Talking About Periods And Mental Health

In the words of Lily Allen – ‘Periods, we all get periods. Every month, yo, that’s what the theory is. It’s human nature, another cycle’ yep she cleared it up nicely. The majority of uterus owners have to deal with these regular little rage monsters.

Recently, I’ve been listening to Hormonal by Eleanor Morgan where she talks about her experiences and looks at the wider cultural issue. It’s something I’ve struggled with in the last 12 years. I know I’m not the only one that struggles with their mental health when on their period. I am teary, anxious and stressed. I feel incredibly low and struggle with my self worth.

What about contraception? People ask well. For me, it does precisely nothing to help my anxiety and depression on my period and while I feel weak to let people know I’m feeling down because of my period (thanks to the patriarchy for that!) it’s completely true.

The thing is, why don’t we talk more about our mental health on our periods? This is something that impacts a lot of the the population and it is valid. If it were another medical condition we could be more mindful something that causes depression and mood swings alongside medical symptoms?

I know that for at least a week a month I don’t feel like myself. I feel like something within me takes over, I question everything, my confidence deflates. All because of a natural process which happens to make my mental illness worse.

I guess I’m writing to say that we are silenced and made to think that it’s embarrassing and that it only happens to us – which is not true! I’m yet to meet a woman who isn’t negatively impacted by their hormones. We’re not weak, we’re not overreacting, we are most importantly not alone.

Let me know about your experiences below!

Book Review: Heartstream – Tom Pollock

“I just wanted to see you. Before the end. A taut psychological thriller about obsession, fame and betrayal, for fans of Black Mirror. Cat is in love. Always the sensible one, she can’t believe that she’s actually dating, not to mention dating a star. But the fandom can’t know. They would eat her alive. And first at the buffet would definitely be her best friend, Evie.

Amy uses Heartstream, a social media app that allows others to feel your emotions. She broadcasted every moment of her mother’s degenerative illness, and her grief following her death. It’s the realest, rawest reality TV imaginable. But on the day of Amy’s mother’s funeral, Amy finds a strange woman in her kitchen. She’s rigged herself and the house with explosives – and she’s been waiting to talk to Amy for a long time. Who is she? A crazed fan? What does she want? Amy and Cat are about to discover how far true obsession can go.”

Oof, this book! This book. If that blurb doesn’t grab you I don’t know what will. I could not put this book down, I stayed up way too late because I needed to know what was going to happen, I needed to know answers!

Initially I did find it hard to connect with Amy, I found her a little bratty and couldn’t gel with her – this did change throughout the novel as I got to know the character. Cat, on the other hand, I instantly connected to and wanted to know more about her and her life – overall I did prefer Cat as a character.

It took me a long while to understand what the connection between Amy and Cat and it drove me a little crazy, then when it dawned on me I definitely gasped out loud and continued racing through. This also broke me out of a slump I was having and made me interested in thrillers again.

While I did work out a few elements before they happened that was towards the end and I still had some shock moments. Pollock can clearly write a thriller that feels new and I can’t remember the last time I read one of those.

I found it really interesting how the plot centers around technology and emotion. We don’t know where technology and streaming is going to go and while this is a terrifying possibility it’s also fascinating because I think people would subscribe to this and use it in the real world. That said the positives and negatives are both there, which adds a great sense of balance.

I gave this 4 stars, a really strong book and that ending…THAT ENDING. I definitely need to know more and while I doubt there will be a follow up, I would read it within a second – I need to know what happens after! A strong thriller that I would definitely recommend for someone looking for something a little different with a technology twist.

What I Read In October 2019!

So it might be a little late but I had a fantastic reading month in October with a lot of 4 and 5 star reads! I’m not going to spend too long rambling, instead, let’s get to the books.

So, P.S I Love You was one of my favourite books and up there with my favourite films too so I preordered the follow up as soon as I found out about it. When it came I was so nervous to read it – would it live up to the story I loved? It did Postscript is beautiful and I fell right back into Hollie’s world. A 5 star read for me.

