats situation, I’m trying to step back from that kind of stuff. It’s the same with the number of followers or likes I have. I’m trying to let go of caring because do they really matter in the long run? I’m not saying I’m great at this, I’m still working on it but it’s a start.

I’m not letting other people take up my time

There are relationships that didn’t survive the pandemic and I’m not mad about it. Some of them were probably long overdue because we’d grown as people. A friendship ending always hurts but looking back it was the right decision. Similarly I’m not giving my time to people who I don’t want to talk to because I realised I don’t have to. It was pretty freeing.

I’m getting my health back on track slowly

The news my health was a bit rubbish back in February was a bit of a shock to the system, so was my new diagnosis of Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in March. That said I’ve been trying to take back control, losing weight and attempting to eat better (this one’s the hardest). So far through food and a little exercise I’ve managed to lose 5Ibs. I’m nearly half way towards my first goal!

We’re getting a house!

I’m so exited to have our own space again and I get the spare room to be my office!

Wedding planning is back on!

Yep! We’re back to planning and getting bits and pieces and I am EXCITED.

Things are getting back on track. I write this because I know how hard it can be to pull yourself back when things have tried to break you. I don’t know how I managed because there have been so many times where I wanted to just give up and didn’t feel worth it.

No matter what’s going on put one foot in front of the other, reach out to talk to people and just keep going even when it feels like you can’t.

hEDS and Me

Gather around it’s time for a story. Nah, I’m kidding, I just thought that would be a different and fun way tp start a blog…lockdown is clearly getting to me. I’ve used this blog a lot to write about my life with chronic and mental illness over time. It’s been an important place for me to not only get my own feelings out there but also raise awareness of my conditions.

For those of you who have been here for a while you’ll know that when I was 20 I was in a horse riding accident, fracturing 4 parts of my spine, after a long recovery I didn’t get that much better and was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. For the past few years I’ve dealt with that and learned to accept it, but something still didn’t make sense to me.

I’ve had issues with my joints since childhood, my first set of physio was at 10, then from 15 onwards I was on and off crutches for knees that seemed to keep trying to dislocate themselves (I didn’t know that at the time), I was constantly at A&E for a simple trip or fall which would leave me not able to walk from joints feeling far more painful than a bruise, unexplained stomach issues for a long as I could remember. Fibro, in theory, is triggered by some kind of trauma so why had I had joint trouble my whole life?

Nothing was a red flag to any of us, surely I was just a clumsy kid with a sensitive stomach? Last year though I realised, while in lockdown, when I wasn’t pushing myself I’d still get these issues. I’m a part of the Spoonie community and something came up that was like a lightbulb in my head – Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Sydrome (try saying that quickly). It made so much sense, but I also knew I’d have to get back in front of my Rheumatologist to get any help or advice. Luckily I have a good GP who knows my history and she was more than happy to refer me, I also had put some money away so I could pay to see him, instead of waiting for a year/a year and a half to see him.

I know I was in a position of privilege to do that, we’ve been living with family for a few months so I’ve been able to put a bit of money away. I went back to see my incredible Rheumatologist, because I knew he would listen to me. Once I find a doctor that actually listens and tries to understand I try to go back to them. I felt I could go to him and say ok, here’s what’s been going on, I’ve worked out this much can you help me please?

Since getting the diagnosis I feel so much better. I know that sounds strange, let me explain. Firstly, I always, in a way, blamed myself for the way my spine broke. I’d seen people fall and get up fine, it must have been something I did when I fell for this to happen right? I told a friend this and he laughed at how ridiculous this sounds and he was right! The fact that I now know that my body is more prone to sprains, fractures and breaks, that it’s probably part of the reason it happened. In fact, the ‘self-help’ sheet that I got says to ‘Try to prevent falls and burns; fractures, wounds, cuts and bruises may take longer to heal and may scar poorly’…well there goes my plans for the weekend.

In other ways too this makes so much sense. I didn’t have the greatest school experience, in fact it was pretty terrible. I was constantly ill with an upset stomach and we could never find a reason for it – it just happened. I was in and out of A&E a lot because I’d fallen over playing and sprained a ankle or wrist. Like I said before I was on and off of crutches for years and people definitely thought I was being dramatic or putting it on. It’s a lot of weight to carry.

It all makes sense now and having that knowledge has given me a sense of calm now I know that’s going on and that this is real. I still have Fibromyalgia too, one hasn’t disappeared because of the other even though symptoms do overlap this is my life now. I’ve also come to the conclusion that I refuse to apologise for my disability or change myself to make people feel more comfortable. This is who I am.

To document my life with my illnesses I’ve also started a new Instagram account, woo! It’s to share the ups, the downs, all of it and if you’re interested you can have a look here.

If you have any questions drop them below! I’d be more than happy to answer them!

One Year Later

One year ago today, the 23rd March 2020 we entered lockdown in England. Sitting down and watch the Prime Minister was surreal, you knew you were watching a moment in history. I can only imagine it was similar to hearing the word that we were at war with Germany back in the 1930s. Something shifted in that moment, this was a big deal. I got emotional but it wasn’t going to be for long, I only had to get to June, right? It was going to be ok (oh the poor optimistic soul I was). 

I am not the same woman I was a year ago. Things have been harder than I could imagine them being one punch after the other but I am still standing with a strength I didn’t know I possessed. We’ve all been through trauma that will take time to heal from. 

At the start of the pandemic I was a mess. Anxiety took over my brain and body, regular panic attacks, sobbing constantly, being afraid of going outside my front door, comfort eating. I watched as industries completely shut down and the weeks turned into months, including my partners industry. We still had rent to pay and it wasn’t an easy time. 

Across the year alongside the external pain we lost three of our hamsters. While two were expected (old age), one came completely out of the blue. We both contracted Covid, spent Christmas in isolation and had to move in with family when our flat was up for renewal. We moved our wedding date an entire year. My partners whole industry disappeared practically overnight.

The past year I’ve felt like I am just keeping my head above water. There were countless times where I didn’t think I could carry on, when I didn’t want to carry on. I know the majority of us have felt that way. Between being at home constantly or going to jobs when there is a deadly virus, people being furloughed, the fear of catching the virus and, of course, those who have lost those they love we’ve all been just trying to get through the days.

There were a few positives to come out of the time spent at home, I got to spend more time with Ali than I have since we were at university, I made decisions about my life and my health, I started to let go of relationships that were toxic, I realised that I was going to keep fighting to be freelance.

We didn’t expect this to last this long, I remember the thought of still wearing masks at Christmas seeming laughable last summer. It couldn’t carry on that long, could it? Instead we spent Boxing Day back in tight restrictions and went into lockdown for the 3rd time a week later.

All of us are exhausted, mentally and physically drained, of course that doesn’t compare to those on the front line who have been risking their lives, but we’ve got this far – as battered and broken as we may feel.

I can’t help but feel that when we do emerge from this, when restrictions are lifted and we’re back in the sunshine, for a while at least, we will appreciate the little things a bit more. We’ll hug those we love a little longer, try not to sweat the small stuff, well that’s what I plan to do.

Of course I wish this had never happened, that thousands hadn’t had to die and questions will need to be answered later. We’ll all need time to heal and recover from this year, because I don’t think anyone really came out unscathed.

Does this post make the most sense? Nope. Is it mostly me just getting my thoughts down on to a page and trying to make sense of the madness that this has been our lives for the past year? Pretty much. I do have hope though, better days are coming and I’m holding on to that.