Book Review: Eat, Drink, Run How I Got Fit Without Going Too Mad – Bryony Gordon

Bryony Gordon was not a runner. A loafer, a dawdler, a drinker, a smoker, yes. A runner, no. In April 2017, less than a year after she had weighed herself at over 16 stone but stepped off the scales and started training anyway, Bryony Gordon ran all 26 and 3/4 miles of the London Marathon.

If you’re friends with me on Goodreads you’ll know that I’ve adored every book I have read by Bryony Gordon – she’s funny, intelligent and just gets it. Although, this is the one I took longest to pick up. It was about running, something I can’t stand at all – would I really enjoy it? Read on friend, but I think you’ll work out pretty early on what the answer is.

One of the things I like most about Bryony is that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She knows how to laugh at herself and it’s a relief, you feel like you can laugh along too. Calling Prince Harry Hazza? Classic Bryony. Signing up the London Marathon without knowing how long it was? I laughed a lot while reading this and I think most people will.

This is more than a story of just running a marathon, it’s about battling your mental health, finding comfort in others and not giving up. Bryony started something called Mental Health Mates (more about it here) where a bunch of ‘mad’ people could have a get together and walk which is a bloody brilliant idea.

Again, Bryony covers another section of her life and health with unflinching honesty. She talks about the toll that writing Mad Girl had on her mental health and how walking and running gave her a little bit of sanity. Also, if you’re a fan of her other books, there are plenty of Harry’s brilliant reactions to Bryony’s shenanigans too.

If you’re worried this will be a prechy and self righteous book about the power of exercise, don’t be. Yes, Bryony found a love for running but she doesn’t try and force it on the reader at all, she simply writes about the joy and the many challenges she faced.

I found this to be funny, relatable and because of that I gave it 5 stars. Another excellent and honest book by Bryony – she truly is a wonderful human and I can’t wait to see what she gets up to next. Also, I listened to this as an audiobook and can highly recommend!

When There’s ‘Nothing’ To Be Depressed About

I realise that I haven’t been talking as much about mental health awareness recently. It’s still something I’m passionate about but for the past few months I’ve struggled with my own health, meaning the last thing I wanted to do was write about it. In fact whenever I tried I just couldn’t get the words on the page.

It would be easier if depression only came when something bad happened. That might not sound right but I believe that. You see if depression follows something terrible, people can understand it. When there’s a reason, people are kinder, mostly because they can at least have empathy for someone. They can imagine themselves in your situation.

What about when everything is…good, or even just fine. When life is going swimmingly and there’s no reason for you to be depressed, to feel hopeless. From the outside looking in people would want your life. I’ve found myself there time and time again. Days or even weeks where I feel so low and there’s no reason – and I’m not alone.

These periods of deep sadness, emptiness and loneliness are the descriptions of depression. It’s the difference between feeling sad and having a diagnosable condition. Even with that in mind, some people don’t get it. I think we’ve all been guilty of having the thought of what do they have to be depressed about? Usually talking about a celebrity or successful person.

Here’s the thing, depression doesn’t exclude anyone. It doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank, where you live, who you are – it is an illness. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, it’s a deficiency in the body, but so often that is forgotten.

I beat myself up so much when everything is going ‘right’ but I’m in the depths of depression. I know there will be at least one person that is reading this who can agree and maybe we all need to be that little bit kinder to each other. Maybe, we need to let people feel what they need to feel, what their body is making them feel. That’s not to say we can’t help and we can’t try to make ourselves better but knowing our feelings are valid.

What do you think? Let me know below.

My Mental Health – MHW2019

Seeing as it’s Mental Health Week, it only seems right that I talk about myself. For those of you who have read my blog for a long time, you’ll know it’s something I’m pretty open about but that took a while, for the first few months after my depression diagnosis I couldn’t even say the word.

So, what’s my diagnosis?

I have been officially diagnosed with Anxiety with Depression, why is it put that way I have no idea.

How long have I been diagnosed?