It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue And Other Lies was also a preordered book after I loved Scarlett Curtis’s Feminists Don’t Wear Pink. This a collection of essays about mental health from some people you’ll know such as Matt Haid, Emilia Clarke, Adam Kay and Scarlett herself. It was a brilliant collection and while it is quite hard hitting it’s an important read. A 4.5 star read.

For my book club read we picked up Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield and I really enjoyed it. It’s a little different in the way it’s told and has mystery elements, ghostly elements and more. It was a great read that I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise – a fantastic advertisement for book clubs everywhere! A solid 4 star read.

The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson was one I picked up for myself about a girl who is rescued from a cult and what life is like for her once she leaves the only place she knows. I read this so quickly and I only wish it was longer! Another 4 star read.

I’ve watched a little Queer Eye and loved Jonathan so after seeing interviews of him promoting his book I decided to purchase the audiobook of Over The Top and it was perfect. This is fantastically funny but also deeply heartfelt and I learned so much through listening. A 5 star read and I’ve been recommending it to everyone!

I also listened to Freedom by Jaycee Dugard about her experiences after she was released from her horrific ordeal being kidnapped and forced to live with her captor and give birth to her daughters – fathered by him. An emotional 4 star book.

Next up two more non-fiction reads. I listened to MP Jess Phillips’ newest book Truth To Power and it was absolutely brilliant and just what I needed when we’re heading towards a General Election. A 5 star read for troubling times.

I also picked up Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas from the wonderful Adam Kay author of This Is Going To Hurt. This is a short read but an incredibly important one. It made me appreciate the NHS even more because of the pressure that they face, even more so in the winter. A must read that I’ve persuaded book club to pick up – 5 stars!

Heartstream is the thriller I didn’t know I needed. Tom Pollock is an excellent storyteller and I tweeted him almost immediately after finishing asking for more! I gave this 4.5 stars.

And last but definitely not least was Dear Girls by Ali Wong. I think Ali is hilarious and I loved both of her Netflix specials so when I heard she was writing a book I was down! Again, I listened to the audiobook for this one and I’m glad I did. This is all about Ali’s life and the lessons she wants to teach her daughters (although it is definitely for a mature audience) there was also a really sweet addition by her husband at the end. This was a 4.5 star read for me.

What did you read in October? Let me know in the comments below. 👇

Book Review: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me – Mariko Tamaki, Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend.

Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. But Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem. Maybe it’s Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.

I kept hearing about this online and added to my want to read list on Goodreads but if you’re a friend of mine over there you’ll know I have about 700 books I’m interested in on there. Thankfully, a friend of mine picked it up for my birthday.

What I loved about this is the fact that the focus of this wasn’t the fact that Freddy is a lesbian that’s just her. The focus a teenager who’s trying to work out her feelings for a girl she loves but doesn’t treat her that well. I really, really liked Freddy and felt her pain while I was reading and I also saw what she saw in Laura Dean.

Does she always make the right decisions? No but show me a teenager that does when they are in love, possibly for the first time. That’s what makes this book so real we see characters that are flawed and relatable.

This is also a graphic novel that has a diverse cast of characters with a variety of sexualities, ethnicities and genders. It was a really refreshing change to see this, something I can only remember seeing in Heartstopper by Alice Oseman.

I really hope that there are going to be more books that follow Freddy and her friends. Her friendships could be explored much further now they’ve been introduced, particularly her friendship with Doodle which we saw an inkling of in this story.

I gave this 5 stars, I really enjoyed getting to know Freddy and I’m hoping we get to see more of her soon and more volumes of Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me.

20 Questions Book Tag 2019

20 QUESTIONS BOOK TAG

I wanted to do something fun this week because it is all dark and gloomy outside. So, let’s have a good old fashioned book tag! Shoutout to Paper Fury for their post!

1. HOW MANY BOOKS ARE TOO MANY FOR A SERIES?

Seeing at Harry Potter is one of my favourites (obviously) I’ll say any more than 7 is too many. I say that because I haven’t read a series with more than 7 books although if there is another ACOTAR trilogy on top of the 3 and a half that are out already I wouldn’t complain…

2. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT CLIFFHANGERS?

I have a real love/hate relationship with cliffhangers. If it’s in a series I can deal with it and it makes me excited. On the other hand, if it’s a standalone I get so irritated. What are you doing? Why would you cause this stress?!

