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.

Blog Tour: The Sad Ghost Club - Lize Meddings

Blog Tour: The Sad Ghost Club – Lize Meddings

Ever felt anxious or alone? Like you don’t belong anywhere? Like you’re almost… invisible?

Find your kindred spirits at The Sad Ghost Club.

When BookMark asked if I’d like to be part of their blog tour for The Sad Ghost Club, I jumped at the chance. I requested to read an early copy of the book because I liked the art style and thought the idea sounded sweet. The team at Bkmrk got in touch asking for my address, I mentioned it would be a great distraction as at the time I was in isolation with Covid. Not only was Becci kind enough to send me The Sad Ghost Club, she also sent across a few other books that I was so looking forward to. That kindness meant the world. Anyway, I digress.

For anyone who has felt depression or anxiety, who’s felt like they’re going through the motions because they don’t feel entirely present, you’ll be seen within the pages of this book. While reading I could feel myself nodding, remembering times where everything has felt so urgent and terrifying, while I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything about it.

The first half of this book will make you feel less alone, less weird, because I know for certain that in my toughest times with my mental health I felt not only lonely but also like there was something wrong with me. The experience being put on a page does wonders.

The second half of the book will do something even better, it’ll give you hope – something I think we’re all in need of right now. The good news, and something that you’re reminded of while reading is that there are others like you and, actually, people who understand can make really good company. We all have our stories, quirks and oddities – we’d be really boring if we didn’t, but it’s what makes us work.

I highly recommend this book. It’s a shorter read and, for me, it was something I could pick up and go through without having to think too much, which is great when you have a foggy brain. If you want to find out more you can also see the other stops on the blog tour below!

Thank you to the publishers and author for my copy in exchange for this post.

Surviving...But Thriving?

Surviving…But Thriving?

It’s the last week of January, but it definitely feels like this month has lasted triple that amount of time. I know for a fact that any optimism I felt about a new year got knocked out of me when lockdown 3 started. Not the easiest time to be bashing out new years resolutions and I for one retreated into the Christmas chocolate I had.

Today I just couldn’t motivate myself. I very much got up and just felt like saying ugh. I tried to use my normal ways of getting myself out of a funk. I had a cuppa and ticked things off of my to do list, I tried going for a walk, I went out in the car and popped out to get things from the supermarket with my music on. Nothing seemed to work. No matter what I did I just felt ‘meh’.

It is more than enough to be just getting through the days right now. To not be building a side hustle, cooking new healthy meals or going for a daily run is perfectly normal. It’s ok if your days consist of taking it hour by hour and seeing how you feel. I for one am on am emotional loop de loop where I can feel great and motivated in the morning and by lunch time feel frustrated, angry or deflated. There’s no one way to get through this.

Here in the UK we’re in our 3rd lockdown and I’ve seen a lot of people say this one hits harder – which I agree with. In the first one it was scary and uncertain but at least it was light and there was decent weather, we could go out for a walk or at least open the windows. The second was promoted to us as a way to ‘save Christmas’ (because that worked so well), because of that I think it had a little hope. This one is harder, January is a long month, the days are dark and it’s cold out – no wonder people are struggling right now!

Personally I’ve started something small for myself, I try and write down 3 things a day that have either made me happy or that I’ve done. It can be as simple as writing got through another day, had a shower, ate dinner. Other days things are happier, I might have had a nice call with someone, played with the hamsters and read a book. All these little things will add up.

Surviving is more than enough. Getting through the days and coming out the other side is more than enough. Finding yourself eating more ice cream than normal? Go for it. Having early nights most nights? I’m jealous. Binge watching everything you can? Let me know what’s good! As long as it’s not hurting you or anyone else, do what you need to do.

Be kind to yourselves out there!

World Mental Health Day 2020 - Talking About Student's Mental Health

World Mental Health Day 2020 – Talking About Student’s Mental Health

Today is World Mental Health Day. While I was thinking about what to read I kept coming back to the current situations that students across the UK are facing with restrictions and lock down.

I’m one of the first to admit I really struggled in my first year at university. I had recently been formally diagnosed as having Anxiety and Depression (or ‘low mood’ as they like to call it – but that’s another blog) after struggling for years with my mental health.

I’d never lived away from home before and the most I’d been away from my family was for a week and once when I went on holiday without them and spent the entire morning in the airport crying and feeling anxious. Yeah I wasn’t the most adventurous kid or teenager, I liked my own home comforts…some things never change!