I was diagnosed at 19, shortly before I went to study at university.

How does it impact me day to day?

Sometimes it doesn’t impact me at all, those are good days. Other days I’ll feel exhausted, irritable, moody. I can struggle to have any motivation or really doubt myself and my abilities.

What’s my treatment plan?

Currently, I take Citalopram, an antidepressant and have done for the past few years. Also, because I realised I was struggling more than normal I am on a waiting list to have 1-1 therapy to talk things out and try and get myself back in a good place mentally.

How am I doing right now?

I’m doing okay. There are days I feel like I’ve got my shit together and I’m doing so well and other days I struggle to get up from my sofa or to reply to any messages. Every day is different. I know I haven’t had the easiest time with my mental health recently, despite life going well, because of that I’m eager to get some talking therapy and feel much better.

Thank you so much for reading! There are more posts for Mental Health Awareness Week coming up so make sure to check back in!

Book Review: The Year I Didn’t Eat – Samuel Pollen

14-year-old Max has a fight on his hands. Living with Anorexia is tough enough without having to be at school and trying to keep it secret from your closest friends. As Max writes to ‘Ana’ and tries to navigate his illness he has to deal with the new girl at school who won’t stop staring, family drama and seeing his therapist. Can he beat this?

I was asked if I would like to receive a copy of this novel and I was immediately intrigued. There are very few stories of teenage boys going through an eating disorder, so of course, I wanted to read, I’m incredibly glad I did.

Starting and ending on Christmas day, the novel chronicles a year in Max’s life, alongside writing a diary to his disorder – aptly named Ana. This was a particular highlight for me, the writing was emotional but not sad – I actually laughed a fair bit reading this. Pollen isn’t trying to make Max a sympathy figure. The combination of the diary entries and showing some of the obsessive thoughts was incredibly well done –  I could see similarities between Max’s and my own thoughts from our respective mental illnesses.

It is mentioned a few times within the novel the disconnect that Max feels from what is stereotypically viewed as what a with Anorexia looks like – a teenage girl. By confronting this head-on, Pollen shows insight into something incredibly important – anyone can get a mental illness. The fact that Max is a teenage boy, known for being quite geeky with a loving family and great friends and still has these problems reinforces that.

This shows a new level of representation that is rarely seen, in fact, I don’t believe I have ever read a novel featuring a guy with an eating disorder – which is absurd! I’m hopeful that this will start more conversations. The fact that Pollen has drawn on his own experiences makes this even more realistic.

The novel shows not only the impact that eating disorders have on the person with the illness but also the pressure it can put on families. We meet Max’s family and often feel for them as much as him. That said, despite the hardships faced, Max’s relationship with his older brother Robin was probably my favourite part. They truly seem to care for each other and Robin’s encouragement of Geocaching really seems to be a turning point.

Of course, this is a tough read and it does give descriptions of disordered eating and calories – if these are tough for you to read it might be worth picking this up at a later point.

Is it any surprise that I gave this 5 stars?  This is a novel that needed to be written. Showing that eating disorders can affect anyone and that, by talking about it, we have more of a chance of helping those going through it. I absolutely adored this novel – it will truly make its mark. I truly feel that this will make people feel less alone.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Conker communications for the chance to read this in exchange for an open and honest review.

Taking Medication Doesn't Make You Less Creative

Taking Medication Doesn’t Make You Less Creative

This is a lot of debate around medication for Mental Health. I’m a proud taker of Citalopram, it’s something that keeps me healthy and that’s that. There’s an idea that having a mental illness makes you more creative – I’m not sure that is exactly true. But why is this coming up? 

Recently, Kanye West went on a Tweeting spree, within his many, many he states  ‘You don’t make runaway on medication’ and he was ‘six months off medication’. I was pretty worried after reading this. 

While medication is 100% someone’s choice, the idea that you can’t be creative and well frustrates me. For many people, medication saves lives every single day- just like insulin does for a diabetic. The idea that your creativity, your creative worth is tied to you being mentally ill is sad. 