3. HARDCOVER OR PAPERBACK?

Hmmmm for storage reasons and bag space it’s paperbacks but I do love a good hardback.

4. FAVOURITE BOOK?

I don’t have one! I can’t choose and you can’t make me!!!!

5. LEAST FAVOURITE BOOK?

Technically, it’s a play but it was in book form and I queued up at midnight for it but The Cursed Child. Do I need to say any more?

6. LOVE TRIANGLES, YES OR NO?

Personally, I’m not a fan. I find them super boring to read about so I’d rather not have to deal with them BUT can understand how they work in some books.

7. THE MOST RECENT BOOK YOU COULDN’T FINISH?

Conversations with Female Serial Killers, it was for book club and it was just SO BAD. For a non-fiction the guy had a lot of opinions and tried to use them as fact? 1 star and DNF’d. Nope.

8. A BOOK YOU’RE CURRENTLY READING?

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett! It’s about a teenager who is HIV positive and her life as she tried to navigate romance, sex and other people’s stigma. So far I think it’s a great read.

9. LAST BOOK YOU RECOMMENDED TO SOMEONE?

Pretty sure it was It’s Not Ok to Feel Blue (and other Lies) edited by Scarlett Curtis. Review to come soon!

10. OLDEST BOOK YOU’VE READ BY PUBLICATION DATE?

Full novel is probably Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë because I could not get through more than my assigned reading of Chaucer at A Level…

11. NEWEST BOOK YOU’VE READ BY PUBLICATION DATE?

At the time of writing I’m half way through Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett which is an October 2019 release.

12. FAVOURITE AUTHOR?

How can I choose just one?! Here are 5 that I love (not in order):

  • J.K Rowling
  • Sarah J Maas
  • Jodi Picoult
  • Laura Steven
  • Alice Oseman

13. BUYING BOOKS OR BORROWING BOOKS?

I have to say I’m a sucker for buying new books but I try and get them on a deal so I can add them to my personal collection. That’s mostly because I’m terrible at remembering when return dates are for library books.

14. A BOOK YOU DISLIKE THAT EVERYONE SEEMS TO LOVE?

I wasn’t keen on Gone Girl or Girl On The Train – I didn’t find them that clever and the twist in Gone girl reeeeeeeaaaally annoyed me. Let’s not even go there…

15. BOOKMARKS OR DOG EARS?

Bookmarks all the way, I have more than I’ll ever need and I won’t stop collecting them.

16. A BOOK YOU CAN ALWAYS RE-READ?

The Harry Potter series, it just gives me a warm feeling and it’s my favourite series of all time so I can’t complain. Also have you seen the illustrated editions? LOVE!

17. CAN YOU READ WHILE LISTENING TO MUSIC?

Not normally, I can read with things in the background but music is one of my other loves so it’s normally one or the other for me.

18. ONE POV OR MULTIPLE?

I am happy either either IF the multiple POV books are well written. There’s nothing worse than a poorly written book with a great idea because the author tried to be too ambitious.

19. DO YOU READ A BOOK IN ONE SITTING OR OVER MULTIPLE DAYS?

I’m definitely a one sitting kinda girl if a book is that good. I can’t stop and I’ve gone past many bedtimes because I was reading a great book…most recently it was Postscript by Cecelia Ahern because my HEART.

20. WHO DO YOU TAG?

Anyone who wants to do the tag go ahead and have some fun!

All About Halloween Book Tag

Happy Halloween everyone!

So I’m not a horror fan so trying to come up with a review for tonight was a little tricky – instead I wanted to have some fun with a Halloween themed tag! I found this over on Madame Writer’s blog (original post here) and thought it would be fun for Halloween!

What are your favorite Halloween movies?

As I noted above I’m a HUGE scaredy cat which is why my favourite Halloween watches are films I used to watch as a kid. Who doesn’t love Scooby-Doo? These were two of my favourites growing up. Also, baby Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and a story about twins that’s magical. Classic 90s Halloween film.

What is your favorite Halloween book?

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Not what most people would consider a traditional Halloween read but c’mon. TROOOOOOOLL, TROOOOOOOLLL IN THE DUNGEON.