Now, I was actually one of the luckier ones. I have a 4 day taster living in halls, I’d been to every visit in the year running up to it because I needed to know everything to calm my anxiety. Even with all that I massively struggled and went home at least once a month, the other weekends I was mostly at my now fiancé’s flat because I struggled to connect with my flatmates. I would have fallen apart in a lockdown.

While they may be 18 these young people are vulnerable. They don’t know the people they’re living with, Halls rooms are normally small and they’re living with the worry and fear of a virus that has lead to a global pandemic. That’s not even touching on the fact it’s a new way of learning and a new course or subject.

When I see people blaming young people or telling them to stop complaining that they’re stuck in halls or that they’re stuck in a house miles away from home I get angry. Here’s the thing – the government told them to go back, get normal life going again! Universities and landlords wanted their rent too, only for classes to be held online. The whole idea that they might not be able to come home for Christmas is inhumane too.

Now, more than any time, we need to be sharing kindness and compassion, particularly for these young people. To the students out there I’m thinking of you, my DMs are open and please be kind for yourself.

5 Things You Might Not Realise When You Start Therapy

5 Things You Might Not Realise When You Start Therapy

I’ve mentioned on my social media that I started therapy this year. I’d been on the waiting list for 11 months so I’d had a lot of time to think (read worry) about what was going to happen, if it was going to work, if it would ever happen.

Then I started and while I’m not going to go into detail, because therapy is private, I have had some realisations about therapy that I didn’t know I would. I’ve heard from a number of you guys about your own mental health, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt.

More people than you think will have gone through similar feelings

I was really open about going to therapy and so many people surprised me with their own stories. I was shocked by the number of people who had been to therapy, were currently going or hoping to start soon.

It was a real reminder that no matter how much our brains make us feel like we’re completely alone, we’re not.

You may turn into a human tap

I cried, oh man I cried. Not even about the things I was talking through. I’d watch a cute video about animal friends on Facebook and start blubbing like a baby.

After my first 2 sessions in particular I just kept crying. I think this is down to the fact that some of the things I’ve been going through I haven’t dealt with, I’ve pushed it aside because I didn’t have time to fall apart – shit needed to get done.

So, lifting the lid in the first session just opened up the part of my brain that makes the tears come. That was not so fun.

You can feel both heavier and lighter at the same time

This is a weird one to write about and to describe. In on sense just being able to talk about things makes me feel lighter. On the flip side after the sessions I was incredibly tired and my body felt heavy…hopefully that makes sense.

There may be trauma that you haven’t processed

Oof this is something that hit me harder than I thought. We realised in the first few sessions that a lot of what was going on was linked to the accident I had where I broke my spine and after.

Going back about 5 years and working through it is a lot but I’m glad I can finally deal with it.

You’re going to be ok

It might take a while, but you really, really will.

Being Kind To Myself During Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

At the start of the week I wrote my post to announce that it was Mental Health Awareness Week and my intention to publish a post every day…you might have noticed that it didn’t happen.

I spoke about the theme being kind to yourself and to others. In the end it was something that I needed to do for myself – which also meant not posting online. I was struck by a particularly nasty migraine earlier in the week and felt pretty rough physically and mentally for the rest of it.

One evening I was trying to write a post on ways to be kind to yourself and it just wasn’t working. Ali pointed out that I wasn’t being kind to myself – that quality was more important than quantity. I agreed and said I would take the time and see what happened. Today is the first time I’ve felt up to writing a new blog.

I had to remind myself that while I love writing the blog and interacting with people, if I’m not up to it nothing bad is going to happen. If I take time off, no one will hate me. It’s also part of the work I’ve been doing within therapy sessions – to be more compassionate to myself and mostly give myself a break.

Writing this is partially because I wanted to say what happened and to show that you need to practice what you preach.

Be kind to yourself.

Welcome To Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

Writing about mental health isn’t anything new on this blog. While it may have changed in recent years to being about how I’m doing mentally in regards to chronic health conditions it’s still very important to me.

This years Mental Health Awareness week is very different and it’s likely that more people are aware of their mental health. We’re living through a time that none of us could imagine. As simple affection is limited or, for some, impossible I feel like now more than ever it’s important to discuss how we’re feeling.