Everyone deserves to feel well and the problem when you are mentally ill it can make you feel that either you are not worthy of feeling better or that you are not ill – you are fantastic, you have every single idea and why would you want to slow down…before you crash.

It is true that beautiful things can come out of these times we’ve seen Art and Music and ideas born from mania but it’s not sustainable. Living in that way is not sustainable and more than anything it worries me that people will think it is, especially those in mania. 

Taking medication doesn’t make you less creative. There are medications that don’t work and can make you feel worse BUT there are a lot you can try while you find one that works for you and makes you feel like yourself. 

I hope that Kanye can get the help that he needs. Mental illness is hard to deal with and I cannot imagine what it is like in the spotlight. Do I agree with the things he does and says all of the time? No, but he’s human and I do have compassion for others. 

It goes without saying that I’m not a medical professional – if you want to change/come off your medication please, please talk to a doctor before doing so. It can be incredibly dangerous to go cold turkey on these meds. 

Take care of yourself and those around you. 

 

Why I get so excited about Christmas

Why I Get So Excited About Christmas

I LOVE Christmas, love, love, love. Recently I have been met with more than a few people who don’t get why I get so excited for the season. Why I can’t stop listening to my Christmas playlist and why on earth I started my shopping in September. 

Now, aside from the fact that deep down I have an inner basic who needs to come out every now and again, there’s a much better reason as for why I love this holiday so much. I love it because I can. I can feel the excitement and love when previously I haven’t been able to. 

In the deepest parts of my depression, I couldn’t find joy in anything. These were times when I was very ill. One Christmas in my teens I just felt empty. I cried for no reason. The darkness swallowed me whole. In short, it was the worst. 

Because I have known that feeling I am so grateful to feel excited and happy. I am grateful that I have my health under control enough, that my medication works and I can feel happy rather than empty. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a miracle. I am not ‘cured’ from my mental illness. I still have to work on myself every day and it’s something I live with. BUT, for me, each Christmas shows me moving forward from that one year when I couldn’t summon any joy. 

This year, my focus well and truly is just to try and enjoy myself as much as possible. See my friends and family, while also making time for myself (which is super important over Christmas). As well as trying not to put huge amounts of pressure on myself for January, although that’s a whole other post all together! 

If you’re reading this and right now your mental health isn’t great, give yourself a break. No one chooses to live with the monsters in their head and, unfortunately they don’t seem to take time off for Christmas. Be kind to yourself and take it one step at a time, you’ve got this. 

Where I’m At – World Mental Health Day 2018

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Today is World Mental Health Day. I thought about what I wanted to do for a while and then it hit me. Why not give you guys an update on how I’ve been doing recently? I’m hoping that by talking about my own life and feelings it opens the conversation and takes away that damn stigma that’s still hanging around!

So, how am I doing right now?

Things are very different this year to any other. I took a big step going freelance and the change in job has had a big impact on my mental health. I was really struggling for the past year with that I wanted to do with my life and my career. I wasn’t happy but I thought that was just life, you went to a 9-5, you had a commute you hated.

Until I didn’t. Freelancing has many challenges and its own stresses – it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but that’s another blog post. BUT, the stress of two 45 minute commutes? Gone. The stress of not having control over certain aspects of my career? Gone. If I need to take a break for my health, I can do that. In that regard, I’m doing much better and my self-confidence is growing.

I’m still working on myself – this is an ongoing health condition. Some days I feel great and can do everything. Other days I struggle to even get out of bed, to see the point in what I’m doing and think I’m terrible at everything. It’s taking it day by day.  So, I’m a lot better than I was a year ago, but it’s a constant effort.

How’s the self-care going?

Ummmmm, well….. Ok I’ll be honest with you, I’ve kinda been slacking. There’s a lot of excuses I could give about the fact I haven’t been looking after myself a much as I should.

More time for me, more baths, more early nights – I will try!

What I wish I knew a year ago

You don’t need to please everyone, things will work out no matter what.