What other Halloween books would you recommend?

What can I say, the Victorian era had some creepy as hell books that are perfect for Halloween, Jekyll and Hyde is a classic for a reason. Dorian Gray is damn creepy and clever and The Tell-Tale Heart gives me chills. For a newer Halloween book I highly recommend The Graces by Laure Eve for witchy, cursey, goodness.

Fun fact, when I first read Dorian Grey for college I absolutely hated it and wrote a review to match BUT then I read it again without analysing it and realised for its time it was incredible.

Do you own any Halloween ugly sweaters?

No but I really think I should get one that’s long lasting.

Update: Everything is either trying to be sexy and therefore bloody cold, terrible quality or super expensive…

What are some of your favorite Halloween costumes?

Now this is a question of whether we’re going for traditional Halloween or the american version of Halloween where you can be anything/anyone. I absolutely love dressing as a witch if we’re going with traditional BUT if I could go as anything I’d want to get a little more creative. A few of my friends and I were considering going as The Heathers this year but that doesn’t seem to be happening because…

What are you doing for Halloween this year?

Halloween is on a Thursday this year. 🤦‍♀️

I’m practically an old lady at this point so I do not plan on going out/going to any parties on a Thursday. But why not Friday or Saturday you ask? I’m going to a concert on the Friday and it’s my lovely finaceès birthday on the Saturday.

No Halloween outings for me this year but I do have a packet of spooky Haribo that I’ll probably work my way through white sitting around my decorations.

What is your favorite childhood Halloween memory?

My lovely parents took my sister and I to Disney for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. I’ve been twice, the first time when I was 11 (check out my super cool outfit below…I’d been wearing the wig itself around the park because I was clearly extra af) and then again when I was 16.

It’s super fun you go trick or treating, the characters are dressed up, there’s a special parade. I now have the ‘Boo to you’ song stuck in my head.

What are some of your favourite Halloween memories? I’d love to hear them!

I Don’t Always Love My Body

One of my favourite YouTubers Jessica Kellgren-Fozard posted a video earlier this month about the fact that it’s okay if we don’t always love our bodies. It really got me thinking about my own feelings toward my body and how I fit into the body positivity movement. I have a really complicated relationship with my body I can both love and loathe it sometimes within a day I can intensely feel both.

Before my accident I didn’t always like my appearance but it was pretty standard stuff, I’d like a flatter stomach, longer legs etc. I had my accident, then I got sick. All of a sudden I was putting on a lot of weight, I was in pain all the time, I was getting dark circles under my eyes and I felt awful. I didn’t recognise this body and I didn’t want it.

There have been hours where I’ve fought with my body, where I haven’t been kind or treated it well. Where I’ve restricted food that I wanted or pushed myself too hard to try and look how I used to before. Bare in mind that when I had the accident I was 20, I’m now 25 and I don’t know many women who can still fit into the same jeans from 5 years ago…

There are still times, days or sometimes weeks where I’m not happy. Where I can’t shout SELF LOVE and shake it all about. I do want to hide, I feel sad and I wear my baggiest clothes. I also get mad and upset and frustrated. And that’s ok.

When I am FEELING myself I will take pictures and post them online. I’m not wasting my days where I am in love with the way I look, people don’t want to see them? They don’t have to follow me. You can probably see where my physical and mental health are good because there will be a spatterings of selfies and outfit pics.

The thing is I know in the next 5-10 years my body will continue to change. I’m currently working towards getting fit and healthy so I feel better when I know all eyes are on me at my wedding AND so I can keep up with Ali on our honeymoon. After that I do hope to be a mother and my body will change again and then it will keep changing throughout my life.

When your body can go against you and there’s nothing you can do I think it’s pretty normal to have periods where you aren’t loving it. Where you don’t want to post pictures or smile because it’s maddening. I’m also still getting used to knowing that I will have issues for the rest of my life.

So, no I don’t always love my body but sometimes I feel great and want to share – I think that’s pretty normal. I still think we need the body positivity movement. We need to see stretch marks, different shapes, disables bodies and wobbles because airbrushing and ‘perfection’ is so done.

What’s your view on body positivity?