This years theme is kindness, something we can all give but could all do with receiving too. While the world might seem like the most anxiety inducing place right now, and it is, there are also signs of hope and generosity.

During the last few weeks I’ve received messages, family members and neighbours have helped when we couldn’t go to the shops, strangers on the internet have sent me things from my amazon wish list and so have friends. I’ve tried to do things for others too in the ways I can.

I know that, for me, it’s felt at times like we’re stuck in a reoccurring nightmare. That it takes more effort than I have when things are hard. It’s normal to have days where it’s all too much, especially now. Taking it day by day, even hour by hour we can get through it together.

I’m going to be posting hopefully every day this week about mental health. Even though it’s a different kind of awareness week. I hope you find the posts helpful.

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-Eight - The Week I Wanted To Give Up

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-Eight – The Week I Wanted To Give Up

Well, what a bloody week. It’s definitely one that deserves a large gin…or three. I think this has been the toughest week for me, mentally. Literally as soon as I woke up on Monday this cloud of sadness was above my head. I couldn’t think and all I could feel was my foggy brain and a tidal wave of emotions. I have been SUPER fun to live with (sorry Ali).

This was the first time where I just felt like giving up. I couldn’t focus on anything, I didn’t have that much work to do and everything just felt pointless. I’m pretty sure the weather didn’t help as I noticed a LOT of people mentioning a dip in their mood.

I’ve always had a thing about wanting to to be doing something productive most of the time. I’ve mentioned before that I find it hard to relax and switch off which I’m working on but when I’m not in a great mental state it goes out of the window. To feel useful I have to be doing something, right? I know I’m not alone in this.

That was until Wednesday afternoon, all my calls were done and Ali decided we were going to start our Marvel marathon whether I liked it or not. He got pillows, the duvet and put on Disney Plus. We ended up spending the next 6 hours watching Captain Marvel, Captain America and Iron Man before eating burgers together. Thursday was pretty similar.

Today was much better and I knew it as soon as I woke up. I just felt more capable getting out of bed. There wasn’t a struggle to get dressed and showered. I grabbed my laptop and made a to do list. I think I’m getting through.

Whether you’re someone who’s had dealings with depression before or these are new feelings it’s hard and it can feel so completely overwhelming. Everything and nothing feels too much.

Needless to say I’m not giving up but I wanted to write this to be honest. Because there will be people who are also struggling and feel bad because of it. There will be people who can’t be open and honest with people at home about how they’re feeling for whatever reason. I wanted to say it’s ok. It is ok. Next week is another week. We’ll get through this.

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-One - Getting Through Tough Days

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Thirty-One – Getting Through Tough Days

I’m going to be honest with you all, I was dreading today. I’d been dreading it for a few weeks and until recently my plan was to spend the day hiding in my bed – I was in a much worse place mentally than I am right now.

Today marks 5 years since my life completely changed after a horse riding accident. If you’ve read my blogs for a while you’ll probably know quite a lot if not I started horse riding at university and loved it, 6 months into learning to ride I fell and broke part of my spine. It was a long recovery and I later developed Fibromyalgia.

Normally, I’d make sure I treated myself on the day. If I could help it I wouldn’t plan anything but I’d maybe go to my local shopping center and let myself buy a few things, go to a coffee shop and maybe see a friend or my family and get through the day. Obviously I couldn’t do that today.

I woke up and checked my social media and BAM Facebook memories, thank you very much for the picture of me riding. Thank you indeed. So I got up, got my cup of tea and let myself have some time to sit and think – feel how I needed to feel. I did get teary and emotional thinking about all the changes, everything that happened.

I’m working through the event, what happened after and my Fibromyalgia diagnosis in therapy. I do think that had helped this year. I let myself feel and then got up, got showered and dressed. I worked all morning and went out for a walk to feel the sun on my skin.

While I was walking I thought about how far I’ve come. Some days I can’t do that, other days (in non lockdown times) I can go to the gym. Each day is different but I think I’m doing well. Would I have got through today a few years ago? I don’t know.

It’s a bit of a rambly post, but I expected that. I’m proud of myself for where I am. Does that mean I don’t struggle? No. I struggle mentally and physically with the fact my life has changed forever and I’ve had to change the future I thought I would have.

That said I’m trying. I’m taking it day by day and I’m proud of myself for getting through today in a totally weird and stressful situation.

Peace out.